• Applying cannabidiol (CBD) tinctures sublingually involves placing the drug under the tongue and waiting until the substance gets absorbed into the bloodstream(1).
  • Sublingual administration allows a drug to skip the first pass metabolism and facilitates the drug’s quick absorption into the systemic circulation(2).
  • Individuals experiencing difficulties with sublingual administration may use a straw to help with administering the drug under the tongue(3).

How Does an Individual Take CBD Tinctures Under the Tongue?

To apply CBD oil tinctures sublingually, the individual must place the drug under the tongue and leave the substance there until dissolved or absorbed into the bloodstream(4).

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a phytocannabinoid (plant-based cannabinoid) derived from the cannabis plant. Studies suggest that the health benefits of CBD include anticonvulsant, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anxiolytic (antianxiety), and analgesic (pain-relieving) effects(5).

Some pointers for individuals learning how to take CBD oil tinctures through the sublingual route are the following(6):

  • Individuals should ensure that they do not mistakenly swallow the drug while intending to take the substance sublingually.
  • Consumers having difficulties raising their tongue or opening their mouth may consider using a straw and placing one end of the straw under the tongue and applying the drug to the other end.
  • Individuals may consider using alternate sides of the mouth when sublingually taking more than one drug dose.
  • If an individual is also taking oral drugs, they should consider administering a sublingual drug after taking the oral drugs.
  • While the sublingually administered drug dissolves or gets absorbed in the mouth, individuals should refrain from eating, drinking, or smoking.
  • Before each medication, individuals should have their oral mucosa inspected for irritation due to repeated sublingual application.

How CBD Tinctures Work Under the Tongue

Sublingual administration refers to the application of a drug under the tongue. This method allows the drug to bypass the firstpass metabolism and facilitates the drug’s rapid absorption into the body’s systemic circulation(7).

The first pass effect occurs when a drug metabolizes at a specific location within the body, reducing that drug’s concentration upon reaching the site of action(8).

Through sublingual administration, the drug reaches the systemic circulation directly through the blood vessels parallel to the mucosal surface(9).

These blood vessels are connected to the sublingual artery. This artery provides blood to the salivary glands and branches out to surrounding muscles and mucous membranes of the mouth, gums, and tongue.

Two primary pathways involved in the drug transport across the submucosal membrane are lipoidal and aqueous routes(10):

  • Lipoidal route: This path is an intercellular route partially filled with lipids and permits drug passage through various cellular pathways.
  • Aqueous route: This route is a paracellular pathway containing water molecules trapped by the polar head of intercellular lipids between cells.

The aqueous route allows drug permeation through submucosal membranes in one of these pathways.

Overall, drug manufacturers must understand the drug’s permeation pathway when designing a drug’s dosage form.

Once in the system, CBD acts as a chemical messenger for the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS)(11).

This biological system is a vast network comprising chemical signals and cannabinoid receptors that regulate and control crucial body functions, including immune responses, pain control, and inflammatory responses(12).

How the Sublingual Method Compares With Other Methods of Taking CBD Tinctures

The sublingual route is one of several methods to administer CBD. Depending on an individual’s needs and preferences, other delivery routes may be more suitable for their circumstances.

  • Sublingual administration: In this method, CBD oil tinctures typically use droppers to deliver the substance under the tongue.

Tinctures also contain carrier oils, such as coconut oil, medium-chain triglyceride oil (MCT oil), or olive oil, that help dilute the CBD concentrate.

Aside from tinctures, other sublingual CBD products include oromucosal sprays and high-potency oils.

CBD oil tinctures have a natural, earthy taste. Individuals who prefer another method to take tinctures other than the sublingual route may consider mixing these products with food or drinks(13).

  • Ingestion: Ingestion involves taking CBD through the oral route, swallowing the drug, and letting it pass through the digestive system before getting absorbed into the bloodstream.

Orally administered CBD products may have a prolonged duration of effect, which may be suitable for all-day or all-night effects(14).

Oral CBD products include edibles such as CBD gummies, candies, cookies, or chews. CBD capsules also fall under the oral route.

Some CBD edibles may contain different flavors to make these products cater to individual tastes or help mask CBD’s natural flavor.

  • Topical application: CBD in topical products may help relieve pain or decrease itching and inflammation when applied to the skin(15). Topically applied CBD does not spread into the bloodstream.

Individuals may choose from a wide selection of CBD topicals, such as CBD creams, ointments, lotions, balms, roll-on sticks, and salves.

  • Inhalation: Inhaling CBD delivers the drug into the body through the lungs, the heart, and the brain, then throughout the body(16).

Inhaling cannabis gives individuals a fast method to administer the substance and may be suitable for acute pain and nausea(17). One method to inhale CBD is by using CBD vapes.

However, vaping can cause various health risks related to lung disease(18). Furthermore, selling vapes or e-cigarettes to individuals below 21 (19 or 18 in some U.S. states) is illegal.

Regardless of the preferred product type or delivery route, individuals with existing medical conditions must consult their doctor for a diagnosis and treatment before taking CBD products.

In addition, the legality of cannabis products varies from one state to another. Individuals considering purchasing and using CBD products must learn and review their state’s laws to determine whether or not such products are prohibited in their area.

The 2018 Farm Bill exempts hemp and hemp-based products containing less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from the Controlled Substances Act’s (CSA) definition of “marijuana”(19).

THC is a cannabis constituent known for producing psychoactive effects or a “high” feeling(20).

Thus, CBD products with THC concentrations higher than 0.3% are illegal under U.S. federal law(21).

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that marketing or labeling CBD products as food additives or dietary supplements is illegal(22). The agency also advises that consumers should consider the real risks of CBD before using this substance.

Individuals interested to know more about FDA regulations and issues regarding cannabis, marijuana, hemp, and CBD may access the agency’s government website at www.fda.gov.

As of February 3, 2022, about 37 U.S. states have allowed the use of medical cannabis. States with regulated cannabis programs include Oregon, New York, Colorado, Texas, Florida, and California(23).

What Is the Best Way to Take CBD Tinctures?

When individuals administer CBD tinctures, CBD brands typically recommend holding the substance under the tongue for a few minutes. These brands claim that this method gives the capillaries inside the mouth ample time to absorb CBD and let the substance enter the bloodstream.

However, brands have no consensus on how long an individual should hold CBD tinctures sublingually without swallowing.

For example, some marketers suggest letting the drug sit under the tongue for about 30 seconds before swallowing the remaining substance, while others recommend holding it for up to two minutes.

Individuals unsure of how long to keep the substance under the tongue should consult a doctor, preferably one familiar with cannabis or CBD products, to help with administration and dosing.

One way to determine the most effective way to administer CBD oil tinctures involves understanding the different CBD oil categories, which may determine the number of compounds that goes into a CBD oil product.

CBD oil products are categorized as isolate, full-spectrum, or broad-spectrum.

  • Full-spectrum CBD oil: This product typically comprises all essential cannabis plant compounds and cannabinoids, such as THC, terpenes, and flavonoids.

Terpenes are compounds that produce the taste, pigment, and fragrance in plants(24).

Meanwhile, flavonoids provide plants with ultraviolet (UV) protection, signaling and defense capability, pigmentation, and plant development regulation(25).

When these compounds function together, they may produce an “entourage effect.”

This effect results from the cannabis compounds’ synergistic activity, which may help boost the cannabinoids’ therapeutic effects(26).

  • Broad-spectrum CBD oil: This CBD oil product contains similar compounds and cannabinoids found in full-spectrum CBD oil. However, broad-spectrum CBD oil does not have THC.
  • CBD isolates: CBD isolates comprise pure CBD only. These products are THC-free and do not include any other compounds or cannabinoids.

Consumers interested in experiencing the entourage effect or CBD’s full benefits may choose full-spectrum CBD oil products.

However, individuals averse to THC or its psychoactive effects may consider broad-spectrum CBD oil products or CBD isolates instead.

Furthermore, individuals should not disregard the potential side effects of CBD before taking these products.

CBD’s side effects include drowsiness, fatigue, dry mouth, reduced appetite, and diarrhea(27).

Additionally, one study on the effects of cannabidiol on patients with CBD prescriptions mentioned that individuals taking the substance may experience sedation and vivid dreams(28).

Furthermore, CBD may block the cytochrome P450 enzymes’ activities. Of the more than 50 enzymes within this group, six metabolize around 90% of drugs(29).

When taken at high enough doses, CBD may inhibit these liver enzymes, affecting the effectiveness of the metabolized drugs(30).

Why Should an Individual Take CBD Tinctures Under the Tongue?

CBD tinctures typically contain calibrated droppers to allow individuals to perform accurate dosing. Thus, individuals who prefer a convenient method to control dosing may consider taking CBD tinctures.

The sublingual method is also suitable for medications with high firstpass metabolism and must avoid the liver.

How Much CBD Tincture Should an Individual Take?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any CBD dosage guide specific to the usage of CBD oil tinctures.

Beginners taking CBD products for the first time should consider starting with a low dose, then increasing the dosage gradually(31).

For CBD-rich products, individuals may start with a 10-milligram (mg) dose per day(32).

One study suggested that humans may tolerate high CBD doses of up to 1,500mg daily(33).

In general, an individual’s CBD dosage or amount of CBD may vary from other individuals due to factors like diet, exercise, overall health conditions, stress levels, and genetics(34).

How Much CBD Is Absorbed Sublingually?

Sublingually administered tinctures have an estimated bioavailability of 6% to 20%(35).

Bioavailability refers to the rate at which the active drug enters the systemic circulation and accesses the site of action(36).

While this absorption rate is slightly higher than ingestion, which is at 6% to 15%, sublingual administration’s bioavailability (6% to 20%) is lower than inhalation, which is 17% to 44%(37).

One study stated that CBD bioavailability following smoking was 31%(38). However, researchers have not thoroughly investigated the bioavailability of CBD using other routes in humans.

  1. Ins and Outs of Giving Drugs Transmucosally
  2. Sublingual Administration
  3. Ins and Outs of Giving Drugs Transmucosally
  4. Ibid.
  5. Cannabidiol Primer for Healthcare Professionals
  6. Ins and Outs of Giving Drugs Transmucosally
  7. Sublingual Administration
  8. First Pass Effect
  9. Sublingual Administration
  10. Ibid.
  11. Cannabidiol Primer for Healthcare Professionals
  12. The Endocannabinoid System: Essential and Mysterious
  13. Page 208 of Healing With CBD
  14. Page 202 of Healing With CBD
  15. Page 210 of Healing With CBD
  16. Best Way to Take CBD
  17. Ibid.
  18. Can Vaping Damage Your Lungs? What We Do (and Don’t) Know
  19. Hemp Production and the 2018 Farm Bill
  20. Tetrahydrocannabinol
  21. CBD & THC: Myths and Misconceptions
  22. What You Need to Know (And What We’re Working to Find Out) About Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-derived Compounds, Including CBD
  23. State Medical Cannabis Laws
  24. Therapeutic and Medicinal Uses of Terpenes
  25. Flavonoid Functions in Plants and Their Interactions with Other Organisms
  26. The Cannabis sativa Versus Cannabis indica Debate: An Interview with Ethan Russo, MD
  27. What are the benefits of CBD — and is it safe to use?
  28. Cannabidiol Prescription in Clinical Practice: An Audit on the First 400 Patients in New Zealand
  29. The Effect of Cytochrome P450 Metabolism on Drug Response, Interactions, and Adverse Effects
  30. Page 114-115 of Healing With CBD
  31. CBD Dosing
  32. Page 218 of Healing With CBD
  33. Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa Constituent
  34. CBD dosing
  35. Page 207 of Healing With CBD
  36. Drug Bioavailability
  37. Page 190-191 of Healing With CBD
  38. A Systematic Review on the Pharmacokinetics of Cannabidiol in Humans
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