• Sublingual means “under the tongue” in Latin. Sublingual is a method of delivering CBD products beneath the tongue. Sublingual CBD comes in oil, tablet, spray, film, or liquid form.
  • CBD oil taken sublingually may retain its efficacy for two to four hours, with a bioavailability of between 6% to 20%(1).
  • The amount of CBD that a human can absorb varies according to various factors, including mode and route of administration(2). Researchers are investigating the absorption of CBD and other therapeutic compounds found in cannabis and hemp.

What Does “Sublingual” Mean?

Sublingual is a Latin term that translates as “under the tongue.” It is a way of administering drugs by inserting CBD products under the tongue in the context of CBD and the medical industry. CBD products may be a pill, a spray, a film, or a liquid. 

Studies show that cannabidiol may contain potential therapeutic benefits(3). However, no conclusive studies show that CBD is better in sublingual form.      

CBD is a natural component in the Cannabis sativa plant. Cannabis sativa L. (Cannabaceae) is one of the oldest first therapeutic plants(4). Note that there is less than 0.3% THC in hemp plants. 

However,unlike THC, CBD does not have any psychoactive or mind-altering properties(5).

CBD has many forms, such as CBD gummies, edibles, capsules, and CBD topicals like lotions and creams. On the other hand, CBD oil supplements are among the most flexible forms of CBD, which can be applied sublingually

Moreover, CBD oil tinctures, sprays, and lozenges are all examples of sublingual products. Tinctures are often diluted with a carrier oil, such as medium-chain triglyceride or MCT oil, coconut oil, or hempseed oil.

Hempseed oil is primarily derived from hemp seeds and includes omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids(6). Hempseed oil contains little to no CBD.

Types of Sublingual CBD Oil

There are various types of sublingual CBD oil that consumers may find in the CBD market:

  1. CBD isolate oils – Legitimate CBD isolate is pure cannabidiol. The manufacturers separate CBD from the cannabis plant‘s other components and cannabinoids during processing.

    Sublingually applied CBD isolates have no THC, other cannabinoids, or terpenes. Consumers who dislike cannabis may prefer CBD isolates since the form does not contain THC (a psychoactive compound).
  2. Full-spectrum CBD oilsFull-spectrum CBD oil includes CBD and all other cannabinoids present in hemp or cannabis plants. The hemp plants are produced for high CBD and low THC content, enabling CBD to be classified as hemp and be legally lawful.

    There is an “entourage effect” in full-spectrum CBD oil drops. The “entourage effect” refers to the beneficial impact of all the compounds and cannabinoids of the cannabis plant when combined(7).
  3. Broad-spectrum CBD oil – Broad-spectrum CBD oils include the whole cannabinoid and terpene profile. In this case, the THC has been completely removed, leaving broad-spectrum CBD oil at 0% THC. Due to the additional extraction procedures, consumers may find CBD broad-spectrum oil a more costly type of CBD sublingual oil.

How Does CBD Oil Work Under the Tongue?

CBD oil can be administered in different ways. Users may also benefit from CBD if they consume CBD oil under the tongue and ingest it straight. 

Depending on the CBD form, bioavailability of CBD may have higher concentrations.  CBD oil administered sublingually may remain effective for two to four hours and with bioavailability between 6% to 20%(8).

Bioavailability is how much of a compound enters the bloodstream after being introduced to the body(9)

Note that some concerns with oral CBD include low bioavailability, varied pharmacokinetics, and potential polymorphisms, resulting in less predictable effectiveness, more significant adverse effects, and drug-drug interactions at higher dosages(10).

The liver must digest every CBD ingested by the gastrointestinal system or stomach and have a “first pass” effect.

The first pass effect refers to how a drug is metabolized at a specific site in the body, resulting in a decreased concentration of the active ingredient upon reaching its action or systemic circulation(11)

How Is Sublingual CBD Administered?

One of the most common ways to take CBD is through a sublingual administration. This CBD administration involves placing a few drops of the compound under the tongue to allow CBD to dissolve and enter the bloodstream.

How to Take Sublingual CBD?

Typically, users will administer the CBD oil using a dropper. Place the liquid beneath the tongue using the dropper to get the correct dose. Allow between one and two minutes for the compound to dissolve in the mouth before swallowing.

It is recommended that you swirl the compound briefly to ensure that it is completely absorbed by all of the oral tissues. This procedure will allow the CBD oil to be distributed to the tissues of the cheeks and even the gums of the mouth.

Depending on the user’s preference, they may use flavored or unflavored CBD oil tinctures.

A tincture is CBD dissolved in alcohol or carrier oil. CBD oil tinctures are often used sublingually.

What Does “Buccal” Mean as a Method to Take CBD?

Another unusual name for orally ingesting medications or CBD is “buccal.” Buccal refers to the delivery method of placing the medicine between the gums and cheeks(12)

The process provides comparable advantages as sublingual but requires more effort to hold the CBD liquid in place.    

Why Take CBD Sublingually?

Individuals can absorb CBD sublingually. The two key advantages of taking CBD sublingually are the speed of CBD absorption in the body and the amount of strength reached.

Rapid absorption of the chemical occurs via the mucosal membrane behind the tongue. Under this procedure, the rate of absorption is fast. 

Note that the greater the CBD compound’s concentration, the longer CBD will be effective. Additionally, sublingual administration remains effective for up to four hours. 

How Much Is CBD Absorbed Sublingually?

The amount of CBD that the body can absorb may depend on several factors, such as an individual’s body weight, diet, and genetics.

Researchers are now investigating how CBD and other therapeutic compounds found in cannabis and hemp are absorbed by the body.

Users may start with a low dosage. If users take a CBD-dominant product (such as hemp-derived product with little THC or cannabis product with a 20:1 or greater ratio), start with 10 mg per day(13)

For first-time CBD users, individuals may start with a modest dosage of THC (1 to 2.5mg) since the body sensitivity may be high(14).

If users are suffering more severe health problems, such as chronic pain, it is suggested that they check with a healthcare professional before increasing the CBD dose.

Sublingual CBD Absorption Time

CBD in the bloodstream peaks between 2 to 4 hours after sublingual administration(15). Moreover, the onset time may last 15 to 30 minutes.  

Sublingual CBD Labeling and Dosing Calculations

Most standard bottles of CBD oil or tinctures are available in dosages ranging from 100mg to 3,500 milligrams. These CBD products are available in various sizes and the most popular being 30ml and 60ml. Administer the compound in the mouth once or twice a day, depending on the preferred dosage method.

Risks and Side Effects of CBD

The safety profile of CBD in humans has been confirmed and extended by reviewing available clinical studies. Studies showed that CBD may manage psychotic disorders and epilepsy(16).

However, some of the side effects of CBD include fatigue, irritability, and nausea(17). CBD may also increase the levels of blood-thinning and other drugs in the system. High doses of CBD may also show abnormalities in blood tests for the liver(18)

It is essential to talk to a healthcare professional about using CBD regularly. Moreover, individuals who are presently taking prescription medications and have diagnoses of other medical conditions should see their physician before consuming any CBD products.

Compared to other drugs used to treat epilepsy and other medical conditions, cannabidiol has a better safety profile(19). Therefore, CBD may help the adherence of patients to their therapy. 

CBD is often used in conjunction with other therapies(20). Thus, further clinical study is needed to determine if CBD’s activity on hepatic enzymes, drug transporters, and interactions with other medicines are the most beneficial or harmful consequences.

Meanwhile, the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act definition of marijuana(21)

This law made CBD products containing less than 0.3% THC permissible. However, CBD products with greater than 0.3% THC are still classified as marijuana under federal law, but are lawful under several state regulations.

Check state laws before purchasing CBD products. Moreover, the Food and Drug Administration or FDA has not authorized non-prescription CBD products, and some may be mislabeled(22).

Why Is CBD Not Working for Individuals?

Unfortunately, many of the non-prescription CBD products do not contain high-quality CBD. 

There is a cross-country comparison on the access to CBD without prescription. Some CBD products were available without a prescription in seven different nations(23). The non-prescription CBD items were oils, gel capsules, pure crystal, and topicals.

Thus, users need to be careful in choosing CBD products. It is important to purchase CBD with higher potency. 

Customers interested in purchasing a CBD product that claims to include high-quality CBD should look for third-party laboratory testing. These tests are used to determine the precise amount of CBD present in the CBD product.

Lab testing should be performed on CBD-rich products to ensure consistency and to ensure the CBD products are free of mold, bacteria, pesticides, solvent residues, and other pollutants.

Also, if the users do not want to use cannabis , there are THC-free CBD products that consumers may consider. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are CBD products safe for everyone?

Consult the doctor before using CBD to address a medical problem, mainly if the users are on other medications. CBD may interact with several over-the-counter and prescription medicines(24).

2. Can individuals take too much CBD?

CBD is safe at extremely high levels in studies, such as 1,500mg per day(25). However, while CBD-related concerns are uncommon, CBD may sometimes interfere with liver function and interact with certain drugs(26)

CBD may interfere with drugs that prohibit grapefruit consumption(27). The liver metabolizes other cannabinoids found in grapefruit. Whether users take medicine, ask the doctor if medication will negatively interact with CBD.

3. How much CBD does a dropper hold?

A conventional dropper holds 20 drops of CBD liquid or 1 milliliter. Users may test the dropper‘s size and the number of droplets and determine what provides 20 drops of CBD liquid.


  1. Healing with CBD, page 192
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AGlxnhS2SoFeOXEuysv75bd_C9pEnwsU/view
  2. Towards Better Delivery of Cannabidiol (CBD)
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7558665/
  3. Therapeutic Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK425767/
  4. Cannabaceae
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/cannabaceae
  5. Conversion of Cannabidiol (CBD) into Psychotropic Cannabinoids Including Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): A Controversy in the Scientific Literature
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32503116/
  6. Hemp Seed Oil Properties
    https://extension.okstate.edu/fact-sheets/hemp-seed-oil-properties.html
  7. The “Entourage Effect”: Terpenes Coupled with Cannabinoids for the Treatment of Mood Disorders and Anxiety Disorders
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7324885/
  8. Healing with CBD, page 192
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AGlxnhS2SoFeOXEuysv75bd_C9pEnwsU/view
  9. Drug Bioavailability
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557852/
  10. Towards Better Delivery of Cannabidiol (CBD)
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7558665/
  11. First Pass Effect
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31869143/
  12. Advances in Nanoparticulate Drug Delivery Approaches for Sublingual and Buccal Administration
    https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2019.01328/full
  13. Healing With CBD, page. 218
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AGlxnhS2SoFeOXEuysv75bd_C9pEnwsU/view
  14. Ibid.
  15. Healing with CBD, page 192
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AGlxnhS2SoFeOXEuysv75bd_C9pEnwsU/view
  16. An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5569602/
  17. Cannabidiol (CBD)-what we know and what we don’t
    https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cannabidiol-cbd-what-we-know-and-what-we-dont-2018082414476
  18. Ibid.
  19. An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5569602/
  20. Ibid.
  21. Hemp Production and the 2018 Farm Bill
    https://www.fda.gov/news-events/congressional-testimony/hemp-production-and-2018-farm-bill-07252019
  22. FDA Regulation of Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products, Including Cannabidiol (CBD)
    https://www.fda.gov/news-events/public-health-focus/fda-regulation-cannabis-and-cannabis-derived-products-including-cannabidiol-cbd
  23. Access to cannabidiol without a prescription: A cross-country comparison and analysis
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0955395920302747
  24. CBD and other medications: Proceed with caution
    https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cbd-and-other-medications-proceed-with-caution-2021011121743
  25. An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5569602/
  26. CBD and other medications: Proceed with caution
    https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cbd-and-other-medications-proceed-with-caution-2021011121743
  27. Grapefruit Juice and Some Drugs Don’t Mix
    https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/grapefruit-juice-and-some-drugs-dont-mix
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