Updated on January 21, 2020.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Marijuana consists of many different compounds that work together to relieve symptoms. You can isolate these compounds, known as cannabinoids, to experience one specific component’s effects. One compound commonly used by medical marijuana patients iscannabidiol (CBD). Learn why patients prefer this compound and the different ways it can be used.
About CBD Products
The marijuana plant contains dozens of cannabinoids that provide different kinds of relief. When we talk about cannabis medicine, we usually focus on two of them: CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC soothes a wide range of symptoms, but it also produces an elevated state of mind or “high.” Many medical-marijuana users don’t worry about this side effect, but some adult patients and parents of minor patients prefer an option that doesn’t create that high. As an alternative, they turn to CBD medication to treat conditions like epilepsy, insomnia and nausea.
CBD oil is one of the most popular forms of CBD medicine. Since the FDA considers hemp-based CBD oil a supplement, you can buy and use it legally. If you have access to cannabis medicine, however, you may want to try a medical-grade product. The items sold at a dispensary undergo more stringent testing than hemp-based CBD. Most people take CBD oil by mouth or with food, but you can also rub it into your skin or vape certain types of it.
The time for the CBD to take effect depends on the administration method. Here is a closer look at some of the ways to consume CBD.
CBD-infused food lets you eat your medicine. Many dispensaries sell edibles that contain only CBD. You can also make your own by mixing CBD oil into your food. This can make the medicating experience more pleasant for children, people with disabilities who may have difficulty using CBD in other ways or anyone who panics at the sight of medicine.
Equipment/Assistance Needed: Use a dropper to add CBD oil to a meal. Patients with certain disabilities may need a specific form of food or help with eating.
Patients who take a no-frills approach to their treatment appreciate the simplicity of CBD pills and capsules. Older patients familiar with standard medicine might feel more comfortable taking a CBD pill instead of a less conventional form.
Equipment/Assistance Needed: Take your pill with the healthy beverage of your choice — water is usually best.
Vape cartridges come in CBD-only formulas that let you medicate with a vaporizer. After the CBD liquid is heated to the point of vaporization, the aerosol is inhaled and takes effect quickly. We do not recommend allowing children to medicate with a vaporizer.
Equipment/Assistance Needed: Any type of vaporizer will work with CBD.
Patients experienced with using cannabis might enjoy medicating with a concentrate or dab. However, we only recommend dabbing for patients with prior experience, as it involves heating wax with a torch and carries safety risks. For a safer way to use a concentrate, consider vaping it with an atomizer attachment.
Equipment/Assistance Needed: To breathe in a concentrate, use a dab torch and nail or vaporizer with atomizer.
A CBD tincture consists of CBD in an oil or alcohol solution. Most tinctures with a CBD-only formula contain hemp extract, making them legal to use throughout the country. The tincture bottle includes a dropper for administering the medicine under your tongue, on your skin or in a hot beverage.
Equipment/Assistance Needed: Minors or patients with mobility problems might need assistance with any of the three administration methods.
Time to Take Effect: 20 to 40 minutes (sublingual dose)
For people who can’t ingest or inhale CBD medicine, a vaginal or rectal suppository is an alternative. Suppositories absorb into the body more quickly than edibles, providing fast relief, and the effects can last as long as eight hours.
Equipment/Assistance Needed: We recommend using medical gloves during application.