A Beginner’s Guide: What’s the Best Way to Consume CBD?

So you’ve consulted with friends or maybe Dr. Google, and you’ve decided that CBD could be an intriguing addition to your wellness regimen – but there’s a bewildering array of CBD products out there, and a wide range of dosages. It can be hard to know where to begin.

Once you’ve consulted with your actual doctor and decided that CBD is right for you, finding the best method for taking it might be a bit overwhelming. You’ll want to design a CBD treatment plan that fits your individual health goals — whether you’re choosing your first CBD product, or just looking to expand your current routine.

If you’re curious about taking CBD for the first time, you probably have some questions. Such as:

  • Where do I get it?
  • Do I smoke it? What’s the difference between smoking and vaping?
  • Do I eat it? Should I buy CBD gummies or capsules?
  • What’s CBD oil and what’s the best way to take it?
  • What other methods can I use to take CBD?
  • What methods are best for my health concerns?

Fortunately, there are answers – for curious beginners and committed users alike.

Where To Buy CBD

You can buy products that claim to contain CBD everywhere, from health food stores to gas station checkout counters. CBD is also widely available online. There are even products claiming to contain CBD on Amazon.com – though they have an official policy against carrying it. It can be hard to know where to begin.

The best policy is to start with a reputable manufacturer, and then find out where their products are available for sale. A trustworthy company will:

  • Provide a Certificate of Analysis that shows what’s in everything they make
  • Be transparent about where their materials come from, including carrier oils and other ingredients
  • Be clear about whether they use broad-spectrum CBD or CBD isolate
  • Use clean/sustainable farming and manufacturing protocols

A reputable seller will be responsive and happy to answer any questions you may have. They’ll also be able to tell you where to get their products, either in stores or online. And keep in mind that all CBD is not the same. Quality costs money, and it’s worth it. Do your homework, avoid irresponsible sellers, and you can buy with confidence.

Once you’ve found a source you’re confident in, you can start to narrow down the method of taking CBD that’s right for you.

Smoking and Vaping

  • Best for: Quick relief of immediate symptoms, like pain and anxiety
  • Considerations: Negative health effects of smoking, short-lived effects

If you picture a joint or a bong when you think of cannabis, the differences between smoking and vaporizing can be a little confusing. To be clear – you can smoke CBD if you live in a state with legal or medical cannabis. If you’d like to try it, seek out a low- or no-THC strain of marijuana. They’re widely used for many health complaints, and your budtender can help you find one.

However, there’s no way around it – smoking anything is bad for you. Although cannabis is unlikely to cause cancer in quantities reflecting average use, it does contain many of the same chemicals as tobacco smoke, and it can cause or aggravate lung damage. It’s also illegal in most places, even low- or no-CBD strains.

In a vaporizer, a battery-powered coil heats a liquid containing CBD and flavorings to the boiling point, and then the steam is inhaled. No plant matter is burned, so you’ll avoid the harmful effects of smoking. If the liquid is hemp-derived and CBD-only, it’s legal everywhere. And although the jury’s still out on whether vaping is 100% safe, it’s widely considered to be much less hazardous than smoking.

Vaporizing works very quickly – within seconds. It’s best for short-term relief of pressing symptoms, like anxiety. It also doesn’t last very long, so you might want to pair it with an oil or tonic (see below) for long-term relief.

And this is one instance where you’ll want to be especially careful about where you buy and from whom. There are a lot of cheap vape pens out there, with unreliable components and mystery liquid that you wouldn’t want in your lungs. Look for ceramic components, liquid free of propylene glycol, and that all-important Certificate of Analysis.

Gummies, Capsules, Edibles, Oils, Tinctures, and Tonics

  • Best for: Long-term relief of persistent symptoms, like chronic pain and insomnia
  • Considerations: Slow-acting, may be inefficient

There are a lot of cute, tasty CBD edibles out there, from chocolate bars to gummy bears. They’re wildly popular. However, they may not be the best use of your time and money. They take a long time to take effect, and the digestive process breaks CBD down before it reaches the bloodstream. This means you may not be getting the full amount of CBD listed on the packaging. Many edible products also use CBD isolate, which just isn’t as effective as broad-spectrum hemp extract.

CBD oils, tinctures and tonics that are made to be swished in the mouth may be a better bet. The tissues of your mouth are highly absorptive, which gets the CBD to your bloodstream faster. Swishing also bypasses digestion, so you can expect maximum benefits.

Consider pairing CBD oil with a vaporizer for both rapid and long-lasting relief.

Creams and Topicals

  • Best for: Inflammatory skin conditions, sexual health, and wellness
  • Considerations: Results stay localized, you may want to supplement with another method

CBD creams and topicals interact with your body’s endocannabinoid receptors right where you put them. If you’re applying topicals to your skin, not your mucous membranes, the effects can be noticeable but also limited. Applied topically, CBD doesn’t pass into the bloodstream unless it comes in a transdermal patch.

When applied to the mucous membranes, though, it’s a different story. Many women seeking relief from genital and pelvic discomfort and painful sex report terrific results from special topicals formulated for genital use. Much like the tissues of the mouth, the tissues of the vagina are highly absorptive – so the CBD goes to work right where it’s needed. If you’re applying anything to your genitals, you’ll want it to be pristine. Make sure you’re buying from a reputable company.


  • Best for: Menstrual pain, menopause symptom relief, lower back pain
  • Considerations: Results stay localized, you may want to supplement with another method, potentially messy

Suppositories designed for vaginal or rectal use work on the same principle as topicals, with some of the benefits of edibles – a larger amount of CBD sticks around longer, leading to longer-lasting relief. The lining of the rectum is especially absorptive, which is why CBD suppositories can work very well for lower back pain.

They can also be a little messy, which bothers some people. Others may not be comfortable with the insertion process. However, if these aren’t concerns for you, suppositories can be a great option. As with edibles, you can pair with a vaporizer for even quicker relief of symptoms.

Adding CBD To Your Wellness Regimen

CBD is safe and well-tolerated, and it’s very hard to take too much  – but it’s still a drug. It can interfere with the efficacy of some prescription medications, and there may be other concerns that you’ll want to discuss with your doctor before you start. When beginning to take CBD, be patient and start slow. Be mindful of how your body reacts. Always be mindful of quality and care in craftsmanship, and know that good CBD isn’t cheap, and cheap CBD isn’t good. With these things in mind and a targeted plan, this natural herbal medicine may be just the thing for what ails you.