Chances are, you’ve heard A LOT about CBD before! You know that it may help you. Yet… Whether you’re shopping for CBD online or visiting in-store, you’ve likely noticed just how many different products there are. Among the most popular products are flower and tinctures. Which begs the question, is there a difference A guide to the most common CBD products and how they affect the body. CBD comes in many different forms. In this post, we'll go over the differences between CBD oil vs. CBD flower and the benefits of each.
The Difference Between Smoking CBD Flower and Taking CBD Tinctures
Chances are, you’ve heard A LOT about CBD before!
You know that it may help you.
Whether you’re shopping for CBD online or visiting in-store, you’ve likely noticed just how many different products there are.
Among the most popular products are flower and tinctures.
Which begs the question, is there a difference between the two?
And if so, is one option better than the other?
You’ve come to the right place!
Learn more about smoking CBD flower versus taking CBD tinctures .
What is CBD Flower?
Hemp plants, like marijuana, produce smokable flower .
While these buds may look similar, there are some BIG differences between the two.
Unlike marijuana flower, CBD flower does NOT produce mind-altering effects.
Tetrahydrocannabinol, AKA THC, is responsible for the psychoactive qualities cannabis is associated with.
By law in the United States, hemp must contain only trace quantities of THC, as in less than 0.3% if we want to get technical here.
You might be wondering, if CBD-rich flower doesn’t get you “high”, what does it do?
Hemp flower is abundant in CBD along with other cannabinoids such as CBG, CBC, and more!
Why is this significant?
Research indicates cannabinoids are more effective together than they are alone. This phenomenon is known as the entourage effect.
Hemp flower offers a soothing experience without the high.
If you enjoy the experience of smoking and want to avoid the mind altering or panic inducing effects of THC, hemp CBD flower is a great option.
Simply pack it up, spark it up, and enjoy!
What are CBD Tinctures?
CBD tinctures are another way to enjoy the life enhancing benefits of Cannabidiol.
To put it simply, tinctures are a type of liquid extract made by steeping flower in alcohol.
The result is a concentrated form of CBD rich in cannabinoids.
A big advantage of CBD tinctures in comparison to other alternatives is that you only need a small amount.
You can take CBD tinctures directly under your tongue (sublingually) or you can infuse it into your favorite foods and drinks.
Tinctures are versatile and powerful.
This concentrated form of CBD is a great way to consistently nourish your body with high doses of Cannabidiol for lasting support.
Smoking CBD Versus Taking CBD Tinctures
Clearly, smoking CBD flower and taking CBD tinctures offer great benefits.
Yet, is one better than the other?
It’s truly a personal preference!
While taking CBD tinctures is a healthier alternative to smoking, many people enjoy the experience.
That being said:
You are not limited to a single option.
So long as you are mindful of your dosing (AKA – how much CBD you’re actually consuming) you can use multiple products for different purposes.
CBD tinctures offer a consistent dose of Cannabidiol while smokable flower provides a peaceful experience without the high.
No matter your preferences, it’s easy so many people are incorporating CBD into their self-care routine.
You’ll be happy to know…
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Edibles vs. topicals vs. vaping vs. oils: CBD products, explained
A guide to the most common CBD products and how they affect the body.
Danielle Kosecki is an award-winning journalist who has covered health and fitness for 15 years. She’s written for Glamour, More, Prevention and Bicycling magazines, among others, and is the editor of The Bicycling Big Book of Training. A New York native, Danielle now lives in Oakland where she doesn’t miss winter at all.
You’re not imagining it — CBD is everywhere. After the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 legalized hemp-derived cannabidiol, products with it have flooded the market. Burgers , coffee, cartridges , pet shampoo — you name it and there’s probably a version that contains CBD.
This story discusses substances that are legal in some places but not in others and is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You shouldn’t do things that are illegal — this story does not endorse or encourage illegal drug use.
The sheer variety of CBD products can be overwhelming — especially considering they all interact with and affect the body in different ways — but the abundance can also be a good thing.
“Medical cannabis users can kind of mix and match what they use in ways that can potentially be similar to the medication a physician would give them, says Kevin Boehnke, Ph.D., research investigator in the department of anesthesiology and the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center at the University of Michigan. For example, when it comes to pain management — the top medical use for CBD — a fast-acting form of cannabis (like vaping) and a slower-acting form (like edibles) could potentially be used analogously to fast-acting and extended-release pain relievers.
Research into the potential health effects of CBD, as well as optimal doses for specific conditions, is still preliminary but there are a few things we know about the different delivery methods.
Edibles (including pills and capsules)
CBD is available in many edible forms, including beverages, chocolate and these gumdrop candies.
This class of CBD products includes anything ingestible — from drinks to candy to capsules.
Pros: With such a large variety of edible CBD products available, people may have an easier time finding something that fits their preferences. For example, food products, like chocolate, gummies and granola bars, may have an earthy flavor that some may find unappealing but pills and capsules tend to be tasteless.
Packaged edibles can also make it easier to take a specific dose (though checking a product’s certificate of analysis is the best way to confirm it contains the type and amount of ingredients listed on the package).
Cons: Absorption can be slow, erratic and variable, according to research. “If you eat an edible, it actually takes a while to hit the bloodstream because it has to be digested and metabolized by the liver,” says Boehnke. “So it takes a while to take effect but then that lasts a lot longer and tapers more slowly.”
And things like how much food someone has recently eaten can affect how much CBD is absorbed by the body, which is usually around 20%-30%. Peak bloodstream levels are usually achieved within one to two hours, though it can take up to six. That variability makes edibles the least predictable methods of using CBD.
Many brands offer vaporizers with CBD.
Similar to e-cigarettes , vaporizers heat up dry cannabis flower or CBD oils, creating an inhalable vapor.
Pros: Vaping is the fastest way to potentially feel results. Peak bloodstream levels occur around 10 minutes but most people can start feeling the effects within a few minutes of the first inhalation and the effects can stick around for three to five hours.
“When you vape or smoke, it quickly hits the bloodstream, so there is a quick effect onset that tapers off more quickly than edibles,” says Boehnke.
Cons: Like edibles, a variety of factors, such as how deeply someone inhales, how long they hold their breath, and how hot a vaporizer runs can affect CBD absorption, which can vary from 10%-60%. Dosing can also be difficult, although prefilled pens that meter out doses help to consistently zero in on the right amount.
Lastly, vape cartridges can contain propylene glycol , a liquid alcohol that’s also found in e-cigarettes and can break down into formaldehyde, a probable carcinogen, at high temperatures. There are “solvent-free” oils on the market that don’t use propylene glycol, and come with a certificate of analysis detailing what chemicals are present.
Oils and tinctures
The CBD in these products are usually extracted from hemp and then diluted with an oil, often sesame. The resulting oil or tincture is then typically placed under the tongue using a dropper or sprayed on the inside the cheek, where it’s absorbed directly into the bloodstream.
Pros: After vaping, oils and tinctures are the second-fastest way to feel the effects of CBD — usually within 30 minutes. Unless it’s added to food or immediately swallowed, in which case it will have to be processed by the liver first.
Cons: Depending on the product, dosing can be tricky. Labeled droppers can be a big help, as can shaking the bottle well before use because CBD can get stuck to the side of the container.
Marijuana bubble bath and body lotion is seen for sale at the Higher Path medical marijuana dispensary in California’s San Fernando Valley.
Robyn Beck / AFP/Getty Images
Topicals include lotions and balms that are rubbed directly onto the skin, as well as transdermal patches that stick to the skin and gradually release CBD into the bloodstream over a prolonged period of time.
Pros: Topicals can be as effective as oral delivery methods. Lotions work more locally, making them a great option for things like arthritis and menstrual cramps, whereas transdermal patches will have a more wide-reaching effect.
Cons: Topicals generally need to contain higher amounts of active ingredients, like CBD, to be effective, which can drive up the price. There’s also the risk of skin irritation. The time required to take effect can vary.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.
CBD Oil vs CBD Flower: What’s the Difference?
If you’re just getting started with cannabidiol or CBD, you may be searching for the right way to reap the benefits of this natural medicine. Or maybe you’ve been using CBD for a while, but you’re hoping to expand the ways you can access those effects you’re used to.
In this post, we present the differences between CBD flower and CBD oil so you can get a close up sense of which general type of CBD product might work best for you or which products to use when.
However, the popularity of CBD and hemp has led to a debate on whether processed CBD products or hemp flower are “better.” The fact is that the answer largely depends on the consumer and, in some cases, the situation.
What is CBD Hemp Flower?
CBD flower (also known as hemp bud, CBD bud, and hemp flower) is the female hemp plant flower. The hemp plant is simply the Cannabis sativa plant with 0.3 percent THC or less under federal law.
The CBD flower is the source of various phytocannabinoids, including cannabidiol (CBD), making it one of the most important parts of the hemp plant. It is in this capacity that hemp has become a cash crop once again, producing CBD oil and other hemp CBD products such as CBD flower.
However, the modern medicinal high-CBD strain you get at the dispensary is not the random industrial hemp you find in just any field. If you’ve ever heard that smoking hemp instead of the cannabis plant can bring a headache, this is why: hemp bred for fiber and seed rather than resin and medicine is not a great source of CBD.
What is CBD Oil?
Although the CBD market is impressively large, it is still growing. The basic oral/sublingual CBD oil is still the most common way of taking this cannabinoid, but businesses are quickly developing many new ways to use CBD—though most are based on some form of CBD oil infusion.
You can take CBD orally in gummies, capsules, liquid, food, or softgels. Dosing can be a challenge and absorption is slow based on delayed onset of effect, stomach acids, recent meals, and other factors.
You can also take CBD sublingually as an oil, tincture, or spray by holding it under your tongue for 60 to 120 seconds so it absorbs directly into the bloodstream. You will taste it, unfortunately, but you will feel effects within 15 to 45 minutes.
Vaping is also possible for some kinds of CBD oil—but only CBD vape juice and CBD vape oils that are actually designed for that use. Never vape or smoke anything that is not intended for that end-use.
CBD Oil vs CBD Flower: The Endocannabinoid System
All mammals have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) throughout their bodies. The ECS is a biological system made up of naturally occuring chemicals called endocannabinoids, receptors for the endocannabinoids, and enzymes that destroy the chemicals after use.
The ECS regulates appetite, memory, mood, pain sensation, reproduction, sleep, and other functions in humans with the goal of achieving homeostasis. Homeostasis is the healthy, balanced zone of good function and regulation that biological systems need to stay inside—like staying within the healthy range for weight, blood sugar levels, blood pressure, etc.
CBD interacts with the cannabinoid receptors to ensure the correct cellular response no matter whether it comes from CBD oil or CBD flower. However, depending on the specific type of symptoms you’re experiencing, one delivery method might be more effective. More on this below.
CBD Oil vs CBD Flower: The Experience
There is a lot of variety even in the ways you consume CBD oil and CBD flower.
Vaping and Smoking CBD Flower and Oil
Vaping dry flower demands a flower vaporizer you might use for cannabis flower, such as the tabletop Volcano, the standard PAX, or the portable Zeus Arc GT. Vaping CBD oil requires proprietary pod systems like the PAX Era or the simpler, portable 510 thread batteries you get from the dispensary (or nicer versions like the Vessel).
But even vaping CBD oil and vaping CBD flower is different in many ways. Both offer a very fast-acting experience, and, although CBD oil offers a more concentrated dose of CBD, CBD flower delivers a whole-plant experience because it hasn’t lost any of its cannabinoids, terpenes, or other active compounds during extraction.
Another difference is control. Typically, CBD-dominant flower has about 6 to 15 percent CBD along with at least some THC. The amount can be determined by batch testing. However, as a natural, unrefined plant product, you can’t always control this, and you may end up with a very gentle high. Some great examples of CBD-dominant strains are Charlotte’s Web, ACDC, and Cherry Wine.
In contrast, due to the extraction process that isolates the cannabinoids, CBD oil has a higher concentration of CBD. Many CBD oils ultimately have as much as 60 to 80 percent CBD. Some brands also add terpenes after extraction for a more flavorful experience and added benefits, so those levels may vary.
Vaping CBD flower often delivers a lighter high than CBD oil, but ultimately the question comes down to consumer preference because both CBD flower and oil provide the therapeutic qualities associated with CBD.
How to Take CBD Oil
For those who would rather not vape or smoke CBD flower or CBD oil, taking CBD oil either orally or sublingually is always an option. Taking CBD oil orally or sublingually is an easier, more discreet, and more portable way to get your CBD.
CBD comes orally in gummies and other candies, capsules and softgels, drinks and food, and even mints and gum. Dosing is sometimes tricky, and it takes time for the CBD to get into your system. You can also take CBD sublingually (although it generally doesn’t taste great) as a spray, oil, troiche, or tincture. Just hold it under your tongue to generate saliva for 60 to 120 seconds, and it will directly absorb into your bloodstream within 15 to 45 minutes.
The Top 5 CBD Flower Strains:
Hawaiian Haze: this paradise-themed strain is true to its namesake, with hints of tropical fruit.
Sour Diesel CBD: a high-CBD version of this classic marijuana strain is a high-energy crowd pleaser.
Lifter: a CBD strain that does what it says on the tin.
Acapulco Gold CBD: of course we’re biased here, but a high-CBD version of Acapulco Gold is one of the bet CBD strains you can smoke.
Sour Space Candy: sour and sweet, this flower is fan favorite year in and year out.
Benefits of Smoking of Vaping High-CBD Flower vs Using CBD Oil
Entourage effect. The whole hemp flower produces the entourage effect, a phenomenon in which phytocannabinoids and terpenes work more effectively in the body when they are together than they do when isolated. Vaping or smoking flower can deliver the entourage effect, as can using full spectrum CBD oil products—but consuming the whole flower is the most direct way to achieve this.
Onset time. Vaping or smoking delivers CBD much more quickly than oral or sublingual CBD oil. For acute medical conditions like anxiety and panic attacks, vaping or smoking an indica style CBD flower can be very effective.
Duration of effects. However, when vaping or smoking, those effects don’t last as long, either. For longer-lasting effects, the CBD oil may be better. This is probably especially true for patients with chronic pain management needs.
Cost. High-quality CBD oil can be expensive due to processing costs, while high-end hemp flower is typically not as costly. On the other hand, it is also lower in concentration when it comes to cannabinoids.
Bioavailability. Smoking or vaping CBD has high bioavailability, meaning the body absorbs more CBD at a faster rate. CBD that has to bypass the digestive system has much lower bioavailability.
Respiratory stress. The counterpoint to the bioavailability issue is, perhaps, respiratory. Smoking and vaping take a toll on the lungs over time, while simply consuming CBD oil is safe.
Full Spectrum CBD vs Broad Spectrum CBD vs CBD Isolate
The difference here is mostly one of the levels of THC. Full-spectrum and whole plant products retain low levels or trace amounts of THC content, while the other products do not.
Full-spectrum CBD oil retains all phytocannabinoids and terpenes found naturally in hemp. Full-spectrum, in other words, contains THC that is essential to the entourage effect. On the other hand, it can potentially register on a drug test or produce psychoactive effects which some users do not want.
Broad-spectrum CBD is produced using more rigorous processes that first extract various compounds and then isolate and remove all THC. CBD isolate is the most refined version of a CBD extract, created by isolating CBD completely from all other plant compounds.
Whole-plant CBD extracts are a subset of less processed full-spectrum CBD oil. These are most similar to hemp flower and contain all of the terpenes, cannabinoids, vitamins, fibers, proteins, omega acids, and other natural hemp phytonutrients.
Hemp in Focus: Cannabinoids, Terpenes, and Other Phytonutrients
The hemp plant contains over 100 medicinally valuable chemical compounds called phytocannabinoids. The sticky resin of the hemp flower is where most phytocannabinoids such as CBD, THC, CBC, CBN, CBG, and others are produced from the trichomes. These tiny crystals are what make both hemp and marijuana plants sticky and shiny, and they are full of terpenes and flavonoids as well as cannabinoids.
Top Five Hemp Cannabinoids
Cannabidiol (CBD) offers many health benefits but does not produce the intoxicating effects THC is known for.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) occurs in small amounts in hemp (up to 0.3 percent by law) and produces both that “high” feeling of intoxication and its own health benefits alongside the other cannabinoids.
Cannabinol (CBN) is a rare cannabinoid produced as THC breaks down and is known for its sedative effects.
Cannabigerol (CBG) is the root cannabinoid.
Cannabichromene (CBC) is a promising pain treatment.
Hemp Flower Terpenes
Terpenes are aromatic phytonutrient compounds—nutrients and antioxidants essential to all plant life that lend hemp its flavor, aroma, and many healing qualities. Terpenes, cannabinoids such as CBD, and other hemp compounds all interact and enhance each others’ potency. Every strain of hemp flower has its own unique terpene profile, but of the many hemp terpenes, there are five found most often.
Top Five Terpenes in Hemp Flower
Myrcene is among the most common cannabis terpene and is also found in parsley, hops, and wild thyme. Myrcene supports relaxation, soothes insomnia, and has an earthy, herbal, musky scent.
Pinene promotes memory and alertness, is known for its pine smell, and is also found in parsley, rosemary, and orange peels.
Linalool is the lavender terpene known for its delicate floral scent and ability to promote restful sleep.
Humulene with its hoppy aroma is common in cloves and basil (as well as hops, of course). This terpene has and is known as an effective analgesic and anti-inflammatory.
Limonene is a well-known mood-enhancer and stress-reliever with a fresh citrus scent.
[Remember, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is not yet closely regulating CBD. Always look for third-party lab testing to verify what is and is not in your CBD products.]
Final Thoughts on CBD Oil vs CBD Flower
The best thing about the CBD revolution we’re currently experiencing is that there are now so many choices. Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, more and more people now have the freedom to explore the effects of CBD themselves.
The battle of CBD oil vs CBD flower isn’t much of a battle because they are both winners. Which is your favorite form of CBD?