Interested in trying CBD but not sure where to start? There are certainly a lot of CBD for beginners guides out there about how CBD works and how it makes you feel, and it can be a little overwhelming! But if you pare it back (as we’ll do for you in this article) understanding what CBD is and how to use it is easy.
What does CBD do?
Around 8 million people in the UK are now estimated to use CBD oil, making it an even more popular supplement than vitamin C! And a large part of the reason for this is that CBD oil can work in many different ways and therefore address many different needs. The CBD molecule is pleiotropic, which means it produces many effects via multiple pathways in the body, which include serotonin receptors (which play a role in regulating mood, digestion, sexual function and sleep), capsaicin receptors (involved in pain regulation), and perhaps most famously, endocannabinoid receptors.
You may now be asking “What are endocannabinoid receptors”?! And that would be very reasonable, because until the CBD industry came along very few people outside of cannabis research knew! Endocannabinoid receptors (and the paired neurotransmitters, endocannabinoids) make up a complex network in the body called the endocannabinoid system - one of the body’s major physiological systems, alongside the immune system, the nervous system, the digestive system and so on. In a nutshell, its job is to keep every single bodily process in balance. This occurs when endocannabinoids activate the ECS receptors, triggering the response to restore equilibrium.
CBD supports the endocannabinoid system by increasing the naturally produced levels of endocannabinoids in the body, which can become depleted due to chronic stress, illness, lack of sleep and so on. CBD also activates serotonin receptors and capsaicin receptors to some degree.
How do you take CBD oil?
It’s really very easy to take CBD oil! All you need to do is place a couple of drops under your tongue and hold it there for a minute or two, so the oil can be absorbed into the body via the sublingual gland.
The real trick to seeing results is consistency. Taking CBD once isn’t going to do much for you, it’s when you take CBD every day for a length of time that you’ll really start to experience the effects, as this allows time for the cannabinoids to accumulate and your own body to find balance.
The food standards agency recommends those using non-prescription CBD stick to a maximum of 70mg a day, however, studies have shown that you can’t overdose on CBD (it’s even been tested safely in up to 1500mg in a single dose!). It’s really all about finding your own dose, and that will depend entirely on your needs and endocannabinoid levels.
To find your dose, it’s best to start low and build up slowly. 2-3 drops every few hours is a good starting point, and you can add a drop or two each time every week, ideally journalling your progress. Keeping track of your dose and any changes you notice can help you figure out the dose CBD works best at for you. This isn’t essential, of course, but it can be very useful for getting the most out of the oil and making sure you don’t take more than you need for the product to be as cost-effective as possible too.
How does CBD make you feel?
When you take CBD oil, you may notice your mood elevating fairly quickly, but subtly. If you’re stressed or anxious, you may also feel a wash of calm as the endocannabinoids (or bliss molecules) make their way around your body - just as they do when you exercise or meditate. You could consider CBD oil to be a bit like meditation in a bottle! That’s quite a good way to describe it.
Over time with regular use, people report feeling uplifted, able to handle stress with greater ease, experiencing better quality sleep and feeling more comfortable. With CBD skincare, people often say they notice their skin is soothed and happy! But everyone is different.
If you take ‘too much’ CBD (for you), you might notice feeling slightly heart-racy for a very brief time and at worst, maybe experience slight nausea or a mild headache. If this happens, don’t worry! It will pass very quickly (usually within 10 minutes) and next time just take a little less.
Does CBD make you sleepy?
CBD is bi-phasic, which means it produces different (sometimes opposite) effects at different doses.
Many people who use CBD do so to support sleep, because yes CBD can make you feel sleepy at high doses. This is why you’ll notice that most CBD oils made specifically for sleep tend to contain a higher mg content.
If you want to feel sleepy, take a bigger dose. If you don’t, take a lower dose!
How long does CBD take to work?
The time it takes for CBD to work depends on the way you take it.
- CBD oil (oral drops): oral drops absorbed under the tongue will become active in the body within a few minutes (up to 10 minutes).
- CBD vapes: inhaling CBD using a vape pen allows the cannabinoids to become active almost instantly.
- CBD capsules: Taking CBD in the form of capsules or edibles (gummies or chocolate) means it needs to go through the digestive system before it becomes active. This can take between 30 minutes to an hour.
How long does CBD last?
Again, the length of time CBD stays active in the body (referred to as the ‘active half-life’) depends on how you take it.
- CBD oil (oral drops): oral drops absorbed under the tongue stay active for around 3 hours
- CBD vapes: vaped CBD stays active for around 1-2 hours
- CBD capsules: CBD capsules and edibles stay active for approximately 4-6 hours