BBC Food Learn how to best take CBD oil under the tongue and why it is the most popular method of application. Discover other methods ranked by their effectiveness.
Why are people eating CBD and will it get me high?
Cannabidiol, or as it’s better known CBD, is a legal cannabinoid (chemicals found in cannabis) and can be sold in the UK .
It’s not the psychoactive cannabinoid that gets you high, called THC. Instead it’s a product believed by its high-street users to have medicinal properties, such as relaxation and pain-, nausea- and anxiety-relief, although studies are not conclusive.
So why are we increasingly seeing CBD-labelled coffees, cakes and croissants in shops, cafes and restaurants all over the UK?
What is it doing in food?
CBD is normally sold in combination with a base oil, such as olive or coconut, as a supplement, vape, gel to be applied to the skin and more recently, in food and drink.
“Businesses have picked up on growing public awareness and have been promoting their products online, in high-street retailers and increasingly in food and drink,” says Professor in Substance Use, Harry Sumnall, Liverpool John Moores University. We spoke to chefs at two restaurants who use CBD on their menus in completely different ways.
“CBD is actually hard to cook with. It has a disgusting taste”, says Greg Hanger, head chef at Kalifornia Kitchen in London, who has created an entire CBD afternoon tea . Greg pays attention to the type of oil that the CBD is mixed with, saying “coconut oil CBD is great in Thai cooking balanced with coriander, ginger and lime. Olive oil CBD is great for Middle Eastern foods like hummus or you could even mask the flavour with rosemary and put it in cheesy sauce or mashed potatoes .”
“CBD tends to work well in foods with a stronger, earthy taste, such as chocolate and coffee”, says Meg Greenacre, head chef at Erpingham House in Norwich. “I’ve been inspired by menus in London to create a delicious CBD brownie for our customers here. I was surprised that during taste tests, no one could tell which brownie the CBD was in and actually, most people thought it was the batch that did not contain it. I am looking into adding CBD to more sweet bakes such as nutty flapjacks and beetroot chocolate cake , which naturally have a deeper and richer flavour, complementing the earthy, almost bitter, taste and smell of CBD oil.
“When you cook with CBD, you have to be careful not to heat the mixture at too high a temperature”, advises Meg. A search on CBD websites brings up details of CBD evaporating and losing its ‘health’ properties past 160–180C, though “there is also little understanding of what happens to CBD when you cook it or add it to a drink”, says Professor Sumnall.
Is CBD a miracle cure?
“There is a greater public awareness of the potential therapeutic uses of medical cannabis and cannabinoids such as CBD, particularly in light of the UK government decision to permit some cannabis prescriptions in response to high-profile campaigns by the families of children affected by severe epilepsy,” says Professor Sumnall.
“The emerging UK CBD industry, inspired by the successes of the legal cannabis industry in the USA, has adopted a similar marketing strategy, and whilst the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency rules mean products can’t make direct health claims without going through formal licensing, the language of ‘wellbeing’ allows them to bypass regulation.
“But there is no good scientific evidence that these consumer products have any real benefits.
“Many of the CBD products available on the high street contain so little CBD that you would need to consume vast quantities to even approach some of the doses that are administered in clinical trials of medicines”, concludes Sumnall.
Coffees and cakes may contain between 5–10mg of CBD. But clinical trials administer doses of around 100–1,500mg per day, with medical supervison.
However, it is not clear whether it would be advisable to consume higher doses of CBD than is currently in these products. “I do worry that if people believe a small amount is good and it’s completely safe, they may believe a large amount is better, says Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and Clinical Director of Patient Info.”
“The problem we have is there hasn’t been enough research and we just don’t know”, Jarvis continues.
This is currently not a regulated market in the UK and so there are no rules on the quality, source, or content of CBD in these type of products, said Professor Sumnall. Michael Wight, Head of Food Safety Policy for The Food Standards Agency said, “We are not aware of any significant safety concerns related to CBD, but as part of the ‘novel foods’ authorisation process they do need to be evaluated for safety. We are continuing to actively monitor food safety aspects of CBD. If we find credible evidence to say that CBD extracts in general, or specific products containing CBD, risk harm to the public, they will be removed from sale.”
CBD oil under the tongue
Since CBD found its way into high street shops and online stores, the choices have improved. You can choose from products such as drops, sprays, capsules and gummies. You can also choose how to take it. CBD can be swallowed, placed under the tongue, vaped, rubbed into your skin or applied rectally.
Whether it’s CBD drops or CBD paste, placing it under the tongue is also known as “the sublingual method” and it is the most common way to take CBD. Despite its popularity, it is also the method that can cause the most confusion or raise questions.
Placing substances under your tongue understandably sounds a bit odd because it’s not something we often do. So, what is it about this method that makes it so widely used?
CBD under the tongue – Fast facts
- CBD oil is taken under the tongue because the cannabidiol can be absorbed into the blood stream via the sublingual membrane.
- To take CBD this way, simply lift your tongue, squeeze out the required number of drops and hold.
- At for the Ageless, we recommend holding the oil under your tongue for 90 – 120 seconds so that as much CBD as possible can be absorbed.
- Once the time is up, you can safely swallow the oil so the remaining CBD can be absorbed in your stomach.
- CBD e-liquids shouldn’t be taken under the tongue unless they are made using an MCT carrier oil.
How do I take CBD under the tongue?
The beauty of taking CBD in this way is that once you’ve tried it, it couldn’t be easier.
Simply, open your mouth and lift your tongue. Place the suggested number of drops under your tongue using the dropper provided. Then allow the oil to sit for between 90 seconds and 2 minutes.
It is up to you whether you keep your mouth open and your tongue raised or close your mouth. The important part is that the oil must remain in contact with the membrane under your tongue for the full time.
Do I swallow it?
Once the time has passed you can swallow any residue that is left in your mouth. This prevents any remaining cannabidiol from being wasted. Because some CBD oils leave a strong earthy taste, many people choose to complete the 90 seconds and then take a large swig of water to wash down any remaining oil.
Benefits of taking CBD sublingually
The word ‘sublingual’ refers to the large blood vessel found under your tongue. When liquids are placed there, they can cross the thin membrane and enter your bloodstream. The speed with which this happens has played a key part in this method’s popularity.
Many CBD consumers report that once they are used to it, taking it under the tongue is quick and easy. It requires very little effort and can be completed in a couple of minutes without having to use any special equipment. Drops can be placed under your tongue discreetly, whether you are at home or at work.
As an extra bonus, taking CBD under your tongue means that a higher amount will be absorbed for use. This results in a greater effect from less oil, meaning that you could save money when compared to CBD products that are only eaten or swallowed.
While all there are many compelling reasons to take CBD oil under your tongue, it can still take some getting used to. The first few times you try can be tricky, it’s not always easy to tell exactly how many drops you’ve used or if your dropper is positioned correctly.
If you do find this a problem, there are ways around it:
1. Stand next to a mirror or ask a friend to help you position the dropper correctly and count out the drops. Once you’ve tried it a couple of times it gets easier and becomes quick and convenient.
2. Alternatively, there are brands who have packaged their oils specifically to make them easier to use. CBD sprays are a great way to apply the oil directly under your tongue with no fuss. Others have specially designed droppers or have marked them in ways that make it easier to apply specific amounts without any guesswork.
Why does CBD oil burn under my tongue?
When CBD is in your mouth you may notice an intense, bitter flavour. Because many high-quality oils get the best effects from using more of the hemp plant, they can be intensely grassy and bitter. While unpleasant, this alone won’t do you any harm. A mouthful of water will help with any strong flavours.
However, if you get any reaction that is worse, stop using it immediately and consult a doctor. This may only happen in two situations:
- If you have chosen poor quality oil. Unfortunately, some oils that make it into the hands of customers have not passed the same quality checks that we apply to all our products. Contamination by chemicals or other products could result in an unsafe oil.
- If you are allergic to any product contained within the oil. This is very unlikely as great care is taken to choose natural ingredients with low risk of reaction, however, it is always worth carefully checking the lab results and labels of any products before their use.
How does it compare with other methods of taking CBD?
From the 5 methods to take CBD, placing oil under the tongue is one of the most effective. It isn’t as effective as vaping, but because it is so simple it is still more popular.
The effectiveness of each method can be measured by the length of time it takes for you to feel an effect, and how much of the active ingredient reaches your bloodstream. The distance of this journey and the obstacles faced directly affect how effective each method is. Once CBD reaches your bloodstream it is unlikely to be broken down further and it will be transported around your body for use.