Medically Reviewed by
Jason Crawford

Article Last Updated on January 18, 2023

More and more cannabis aficionados and first-time users experiment with weed in search of the most effective ways to consume cannabis, as well as experience the therapeutic benefits that come from consuming cannabinoids. As a result of this, cannabis, and especially different forms of CBD products are used for treating specific conditions, as well as for supporting overall wellness.

After the passing of the Farm Bill in 2018, CBD products made from the industrial hemp plant with THC levels lower than 0.3% (the maximum percentage of THC allowed in CBD products according to the Food and Drug Administration) started to increase in popularity, and so did the search for the best CBD products.

Below, we’ll provide information that’ll hopefully help you decide what form of CBD is most effective, and we’ll also dive further into the effects of CBD on users.


The effect weed has on the body is a direct result of the body’s natural endocannabinoid system which is responsible for processing the cannabinoids and terpenes that people consume through weed. The cannabinoids that have been researched most thoroughly are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which gives psychoactive effects, and cannabidiol (CBD), which doesn’t have psychoactive effects and is used mainly for its medicinal properties. 

Depending on the consumption method, the onset of the effects from the cannabinoids can be faster or slower. Inhalation of cannabinoids through the respiratory system results in a faster onset of effects compared to ingestion through the digestive system. To get you acquainted with the most effective CBD product, we’ll go over the most common cannabis delivery methods.

Types of Hemp Extracts

You can find three main types of CBD products on the market today:

  • Full spectrum CBD;
  • Broad spectrum CBD;
  • CBD Isolate.

Full Spectrum

Full spectrum CBD retains all the plant matter and cannabinoids in the stalk, leaves, and flowers from which a potent extract is made. It’s often called a whole plant extract, and it provides more therapeutic benefits since you consume all the cannabinoids. This is also the reason why it also has higher medicinal properties compared to extracts that contain only CBD.

Broad Spectrum

Broad spectrum CBD is made similarly to full spectrum CBD. The only difference between both is that the molecular structure of the plant is altered to remove levels of THC present in full spectrum products. Therefore, broad spectrum CBD doesn’t contain any THC as opposed to full spectrum products, but it does contain other cannabinoids.


CBD isolates are solely based on CBD extraction. The final product contains the full, concentrated amount of CBD, but doesn’t contain other cannabinoids or terpenes. The extraction method is similar to the one for making CBD oil, and it’s generally used in vapes or sublingually.

The Most Effective Form of CBD

Out of the three extraction methods, the full spectrum CBD is the most effective extract since all terpenes, cannabinoids, and plant matter are retained during the extraction. Full spectrum CBD is made with a CO2 extraction process. The CO2 is used as a solvent and it doesn’t leave a residue after the extraction (unlike BHO). After the extraction, the crude CBD oil is cooled down to isolate unwanted lipids, plant matter, and wax, to get a high quality CBD product. 

A 2018 study concluded that cannabinoids like CBD may have neuroprotective effects and improve cognition. Moreover, another study from the University of Belgrade in Serbia, suggests that full spectrum CBD is more effective in treating chronic pain compared to a CBD isolate since it has the combined effects of both THC and CBD. It’s also less processed and more natural than the isolate. 

The Best CBD Oils and How You Can Take Them

Below, we’ll go over the most common ways to consume CBD oil products, including the best way to consume them to maximize CBD’s benefits. We’ll go over:

  • CBD oil tinctures;
  • CBD vapes;
  • CBD edibles;
  • Topical CBD products;
  • CBD capsules (softgels).

CBD Tinctures and Oils (Sublingual Consumption)

CBD tinctures are the most effective method of taking CBD oil, and it’s done sublingually. You apply a few drops of the oil under the tongue for 60-90 seconds, and then you swallow. The sublingual consumption method enables the CBD to be absorbed directly into the bloodstream instead of metabolizing it and passing it through the digestive system. Tinctures are rather potent, and a low dose can go a long way.

This consumption method is easy, and doesn’t require any additional equipment in order to try it, you only need a dropper to place the drops under your tongue. It’s good for administering higher doses of THC, especially if it’s used as a treatment option for chronic pain, epilepsy, or other conditions. The onset time is rather fast and it only takes 15-20 minutes for the oil to start working, but the effects are shorter compared to other delivery methods.

Vaping (Vaporized Consumption)

Vaping is one of the fastest ways to experience the effects of CBD. The compounds in the CBD oil are vaporized in the vape pen, and they’re inhaled directly from the lungs and into the bloodstream. The effects can start between 2-10 minutes, and that makes vaping the consumption method that gives you the fastest effects from CBD. Using vape pens long-term may damage your delicate lung tissues, although scientists are still researching that.

CBD Edibles (Oral Consumption)

CBD edibles, similar to THC edibles, is another popular way to consume CBD, and many use CBD brownies, cakes, and gummies to ease pain. They provide a slow-release comfort, enable the CBD to be metabolized in the liver before it’s distributed through the bloodstream, and are easy to dose. They’re portable, easy, tasty, and you can easily go for a second serving if the first one wasn’t enough, although you should wait between an hour or two before going in for seconds, and always start with a lower dose.

When consuming edibles, it takes a longer time to feel the initial effects (the onset of effects can be between 30 minutes to 2 hours), although the effects last longer compared to other consumption methods. Edibles can come in the form of weed brownies, chocolates, cakes, CBD gummies, and different kinds of treats.

CBD Creams and Lotions (Transdermal Consumption)

CBD topicals (creams, lotions, salves) are used for conditions like eczema and psoriasis, but also for muscle and joint pains. Topicals provide anti-inflammatory benefits and analgesic properties for localized pain relief. They’re easy to use, discreet, and enable users to treat their pains locally, as well as provide hydration to the body.

Since topicals are absorbed through the skin barrier, they have a lower absorption rate, in addition to being more difficult to dose. CBD topicals are ideal for localized physical pain, although they aren’t suitable for mental and psychological conditions.

CBD Capsules and Pills (Oral Consumption)

Using softgels for CBD dosing is a very discreet way of consuming your required cannabinoids. Capsules and pills are generally used for treating seizure disorders as well as digestive issues. They can contain solely CBD extracts, although THC pills are also popular on the cannabis market. They’re consumed orally, and the only drawback to consuming them is that it takes a longer time for users to start feeling the effects (the effects can be felt after about an hour).

Bioavailability and CBD Products

Bioavailability is what’s most important when deciding which CBD product to use. It’s defined as the time it takes for our body to take in the compounds and distribute them through the bloodstream, before they’re filtered out as wastes.

In order to increase bioavailability, CBD is bound to a carrier oil, since CBD doesn’t react well with water (it needs a vessel to transfer it through the body, and that is what the oil is for). Carrier lipids can range from coconut oil, MCT oil, and other industrially made oil that aim to increase the rate in which our bodies absorb CBD, and help it stay for a longer period before filtering it out.

Let’s take a look at different consumption methods, their bioavailability, onset, and duration period:

  • Sublingual consumption (Tinctures): 34 – 46%; Onset: 15 to 20 minutes; Duration: 4 to 6 hours;
  • Transdermal consumption (Topicals): 45%; Onset: 1 hour; Duration: 4 to 6 hours;
  • Vaporized consumption (Vape): 40%; Onset: 2-10 minutes; Duration: a few hours;
  • Oral consumption (Gummies): 6% – 15%; Onset: 45 minutes to 2 hours; Duration: 6 to 12 hours.

Final Thoughts on the Cannabis Plant and Benefits of CBD

The type of CBD product you decide to use should be tailored to your specific needs. Meaning, you should choose a topical CBD lotion for localized knee pain, or a tincture if you’re in need of a whole-body effect. 

The cannabis plant, and especially CBD products are used for general wellness since they don’t provide psychoactive effects on users, and have little to no side effects (diarrhea, drowsiness, dry mouth, changes in weight and appetite).

By and large, CBD tinctures are one of the most effective methods of CBD consumption since they have the highest bioavailability, low onset time, rather long duration of effects, and the ability to get a high dose in just a few drops.

If you decide to try CBD products, make sure you consult with your healthcare provider so they can better-tailor the dose to your specific needs.

A passionate advocate for the benefits of cannabis. Fraser Horton, who has a background in botany and a strong love of nature, has spent years researching how cannabis affects the body and mind. He established Leaf Nation in 2020, where he has devoted himself to educating people about the legalisation of marijuana and its safe and responsible use. Fraser is committed to highlighting cannabis’ potential for improving wellness and working to dispel the stigma associated with its use.


The information presented on this page is provided as a public service to aid in education and is derived from sources believed to be reliable. Readers are responsible for making their own assessment of the topics discussed here. In no event shall Leaf Nation be held reliable for any injury, loss or damage that could happen if using or abusing drugs.