Efficacy of Inhalation vs. Ingestions of Cannabinoids

BARBARI Botanical 101, Thoughts

We know, we know… there seems to be an ENDLESS amount of ways to incorporate CBD into your life and you are just overwhelmed with options. How are you, an average person just trying to get some *calm* in your life, supposed to know what the most effective consumption method is? Even most experts can’t pull up accurate information regarding cannabinoid consumption methods at the top of their heads. That’s why we’re here to break it down for you, once and for all: The differences between smoking, ingesting, and sublingual (under the tongue). Let’s dive deep into how the body reacts, how long it takes to feel the effects, and what methods are best per the scenario. Read on if you’re interested!


Consumption Methods By Activation Time

Smoking: Less Than 5 Minutes

If you’re looking for a quick relief, then smoking is the most immediate form of consumption that provides effects in less than five minutes. Smoking cannabinoids allows it to enter directly into your lungs and bloodstream, getting pumped throughout the rest of the body from there. According to neuroscientist Dr. Adie Rae, the bioavailability (meaning the “proportion of a drug which enters the circulation when introduced into the body” – Oxford Dictionary) of CBD is greater through the lungs than through the gut. While it varies from brand to brand (and person to person), the bioavailability of inhaling CBD is roughly 34% – 46%.  

But hold up! Is there a difference between smoking a joint vs. vaporizing flower? Glad you asked. Vaporized cannabidiols enter the lungs much more effectively than smoking it, which in return provides a greater effect on the mind and body. But please choose your vaping products carefully, and avoid cheap oil vape pens from your local bodega (oil vaping is different than vaporizing flower). Look for products that offer 3rd party test results and transparency about their ingredients. If you’re looking for a great flower option, check out Omura, a heat-not-burn device that gradually heats your flower to release the cannabinoids and terpenes as vapor, to provide full spectrum entourage effect.


Sublingual: 15 – 30 Minutes

Don’t enjoy the sensation of smoking? We get that, it’s not for everybody. Dropping CBD oil under the tongue (and holding it for roughly 30 seconds) is the second fastest onset time and effective consumption method. The bioavailability of sublingual consumption is at 13% – 19%. When shopping for CBD oils, you can opt for a higher CBDmg/bottle product as the actual amount that enters the bloodstream is less in comparison to smokable products. We’re big fans of Rosebud CBD and Greater Goods over here, who both provide safe, quality CBD oils for sublingual consumption.


Ingesting: 45 Minutes – 2 Hours

Have you ever eaten an edible (we’re talking about THC here) and sat a little bummed out for an hour because you couldn’t feel any effects, and then WHAM! You’re HIGH. That’s because ingesting cannabis takes the longest to show its effects. The edible has to pass through your digestive system – it gets metabolized through your stomach and liver, and then finally released into your bloodstream. All these in between steps lowers the bioavailability to between 6% – 19%. That being said, it typically provides the longest experience as well. So if you’re in no particular rush to feel a certain way but simply want to feel good for an extended period of time, oral consumption of cannabinoids is the choice for you.


Consumption Methods By Scenario

Now let’s look into which form of consumption is best for YOU. Browse through the below scenarios and see which one matches your unique situation best.


“I’m about to get on a plane for the first time since COVID, and feel stressed AF. I want to feel calm and relaxed for the duration of my flight.”

In this case, edibles might be the best option for you. Take an edible of your choice (gummies, brownies, anything) an hour before entering the airport, and let the calming effects last throughout the flight. If you feel the effects fading away, then top up with another dose of sublingual CBD as needed. 


“I can’t concentrate on my work, my leg keeps tapping, and I have 20 tabs open beckoning for my attention”

It’s time to light up that spliff, hun. Go outside and grab some fresh air while you’re at it for this smoke break. Almost immediately, you’ll feel much more calm, controlled, and grounded. It will give you that deep calm you usually expect after a 15 minute meditation session, allowing you to get a good load of work done without the tippy tappy legs.


“Every night my mind races like a marathon and I cannot sleep. I need RELIEF”

Oof, that’s the worst, isn’t it. For anyone that daydreams of getting a good night’s rest the minute the head hits the pillow, let us recommend dropping some CBD oil under the tongue. The effects will kick in 15 to 30 minutes, allowing you to calmly and beautifully drift off into a relaxed and restored night’s sleep.