CBD has become a popular trend in wellness, and it’s easy to see why. There’s lots to enjoy about this fantastic resource that can support efforts to live a more healthful life. People have found CBD to be helpful when dealing with pain, anxiety, and even disrupted sleep. As well, the 2018 Farm Bill officially stated regulations for growing hemp specifically for CBD. It will likely become even more common to see CBD products on shelves
Two popular ways people have found to consume CBD have been in the form of gummies and of oil. You might think these two methods deliver CBD in the same way. Not so! Each method of CBD consumption releases it in a slightly different way. It’s important to try different methods to figure out which works best for your needs.
Here’s our rundown on these two super-popular methods for consuming CBD. We’ll go over the science of how they work, how they differ, and what method may serve your needs better. There are enough differences between them that it’s worth doing your research — there are reasons why each method has its fans.
How Do CBD Oil and CBD Gummies Work?
CBD is a chemical component of the cannabis sativa plant. When consumed, it produces none of the effects of being “high” associated with smoking cannabis (usually made with the buds of the plant).
Instead, CBD is actually a helpful supporter of the body’s natural endocannabinoid system (ECS). This is a system of receptors within the human body that helps regulate the body’s other systems. It’s incredibly important for managing stress in particular. More studies need to be conducted. But the ECS has already been tied to helping the nervous system, the digestive system, and the immune system. To be specific, CBD interacts in response to inflammation both outside the body and within it. The receptors in the brain tied to the ECS, CB1s, actually outnumber most other types. They control the flow of different neurotransmitters and help to scale a response from the body up or down. CB2 receptors of CBD (the “second in command” of the ECS) have been shown to work on inflammation of the bowels and intestines in particular.
More research needs to be done, but it’s possible that CBD could support even more systems in the body. All the different terpenes and cannabinoids have jobs, and many of them have yet to be discovered.
What Are CBD Oil and CBD Gummies?
Both CBD oil and CBD gummies are made from CBD derived from industrial hemp. This type of hemp is bred specifically to not contain very much THC at all. The small amount that ends up in CBD products made from hemp exists to “activate” all components so that the consumer can experience all potential benefits. This is usually less than 1% THC in total.
CBD oil is created by cold pressing hemp plants to give you the most cannabinoids from that plant. When manufacturers use ethanol extraction, it’s possible to create a full-spectrum CBD product that allows the different terpenes and cannabinoids to work together in harmony. This is referred to as the entourage effect.
CBD gummies are made in much the same way. But when you’re making gummies, it’s necessary to add gelatin, flavoring, and then let the mixture cool in a mold. At Mission Farms, we also offer a vegan option with our REST gummies. Gummies have been a staple for generations among fans of “edibles,” i.e. cannabis-infused food. The reason? It’s extremely easy to dose precisely.
Some CBD oils contain organic additives, like essential oils. These are often added to enhance the effects of the CBD or to enhance effects for a particular purpose. For example, our Full Spectrum Plus REST CBD oil features orange, lavender, bergamot, and chamomile essential oils specifically because they help to enhance sleep.
All these reasons are why it’s extra important to ensure that your CBD products are organic and made without using pesticides. You should be able to easily find out what’s in your CBD products either by their label or online.
Consumption and Dosage
Both CBD oil and gummies are distributed orally, but in very different ways. Gummies are designed to be eaten like food. But CBD oil is best consumed sublingually (under the tongue), which allows the oil to absorb even faster into the body.
It should be noted that it’s very important to get the dosage exactly correct when consuming CBD. Overdosing on CBD is extremely rare, but it can happen. Effects are usually due to accumulated amounts of THC, sometimes used in very small amounts (think 1% or less) to “activate” the CBD and allow the user to enjoy the effects of the full spectrum of cannabinoids.
Whenever shopping for your next CBD purchase, take time to find one that has exact dosing elements for every serving. It’s easy to pace things out if you know you’re getting 10mg of CBD from one gummy. This can be a lot harder with oil, where you may have to measure out your exact dosing from a dropper.
Most credible CBD companies will make their testing results available for customers to review. Look for the sticker on the package that describes where to find the results. You may find a bar code or item number to help you get the exact result for your exact product or its testing group.
Absorption and Bioavailability
“Bioavailability” refers to how much of a substance will be absorbed in someone’s body if they consume it as part of a mix. For CBD products, the word is used to refer to how much actual CBD is absorbed in a person’s body if they consume it as part of a gummy or dropper of oil. This can be very important to know for individual dosing.
More studies need to be conducted on humans to say for certain. But the overall bioavailability of oral CBD has shown to range from 13–19%. Naturally, because there are more ingredients in gummies versus a flavored oil, it will have a lower bioavailability. An oil taken under the tongue will also absorb faster than a food item than something that has to be processed by the digestive system. Oil may be the preferable choice for CBD fans who want a stronger overall experience and don’t care as much about taste.
But don’t count gummies out just yet. You may find it easier to consume larger doses of CBD (if necessary) if they’re in tasty gummy form. Some also contain Nano CBD, an extra-small form of CBD that is absorbed by the body up to three times faster. Effects can last from four to six hours, depending on body size and other factors.
Effects and Onset Time
Just like alcohol, water, and food, the speed at which CBD will affect your body varies from person to person. CBD tolerance, a.k.a. how much CBD you’ve had and how much experience your body has processing it, also plays a factor. This is part of the reason why it’s advisable to consult with a health professional before consuming CBD the first time. You have to make sure your body will know how to process it healthfully.
CBD gummies can act on the body in as little as 15 minutes after consumption. But this is highly variable by the type of gummy. At Mission Farms, our REST gummies feature Nano CBD to work even faster. This is in addition to lemon balm, valerian root, and extra CBN to promote the onset of sleep.
In terms of strength, CBD oil will most likely provide a stronger experience than gummies most of the time. If you’re using CBD to help support pain recovery, this might be great news. But if you just want slightly more peaceful sleep, CBD gummies may be a better pick.
Taste and Flavor Options
As anyone who’s sampled Rick Simpson Oil knows, the natural taste of cannabis (and by virtue CBD) can be very bitter and earthy. CBD products can sometimes carry this aftertaste. CBD oil in particular can be guilty of this.
Lots of people first experience CBD in the form of gummies for one reason: taste. Gummies are far less likely to carry a “weedy” aftertaste than other hemp-derived CBD products due to the fact that they’re made with taste in mind. Gummies usually use more ingredients than oils, including gelatin and stronger flavorings added during the initial mixing process.
This is one reason why it’s important to make sure your CBD gummies are made with organic ingredients (or at least ingredients you can name.). It’s easy to use artificial ingredients to create a stronger taste. But the best gummies use natural ingredients to temper the taste of the CBD without overpowering it.
Convenience and Portability
If you’re looking to use CBD as support treatment for anxiety or PTSD, you may be wondering which CBD option is more portable. After all, you never know when you may be triggered while out in the world.
Your best option is (most likely) CBD gummies. Packaging for gummies is far more likely to be discrete, or at least resemble packaging for non-CBD gummies. Oil bottles don’t really resemble anything else. Oil bottles can also break or leak — your pocket and/or purse won’t thank you for that.
Variability in Product Selection
CBD gummies come in a variety of flavors and strengths. They can even sometimes feature vitamins or herbal additives for consumers seeking extra effects. But CBD oil has even more options available, especially if you’re looking to use CBD for a specific reason.
Full-spectrum CBD oil features the full range of terpenes and cannabinoids, often with 0.3% THC to encourage the entourage effect. There are also some gummies made with full-spectrum CBD.
Broad-spectrum CBD oils feature many of the same components as full-spectrum products. But there’s absolutely no THC in this variation, so consumers may not be receiving all potential benefits vs. full-spectrum CBD. Isolates are special CBD oils that contain solely CBD in the most distilled, absolute purest form available. Consumers of this type of oil definitely enjoy benefits of CBD — but also lose out on potential benefits of the entourage effect.
Take time and explore what CBD oil options are available before purchase. The different concentrations of CBD do make a difference, and may provide very different experiences. Consider researching products by specific effects (or even specific terpenes) if you’d like a more predictable experience.
Legal and Regulatory Considerations
CBD is legal in most places in the United States — but it’s complicated. Cannabis is still a Schedule 1 drug in the United States as of 2023. But most CBD products are derived from industrial hemp, not raw cannabis. This makes them technically legal in many areas.
However, consumers should still check local laws if they plan to consume CBD. There can be limitations on what CBD may be consumed. For example, some areas don’t permit the selling of CBD edibles (like gummies) out of concern for childrens’ safety. Others may only allow CBD oil to be consumed, and only then by holders of a medical cannabis license.
In a nutshell, check the local laws and regulations where you live before purchasing CBD. Just because CBD is legal in the parts of the world you’re visiting doesn’t mean all forms and methods of consuming CBD may be permitted.
What’s the Right Choice: CBD Oil or CBD Gummies?
Like a lot of things with CBD, it depends. You’re best off trying different methods and seeing which one works best for you.
It’s best to research and identify your needs before trying different CBD products. You may like gummies because they taste good enough to merit daily use, but occasionally use oil for supporting healthy sleep. In general, full spectrum CBD is considered the best option for those looking to get the most out of their products (regardless of type).
Above all, there’s no “right” choice of CBD methods. The right choice is the one that gives you your desired effects while still working within your lifestyle.
In a head-to-head battle between gummies and CBD oil, there’s no clear winner. Each has their own helpful aspects and downsides.
What matters most is picking the method that works best for you. If you’re looking for something tasty you can share easily, gummies are probably your best bet. But if you want a more customized experience or absolutely no THC, CBD oil is probably your best bet.
Consult with your doctor or health care professional before trying CBD. They may have insight into a particular method that works best for your needs, or information on ingredients that may interfere with medication. Read reviews from reliable sources and think about what you want to get out of your CBD experience. Even if you’re just looking for something to “take the edge off,” it’s good to know what to expect.
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- Drug Bioavailability – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf (nih.gov)
- An Introduction to the Endogenous Cannabinoid System – PubMed (nih.gov)
- A Systematic Review on the Pharmacokinetics of Cannabidiol in Humans – PMC (nih.gov)
- CBD Legalization By State: A Complete Guide – Forbes Health
- Top 5 CBD for Energy and Focus in 2023 – Best Brands & Products Reviewed (dallasnews.com)
- Broad-Spectrum CBD: What It Is, Benefits And Side Effects – Forbes Health
- What Is CBD Isolate? – Forbes Health