Sublingual CBD Administration

Millions of people today use CBD to relieve anxiety, depression, joint pain, insomnia, and other health-related issues. Some take it just for its mellowing effects. The CBD market is rife with flavors and consumption methods, so it can be challenging to know what type of CBD fits you best.

Not only that, but the way each person reacts to CBD is completely subjective, so there is no universal guide for CBD’s consumption. Dosage is dependent on a combination of your biological wellness and how you consume the CBD. In this article, you will learn about the different types of CBD, and then we will focus on one of the four primary methods of its consumption: sublingual. But first: the basics.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol, also called CBD, is a chemical component of a plant called Cannabid sativa, also known as hemp or marijuana. Unlike the more active ingredient in the Cannabid sativa plant, THC, CBD is not a psychoactive substance. Because of this, CBD will not get you high or sedate you. However, because CBD acts subjectively, your body may react to CBD in the same way that it responds to any acetaminophen, such as Advil. Furthermore, it is highly recommended to purchase third-party-tested CBD brands. As CBD is not an FDA-regulated substance, improperly extracted, CBD could contain illegal amounts of THC.

While both marijuana and hemp contain CBD, hemp has a much higher concentration of CBD and a much lower concentration of THC. CBD has been used to treat epilepsy, anxiety, musculoskeletal pain, insomnia, and nerve pain. However, because of its infancy in medical testing, CBD is only FDA-cleared to treat specific types of epilepsy. There simply is not enough evidence yet to show that CBD treats the other conditions above, but CBD is commonly thought to alleviate such symptoms.

Types of CBD

There are four main methods of consuming CBD: ingestion, inhalation, topical, and sublingual. Ingestible CBD is found in food and drinks, and its metabolism depends on the user’s digestive tract. Inhalable CBD is found in vape liquids, and its absorption into the bloodstream begins in the lungs. For pain relief in a specific area of the body, CBD is available in topical creams, lotions, and even face masks. The consumption method on which we will focus in this article is sublingual, in which CBD oil is administered under the tongue and absorbs into the bloodstream, bypassing the digestive tract.

How does CBD Work?

CBD binds to different receptors in the body. When it binds with the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor, CBD provides its anti-anxiety effects. The same receptor is responsible for addiction, hunger, nausea, and perceiving pain. In these cases, CBD acts as an inhibitor, which blocks the neural signal from those receptors from communicating with the brain, thereby dampening the signal and reducing its effect. Similarly, when CBD binds to TRPV1 receptors, which are partially responsible for pain perception, it decreases the amount of pain you experience. Some studies show that CBD can both reduce cancer growth by binding to GPR55 receptors, and also slow Alzheimer’s progression by binding to PPAR receptors.

Unless you apply CBD topically, CBD must pass through your bloodstream to bind to its target receptors. Because everybody’s metabolic rate is different, the time it takes for CBD to take effect once consumed varies from person to person. Generally, vaping CBD provides immediate but short-term effects (10 minutes), where ingesting CBD keeps the effect in your body as long as you are metabolizing it (usually between 1 and 6 hours).

Some newer CBD companies emulsify their CBD products, which breaks the CBD down into smaller molecules. The smaller the CBD molecules, the more readily they pass through cell and mucus membranes and absorb into the bloodstream.

The Sublingual Gland

Simply put, sublingual means ‘under the tongue.’ A mucous membrane under the tongue covers the sublingual glands, which have arterial pathways to the bloodstream. This membrane is full of capillaries, which provide direct absorption routes to the bloodstream.

Only salivary enzymes compromise the potency of substances that pass through the sublingual membrane. By contrast, ingested substances most pass through gastrointestinal acids and enzymes in the liver before entering the bloodstream.

What is Sublingual Administration?

Sublingual CBD administration is when you hold CBD (or any other substance) under your tongue. Usually, you use a dropper to place a few drops of CBD oil beneath your tongue, and then you hold the oil there for one to two minutes. Holding the oil under your tongue will make sure that the oil passes through your sublingual membrane, into your sublingual gland, and your bloodstream through the sublingual artery. After you have held the oil under your tongue, any remaining CBD oil can be swallowed and absorbs digestively.

Some people choose to swish the leftover oil in their mouth, which coats the cheeks and gums with CBD oil. This process is called Buccal administration and maximizes the CBD that you can get into your bloodstream.

Sublingual and Buccal administration both take advantage of the profusion of capillaries in the mouth, which enable CBD to enter the bloodstream without passing through the digestive tract. These consumption methods provide, on average, quicker and shorter-lasting effects than oral ingestion and longer-lasting effects than inhalation.

It is recommended that you not rinse your mouth with water immediately after sublingual and/or Buccal administration, as CBD could still be absorbing into your capillaries, and water would decrease the chance of absorption.

In addition to its benefits in terms of absorption process and timing, sublingual administration has some other distinct benefits. People who are not hungry who want to experience the effects of CBD may choose to do so sublingually. If you have difficulty swallowing and/or digesting, you can still experience the benefits of CBD using an oil tincture. Additionally, absorbing the substance sublingually will give you more potent effects than ingestion. If you know (via medical advisory) that the drug you need does not absorb effectively through the stomach, the sublingual administration of that drug may deliver you the benefits you need. Lastly, those with compromised livers may choose to administer drugs sublingually, as the process subverts the liver and therefore requires lower doses for the same effect as ingestion.

If you are administering CBD sublingually to another individual, be sure to wash your hands in advance and wear disposable gloves (taking into consideration the patient’s potential allergies) to prevent transmission of bacteria or disease.

Sublingual CBD

As previously mentioned, CBD can be consumed sublingually in the form of oil. Only a small portion of the CBD that you administer sublingually actually passes through the sublingual membrane because some are absorbed Buccally, and most is swallowed. The peak bloodstream levels for CBD absorbed sublingually will occur 30 to 60 minutes post-consumption. However, the effects of CBD taken sublingually may last in the body up to six hours after use.

The human body can easily absorb pure CBD oil, though absorbency is improved when the CBD has a carrier oil. Since hemp oils are fat-soluble, CBD becomes more bioavailable when paired with saturated fat.

Note: Bioavailability is the percentage of the maximum amount of a chemical or nutrient that a body consumes that becomes available for absorption. If a product contains 10mg of CBD, only a fraction of that becomes bioavailable after considering the different enzymes and acids in the body that come into contact with the CBD before it absorbs into your bloodstream. For comparison, ingested CBD has a 13-20% bioavailability, inhaled CBD has a 10-60% bioavailability, topical CBD has a bioavailability in the single digits, and sublingual CBD has a bioavailability of 20-30%.

Different carrier oils affect CBD’s bioavailability differently. Coconut oil’s high lipid levels will not clog your arteries. Hemp seed oil has a three-to-one essential fatty acids ratio and can improve the flavor of the CBD. Olive oil contains long-chain triglycerides that make the CBD more bioavailable than medium-chain alternatives.

Because CBD consumed under the tongue enters the bloodstream, its effect disperses throughout the entire body. Those who choose to swish some of the oil for Buccal absorption may feel the CBD’s effects more in the face, as capillaries in the mouth pass through the cheeks and facial muscles before connecting to the rest of the body. If you need pain relief in a localized area, it is recommended that you apply a topical CBD instead of consuming it in any other manner.


The FDA has tested patients using up to 1200 mg of CBD per day for extended periods with no shown repercussions; that said, if you are new to CBD, we recommend consulting a medical professional for consultation on dosage appropriate for your biological condition. We advise starting with small doses and increasing based on tolerance and desired effect. Continued high doses of CBD may result in dry mouth, dizziness, fatigue, and/or mild low blood pressure, but these cases are extremely rare.