How to take CBD

Correct CBD intake
Written by Gunnar R.

If you are considering starting to take CBD, there are a number of questions which arise. In which form is cannabidiol present? Can I take CBD with meals? Are there any side effects? How long can I take cannabidiol products for? In this article, you will find out everything about how to take CBD and what you should watch out for. Because there are two things that the science shows: this hemp product has many positive effects, but not everyone can take it.

Facts and questions: How to take CBD

But before we take a closer look at how to take CBD, we first ought to ask the question: what is CBD anyway? Put simply: CBD – its full name is cannabidiol – is one of about 500 substances found in the cannabis plant. It is one of the most popular natural remedies of modern times, but it was already being used thousands of years ago. The decisive advantage of cannabidiol (CBD) vs. tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is that it has numerous healing properties, without being intoxicating. This is what makes it so popular in the world of alternative medicine. However, the terminology that we are using should really be clarified: it is not really CBD that is the constituent compound, but rather CBDa.

What CBD products are there?

The most widely consumed cannabinoid product by far is CBD oil. The are other ways of taking it, however, including:

The right way to take CBD oil

CBD oil is usually absorbed through the lining of the mouth and the stomach. In order to achieve this, the liquid is dripped into the mouth with a pipette or similar. However, it is not recommended to swallow the cannabidiol straight away.


  • When you take CBD oil, put it under your tongue and keep it there for about a minute. The CBD is thus quickly absorbed through the lining of the mouth, which is well-supplied with blood.

Some users find the taste of CBD oil very unpleasant. In such cases, the oil can of course just be swallowed straight away. It will then be absorbed into the bloodstream more slowly via the mucous membrane which lines the stomach.

Oral use

Having taken CBD oil, how long does it take until you feel the first effects? There is no overall answer to this question. Generally speaking, however:

  • If, for example, you keep CBD oil in your mouth for longer (sublingual intake), it takes effect more quickly, as the compound is absorbed through the oral mucosa which line the mouth. Using this method, you can expect to feel the first effects just a few minutes after taking it. 
  • The fuller your stomach is, the longer absorption via the stomach takes. Depending on how much you have eaten beforehand, it can take between 15 and 30 minutes until you feel something.

Unlike many other medicines, when taking cannabidiol (whether in the form of oil or otherwise), you do not have to time things according to your meals. On the contrary: on an empty stomach, the active constituent can be absorbed faster by the gastric mucosa and released into the bloodstream. Also, you need not worry that CBD taken on an empty stomach will damage your stomach. The oil is easily digested. There is no reason not to take it with meals, however.

Advantages of using CBD oil permanently

So, what are the advantages of CBD oil? First of all, the content of the active substance can be quite high in some cases, and good CBD oil is very pure. Users often report the following advantages, among others:

  • Problem-free and accurate dosing – even when you are on the move
  • Quick to take effect
  • Relatively cheap to buy
  • Good availability on the market

The only obvious disadvantage is the taste, which can sometimes be quite unpleasant. Before taking the CBD oil, make sure that it is not contaminated. This is always a possibility, but it can be avoided by means of careful handling.

Additional way of taking CBD

If you would prefer to take CBD in another form, this is not a problem. Although cannabidiol oil enjoys great popularity, there are a number of other ways to take it.

How to take CBD capsules

You will find cannabidiol being sold in the form of hard capsules and softgel capsules. The capsules usually contain CBD oil, only separated from the outside air by a digestible capsule. In this case, the active substance only comes into contact with the body in the stomach as soon as the capsule shell has dissolved in the stomach acid. The advantage of taking CBD in this form is that you don’t have to put up with the unpleasant taste. Dosing is also very simple and there is no risk of contamination. Of course, you will want a sip of water or some other liquid when taking this medicine. Some people also have difficulty swallowing large capsules or tablets.

The right way to take CBD crystals

When the active ingredient, CBD, is extracted from the hemp plant as a pure substance, it has a granular, porous structure. This substance is known as CBD crystals. These can be turned into other CBD products or taken as they are. Users often report that they mix CBD crystals into their food, e.g. into yoghurt. The active ingredient content of such CBD crystals is very high because they contain up to 99% CBD. However, it should be noted that these are CBD isolates. In this case, the entourage effect does not apply.

Despite their high level of purity, there are a few other disadvantages to CBD crystals:

  • Limited availability on the market
  • Accurate dosing is very difficult
  • Not so practical when you are on the move

CBD cosmetics: cannabidiol for external application

There are more and more cannabidiol products on the market which fall into the category of CBD cosmetics. The range of choices in this case is particularly large. Today, for example, there are all sorts of creams, salves, lipsticks and many other products which contain CBD. These are all used externally, i.e. they are applied to the skin. From there, some of the active constituent enters the bloodstream and is thus distributed throughout the body. CBD cosmetic products can be used for skin care as well as for the treatment of various skin diseases.

Inhaling CBD: e-liquids

Cannabidiol can also be inhaled, of course. There are two different ways of inhaling it: CBD flowers and CBD e-liquids. However, the sale of CBD flowers to private individuals in the UK is more or less illegal and therefore not recommended. In addition, when CBD flowers are taken / smoked, they are burnt, producing numerous toxic substances. CBD e-liquids, however, are much more popular and are entirely legal. These liquids can be vaped with the help of vaporisers (popularly also known as e-cigarettes).

These vaporise the liquids which they contain. When vaping, the vapour, which contains cannabidiol (CBD), enters the lungs via the respiratory tract. The cannabidiol then enters the bloodstream via the alveoli of the lungs. More and more consumers are opting for such CBD e-liquids. The advantage: such liquids are usually free of psychoactive THC. The disadvantage: to use CBD liquids you need the right technical equipment. In addition, the cannabidiol contained is usually an isolate, meaning that the entourage effect does not apply here either.


  • Serious illnesses should always be dealt with by an experienced doctor. Nevertheless, taking CBD can often complement conventional medical treatment, at the very least.

How long should I take CBD for?

The answer to the question of how long you should take CBD for depends on why you are taking cannabidiol. Essentially, there are three different possibilities:

  1. Taking it when you need it
  2. Temporary use as a course of treatment
  3. Long-term use

Taking CBD when you need it

A typical example of taking CBD when you need it would be the case of a patient with acute or sudden pain. CBD is taken against acute pain, complementing other pain therapy, but it is also sometimes used as the only active substance. Whether it’s a migraine, back pain or tension: many patients often notice warning signs when a pain attack is imminent.

If CBD is taken in time, it may help grant rapid relief. Often, CBD is even used as a sedative in order to counter stage fright or exam stress. In such situations, users take advantage of the relaxing, yet non-intoxicating effect. The extent to which it makes sense to take CBD on an as-needed basis cannot, however, be stated with any precision. Experience shows that cannabidiol has different effects from person to person. Whilst some users may experience an immediate effect, it may take several weeks for others.

Short-term use as a course of treatment

Sometimes it makes sense to take CBD in the form of a course of treatment. Persistent pain is a common reason for taking CBD for several weeks, as are times of great mental and physical stress, such as exam periods. Here, on the one hand, CBD helps users to stay calmer, and on the other, it helps them to relax once the work is done. Quite a few migraine sufferers report that they have achieved longer pain-free periods by means of a CBD-based course of treatment. A good example of the temporary use of cannabidiol is in the case of period pain.

Taking CBD long term

You can also take CBD for an unlimited period of time, provided there is no medical reason not to do so. This is in fact the most common approach to taking it, as cannabidiol is also well suited to use as a dietary supplement. The anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and soothing properties of CBD have a positive impact on the human body. Clinical studies have found that patients suffering from anxiety and panic attacks in particular benefit from long-term use and become calmer. This has been found to be the case both in human and animal studies. In the case of chronic conditions, especially pain, long-term CBD use can also be helpful. Make sure you talk to your doctor regarding this, and pay attention to any possible negative changes.

Complications and problems

CBD is a valuable and partly still unexplored substance. As a natural product it helps many people. As well as prejudices, there are also some important topics that we would like to address.

CBD overdose – What to do?

As cannabidiol is neither intoxicating nor addictive, this active ingredient is considered to be very safe. However, there are some things you should be aware of before taking it.

Increasing numbers of newcomers want to know what can happen in the case of CBD overdoses. In this regard: in contrast to THC (and most drugs), an overdose of CBD is relatively harmless. During studies, it was found that even significant overdoses did not cause any harm to the user. Those affected just displayed severe fatigue and were sleepy. In some cases a significant drop in blood pressure may also occur. An overdose is thus still not something to be desired. In addition, the idea that “more is better” is absolutely not the case when it comes to taking CBD. You should therefore always start with low doses of CBD and only increase the dosage slowly. If you do not feel well after taking cannabidiol, it is recommended that you stop taking it, consulting a doctor if necessary.

Side effects caused by taking CBD are extremely rare. Serious physical harm is entirely unknown. Only the following undesired effects have sometimes been observed in some users:

  • fatigue
  • tiredness
  • light-headedness
  • low blood pressure

CBD and driving?

As is widely known, driving under the influence of THC is strictly prohibited and severely punished by law. You may therefore be wondering whether you can still drive a vehicle after taking CBD. Here, there is a need to make a distinction. In general, you can still drive a car whilst “under the influence of CBD”, as the cannabinoid does not cause any intoxication and does not impair your ability to drive. However, it must be noted that some cannabidiol products may also contain a small amount of THC.

In the UK for example, the concentration can be up to 0.2%. Although such small amounts cannot cause intoxication, it is still theoretically possible to detect these quantities in the user’s blood or urine. While the vast majority of testing devices will not detect and display such low concentrations in the first place, it is technically possible, and in the past there have been some cases which show that this is a potential issue. So, if this is a concern, you might want to use THC-free products.

Who should avoid taking CBD?

Pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding in particular should avoid taking CBD. Recent studies indicate that the cannabinoid may have a negative effect on the functioning of the placenta. Additionally, the effects of CBD on toddlers has not yet been well researched. For this reason, we recommend that you refrain from using these products during these particular phases of life.

In addition, you should consult a doctor if you wish to take CBD in combination with any medication. In some cases, undesirable interactions can result.

Can interactions with other medicines take place?

Yes, occasionally cannabidiol may interact with other medicines. This means that it either strengthens or weakens the effect of the other medicine. Talk to your doctor if you are planning to take CBD and you already take any of the following types of medication:

  • antidepressants
  • benzodiazepine
  • beta blockers
  • glaucoma medication
  • antipyretics (medication against fever)
  • opiates and diclofenac
  • anticoagulants
  • antihistamines (anti-allergy medication)
  • immunosuppressants
  • medication which increases the heart rate

Taking any of these kinds of medication does not automatically mean that you cannot take CBD. However, you should in any case consult your doctor beforehand and, if there are any doubts, refrain from using preparations containing cannabidiol.


  • Exercise caution in the use of CBD and the simultaneous consumption of alcohol.

Under which circumstances should I never take cannabidiol?

In fact, there are some contraindications which exclude the use of CBD. These include pregnancy, as already mentioned, and breast-feeding. Additional contraindications are:

  • Liver disease: in animal studies, researchers demonstrated the potential liver-damaging (hepatotoxic) effects of CBD in mice. The extent to which this applies to humans is currently the subject of further research. Until the contrary has been proven, those with liver disease should entirely refrain from taking cannabidiol – in whatever form.
  • Glaucoma: regular use of CBD may increase blood pressure in the eye. For those who do not suffer from glaucoma, it is harmless, but glaucoma can be aggravated and therapeutic measures can be impeded.
  • Malnutrition: in contrast to THC (which greatly increases the appetite) cannabidiol reduces hunger. This is used therapeutically for patients with excessive appetite. However, CBD is unsuitable for people who are severely malnourished and weak, who already consume too little food.


  1. How can I take CBD?

    The most common type is a normal CBD oil. Use a pipette to drop the oil under the tongue. Keep it there. Then swallow it.

  2. How many drops of CBD oil should I take?

    This is a case for a dosage instruction. It depends on many parameters. Product, CBD content, disease or weight.

    Please read our CBD dosage instructions.

  3. I get sick when taking CBD, what should I do?

    If the oil does not suit you, it may have become rancid. Actually CBD has a neutral pleasant taste. Otherwise change to CBD capsules or add sugar to CBD.

Taking products containing cannabinoids may result in interactions with various medications. If you are already taking medication, the use of CBD and other cannabinoids should be discussed with your doctor beforehand.

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About the author

Gunnar R.

Gunnar R.

Gunnar has been with CannaTrust from the beginning. Within the team he is know for his enthusiasm for cannabis and CBD. As a business journalist Gunnar has been writing for renowned media such as Stern, Spiegel or 'Sueddeutsche Zeitung'. Additionally, he has been part of a large medical encyclopedia project and therefore has an extensive knowledge about medical devices.