CBD is growing in popularity among all kinds of people with all kinds of symptoms, and for good reason. CBD has been demonstrated to help treat a variety of conditions without any of the mind-altering effects of THC. The non-psychoactive cannabinoid possesses anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anxiolytic, hypnotic, antipyretic, antispasmodic, and neuroprotective benefits, according to mounting research.
While CBD may be helpful to many people for symptom management, it can also be confusing or even intimidating to find the right products for you. This is because there are literally thousands of different products from hundreds of brands, each making different (and sometimes outlandish) claims about their ability to heal. In such a crowded market, it can be hard to choose the best CBD product for what ails you.
So, how do you navigate the crowded field of CBD products to find the best products for you and your body? Not to worry, we’re here to guide you each step of the way. Here, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to choose the best CBD product(s) for your symptoms, body, and wellness goals.
Before beginning in earnest, we open with a brief discussion of how CBD works with your body’s natural processes. We’ll then give some general guidelines for choosing the best CBD product for what ails you, then discuss individual CBD product types in detail. We’ll illuminate the types of symptoms each CBD product type might be best for, including tips and tricks to get the most from your dose. We’ll also drop a few product recommendations to help you in your search.
How CBD Behaves In Your Body
CBD has been shown to have widespread positive regulatory effects on the body’s processes. In layman’s terms, this means that CBD acts to help reduce extremes, supporting and improving homeostasis. It does this by interacting with your endocannabinoid system, a system of receptors and chemical messengers throughout your body.
CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system’s receptors to influence different processes in the body. It has been demonstrated to soothe and prevent seizures, alleviate pain, quell inflammation, calm anxiety, ease depression, and reduce inflammation throughout the body.
This anti-inflammatory action is at the heart of most of CBD’s health effects. This is because inflammation is a common thread in many different diseases. In fact, some researchers believe that all disease is rooted in inflammation, called the Inflammation Theory of Disease. CBD reduces the severity of symptoms by alleviating the inflammation in different parts of your body.
Because the receptors CBD acts on are located throughout your body, there isn’t really a system that CBD can’t be used to help regulate. It can even be applied to the skin for fast-acting relief at the site of pain. While CBD acts consistently across different body symptoms, it may take different lengths of time to become effective depending on your dosing method.
How to Choose the Best CBD Product for Your Body
CBD behaves consistently throughout the body, but can be absorbed a couple of different ways to achieve these effects. This is the key difference between all the types of otherwise-equal CBD products. Onset time and duration are major considerations when choosing a CBD product for your needs and symptoms.
Generally speaking, vapor products and raw hemp flower have the fastest onset time of any CBD product. This is because these products deliver CBD to the bloodstream quickly through the soft tissues of the lungs, providing systemic relief from pain, inflammation, anxiety, depression, and other conditions. Relief is fast: people usually feel better within 15 minutes of using one of these products.
Topicals also tend to take effect quickly (within 15-30 minutes) because of their interaction with endocannabinoid receptors in the skin. This property can make topical CBD very useful to provide targeted relief at the source of discomfort. It’s also good for alleviating sudden symptoms like muscle spasms or cramping.
CBD tinctures and oils tend to take effect within an hour or so, depending on how they are formulated as well as how they are taken. Water-soluble formulas often have a quicker onset time than traditional oil-based tinctures, but relief can be accelerated by holding the product in the mouth as long as possible instead of swallowing it. This allows the tincture to be absorbed by the soft tissues of the mouth and makes tinctures and oils a very versatile choice.
Edibles like gummies, softgels, and capsules have the longest onset time of any CBD product. This is because they are absorbed through the digestive tract which, as anyone who has ever taken a THC edible can tell you, causes a highly variable absorption rate. While it may take up to two hours to feel relief with CBD edibles, they also provide long-lasting symptom relief. Many people report being using CBD edibles and softgels for all-day comfort, making these products ideal for chronic conditions.
CBD Softgels, Capsules, & Edibles
Long-lasting CBD products like edibles, capsules, and softgels are our favorite way to achieve consistent relief that lasts for hours. Since they’re absorbed through the digestive system, these products tend to take longer to absorb compared to other delivery methods. That long onset time, however, is also accompanied by hour after hour of comfort due to the long-acting nature of CBD absorbed via the stomach and intestines.
If you like the idea of long-lasting comfort and wellness support but aren’t so into the thought of waiting two hours to feel better, we suggest pairing an edible dose of CBD with something that takes effect a bit quicker. For immediate relief, consider a vape pen, a bowl of organic hemp flower, or a topical CBD product to get the ball rolling. You might also take a look at tinctures, especially water-based formulas that are easier for your body to absorb.
We especially like edible CBD for management of chronic conditions that don’t often have acute symptoms. These products are our favorite for preventing flare-ups and managing low-grade but persistent symptoms. While they all fall into the same category of effectiveness, edible CBD products are potentially useful because of their diversity — they quite literally offer something for everyone. Whether you’re a fan of classic softgels or enjoy the tasty treat offered by a flavorful gummy, there is an edible CBD product for you.
We especially like the softgels from Joy Organics, but we’re also fond of the vegan capsules offered by cbdMD. If gummies are more your thing, you might consider the tasty vegan gummies offered by cbdMD. Made with tapioca starch instead of gelatin, you can feel confident treating your symptoms without supporting animal cruelty. We also like the CBD peach rings from Seabedee (or the sour gummy bears, if you’re so inclined) for a tasty and effective systemic dose of organic CBD.
Tinctures & CBD Oils
CBD tinctures come in many different flavors, dosage strengths, and formulations. Unlike edibles, which must be absorbed in the stomach, tinctures offer a bit more flexibility in CBD dosing. They can be taken sublingually (dropped under the tongue and held there for a minute or two) or ingested orally by either swallowing immediately or mixing with food or beverages.
The versatility of tinctures makes them helpful in treating a wide range of symptoms, from pain and inflammation to fever to anxiety. They can also provide CBD newcomers more flexibility with their dosing. This makes it possible to “feel out” what dosing strategy works best for you without committing to multiple products immediately.
We enjoy the line of tinctures available from Joy Organics (the lemon flavor is our favorite!). We also like the traditional oil-based tinctures carried by cbdMD, which are available in a wide variety of flavors for all palates. If you find that water-soluble tinctures are better for you, we suggest taking a look at the tinctures offered by Binoid, which come in an array of flavors that mix perfectly with food and beverages.
Taking tinctures sublingually can greatly accelerate their onset time — within 30 minutes for many, as opposed to over an hour in some cases. However, that rapid onset time comes at a bit of a price. Usually, the longer a product takes to set in, the longer its effects last.
Generally, water-soluble tinctures will take effect more quickly than oil-based CBD, though this may vary from person to person. We like using tinctures for balanced relief that acts relatively quickly and remains effective throughout our day. However, if you’re in need of immediate relief, you might consider CBD vape products or hemp flower.
CBD Vapor Products & Hemp Flower
When you’re in need of immediate relief from severe symptoms, there are few things better than a CBD vaporizer or a bowl of organic hemp flower. Unlike oral dosing methods, inhaled CBD is absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the tissues of the lungs. This delivery method provides near-instantaneous relief, though the effects will only last about 4-6 hours or so.
We prefer to inhale CBD when we need to alleviate acute symptoms. These might include spasms, pain, seizures, and other rapid-onset symptoms. Inhaled CBD in the form of a vape or bowl offers the added benefit of convenient dosing. While it’s less precise compared to oral methods, it is easier to discern whether or not you need more to feel better.
We love the vape pens and cartridges from Joy Organics, but more CBD companies are starting to up their vapor game. CBDistillery carries an excellent line of flavorful vapor pens that are free of shady additives and unpronounceable ingredients. The physician-formulated vape from Earth Medicine is also worth checking out for vapor enthusiasts.
When reaching for hemp flower, we trust the organic buds from Canna Comforts. Created to look, smell, taste, and smoke just like cannabis without the high, the hemp flower from Canna Comforts is sure to provide soothing relief — with the quickness. Reach for a prerolled joint or palm wrap if you don’t have the time to load a bowl or roll your own.
Another excellent option for fast relief at the site of discomfort, topicals are an integral part of symptom management routines for many people. These products act quickly because they interact with cannabinoid receptors in the skin, inducing faster effects. Especially when paired with beneficial botanical ingredients, topical CBD can be a game-changer for chronic pain management. These products may also benefit certain skin conditions as well.
While there’s lots of information to cover about CBD topicals (check out more details here), there are a few basic product types we can recommend. For severe pain, tension, and muscle spasms, we swear by the Freeze roll-on from cbdMD (get the 1500mg strength for maximum effectiveness — it’s worth it, we promise).
For more skin-soothing benefits, we like the pain creams offered by Joy Organics and Canna Comforts. These creams are perfect for alleviating dry, itchy skin as well as soreness and stiffness in muscles and joints. For those with sensitive skin, we highly recommend the CBD pain gel from Earth Medicine — its lightweight formula absorbs quickly and is non-comedogenic.
Sorting through the different CBD products available online can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. Knowing just a couple of general principles can help you narrow the field considerably, finding the best CBD product for what ails you (or your loved ones). It may take a bit of experimentation to find your Holy Grail CBD products, but the relief is well worth the work it takes to get there. Check out our CBD buyer’s guide for more information about how to choose the best CBD product for you — and skip the rest.