When first looking into the possibility of using CBD, you will be faced with an immediate choice – how do you want to take it? Despite what you might have first thought, CBD is actually available in a variety of forms, most commonly as either CBD oil or as an e-liquid for vaping.
So… which one should you choose? Usually they’re priced about the same, with little other information about which is the best to take. Considering you’re likely taking CBD for your health, however, it makes sense to ask which is the healthier option. Without further ado, here we tackle the ongoing argument of CBD oil vs e-liquid, and which one is the healthier/more potent option.
What Even is CBD?
Before you can make such an important decision, you first need to understand what CBD is to begin with. CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant and is properly known as cannabidiol. CBD is a cannabinoid, similar to its better-known cousin THC. However, in contrast with THC, CBD is entirely non-psychoactive and not at all addictive, since it does not give you any form of high. This means that it doesn’t alter your mental state in a negative way, nor does it cause you to suffer impaired motor functions.
When you give yourself CBD, it interacts with a health system in the body called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This is something that exists in all mammals and was only discovered as a result of researching cannabis. The ECS helps regulate and control a variety of bodily functions, all dependent on its two primary receptors, CB1 and CB2.
The CB1 receptors, located primarily within your brain and central nervous system, work to help control and release helpful neurochemicals that are a huge part of you feeling good on a moment to moment basis; they also help control the sensation of pain. The CB2 receptor, meanwhile, is a bit different. It’s spread more generally throughout the body and mainly concerns itself with regulating cellular regeneration and the body’s inflammation response.
We generally use CBD, instead of THC or other cannabinoids, both because of its non-psychoactive nature but also due to the way in which it interacts with the ECS. When you ingest THC or other cannabinoids, they latch onto your CB receptors and trigger them with a huge amount of intensity, causing the trademark psychoactive effects as well as the mental impairment.
With CBD, however, it’s all different; CBD triggers the receptors more calmly and gradually by influencing the receptors indirectly. This allows it to act as a very effective medicine to help treat a variety of conditions.
Now that we know what CBD is, we need to understand what CBD oil and CBD e-liquids are; in order to understand which is healthier, we need to know their major differences.
CBD Oil vs E-Liquid: What Actually is CBD Oil?
Arguably the most well-known and most popular way of imbibing CBD, CBD oil is a pure CBD extract suspended within inert oil so as to make it easy to put under your tongue or in your food. Using a chemical process known as supercritical CO2 Extraction, the CBD is removed from the Cannabis sativa plant and placed in a chemically inert oil for the purpose of making it all the more easy to actually get it into your system. The choice of oil is a manufacturer’s decision, as they all have a variety of benefits and problems.
The primary reason to choose flavorful oil is, of course, the rather profound taste of CBD. Instead of tasting like medicine or just generally cannabis, it instead has a powerful and uncomfortably acrid taste. Flavorful oil helps mask this and make it easier to put under your tongue. You take CBD oil in two major ways; either in your food or drink, in which case it’s digested by the stomach, or by putting underneath your tongue and allowing it to enter your bloodstream that way.
Regardless of your preferred method, the CBD enters your body the same way – blood takes the CBD from the oil and carries it to the liver, where it is broken down, allowing the body to utilize it. However, there is some research that states that imbibing CBD oil orally is better, especially so if you’re using coconut oil. This is because of something called Intestinal Lymphatic Drug Delivery.
Although this sounds very complicated, this just refers to the process by which CBD oil is digested. Normally, it becomes digested in the stomach and then works its way through the intestinal system, where the blood that circulates around the intestines removes the CBD and takes it to the liver.
However, if it’s coconut oil or any other high-fat oil, the CBD oil can become stuck in the large intestine, causing it to stay there much longer than it might otherwise. This doesn’t block your intestines or anything, but it does allow for the CBD to be absorbed more easily. This is because your blood has a longer amount of time to separate the CBD from the coconut oil.
Strange to think, but coconut oil getting stuck in your intestines might actually be a good thing.
CBD Oil vs. CBD E-Liquid: What Actually is an “E-Liquid”?
The actual composition of CBD e-liquids is pretty much the same as CBD oil. Extracted CBD is suspended within oil for the purpose of making it easy to imbibe; only in the case of CBD e-liquids, it has a little something extra. CBD e-liquids need to have something called thinning agents added to them so as to make them able to be vaporized. This is because CBD oil is far too viscous to be properly vaporized; if you try it, you’re just going to get a damaged vape pen. This means that CBD e-liquids are pretty similar in actual ingredients, except that CBD e-liquids contain thinning agents alongside the CBD.
When you breathe in CBD e-liquids, the vaporized CBD circulates around your lungs, allowing your bloodstream to pick up the CBD and take it to the liver, pretty much in the same way that CBD oil is processed. While this all might seem exactly the same, it’s important to remember that you are breathing the CBD in, rather putting it into your stomach. It is pretty firmly established that smoking of any sort (including vaping) causes damage to your lungs.
In a study by Canistro et al. for the Journal of Scientific Reports, it was demonstrated that the process of vaping produces similar damage to your lungs as when you smoke. This is because of the fact that, regardless of how you look at it, you are putting hot air into your lungs when your lungs were only really designed to deal with normal, regular temperature air.
Additionally, lungs weren’t designed to easily remove substances from vaporous air, but instead just separate oxygen from normal air. There also exists a risk of aspirating some of the oil that makes up CBD e-liquids; because the oil that the CBD is suspended within is, you know, oil, it’s entirely composed of lipids. If these get brought into the vapor along with the CBD, you are breathing in aspirated fat particles that can become settled into your lungs and cause you a huge amount of damage.
This can cause something known as Lipoid Pneumonia, and is essentially a very unpleasant form of pneumonia, only it’s caused by a bunch of fat sitting around in your lungs’ alveoli. However, CBD e-liquids do have some advantages – they’re convenient and easy to use, allowing you to very easily take CBD when on the go without having to deal with the curious or critical glances of those nearby if you were using CBD oil.
If you’ve ever found yourself trying to drip something under your tongue while in public, you’ll understand. Additionally, you don’t have to deal with the extremely unpleasant taste of CBD; you can mask it with a whole host of different flavor combinations, from pink bubblegum to strawberries.
Despite its many health risks, there are a lot of benefits alongside it. Plus, the risk factors behind vaping CBD are rare – bad things do happen, but they happen to few people.
So… Is CBD Oil Healthier than Vaping CBD E-Liquid?
CBD oil and CBD e-liquids are both fantastic ways to easily get CBD into your system. The former requires you to either bear with the taste or put it onto your food like some kind of worm medicine you trick your dog into taking, while the latter requires you to deal with potentially unpleasant medical side effects, as well as exposing you to the damage normally associated with smoking.
However, the decision between CBD oil vs. CBD e-liquids needs to be a personal one; there are benefits and problems associated with both forms of CBD, but some are more concerning than others.
One often un-discussed problem with CBD oil is the fact that you are introducing a far larger quantity of fatty oil into your diet in comparison to vaping CBD e-liquids. If you’re concerned about your weight, as well as the oily mouthfeel of CBD, you might prefer the e-liquid.
However, if you have issues with your lung health or are otherwise concerned with potential medical side effects associated with vaping, you might want to avoid e-liquids altogether and stick with CBD oil. While it’s true that CBD e-liquids look a lot worse on paper, especially when it comes to medical problems, CBD oil isn’t entirely without problems either.
All in all, make the choice that’s right for you, based on your own individual priorities. There isn’t a perfect choice out there, but there is the best choice for you.
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