| “Like every other medical product that has come before it, CBD has entered into the commercial world — and that means variety…”
In the same way you can buy untold numbers of different brands of painkillers, there are now a myriad of ways to consume CBD, both with different brands of the same product, and with different methods of consumption.
One of the most important decisions people have to make when first beginning to use CBD is whether to use CBD oil or to vape it using CBD e-liquids. Like any health-conscious person, you should be asking yourself: Which is healthier between the two? Which is better overall for your health, and are there any downsides to one or the other?
Let’s find out.
First, What is CBD?
Simply put, CBD is an extract of cannabidiol, known more commonly as CBD, taken from the Cannabis sativa plant. CBD is entirely non-psychoactive and non-addictive, allowing patients to utilize its medical benefits without significant risk.
When you ingest CBD, it interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a health system that runs throughout the human body. This system is triggered by cannabinoids, both natural ones produced by the human body (endocannabinoids) and ones found in cannabis that we receive when we consume the plant.
Something very interesting about the ECS is the way in which different receptors are triggered in different ways, depending on which specific cannabinoid is present.
DID YOU KNOW: CBD has been shown to influence natural receptors in the body that help regulate things like inflammation, anxiety, and pain response?
CB1 receptors are mostly located within the brain and central nervous system, whereas CB2 receptors are spread throughout the body. CB1 receptors work to help release a variety of helpful brain chemicals, such as serotonin and melatonin, as well as affecting the sensation of pain.
However, CB2 receptors can help control things like the inflammation response, as well as the degree to which cells regenerates throughout the body.
CBD is used as a medicine due to the way in which it interacts with these receptors; instead of attaching themselves to the receptors – like with THC – it instead somewhat sits near them, calmly activating them without over-stimulation (thereby avoiding the psychoactive high that THC gives you).
Generally speaking, CBD is available in many forms, allowing the consumer to pick how they want to consume it. The real question is, which type is right for you.
What is CBD Oil – and How Do You Take it?
CBD oil is perhaps the most well-known way to get CBD into your system. Produced using a superheated extraction process, pure CBD is taken from Cannabis sativa plants that have been specifically bred to contain high quantities of cannabidiol.
Next, it is suspended within an inert, food-grade oil (most commonly coconut or MCT oil) so as to allow the CBD extract to remain safe to consume, as well as provide an easier way of taking it.
If you’ve ever had a chance to actually taste pure CBD extract, you’ll understand the importance of some flavorful oil to help mask it.
Taking CBD oil is extremely easy; most of the time, you only need to take it sublingually, which means putting it under your tongue. Your bloodstream will then carry the active compound to wherever the body needs it most. However, CBD oil is can also be put directly into food or drink so as to help mask the “earthy” flavor. In these cases, the CBD oil is broken down in the stomach, and then transferred into the bloodstream after being absorbed in the intestinal gut wall.
One interesting aspect of how CBD oil makes it through your system is something called “Intestinal Lymphatic Drug Delivery,” or ILDD. ILDD occurs when CBD is delivered in an inert oil with a high saturated fat content, such as coconut (or MCT) oil.
When the body needs to process these substances, it has some trouble trying to move it through the digestive system due to the viscous nature of the oil. This means that the oil can become “stuck” in the large intestine, sitting on the corners of your intestinal wall and hanging there for a little while.
Strangely enough, this actually makes it easier for your body to retrieve the CBD oil. As the bloodstream is circulating right alongside the intestinal wall, it makes it a lot easier for the blood to pick up the CBD and take it out, ensuring it gets to your liver before it is digested or broken down unnecessarily.
What is CBD E-Liquid – and How Do You Take it?
CBD e-liquid is actually pretty similar to coconut oil in composition. It is still extracted CBD suspended within an inert oil, but that oil has been made “vapable,” typically through the addition of a chemical thinning agent.
When you vaporize CBD e-liquid, your vape pen quickly heats the oil and CBD to the point where it is sublimated into gaseous form. This then combines with water vapor from the air and becomes a fine mist. You then breathe this in, allowing the blood that circulates around and through your lungs to retrieve the CBD within the vaporized mist.
This is a lot easier that having to administer CBD oil to your food or put it under your tongue, and it can taste very, very different. Instead of the bitter taste of pure hemp CBD, you actually get a taste similar to that of marijuana in your mouth.
An important thing to consider, however, is the safety of any kind of inhalation – whether it be through smoking or vaping .
Though e-liquids and vaping in general are not believed to be as dangerous as smoking joints (or anything burnable), they still present some risk.
For example, numerous studies (such as this one for the Journal of Scientific Reports), have demonstrated that e-cigarettes and vaping in general present their own risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Due to the effect that vaporized fluids have on the lungs, you actually have the potential to be even more at risk from lung cancer than if you just smoked normally.
Additionally, there is the risk of breathing in particles from the inert oil that the CBD is kept in. This means that the lipids within the oil can be brought into the lungs with the CBD, which is of course super dangerous for your health because oil has difficulty leaving your lungs, and can accumulate over time as solidified particles.
Another important thing to consider is the frequent interchangeability between both CBD oil and CBD e-liquids; this means that people are ingesting the e-liquid and putting CBD oil in their vaporizers – something you really, really should not be doing.
CBD Oil vs. CBD e-Liquids: Can They Be Used Interchangeably?
This is an important topic to highlight, so let’s make it very clear: Do not use oral CBD oils and CBD e-liquids interchangeably!
Some people have said you can actually seriously endanger yourself if you use e-liquids like CBD oil, or the other way around.
The primary reason for this is that CBD oil is made using viscous oils – like coconut or olive oil – that do not burn well in vape pen heating coils. This can cause intense, bitter tastes, as well as actually posing the risk of your vape pen damaging itself and burning out due to CBD oil residue.
CBD e-liquids, on the other hand, are generally produced with some kind of thinning agent, which allows the inert oil to become less viscous and more easily burnable by a vape pen. Think of this as similar to watering down a drink; it makes the whole substance less thick and easier to process.
However, some of these thinning agents are not designed to be ingested, and are not food safe; they’re meant to be vaporized in the vape pens. These can potentially cause you significant harm if you are regularly ingesting e-liquids, when you should just be taking normal CBD oil.
CBD E-liquids vs CBD Oil: Which is Healthier?
In the CBD oil vs E-liquid debate, the question of which one is better for you (and your body) is a difficult one to answer, most notable because the term “healthy” is a difficult one to define.
Realistically, most alien substances you put into your body are going to have some negative effects. In the case of taking CBD, however, it’s actually more about the medium in which CBD is imbibed – and what goes along with it – than the CBD itself.
With CBD oil, you run the risk of worsening your cardiovascular health due to the high saturated fat content of most CBD oils. With CBD e-liquids, however, you have to consider the potential increased risks of cancer, as well as the prevalence towards aspirated lipid content. Though the risk is hard to pin down and is likely marginal, it still may be present.
All in all, you need to make the right choice for what suits you. Thanks to the relative safety of CBD itself, it’s just about what method suits your lifestyle and personal health the best.
Are CBD oil and CBD e-liquids inherently unhealthy? Probably not. However, as with anything, you need to weigh up the pros and cons and decide which is the best option for you.