A Short Guide to CBD Formulations

CBD is commonly available in oils, softgels, vapes, edibles, and creams. In this blog post, I’ll go through these common forms and provide a bit of background on how they are consumed and share with you what method I choose to use.

Please check out our CBD Basics blog post for background information on CBD.


Oils are sold in tinctures, which are glass bottles containing highly concentrated CBD, mixed with a carrier oil (such as Coconut MCT Oil or Hemp Seed Oil), and an accompanying dropper. Drops of the oil are placed under the tongue (referred to as sublingual) and then swallowed after 30 seconds. This method allows the CBD to enter the bloodstream quickly via the capillaries under the tongue and the benefits can generally be felt within 15 minutes in the head/brain. This makes it ideal to treat several ailments, such as anxiety.

It is important to understand that “CBD oil” is not necessarily the same as “Hemp Oil.” Hemp Oil can refer to Hemp Seed Oil, which has several beneficial nutrients, such as Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, amino acids, fiber, and antioxidants and is considerably less expensive than CBD oil. Don’t be duped into buying Hemp Oil at CBD oil prices!

Often, CBD extract is combined with the Hemp Seed Oil to produce a “CBD oil”. More recently, CBD extract is combined with MCT (medium-chained-triglycerides) oil, sourced from coconuts. Coconut MCT Oil is all the rage in the health and beauty industry because of the body’s ability to easily metabolize this fat and convert it to energy. MCT provides an almost immediate source of natural fuel instead of being stored in tissue as saturated fat.

Hemp Seed oil and Coconut MCT oil (known as “carrier oils”) are the two most common oils for creating the “CBD oil,” however some manufacturers choose to use other oils.

Softgels and Edibles

Softgels and edibles are also effective ways to enjoy the benefits of CBD. However, like any food, they must be broken down in the digestive system first and the effects begin to kick in about 30 minutes after consumption. The dosing on quality manufactured softgels is very precise given they are typically made with industrial machinery. CBD edibles on the other hand, such as gummies, can be either machine infused or hand sprinkled. If you choose the edibles route, research the product manufacturing process to ensure that machine infusion is being used. A recent i-team investigation into several edibles showed that CBD content was significantly lower than advertised because of imprecise manufacturing.

Vape Oils

Vape oils are used with an e-cigarette vaporizer, or “vape pen.” The device heats up a small portion of concentrated CBD oil until it boils, allowing you to inhale the vapor. Inhaled CBD tends to enter the bloodstream fastest; in as little as 30 seconds.

Be careful using disposable vape pens as a recent report indicated that labs are finding heavy metals, particularly lead, in cartridges.


Creams are available and used by applying directly on pain areas. These are used primarily to alleviate pain. CBD alleviates pain by reducing inflammation rather than the numbing feeling common to Icyhot and similar products. Creams are often used by athletes.

So, which do I use?

I personally decided to use an oil due to its relatively quick absorption, minimal ingredients, adjustable dosing using the dropper, and overall versatility. Oils are a staple in every brand’s product offering and are the most popular way to experience the benefits of CBD, plus they are filled with nutrients from the carrier oils.

Check out our guide to finding a quality CBD oil, linked here!

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