CBD Edibles vs. Smoking: Which Is Better?

CBD has become increasingly popular in the last decade. Research on its possible benefits is steadily increasing and there are many products available today to choose from.

The influx of options can make it hard to tell the difference between CBD edibles and smoking. Read on to learn about the difference between the two, and why it’s important.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of over 60 naturally occurring cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. THC is another popular cannabinoid compound; however, it works in a very different way. Both THC and CBD act on the endocannabinoid system (ECS) that is present in all mammals.

The endocannabinoid system is a network of neurotransmitters and receptors that modulate our reactions to pain and inflammation. CB1 and CB2 receptors trigger a response from the ECS. Location matters greatly here too. While the central nervous system houses most CB1 receptors, CB2 receptors are often found in the immune cells.

THC and CBD are both cannabinoids, yet the way in which they interact with our ECS sets them apart. THC is commonly known for giving users a sense of euphoria, along with a variety of other psychoactive effects. Conversely, CBD lacks the psychoactive effects of THC and is more commonly associated with research looking into possible clinical usage. CBD, when combined with THC, is thought to lessen its activity by binding antagonistically to CB2 receptors.

What are CBD edibles?

CBD edibles are a popular method of using CBD, especially for beginners. They are often in the form of gummies, a CBD-infused product that you can eat. They usually look like regular gummies and can range in shapes such as worms, frogs, or bears for example. Alternatively, edibles can also be made at home by adding CBD after or during preparations.

As far as purchasing edibles, they can come in many forms:

  • Gummies
  • Brownies
  • Chocolate
  • Smoothies
  • Juices

Every day the variety of CBD edibles increases, and more companies are providing creative ways to consume CBD. For people just starting out on CBD, this may be an easy and fun way to be introduced.

CBD edibles usually take a bit longer to work than other methods, as your body needs time to process the food consumed. CBD edibles are said to take about an hour to show effectiveness but have a longer-lasting effect than vaping CBD.

What is CBD vaping?

CBD vaping is just like regular vaping, whereby an e-liquid containing CBD is heated in a vaporizer. The vaporizer (as the name suggests) produces vapors that are inhaled into the lungs. While it is often referred to as CBD vape “oil,” the substance used is not oil but a combination of other liquids. The e-liquid contains vegetable glycerin (VG), propylene glycol (PG), and CBD extract. They can be bought separately or come with a vaporizer.

There is a variety of vaporizers, each ranging in price and convenience

CBD pods

CBD pods are filled with CBD e-liquid and connected to a battery. They are one of the more popular forms as they are compatible with the JUUL battery. Users are able to swap out their JUUL pod with a CBD pod without any extra steps needed.

CBD cartridges

CBD cartridges are filled with CBD e-liquid similar to pods, however, they are connected to 510-batteries. 510-batteries are another very popular battery that is cross-compatible with other vape cartridges.

Refillable CBD vape pens

Refillable CBD vape pens are often a bigger financial investment initially but are cheaper in the long run. Compared to the others, refillable pens come with a mouthpiece, coil, tank, and battery. There is more upkeep involved as there is cleaning, coil changing, and refilling, but it is a cheaper option for regular users.

Disposable CBD vape pens

Disposable CBD vape pens are a cheap and convenient option for beginners. The CBD content is usually higher in these pens in comparison to e-liquids bought separately, but this may vary depending on the store. After the CBD liquid is used, it can be thrown away.

CBD edibles pros and cons

Pros

CBD edibles have become increasingly popular, and as a result, more companies are coming out with a variety of them. From lollipops to granola bars, individuals are able to experiment with flavors to make the experience of taking CBD more enjoyable.

Likewise, for individuals just starting out, edibles are generally a more pleasant way of using CBD. CBD edibles can be a tastier alternative to tinctures and oils that tend to have an earthy taste to them. The variety of CBD edibles also gives other options to people who find they don’t like a particular CBD edible.

With packaged edibles, it may be easier to track your dosage as they are clearly stated (double-check the Certificate of Analysis to be sure). Whereas, with CBD vaping, it can be hard to gauge how much CBD you are really getting in a single puff.

Cons

CBD when taken orally must first be digested and metabolized in the liver, meaning it usually takes longer to be absorbed by the body than other methods.

Likewise, CBD absorption by the body may peak within one hour or six hours depending on the dose and other foods eaten. This aspect can therefore make the effectiveness of CBD variable and unpredictable.

CBD edibles may be quite pricey for people just starting out with CBD. Prices can range from $30 to $60, though it may be more or less depending on the store. Edibles may also conflict with people’s diet. Given how new CBD edibles are on the market, gluten-free and vegan options may be harder to find.

CBD vaping pros and cons

Pros

Vaping is the most efficient way to deliver CBD as vapors are inhaled and enter the bloodstream through the lungs. Unlike CBD edibles, the absorption of CBD through vaping is not dependent on the digestion of foods consumed.

CBD vaping usually takes around 10 minutes to take effect, though this can be faster or slower depending on the individual. These effects are said to last around three to five hours, though experiences vary.

Using CBD vapes, especially disposable pens, can be particularly handy for beginners, as it is generally a lot cheaper than other methods of CBD use. The price of disposable pens can range from $10 to $30 depending on the store. For those just starting out, disposable pens can provide a cheap trial on CBD, always check the ingredients as some pens may have a higher CBD content.

Cons

CBD e-liquids may contain solubilizers that may cause irritation in the airways. In such cases, there are some e-liquids on the market labeled as “solvent-free,” though you should always double-check the COA to be sure.

Propylene glycol (PG) is liquid alcohol found in many e-liquids. Along with the above side effects, PG can be broken down to formaldehyde, a possible carcinogen at high temperatures.

Factors such as how long someone holds their breath, how long they inhale, or the type of e-liquid can greatly impact the absorption of CBD. This can make dosing difficult, especially for those just starting out.

Is vaping safe?

Vaping involves the heating up of a substance and inhaling the vapors that are produced. While it may not be as harmful as cigarette smoking, there are still some risks involved.

CBD e-liquids are often made with a solubilizer, which allows the CBD oil to be mixed into a thinner, vaporizing liquid. One 2020 study looking into delivery methods of CBD found that solubilizers used may cause irritation to the airways. They also noted that because of this it may not be suitable for some patients.

According to a review published in the same year, vaping may be linked to increased arterial stiffness and risk of cardiac infarction. The use of vaporizers may have significant long-term effects, but more research is needed to be sure.

Side effects of CBD

According to the World Health Organization, the use of CBD is safe and “well-tolerated,” though some may experience side effects. Some side effects include:

  • Change in appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Change in weight

As the presence of side effects is thought to be an indication of a dosage that is too high, it is wise to make note of any that you experience. The FDA is yet to publish any set standards on CBD dosage, which can make it hard to navigate. It is important therefore to consult your GP first before trying CBD, especially if you are taking other medications.

The bottom line

CBD edibles and smoking have a range of pros and cons that depend on your preference. In general, if you are looking for faster and more convenient use of CBD, vaping is probably the way to go. Conversely, if you are looking for a more leveled but sustained effect, CBD edibles are the best option.

Like anything, it is important to be wary of the short and long-term effects of CBD and consult your doctor for any medical advice.

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