Unless you’ve been living off the grid for years, you know that CBD is all the rage in the wellness world. This compound is most commonly found in oil-form, which is taken directly under the tongue or added to food or drinks.
But that’s not the only way to take CBD, not even close. In fact, there are thousands of products out there and as the CBD scene continues to expand — a recent analysis says the market could reach $20 billion by 2024 — there will only be more to choose from.
Here are three lesser known ways to take CBD and what you need to know about each.
1. Sublingual strips
“Sublingual CBD is a fascinating route because the skin is very thin and close to your brain, so the absorption is excellent,” explains Dr. Kerklaan, founder of Dr. Kerklaan Therapeutics and expert in CBD delivery methods. Sublingual strips are similar to sublingual oils, except they come in the form of a quick-dissolving strip that goes right under the tongue.
Despite being so similar, strips do have some advantages over oils. For example, they’re completely mess-free and easier to dose, which makes them perfect to use on-the-go or when you’re traveling.
The real challenge with sublingual strips, Dr. Kerklaan points out, is the taste. ”CBD will never taste good on its own,” he says. Because of this, it’s important to keep an eye out for added sugars and artificial colors and flavors that may be hiding in some products.
Kin Slips are some of our favorite sublingual slips on the market.
2. Bath salts
CBD-infused bath salts are another quickly growing category. But does it really make sense to add CBD to your bath? “If you soak in the bath and you’re thinking that CBD is getting through your blood-brain barrier—don’t,” says Dr. Kerklaan. A CBD-infused bath — or any topical application, for that matter — is not the best way to get systemic benefits. As he explains, “The point of a topical isn’t to get into your bloodstream but to affect the endocannabinoid system through your skin.”
So, when should you choose bath salts over, say, a CBD balm or lotion? According to Dr. Kerklaan, a hot bath may help open up your pores and expose you to the CBD more efficiently. Because of this, many people opt for CBD bath salts to help with muscle soreness or topical skin inflammation. Dr. Kerklaan recommends taking time for a nice, long soak as well. “Exposure time is important to get the maximum binding to the receptors in your skin,” he explains.
If you’re looking for CBD-infused bath salts, look for products formulated with full- or broad-spectrum hemp oil or powder-like these Fine Healing Goods Restorative Himalayan Bath Soak ($58) or Love Lynn Botanicals Hemp-Infused Rose Bath Salts ($32) — to further maximize the benefits.
3. Vaginal suppositories
At first glance, a suppository may seem like an extreme way to take CBD. But it actually makes a lot of sense. Much like the skin under your tongue, the tissue inside your vagina is extremely absorbable and makes for an interesting delivery method for CBD.
“Suppositories are medically known as one of the fastest routes of absorption,” says Dr. Kerklaan. “The bioavailability of a suppository is also very high, so it makes sense for certain situations,” he continues. This is especially relevant if you have a gut issue that may affect the way CBD is absorbed in the GI tract. As Dr. Kerklaan puts it, “Any questions that may exist around how CBD is affected by a harsh digestive tract are avoided with suppositories.”
If you’re curious about this delivery method, start with these Foria Wellness Basics Suppositories ($72), which are formulated specifically for relief during your menstrual period.
CBD’s growing popularity means it’s bound to come in endless shapes and sizes. “CBD has massive therapeutic potential but having the right delivery method and concentration levels is paramount,” says Dr. Kerklaan. In other words, as a consumer, the key is knowing which type of product and dose to pick for your individual needs.