Delivery Methods & CBD’s Bioavailability


CBD products come in all shapes and sizes. CBD as an oil or tincture is probably most well known form, but it’s far from being the only thing on the market today.

As the industry develops, its advocates have been busy developing a nearly endless variety of products. What started with a few simple, CBD-isolate based oils around 2010 has blossomed into much more.

And that means today’s customers have plenty of options to choose from. They can easily find what they’re looking for, whether by browsing online or frequenting retail shops. There’s everything from concentrates to vape pens to CBD-infused edibles. Some companies are even developing alternative delivery methods, like transdermal CBD patches or suppositories. And a growing number of hemp farmers are working hard to make cultivated hemp flower available.

This diversification is a wonderful trend, but can also cause confusion for those new to the plant!

While CBD products all have at least one thing in common – the presence of Cannabidiol as active ingredient- their pharmacological effects tend to differ. For example, taking CBD in a vape pen will have different benefits than taking it in oil form. CBD from hemp flower may be more potent than an equivalent mg content of CBD from an infused edible.

These effects can be grouped into categories called delivery methods that each contain a few product types. Learning the basics about these different delivery methods can help customers tailor their purchases to best fit their needs.



Inhalation methods include smoking and vaporizing. Up until recently, it was difficult to find a good way to smoke CBD, but that’s all changed in the past couple years. Vaporizers, CBD concentrates (also called ‘dabs’ or ‘wax’), and hemp flower are just a few of the alternatives.

The primary benefit of inhalation is its fast onset time. Because CBD is inhaled directly into the lungs, effects are noticeable and immediate. This makes inhalation products like vape pens a favorite for those with anxiety or PTSD. Vaporizers can also be a necessity for parents of epileptic children, who might not otherwise be able to self-dose with other product types.

Another benefit: vaporizing CBD is convenient. Handheld vapes can easily be stocked with glycerin-based CBD oil or terpene-rich CBD concentrates; some ‘dry’ vapes can even be used to vaporize hemp flower.

The bioavailability of this method is pretty high, too, ranging from 10 to 35% – that percentage reflects how much of the CBD is actually getting into the bloodstream intact. Vaping tends to be slightly more efficient than smoking, a trait also increased by inhaling more deeply.


Ingesting CBD is self-explanatory and entails exactly what you might think: eating. CBD is infused into food products like gummy bears, cookies, energy bars, or even honey sticks. CBD edibles are especially popular among parents who want to give their children CBD – without subjecting them to the sometimes ‘earthy’ flavor of CBD oil.

Both the speed and efficiency of CBD absorption is a little lower for edibles. They may take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2+ hours to fully kick in, and only 8-15% of the CBD will actually be available for use by the body.

Conversely, the duration of effects lasts longer for CBD edibles than it does for nearly any other delivery method. Edibles also have strong effect on the gut lining, where the CBD they contain activates localized CB1 & CB2 receptors to reduce inflammation.

These qualities may are great for some, especially those with IBS or “leaky gut”, and suboptimal for others. It all depends on what’s required for an individual to attain their own version of peak performance.

Of course, it’s good practice to make sure your CBD edibles don’t feature unhealthy ingredients that might outweigh the properties of their CBD. Products containing artificial coloring or high fructose corn syrup are more common than you might think. We at Legends would encourage you to take a more holistic approach!


This dosing method is the most common one, comprising CBD oils, tinctures, and lozenges. Oral / mucosal products work best when dissolved in the mouth prior to full ingestion, so be sure to allow at least 30 seconds for this to happen. As they dissolve, they saturate oral mucous membranes and go directly into the bloodstream. And that means the CBD is able to bypass the slower hepatic metabolism that occurs when other products, like CBD edibles, get processed through the liver.

When it comes to their pharmacological effects, the oral dosing method achieves a nice balance. Absorption is faster than you’d see with CBD edibles, with onset of effects occurring 15 – 60 minutes post dose. And the duration of these effects lasts up to 6 hours, longer than those obtained from vaporizing do.

There’s a reason CBD oil remains the most popular and versatile CBD product: it modulates the Endocannabinoid System [**link to article 1: The Truth About the ECS] more fully than anything else available today.

Alternatively, people with severe gut health issues may do better to treat their CBD Oil as an ingestible by not letting it absorb into the oral lining. One can do this by simply taking the oil faster, or mixing it into food. This may allow more CBD to reach the digestive system intact, where it can fight residing inflammation head on.


The topical delivery method features CBD-rich salves, balms, and roll-ons. The applications in this area are remarkably diverse: everything from lip balms to massage oils have hit the retail market. Topicals work well primarily when it comes to relief of acute, localized pain.

Take a person with knee pain from arthritis, for example. Their ideal dosing strategy may be to take CBD oil everyday (for the arthritis and systemic inflammation), coupled with a CBD topical that they put directly on their knees during flare-ups. As they observe symptom reduction, they may be able to ease off the topical entirely, as long as they are consistent with CBD oil use.

The effects of topicals can be fairly transient: they kick in very quickly (within 15-30 minutes), and only last for between 2-4 hours, depending on how much is used. Topicals don’t quite reach the bloodstream, meaning they don’t really impact the endocannabinoid system on a whole. They do ‘hit’ its CB2 receptors, however, which we discussed in our Endocannabinoid System Receptors article:

If you’ve ever used a hemp topical and experienced pain relief, you’ve witnessed firsthand how important [CB2] receptors really are. That topical only worked because the CBD molecules in it crossed through a few dermal layers and attached themselves to CB2 receptor sites in the connective tissue and fascia. Once the CBD bonded to its receptor, it was able to send an important message to other neurotransmitters, reducing inflammation in the process.


Transdermal products are one of the newest ways to get CBD into the body, and they’re also one of the most interesting. These products come in the form of a transdermal patch or specialized gel that’s been designed to go through every layer of skin (thus the name!) and into the bloodstream.

Transdermal delivery offers an extremely high bioavailability rate: close to 100%. Transdermal products also kick in very quickly, in as little as 15 minutes. They remain pharmacologically active for between 4-12 hours, depending on the particular medium used: patches last longer than gels.

With qualities like these, the transdermal delivery method shows great therapeutic potential. It’s effective, convenient, and provides a great blend of specific and full-body effects. One study’s abstract put it this way:

“The future CBD transdermal system could also be tested in Phase II clinical trials for analgesic effect, inflammation relief, and nausea and vomiting treatment, as there is also substantial preclinical/clinical data with CBD to justify therapeutic utility for these indications.”

Promising…but also costly. Most CBD companies provide low-dose (~20 mg CBD) transdermal patches, several of which may be required daily. At those prices, it wouldn’t be atypical to spend $10 or more, every single day, to get full relief. Compare that with an equivalent amount of CBD in tincture form, which would only cost a dollar or two a day, and it’s easy to see why transdermal products can be cost-prohibitive for many people. As manufacturing processes improve and more brands start producing pain patches, these prices should hopefully drop.

CBD Oil: What Changes Its Color?


CBD products come in all shapes and sizes. While CBD oil is the single most popular type of product, variations exist even within this category. CBD oils and tinctures can vary greatly in their quality, flavor, and concentration.

For example, one oil might contain 500 milligrams of CBD – its active ingredient – while another only has 200. One might have an earthy taste, and another might taste like…nothing. Yet another oil could be mint or fruit flavored.

There’s another variation to take note of, one that just might speak volumes about the quality of your CBD oil: its color.

A light amber color is the literal gold standard for hemp extracts (CBD), but it can get a little more complicated than that. While extracts that possess an amber color are almost always high quality, the inverse of this pattern isn’t necessarily true. A CBD oil that’s clear, or even one that’s dark brown, might be just as high quality. Depending on the extraction method used, the ideal color of the extract will vary.

Before we go on, it’s important to note that any CBD oil is comprised of two major parts: the cannabinoid-rich extract, and its carrier oil. In most cases, the carrier oil accounts for 90% or more of the total solution. And that’s not a bad thing; CBD is pharmacologically active enough that virtually no one needs a tincture much stronger than 10% CBD. Just keep in mind that your CBD oil’s carrier oil (in most cases olive, hempseed, or coconut oil) will shift the entire product’s color towards itself.

Full Spectrum CBD Oil

If  you are looking to buy full spectrum cbd oil, you can shop in our online store here.


 Dark Brown CBD Oil Color Dark Crude Extract

Sometimes called ‘crude’ or ‘raw’ extracts, it’s rare to find CBD oils this color in a retail setting. That’s probably a good thing, as crude extracts may contain residual solvents or other unhealthy byproducts of extraction.

Just as bad, crude extracts may have been derived from hemp that was grown in polluted soil, or hemp that had mold / mycotoxin problems. With quality assurance standards still inconsistent, it can be difficult to say.

On the other hand, a CBD oil with an unusually dark color could be perfectly fine – if it’s ultra concentrated. Even a pure extract may contain chlorophyll, anthocyanins, and other compounds native to the hemp plant. Once concentrated, these lightly hued compounds appear much darker.

Think of the difference between the sap of a maple tree and its syrup. Pure maple syrup will be much darker and richer in color than maple sap will, not because of any harmful additives, but instead because pre-existing elements were brought to the forefront.

All that said: if you have a CBD oil with concentration above 100 milligrams/mL, don’t be surprised if it’s a little on the darker side. Also don’t be surprised if an oil this concentrated is almost overpoweringly earthy or spicy!


  Light Brown CBD Oil Hemp Extract

Light brown oils are usually slightly more refined than darker oils are. They’ve also had trace compounds removed, something that’s done to standardize and stabilize the final product. While this reflects processing efficiency, it also means that the health benefits of chlorophyll and flavonoids are lost.

It’s usually at this stage of the production process that CBD oil will be decarboxylated, or ‘decarbed’ for short. That means the raw CBDa found in a crude extract gets transformed via heat into CBD. While CBDa does have many health benefits of its own, it’s not nearly as active within the body as CBD is.

Once again, it’s possible to find CBD oils that are light brown by virtue of their concentration alone. A full spectrum oil, not matter how pure, may exhibit this color if it’s concentrated enough.


 Golden CBD Oil Hemp Extract Amber

Golden, luminescent, and perfectly refined: this kind of oil is popular for a good reason! We at Legends believe that full spectrum, amber hemp extracts represent the ideal – that’s why we put effort and focus into providing them to our customers.

After undergoing extraction, filtration, and decarboxylation, amber-colored oils are ready to be consumed. They usually have only a mildly earthy taste, with hints of spice or pine.

Though devoid of trace biochemicals, amber extracts are rich in hemp’s most ‘active ingredients’: CBD, CBG, CBN, and THC. Together, these cannabinoids perfectly modulate the Endocannabinoid System and promote full-body health.

This type of CBD oil is often mildly concentrated, containing between 5 and 50 mg’s/mL of CBD. And it usually comes with lab tests that reaffirm the purity of its appearance.

Refine a full spectrum extract further, and it might turn several shades lighter and become yellow. Yellow-colored extracts usually lack terpenes or trace cannabinoids; though sometimes marketed as being “full spectrum”, in reality they’re overprocessed. In this case, it is possible to have too much of a good thing.


Clear CBD Oil CBD Isolate

If amber oils are refined, then clear-colored CBD oil can be thought of as extra refined. Usually they’re made from CBD isolate, a whitish powder that’s more than 99% pure. Clear oils can be easily flavored, and don’t have the earthy aftertaste that other products do.

While pure, CBD isolate might not be as potent as an equivalent amount of amber CBD oil. It’s ‘missing’ every trace cannabinoid, terpenoid and flavonoid, after all. While still very effective for mild health problems and anxiety, those with severe conditions will probably do better with a full spectrum product.


CBD oils may vary in their consistency, too. Some oils are emulsified for easier absorption, a beneficial process that’s been trending up in popularity. Emulsification tends to make a product thicker and more viscous; sometimes it also lightens its color. It may also create liposomes or nanoparticles, allowing CBD to be water soluble – pretty cool!

At Legends, we strongly believe in empowering each person to select the best CBD oil for them.

While most people will feel best from taking a balanced blend of full spectrum, amber-hued hemp extract, today’s market provides options for anyone. People with cancer have reported great results using rick simpson oil (it’s brown and viscous), while people with acute anxiety may prefer microdosing with a much weaker CBD isolate. Freedom of choice continues to benefit the entire CBD industry: its advocates, producers, and consumers.


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