Cannabis that you ingest but don’t eat? Welcome to the world of sublinguals. Sublingual cannabis can come as tinctures/oils, sprays and even dissolvable strips that you place under your tongue. This is a great way to absorb marijuana as you have lots of mucus membranes under your tongue that help the cannabinoids enter your bloodstream.
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We share three of our most popular Q&As about sublingual cannabis—what they are, how they work and different ways you can use them. This versatile, smoke-free cannabis ingestion method might be just what you’re looking for. If you have an additional question about sublinguals, head over to our Answers page, and someone from the HelloMD community will help you navigate the many options available.
Q: Sublingual versus a regular edible?
_ I have been told that sublinguals are safer and more effective because of how they enter the bloodstream. Is this the case? Are there certain situations where a sublingual is a better option?_
Answer: [@dredmunds] The main differences between sublingual and ingestible (edible) administration are the time it takes for the medicine to reach the blood stream and the duration of action. In general, a sub-lingual (applied under the tongue for approximately 10 seconds) will reach the blood stream much more rapidly than an edible. Sublingual effects may be noticeable within a few minutes and act for approximately 1¬–2 hours, whereas edibles may take as long as 1–2 hours to reach levels high enough in the blood stream to become effective.
On the other hand, edibles may be effective for much longer periods of time, for instance, 6–8 hours. For these reasons, it may be easier to control the dose of a sublingual than an edible. Although both formulations are considered safe, it is recommended to take the smallest possible dose and wait to determine how you respond to the medicine before taking more.
Q: What are the ways I can consume CBD tinctures. Can I put them in drinks, food, etc.?
Answer: [@benson] One of the main benefits of tinctures in general is that they can be taken orally/sublingually, in which case the active cannabinoids are absorbed directly in to the blood stream and distributed throughout the body that way. This is a much faster route of administration than other edibles that have to be digested and processed by your stomach and liver before being distributed to the rest of your body.
If your condition does not require fast-acting relief you can definitely consume the tincture any way you like by adding to a drink or food. Just keep in mind this will delay onset of effects.
For fastest onset, try dropping the tincture under your tongue, holding it there for 5–10 seconds, and then swishing it around a bit before swallowing. This will allow some of the active cannabinoids in the tincture to be absorbed directly through the blood vessels in your mouth which means more rapid distribution to the cannabinoid receptors throughout your body.
Q: Glycerine tinctures
I was wondering if cannabis tinctures can be vaped in a Mod Vape (ejuice) successfully? I bought a tincture from my dispensary and can’t get the effects from ingesting it. I’d rather not waste it.
Answer: [@drgerhart] I would avoid vaping any tinctures that are not purified cannabis concentrates. Any added flavors, colors or chemicals may cause undetectable but cumulative lung irritation. In fact, recently it was revealed that certain additives in e-vape products can cause a condition called “popcorn” lung.
I recommend you stick to using products as instructed. Most tinctures are made to be delivered under the tongue (sublingual), as edibles or applied to body parts. Many tinctures or extracts are delivered in oils (other than just cannabis oil) or alcohols as a base and should not be vaped.
There are great, clean, concentrated cannabis oils on the market that are excellent choices for vaping. Ask your dispensary to show you choices.
Cannabis products do have a shelf life, so you may also want to be sure the product you have has not broken down (exposure to light or heat) and that you are using the best recommended dosing either sublingually or orally to ensure you get the effect you desire. Try titration of the dose upward over a few days and keep a journal to monitor the effects.
Photo credit: Kelly Sikkema
If you’re new to cannabis and want to learn more, take a look at our Cannabis 101 post. HelloMD can help you get your medical marijuana recommendation; it’s easy, private and 100% online.