We hear about people using CBD and cannabis products for pain relief constantly, but how? How many different ways are there to take CBD for pain? How do we use them? What works best?

Different CBD Ingestion Methods


There are many ways to ingest CBD and other cannabinoids internally. Some of the most popular include tinctures, sprays, oils, edibles, patches, and suppositories.

Tinctures and Oils

The most common, and believed to be the most effective are hemp tinctures and oils. Tinctures and oils are similar, but the terminology is regularly mixed up. In herbology, tinctures use alcohol as the medium. This often includes concoctions that use vegetable glycerin or vinegar.

Vegetable glycerin and vinegar are technically considered extracts in herbology, but for the sake of easy understanding and those who don’t use alcohol for personal or medical reasons, they are referred to as tinctures too.

Oils use a carrier oil. Thus, CBD tinctures should have alcohol. CBD oils should not. Also, with the nature of cannabinoids being fat soluble, it is important for a tincture/oil to have an oil or fatty agent, in order for the cannabinoids to bind and be absorbed by the body.

How do I take tinctures and oils?

However you want! It’s common to put a few drops directly under the tongue (sublingually) due to the blood vessels there. Research shows this can help with faster absorption. 

For those sensitive to taste or who just want to add it into a daily routine, people also mix the oil into food, smoothies, coffee, tea, and other beverages of choice.


For those with conditions like Parkinson’s, which may prevent them from being able to effectively take their tinctures sublingually, sprays are a helpful option. Many with Parkinson’s deal with hand tremors, sometimes spilling the bottle when trying to take it under the tongue.

Sprays are also great for those sensitive to tastes or who want a quick, precise sublingual dosage. 


Many people prefer to eat their cannabinoids! You can infuse oil or butter yourself with hemp flower or CBD isolate, or you can purchase edibles made by third-party tested brands.

Depending on the person’s body and digestive system, this delivery method may take longer to feel the effects, since the CBD has to be digested then processed by the liver. However, it’s common for the effects to last longer.

CBD gummies are a favorite way to digest it on-the-go and discreetly. Brownies, cooking oils, syrups, and chocolate are other popular ways people ingest their cannabinoids. However, as long as it’s infused properly as a fat-soluble compound, almost anything can be made into a CBD edible.

Due to our society’s love for sweet treats and its tendency to fill food products with inflammatory ingredients, it’s always important to check the rest of the ingredients in your CBD edibles. Even third-party lab tested products can unfortunately mix their quality hemp extracts with refined sugars and other inflammatory compounds.


Patches are another very discreet way to consume cannabinoids internally. They can be helpful for topical and internal use, depending where it’s placed on the body. People apply them to a venous area, such as the wrist or ankle, for the quickest absorption into the bloodstream. They can also be placed directly onto painful areas, like injuries or the abdomen for menstrual and stomach pain.

Many patches often have menthol, which can be irritating for some sensitive bodies. Some find extra relief from the menthol because of the cooling sensation. It’s important to take the time to find what works best for your body.


A newer but rapidly-growing delivery method, suppositories are particularly useful for menstrual cramps and pain. Many even use it for extreme digestive discomfort. This could be game-changing for those with conditions like endometriosis, PCOS, fibroids, and more.


CBD creams, gels, salves, balms, ointments, massage oils, lotions, and body butters

Topical is a beloved method for those with conditions that cause chronic and acute pain in localized areas of their body, such as joints, bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. It is used for severe nerve pain as well, generally in combination with a sublingual or edible method.

CBD creams, salves, balms, ointments, massage oils, body butters… What’s the difference? The difference essentially depends on the consistency and other ingredients.

CBD balms and salves have carrier oil and wax (sometimes solid fats/butters). They do not contain water.

CBD creams and gels are usually water-based. Ointment is oil-based. Some creams have oil in lower concentrations than ointments. Both cream and ointment often use the oils, lanolin or petrolatum, but each company and product differs.

CBD massage oils generally don’t contain water and are oil-based. Since it’s an oil, it most closely resembles the oil in our skin and may absorb more easily. For those with sensitive skin, it is important to be mindful of the comedogenic(pore-clogging) nature of oil.

CBD lotions tend to have a higher water content and thus need to be reapplied more often. They are more commonly used as moisturizers.

CBD body butters are usually denser than lotions and oils, so it is popular for those dealing with chapped or extra dry skin. This could be very helpful for those in colder climates where there is a lack of moisture. Because they’re denser, body butters also tend to be greasier than other topical applications.


For more immediate relief, people enjoy inhaling their cannabinoids, whether that’s vaping, dabbing, or smoking.


Many CBD and cannabinoid concentrates are vaped or smoked, although many can be used orally too – such as CBD isolate or hash oil. They generally strip the plant compounds and isolate the compounds like CBD and THC. This makes them extra potent. 

The most common concentrates are:

Shatter: A potent type of cannabis concentrate, known as butane hash oil (BHO). The substance doesn’t become too crystallized during the extraction process. It contains cannabinoids, terpenes, and other cannabis compounds. The term refers to the translucent texture that breaks and shatters like glass.

Wax: An opaque oil that is more solidified and crystallized than normal oil. Unlike transparent oils, light can’t travel through, and that leaves us with a solid, non-transparent oil. Like shatter, it can take on a different consistency based on heat, moisture, and the texture of the oil before extraction. Runny oils with more moisture usually make gooey waxes. These are commonly called “budder”.

Crumble: Harder waxes become a soft, brittle texture known as “crumble” or “honeycomb.” 

Live resin: This comes from cryogenically frozen buds. The freezing process preserves a higher number of terpenes and cannabinoids, so it usually has more flavor.

Vape pens: These are oils extracted by various methods (usually CO2) and filled into cartridges that can be used with pen batteries.


Cannabis flower can be smoked through a piece, such as a pipe, bong, joint, or blunt. It can also be vaped with a dry-herb vaporizer. Depending on your state’s legality, you can vape or smoke cannabis flower with THC levels below or above 0.3%.

What is the best CBD for pain?

The “best” CBD for pain always varies for each person. Always consult a trusted, licensed healthcare provider before consuming new supplements. Everyone is chemically different, and there are so many ways to take it. That being said, taking CBD internally usually provides the full effect of the compound and tends to last longer in the system. 

Topical creams are used for more immediate pain relief in localized areas where there may be an injury or inflammation. Because of the nature of topical vs. ingestion, you’ll likely need to reapply the topical more regularly, but it often acts more quickly than ingestion. 

Patches are also an easy and discreet way to take CBD internally. Though it’s ideal to place on a venous area (like the wrist or ankle), you can still place the patch directly onto painful areas. They’re also helpful for those sensitive to tastes. For those who deal with severe chronic pain, patches can be a beneficial way to consume cannabinoids more easily and consistently.

How much CBD should I take for pain?

How much CBD is enough? Everyone’s body and needs are unique, so each person’s ideal dosage will be too. How much an individual needs is based on their condition, chemical makeup, and cannabinoid tolerance. Between 20mg – 30mg twice daily is an average starting dose for someone who does not regularly partake in cannabis.

For those who have a higher tolerance, a starting dose of 45mg twice daily is more common. If not achieving the desired results after a week, the dosage is adjusted accordingly. As with anything, it takes time to find how much, the ingestion method, and the brand that works best for you. Consistency is key.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This article and information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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