Sublingual CBD: The Best Way to Absorb CBD for Migraine Relief
CBD has become one the most popular migraine treatments available and there are several ways to absorb it: inhalation, oral, sublingual, or topically. This article focuses on the sublingual method.
You’ll want to speak with your doctor before making any decisions about using CBD for migraine. If you’re wondering why so many people are using CBD for migraine relief, you can learn about some of the science here or in my book Hemp for Migraine.
9 Things You Should Know About Sublingual CBD for Migraine Relief
9. How Do You Take CBD Sublingually?
“Sub” means below and “lingual” means tongue in medical jargon. You can absorb CBD or hemp extract sublingually by placing it under your tongue for 30 to 90 seconds before you swallow the remainder. Sublingual administration rapidly absorbs CBD through the capillaries in the cheek and under the tongue.
8. Sublingual CBD is Fast
Sublingual absorption of CBD may start within a minute, and high levels are found in the blood within 15 minutes. Peak levels are found in about an hour.  You can see how fast CBD administered in the cheek’s capillaries stops a child’s seizure in this YouTube video. Epilepsy shares a number of similarities to migraine, and epilepsy medications are used for both seizures and migraine. Sublingual administration acts almost as fast as inhaling CBD and is leaps and bounds ahead of digesting a CBD pill, which is slowly processed by the gut.
7. Sublingual CBD and Bioavailability
Sublingual CBD has a higher bioavailability than ingesting CBD through the gut, which is often inflamed in migraine sufferers. Bioavailability is the amount of substance that makes it into the blood. For example, an injection is 100 percent bioavailable. You only absorb a fraction of the CBD you get from inhalation, sublingual, or oral administration because the body takes extra steps to get CBD from outside of the body and into the bloodstream.
I won’t get into the weeds on this topic (no pun intended) because the research on CBD absorption rates is all over the place and depends on the individual, the quality of CBD product, its ingredients, and the study.       You’ll find many industry-sponsored studies—paid for by CBD manufacturers—that claim high absorption rates of CBD, but these studies need to be validated by independent researchers. However, multiple studies show that sublingual administration of CBD has a higher bioavailability than ingesting a pill—in some cases, the absorption rate is double that of a pill. While most of the online articles on this subject neglect to mention that there is conflicting research and that we don’t know exactly how bioavailable the sublingual method of CBD is, researchers agree that sublingual CBD is superior to oral pills or edibles.
Long story short, you get more bang for your buck if you place CBD under your tongue before you swallow it.
6. Sublingual CBD Stays in Your Body
CBD smoke or vapor skyrockets the levels of CBD in your blood, but that relief is short-lived because CBD levels plunge back down almost as quickly as they ascend. Inhaling CBD might only provide an hour of relief. Sublingual CBD can provide substantially elevated CBD blood levels for a duration of more than eight hours. Sublingual CBD absorption may provide the long-lasting relief that CBD pills bring, and it comes with higher absorption rates.
*Some of the research that is cited on CBD absorption rates is from THC research, which has a similar oral absorption and bioavailability rate compared to CBD.
5. The Entourage Effect
CBD has a therapeutic effect on migraines, but a lot of CBD’s benefit comes from elevating your endocannabinoid levels, which are part of your body’s natural endocannabinoid system. The entourage effect increases endocannabinoid levels and the medicinal benefits of CBD. The entourage effect is a combination of other cannabinoids, terpenes, vitamins, healthy fats, and other nutrients found within the hemp plant. Manufacturers of hemp extracts often refer to extracts with the entourage effect as “full spectrum.” The combined research in my book Hemp for Migraine suggests that choosing a full-spectrum hemp extract for sublingual administration is the best method when using CBD to prevent migraines. Pure CBD does not come with the entourage effect.
4. Healthy Fats
Research from the University of Nottingham found that a combination of healthy fats and cannabinoids administered to rats increased the amount of CBD in the blood by three-fold. In addition, breakthrough research published by the University of Illinois found that essential fatty acids convert into endocannabinoids. This is just the tip of the iceberg and there are many reasons why healthy fats improve the endocannabinoid system and fight migraines. I go in depth on this topic in my book and I will have a full article on this soon. I imagine that this is also one reason why the absorption rate of CBD differs so much in research. A hemp extract with healthy fats will have a higher absorption rate of CBD than a hemp extract without any added fats.
You may want to use a hemp extract sublingually that adds healthy fats from MCT oil, olive oil, or hemp seed oil. Healthy fats add to the entourage effect and make the sublingual use of a hemp extract much more powerful when it comes to fighting migraines. Also, you should check out the ketogenic diet while using hemp for migraine because it’s rich in healthy fats and is one of the most powerful migraine treatments available.
3. The Nasty Downside of Sublingual CBD
I would describe the taste of a full-spectrum hemp extract as nasty. A full-spectrum hemp extract tastes “earthy,” but, in my opinion, it is well worth the unpleasantness for the advantage of the entourage effect. While I think the taste is tolerable, some people are repulsed by it, which is part of the reason why pills and vape juice are so popular. There’s also pure CBD, called CBD isolate, that has no flavor but does not include the entourage effect. There are also many flavored products out there that conceal the taste or even make hemp extract taste good, but they may come with risks.
2. Flavored Sublingual CBD Products
Artificial sweeteners are top migraine triggers. Many of the “natural” sweeteners are anything but natural and may also trigger migraines. Why take a CBD product for migraines if it contains possible migraine triggers? And if your hemp extract tastes too good to be true, it might be. Continue reading below.
1. Fake Sublingual CBD Products
There have been two large studies, one by the FDA and the other by JAMA, that have found that the majority of CBD products on the market are fake or mislabeled.   CBD products are not regulated and I believe that this is the largest problem migraine sufferers face when attempting to use CBD to prevent migraines. I elaborate on this problem and how to overcome it in this article.
Sum It Up
Sublingual administration is the best all-around method for absorbing CBD and cannabinoids. It’s fast, provides the entourage effect, provides long-lasting relief, has a high absorption rate, and bypasses the gut. It is also easy to adjust the dosage. You can start with just a few drops and work your way up to a dose that works for you. How much hemp extract should you take? Read this article to find out.