Vaping CBD oil is common, especially after claims about its medicinal properties. But, is it true? Sort out the facts about CBD oil and its safety. When it comes to consuming CBD oil, there are four main methods: Inhaling it by smoking or vaping it. Applying it to your skin topically. Taking it under the tongue (sublingual). Ingesting it using edibles. We’ll break down each of these for you! INHALATION(SMOKING/VAPING) Inhaling CBD oil is one of the fastest ways to
Everything You Need to Know About Vaping CBD Oil
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Vaping has been around for more than a decade now and is growing in popularity—especially among teens and young adults. One of the newest trends impacting this growing vape culture is the desire to vape cannabidiol (CBD) oil. In fact, using this oil in vape pens is becoming increasingly popular and the industry is expected to grow exponentially over the next few years according to the Brightfield Group, a firm that studies the CBD market.
Part of the draw to CBD oil in areas where marijuana has been legalized is the fact that it has been touted as helping treat a host of medical problems. Some of the medical issues people claim that the oil treats include epileptic seizures, anxiety, inflammation, and sleeplessness. However, there is very little evidence backing up these claims with the exception of treating epilepsy.
In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved only one CBD-based medication, which is used to treat seizures associated with two severe forms of epilepsy. But, when it comes to CBD in general, they stress that it cannot be added to food, drinks, or dietary supplements. And although the FDA has warned manufacturers against making unproven health claims, it has not done much to stop the sale of CBD products.
What Is CBD Oil?
CBD oil is extracted from the flowers and buds of marijuana or hemp plants. Typically, it does not produce a “high” or intoxication because it contains very little, if any, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In fact, CBD oil is only permitted to contain less than 0.3% of THC oil. CBD oil is legal in states where medicinal or recreational marijuana is legal. Meanwhile, several other states have CBD-specific laws on the books even though marijuana is not yet legal there.
According to the FDA, it is currently illegal to market CBD by adding it to food or marketing it as a supplement. Despite these guidelines, they warn consumers that some CBD products are being marketed with unproven medical claims and are of unknown quality. They also caution consumers that CBD can harm the liver and may interact with other medications you are taking. And, it may even have a negative impact on male fertility.
Is Vaping CBD Oil Safe?
Generally speaking, vaping is an unsafe practice regardless of what substances are in the vape pen. And, CBD oil is no exception. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently linked vaping products to an outbreak of nearly 3,000 lung illnesses that were so serious that even young people were being admitted to the hospital. Meanwhile, nearly 70 people have died from what is now being called EVALI (e-cigarette and vaping associated lung injury). And, the CDC believes thousands more may have admitted to the hospital with lung issues related to vaping.
Although the CDC has traced many of the EVALI hospitalizations back to vitamin E acetate, a substance used to dilute oils used in vaping, the risks of vaping CBD oil are not without risk, especially if the vape pens are obtained from illicit dealers, online sources, or friends. At least 26 of the EVALI cases were hospitalized after vaping CBD oil.
Additionally, numerous scientists, doctors, and researchers are concerned with the safety of inhaling CBD oil because little is known about the long-term effects. What’s more, when vaping devices are heated, a chemical reaction takes place in the vapor, which could pose additional risks to the lungs, especially in young people.
And despite the fact that the 2018 Farm Bill removed CBD from the definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act, it is still subject to the same laws and regulations as other substances monitored by the FDA. Unfortunately, though, there is very little regulatory oversight of CBD oil in general—even though vaping is one of the most popular ways of using the oil. In fact, the FDA has not yet determined how to regulate CBD vaping products just yet.
But many people are hoping those regulations will happen soon. Even the CBD industry is concerned and asking for oversight. For instance, without more regulations, organizations like the U.S. Hemp Authority are unable to certify CBD oils as it does with CBD topicals, tinctures, and edibles. And, until that happens, consumers have very little way of knowing what they are getting when they purchase a CBD oil.
To make matters worse, this lack of certification has lead people to sell vaping liquid they claim contains CBD oil when it actually contains harmful chemicals, which is injuring and killing people in the process. To determine the extent to which this is occurring, the Associated Press (AP) commissioned a study to analyze the contents of nearly 30 oils claiming to contain CBD.
Their testing was completed by Flora Research Laboratories in Grants Pass, Oregon, which is licensed and inspected by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. What they discovered is that 10 of the 30 vapes contained synthetic marijuana while others had no CBD oil at all. Additionally, eight oils had no detectable level of CBD while 14 were less than 0.3% CBD by weight. The other six ranged between 1.07% and 8.87% CBD by weight.
Because this testing was a such a small sample, the AP noted that their sampling is not representative of the entire CBD market. However, their testing does show just how risky it is to vape CBD oil when there is little to no regulation of the product. Vapers have no idea what they are getting when they take a puff.
A Word From Verywell
If you are considering vaping CBD oil as a way to address a medical concern, talk to your doctor first. The risks associated with vaping and CBD oil are significant and may not provide the benefits you want.
And if you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area. For more mental health resources, see Verywell’s National Helpline Database.
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
How to Take CBD Oil
When it comes to consuming CBD oil, there are four main methods:
- Inhaling it by smoking or vaping it.
- Applying it to your skin topically.
- Taking it under the tongue (sublingual).
- Ingesting it using edibles.
We’ll break down each of these for you!
Inhaling CBD oil is one of the fastest ways to feel its effects since it goes straight into your lungs and bloodstream.
There are two ways to inhale CBD: Smoking and Vaping. We’ll discuss each.
SMOKING CBD OIL
You can smoke cannabidiol concentrate using an “oil rig” (see below), which is similar to a water pipe. It works by heating the “nail” (the chamber where you place the CBD oil concentrate), then putting the oil into the nail with a dabber (a small metal tool used to transfer the oil concentrate from its container to the oil rig). This produces smoke, which you inhale.
Alternatively, you can smoke it by rolling a joint out of high CBD marijuana. However, this method means you’ll also be consuming some THC, which would have a psychoactive effect.
PROS OF SMOKING CBD OIL
- The highest concentration of CBD oil and the fastest way to consume it.
- Easily manage how much you consume.
CONS OF SMOKING CBD OIL
- Smoking can be harsh on the throat and lungs.
- High concentration can be more than some people want.
- Requires additional tools (like an oil rig, dabber, and/or joint paper).
VAPING CBD OIL
You can vape CBD oil with a vaporizer pen. If you’re new to vaping, a vape starter kit (image below) can be a great way to start out.
Vaping is a great alternative to smoking if you still want the maximum possible effect, but without the harsh feel of smoke (like medical marijuana) in your throat and lungs. (Want to dive deeper? Read: How to Vape CBD Oil)
- High concentration means maximum possible effects.
- No harsh smoke to aggravate your throat and lungs.
- Easily control your dosage amounts.
CONS OF VAPING
- The high concentration may be more than you want to feel.
- Requires extra purchases (CBD vape pen and accessories).
The next way to use CBD oil is through topical application — meaning, you place it on your skin in the form of a balm, lotion, or ointment.
This method is probably the easiest as it doesn’t require any special tools or knowledge to use. Simply figure out the dosage you want (we’ll help you with that in the next section), then apply that amount of balm to your skin.
This method is best for sore muscles, migraines, and skin conditions like acne. You can apply the balm directly to any sore areas, such as a sore neck, back, or feet.
PROS OF TOPICAL APPLICATION
- Easy to use.
- No extra tools or accessories required.
- Great for sore muscles and chronic pain.
- Has the mildest effects of all the consumption methods.
CONS OF TOPICAL APPLICATION
- Has the mildest effects of all the consumption methods (you might require more CBD).
- While the effects happen quickly, they don’t last as long in comparison to other methods.
(UNDER THE TONGUE)
You can purchase CBD oil tinctures — little bottles that look like eye drops (see below) — to take your cannabidiol sublingually (under your tongue).
Simply apply a few drops under your tongue from the dropper, hold it in your mouth for ~30 seconds, then swallow! This method is discreet, effective, and gives you feelings of calm and well-being. It’s believed that pure hemp oil concentrates are a good way to add a large number of cannabinoids to your daily routine — more the merrier.