What is CBD e-liquid? – Definition, advantages and best method of using.

CBD e-liquids are joining CBD food supplements as the latest stage of the on-going quest to find more effective and healthier ways of consuming cannabidiol.

So what is the definition of CBD e-liquid?

This non-psychoactive cannabinoid is currently overtaking THC as the active principle in cannabis that medical professionals and patients alike are most interested in.

‘E-liquids’ is the collective term for a wide range of slightly different fluids also known as ‘CBD vape oil’ or ‘CBD vape juice’ used in a vaporizer or inhaled using e-cigarettes, or e-cigs, which are designed to be an alternative to smoking. Many e-cigarettes resemble traditional cigarettes, some are similar to large pens, and it is even possible to obtain e-pipes, for people desiring a Sherlock Holmes look.

Advantages of CBD e-liquids

The advantages of vaping CBD e-liquids are manifold. Although the full range of its medicinal properties are still at the testing stage, there is an ever-increasing amount of scientific and anecdotal evidence that the anti-emetic, anti-convulsant, anti-inflammatory and anxiolytic effects of CBD are safe, effective and highly beneficial in treating a wide range of afflictions in humans.

Since CBD is not psychoactive, all these effects are obtainable without the side-effect of getting high, which for some patients is the factor that deters them from trying any type of cannabis extract. And since e-liquids are vaporized, this removes the other common deterrent: having to smoke cannabis to achieve the effects of CBD.

A brief history of e-cigarettes

Vaping”, defined as “breathing in the vapour produced by an electronic cigarette”, was the Oxford English Dictionary’s Word of the Year for 2015, but e-cigarettes have been around for a lot longer than that, at least on paper.

In 1965, an American named Herbert A. Gilbert received a patent on his “Smokeless Non-Tobacco Cigarette” from the U.S. Patent Office. Sadly for him, not many people were interested in it; maybe it would have taken off if he’d had the opportunity to incorporate CBD in his e-liquids. By the time present-day interest in vaping occurred, his patent had long since expired.

Credit for the invention of the modern e-cigarette in 2003 goes to Hon Lik. A Chinese chemist who also studied traditional Chinese medicine, Hon Lik was looking for easier ways of ingesting remedies such as ginseng and deer antler when he hit upon vaporizing. In a way, using an e-cigarette to vape CBD liquid is closer to the original intention of the device than using it to vape nicotine.

Close-up of a grey e-cigarette with three buttons, a switched off display, turning mechanism and mouthpiece. The tank where the e-liquid is poured in is empty.

What else is in CBD e-liquids?

E-liquids most commonly have a base of propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerol (VG), to which a variety of other ingredients are added, depending on the desired effects. These ingredients include flavourings, nicotine, and – of most interest to us – the cannabinoid CBD.

Propylene glycol has a wide range of applications, from being the humectant food additive E1520 to a carrier ingredient in injectable, topical and oral drugs. A very small amount of people are allergic to it, reacting with sore, dry skin on the face and/or a rash of small red dots on the body, so watch out for this if you are vaping for the very first time. However, most allergy sufferers are already aware of their condition, since PG is used in so many everyday items, including aerosol cream, ice-cream, soft drinks, and cosmetics.

VG is also used as a humectant, solvent, and sweetener, and has been used for many years as an alternative to alcohol in tinctures and herbal extracts to preserve their quality. Both PG and VG are clear, odourless, slightly sweet tasting semi-viscous liquids which, when heated, produce a vapour that can be inhaled as a carrier for the other ingredients.

Flavourings are included simply to create a pleasant inhalation experience, referred to in e-liquid circles as ‘throat hit’ and ‘mouth feel’. Flavours range from basic (fruity, smoky, mint) to exotic (tequila, ylang-ylang, orange blossom) to downright confusing (Greek yoghurt, peanut butter, Christmas pudding).

Obviously, if you are not already a tobacco user, it’s not a good idea to start inhaling e-liquids containing nicotine since you will swiftly develop one of the most pointless addictions of the modern age.

On the other hand, if you are a tobacco user, switching to e-cigarettes with an e-liquid containing nicotine has the advantage of eliminating the tar and chemicals that are inhaled along with the smoke, and may make make it easier to quit using nicotine altogether.

The best method of ingesting CBD

Saving the most interesting additive for last, we come to CBD. Somewhat overshadowed by its psychoactive cousin THC for many years, CBD has become a serious research topic relatively recently. The first scientific paper on vaporizing it (‘A protocol for the delivery of cannabidiol (CBD) and combined CBD and delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) by vaporisation’) was written by researchers at Australia’s University of Wollongong and published in October 2014.

This paper includes the information that “Orally administered cannabinoids result in slow and erratic absorption with limited and highly variable bioavailability. Smoking and intravenous administration […] respectively carry toxic risks and loss of active drug by combustion, or are invasive.

Intrapulmonary administration of cannabinoids is regarded as an effective mode of delivery since it results in fast onset of action and high systemic bioavailability. The vaporisation of cannabinoids […] is a safe method of intrapulmonary administration because it avoids risks associated with smoking and the formation of pyrolytic toxic compounds as a result of combustion.”

In layperson’s terms, eating CBD is hit-and-miss; injecting it is dangerous; smoking it is dangerous and inefficient; vaping it is the best option, and the one that looks set to become the next wave of medicinal consumption for this exciting and beneficial cannabinoid.

Author: Scarlett Palmer @ Sensiseeds

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