Sublinguals are becoming more widespread as more people choose this delivery method as an alternative to smoking and vaping. With no impact on the lungs and the ability to provide relief within minutes, this way of ingestion is discreet and easy to consume. In 2019, Forbes published that the cannabis research analytics company, Headset, reported that Washington and Colorado – the most mature markets in cannabis – experienced a 69 percent increase in tincture and sublingual sales in 2018. 

Administered either with a tincture, oral spray or strip and taken under the tongue, sublinguals are different than edibles because they bypass the digestive system and are absorbed almost immediately, according to HelloMD. This is because the arterial blood supply under your tongue rapidly absorbs the THC, describes Leafly and with edibles, you can avoid lung irritation but experience a delayed onset, says Strain Genie. But with sublinguals you “get the best of both worlds” – direct blood stream administration similar to smoking or vaping but avoid the lungs altogether. They explain, “mucous membranes under the tongue sit just atop your salivary glands. Both the membrane and glands help to carry cannabinoids into the bloodstream, completely bypassing first-pass metabolism.”

Transdermals: What you need to know

Medical Jane shares this about sublinguals: “Compared to other delivery methods, uptake through blood vessels and micro-capillaries in your mouth is one of the best ways to increase the bioavailability of cannabinoids. This ‘first pass’ of medication, as it’s referred to, allows the medication to avoid having to pass through your liver where it would be broken down making it significantly less beneficial and bioavailable.

Sublingual tinctures come in a variety of formulas, with alcohol-based tinctures being the most rapidly absorbed. Some people find that alcohol-based tinctures can leave a burning sensation under the tongue. Luckily, not all tinctures contain alcohol. One alternative is glycerin, while others can be made from vinegar and various oils. Here at the Wellness Connection, we use organic hempseed oil and cannabis extracts.

Onset And Ease of Use

Sublinguals are simple to use and can be easy, especially for new cannabis users who are looking for a smokeless, odorless delivery method. Take the tincture, spray or strip and hold it under your tongue (not on it) for around 90 seconds. In fact, the word sublingual means just that “situated or applied under the tongue.” The key is to give the sublingual enough time to dissolve into your bloodstream, according to Leafly. Swallowing the sublingual will act more like a traditional edible and take longer for you to feel the effects. However, you can certainly take tinctures in food or beverages, just know that it will be absorbed slower.

Many people feel the effects immediately when ingesting sublinguals but the onset can be between 20-45 minutes. We recommend waiting 45 minutes before increasing dosage to be able to gauge how the cannabis is affecting you. Remember, start low and go slow.

If you are taking a tincture, use the eyedropper and start with .25ml or one serving and increase from there. Most products have a dosing guide on the label and if you have any questions, make sure to ask your member liaison.

Edibles: What you need to know

Duration

The effect of sublinguals usually last one to four hours, which is another way this delivery method differs from edibles. This is a great alternative for those people who want relief but may not want to feel the effects all day. The impact will likely last longer than if you smoke or vape but may be shorter than if you consume an edible.

Potency and Psychoactive Effect

The psychoactive and potency effect of sublinguals are mild. Just like other methods of ingestion, sublinguals have a unique way of metabolizing the cannabinoids and terpenes, says HelloMD. These differences not only affect the onset and duration of the high but also change the quality or effects of the high and the individual’s experience.  The best way to know is to try. Everyone has different body chemistries and preferences and while someone else’s experience may be valuable to hear for informational purposes, we highly recommend experimenting yourself to find out if this ingestion method will work for you.  

Symptom Relief

Sublinguals may be helpful in inducing sleep as well as providing relief from anxiety, chronic pain, digestion and inflammation.  This delivery method also tends to be the preferred method for many cancer patients, who are taking full extract cannabis oil (sometimes referred to hemp oil) according to Medicinal Jane.

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