Simply put, sublingual ingestion involves consuming THC, or other cannabinoids, by placing the product or tincture under the tongue – it’s the delivery method preferred by our team of biochemists, neuroscientists, psychologists, and strain hunters here at OLO.
The sublingual method is becoming increasingly popular due to its rapid onset and efficacy versus traditional, oral ingestion. The potency and fast-acting nature of the sublingual method are due to the way it is ingested in the body. When a tincture is placed beneath the tongue and left to absorb for a few seconds to a few minutes, it allows the product’s cannabinoids to be absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the mucous membrane in the mouth. Beneath the tongue exists many small blood vessels known as capillaries which absorb the product directly into the bloodstream, providing a more streamlined and immediate reaction in the body.
Additionally, when THC is absorbed beneath the tongue, it is able to evade the digestion system and processing through the liver, thereby circumventing the longer absorption-time associated with oral ingestion. With sublingual cannabis delivery, the THC is able to directly enter the bloodstream and easily find its way to our endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system, also known as Endogenous Cannabinoid System or ECS, is found in our body and refers to a collection of cell receptors and molecules located in the brain, organs, tissues, glands, and immune cells. Its job is to interact with the cannabinoids, and that process is what allows us to feel the psychoactive effects of THC. You can read more about the endocannabinoid system in our blog post here.
When discussing the advantages of the sublingual cannabis delivery method, it would be remiss not to mention a few additional benefits. Sublingual ingestion is more controllable and discreet. When ingesting THC orally, it is transformed into 11-hydroxy-THC which is digested in the liver, and slowly released into the bloodstream over a much slower time period – anywhere between 4 to 8 hours. This long wait period can make it difficult to predict the dose you need in order to experience the effects you desire and can make it tough to tell how long those experiences will last.
In addition to being a much more controlled way to partake in the fun of cannabis, the sublingual method also interferes the least with the ingestion process. When smoking, the compounds of THC must be heated, or decarboxylated, in order to become activated and bioavailable. When smoking, the heat being applied to the cannabis is generally activated by a flame. This high-heat method can break down and destroy the THC compounds, thus providing a lesser experience by the time the THC reaches the capillaries present in the lungs.
Similarly, when THC is orally ingested, it is forced to interact with the digestive system or the liver in order to be properly processed. When an edible is consumed, the cannabinoids within the product must bypass the stomach acid and bile housed within the digestive tract. This process alters, and at times destroys, the cannabinoids before they are able to hit the bloodstream.
When interacting with the liver, the primary psychoactive compound (delta-9-THC) is metabolized into an entirely new THC metabolite known as 11-hydroxy-THC. This compound is patently more potent and is one of the main reasons that edibles have received such a bad rap in movies and on TV. The potency is also affected by the consumer’s diet, meal timing, and individual metabolism. Sublingual ingestion suffers none of the unpredictability of oral ingestion and is much easier to create an easily-replicated experience.
Sublingual ingestion also has the advantage of being more discreet on the whole. When ingesting THC through smoking or vaporizing, there is the smell to contend with, as well as the obvious drawbacks of being limited by whatever space you are in. With a sublingual delivery, the tincture or product is generally unscented and provides a subtle way to partake in THC without disturbing anyone around you, and none being the wiser. It is clean, simple, and controlled.
When discussing oral ingestion, one of the primary draws is the ability to provide a more prolonged experience. Edible products, once ingested, can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours to take effect, and provide a much more potent experience. For patients dealing with pain, this effect is often seen as more desirable, due to the longevity of the cannabis experience. However, the altering of the main psychoactive compound into a more potent metabolite is the reason so many people deal with paranoia or a generally negative experience, and the unpredictability of how it will be ingested due to what you’ve eaten, or your individual metabolism, is what makes it so hard to replicate a positive experience. The best way to combat this is by starting with a low dosage and allowing ample time for the effects to set in. Once you are comfortable, you can begin to up your dosage until you find a level you’re comfortable with.
Overall, when choosing which method is your favorite, the best way is to try different methods until you find which works for you. As the state of Colorado says, Start Low and Go Slow. While their campaign primarily targeted edible-users, this rule of thumb can be applied to any method of ingesting THC. The best way is the way that makes you feel safe and comfortable, so always start with a low dosage and build from there.
Remember, when ingesting edibles, to allow for a larger window of time for that THC to fully digest into your bloodstream. OLO sublingual cannabis strips are dosed in 5 and 10 mg portions to allow for dosing flexibility and safer experimentation when looking for your sweet spot.
Still have questions regarding sublingual cannabinoid delivery? Reach out to us at Info@GetOLO.com. Master the experience, discover new serenity, find deeper immersion, and forge new connections. Get OLO.