One of the three methods of mucosal absorption, sublingual refers explicitly to delivery under the tongue. Sublingual delivery and absorption of cannabis is the most effective version of mucosal absorption. The sublingual cavity has an abundance of vessel-rich tissues to deliver decarboxylated cannabis directly to the bloodstream. “Decarboxylated” simply means the cannabinoids have been broken down from acids through various means involving heat. Tinctures are decarboxylated; raw cannabis is not.
Sublingual administration of cannabis can eliminate the several following barriers patients face for effective use:
- Accuracy— no cannabinoids are lost in extraction or administration, making doses more accurate than with other methods
- Cost— Less is more with sublingual cannabis products, so consumers have a longer-lasting supply for a more cost-effective treatment
- Discretion— sublingual absorption is less obvious than other methods, leading to more privacy for the consumer
- Immediate Relief— Unlike ingestion, sublingual absorption does not require waiting on the digestive tract. Instead, the cannabinoids immediately enter the bloodstream; upon reaching the heart, it takes a mere minute for the cannabinoids to spread through the rest of the cardiovascular system.
Because of its fast-acting relief, sublingual dosing is most popular among patients who require the quick relief, such as those suffering chronic pain. It is also favored for those treating panic attacks, as the effects don’t last as long as from edibles. Sublingual dosing can take as little as 30 seconds and a maximum of two minutes to fully absorb and circulate; effects can be felt as quickly as 15 minutes.
To take a sublingual cannabis product, simply place the tincture or strip beneath your tongue and hold it for 90 seconds. Some sublingual cannabis sprays are also available; if using a spray, simply squirt it under your tongue. Don’t follow your instinct to immediately swallow, or the cannabis will end up running through your digestive tract.