Diffusing essential oils is a popular way to enjoy the many therapeutic benefits of aromatherapy. It's one of life's little luxuries that may help brighten your day by simply enjoying a lovely aroma. Essential oil diffusion means that you can easily mask any nasty odors and take one step closer to making your house feel more like home. It's certainly nice to come home to a warm, sweet scent that takes you to your happy place or reminds you of your comfort zone. While some of us fancy the symbolic smell of freshly-picked fruits or classic vanilla, others are keen to explore the earthy scent of CBD—being touted for its potential natural calming properties and other wellness effects. However, along with its rising prominence is a question that has been asked multiple times: Can you diffuse CBD oil? We answer this question in our overview of CBD, aromatherapy, and diffusion, below.
What Is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of more than 100 chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. It is mainly available in hemp, a cannabis subspecies famed for its non-intoxicating profile. This variety contains a minimal amount of the psychoactive cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), making it incapable of producing the notorious “high” effect. Likewise, CBD—as a primary component of hemp—does not produce any euphoric effects but comes with promising therapeutic potential.
CBD is thought to foster calm and relaxation, which may be essential when it comes to managing common signs of stress, anxiety, body aches, and other discomforts. It's important to understand that CBD is not designed to treat or medicate any form of illness. However, it may help impact the ability of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to promote overall wellness or homeostasis. Today, CBD is widely available in many parts of Europe and other CBD-friendly countries worldwide. It comes in different types and forms, ranging from CBD oils and tinctures to CBD edibles, topicals, vapes, and more.
CBD has truly stormed the wellness space, with several creative ways to use it. Hence, it’s not surprising to witness how quickly CBD has found its way into our homes. Many people are excited to create a slice of heaven at home with CBD oil diffusers, which reportedly help lighten their mood by day and sleep better at night. Nonetheless, the effectiveness of diffusing CBD oil to take advantage of the potential benefits of CBD is still under debate.
We've done some research to figure out why using CBD oil in a diffuser may not give you the potential effects you desire and what alternatives to consider if you're looking for ways to give your home a pleasant, earthy aroma without compromising CBD's possible efficacy level.
The Concept of Aromatherapy, Explained
Aromatherapy is a traditional therapeutic method that uses essential oils and other aromatic plant compounds for holistic healing purposes. In most cases, the molecules in essential oils are inhaled to penetrate the olfactory nerves and reach the brain, where they influence the amygdala—a region of the brain primarily responsible for regulating various emotional processes. Hence, most studies surrounding the potential effects of aromatherapy suggest that it may be beneficial for relieving stress, anxiety, and common sleep issues.
In other cases, aromatherapy is practiced through a topical application. Topical products, such as massage oils, bath and skincare essentials that contain some aromatic compounds, are massaged directly onto the skin to help manage minor wounds, sunburns, inflammation, and other related malaises. Aromatherapy is a complementary approach, meaning that it won't cure specific diseases, but it may support conventional or mainstream aid in treatments for a quicker recovery.
Understanding Diffusion and How It Works
As mentioned previously, aromatherapy works in two ways, either by topical application or inhalation. The latter requires the use of a diffuser, any device that disperses tiny, breathable particles of essential oils into the air—giving your personal space a calmer and more refreshing ambiance.
The term “diffusion” comes from the Latin word diffundere, which means "to spread out”. From the root word, we can already deduce how diffusion really works. On a molecular level, diffusion occurs when the particles of a substance move from an area of higher concentration to one of lower concentration where there are fewer molecules. Put simply, diffusion is an outcome of the kinetic movement of different particles through the application of heat or thermal energy. These particles move randomly, from one area to another, until they are evenly distributed into the air. The higher the temperature, the more likely that diffusion will occur.
Here are some common types of oil diffusers you can find in the market today. When it comes to choosing the best option, it's worth paying attention to important things such as the quality, your desired effects, and your space limitations.
Nebulising diffusers are best known for their dampness-in-the-air feature, which gives the room a pleasant smell and virtual coolness. They use pressurized air to distribute fine mists of essential oil by pushing the particles towards a tubular surface, resulting in a burst of relaxing aroma into the air.
Instead of using pressurized air, evaporative diffusers are designed with a small internal fan that helps convert essential oil into gas. The fan spreads the air throughout the room with a pad or filter of some sort, where essential oils are located. The air blowing through the pad causes the essential oil particles to evaporate more quickly than their counterparts. Perhaps, the biggest drawback of evaporative diffusers is the way they quickly lose some of their potency during evaporation. Nonetheless, it can be an ideal option for those who want a quick and casual perception of aroma.
Heat or Electric Diffusers
Heat diffusers offer a more contemporary option because they use heat energy, or electricity, to diffuse essential oils in place of a traditional fan. Scented candles are considered heat diffusers, as they use heat to disperse aroma throughout the room. Many users with sensitivities to noise may find heat diffusers more appealing because no fan is involved. That means they won’t create a loud whirring sound, which could be a nuisance to some people. However, heating oil may affect its chemical properties, causing a significant decrease in its effectiveness. It’s also worth noting that essential oils are flammable, so heating them may put you at unnecessary risks if you’re not careful.
Ultrasonic or Humidifying Diffusers
Like their nebulizing and evaporative counterparts, ultrasonic diffusers do not use heat to operate. They, however, need water and ultrasonic vibrations to break down oil molecules into a fine mist. Once the water is vibrated, it converts into a form of steam that serves as a carrier for essential oil particles. Ultrasonic diffusers then release droplets of combined water and essential oil into the air, making them a fantastic choice if you wish to add moisture to the atmosphere, especially during the extremely cold, dry season.
Some devices come with cool effects, such as ambient lighting and sound features to help promote a better mood. However, the problem with ultrasonic diffusers is that the water in their tanks can create mold and fungi in the long run, thereby causing a foul odor unless cleaned up from time to time.
The point of knowing how diffusion works is to help you determine whether or not CBD oil is compatible with the type of diffuser you use. Diffusion focuses primarily on molecules, and given that CBD is a large, fat-soluble molecule, the method of diffusion matters.
CBD Oil vs Essential Oil
CBD oil seems to have a few qualities and potential benefits that are relatively similar to essential oils. For instance, both of them have a distinctive smell, come from various plant varieties, and are thought to offer soothing effects to the mind and body. Now that we're more familiar with their few basic similarities, let's get to the other side of things. What differentiates CBD oil from essential oil?
The most significant difference between the two compounds is the ways in which they are extracted from the plant and used by the body. Essential oils are typically removed from the source through a cold-pressing technique, where the oil glands of the plant are broken down to release and isolate the essential oils. The resulting oil formula is mainly used in aromatherapy to assist in various health concerns.
On the other hand, CBD oil often uses a solvent extraction method. This involves the use of methanol to extract CBD oil from the plant. CBD oil is combined with methanol to generate its aromatic properties, also known as terpenes. The final solution comes in the form of an absolute or extract. In other words, CBD oil is not considered an essential oil but an absolute.
Absolutes and essential oils vary in terms of chemical compositions and potential effects on the body. CBD oil can be consumed in multiple ways. You can take it sublingually by placing a few drops of CBD oil under your tongue for a few minutes, allowing the nutrients to be absorbed and enter the body through the capillaries underneath the tongue. Some people even infuse their daily snacks with CBD oil. Contrariwise, essential oils are not intended for any oral or sublingual consumption methods. The most common way to take advantage of the potential benefits of essential oils is to inhale their pleasant smell through a diffuser. Essential oils are packed with super lightweight and water-soluble molecules that are ideal for diffusion, as they can quickly disperse and float into the air in small sizes.
The problem with using traditional diffusers to experience the potential effects of CBD oil is the fact that CBD is a cannabinoid. By now, we all know that cannabinoids are substantially larger and heavier than essential oils. It can be difficult to break down larger molecules into vapor, as they are likely to fall behind during the process of diffusion. Add to that the fat-soluble nature of CBD, and there will be no possible way for CBD diffusion to potentially affect the body. CBD is a highly lipophilic compound, which means it won't mix very well with water if you're using water-based diffusers. All in all, the most critical factor to consider is the type of diffuser you're about to use. Since there are several types of oil diffusers that work differently, the potential results may vary as well.
So, what can you do? Is there any alternative way to diffuse CBD into your atmosphere and enjoy its calming scent? Let’s find out below.
Inhaling CBD Nutrients the Right Way
It may be challenging to absorb CBD through oil diffusion, but you can always explore other methods to possibly get the most out of CBD. For example, you may wish to take CBD oil directly into your mouth or infuse it into your food to cover up the earthy flavor. Since CBD is fat-soluble, it is logical that it may dissolve well in high-fat foods like eggs, fish, and avocado. This helps to raise its solubility and absorption levels, making it a potent way to administer CBD to the body. Nonetheless, if all that you're after is the musky smell of the cannabis plant, then we have here a few alternatives for you.
CBD Diffuser Pens
CBD diffuser pens are the newest addition to the endless list of CBD-infused products. Apart from terpenes and CBD extracts, they are loaded with a wide range of essential oils for maximum potential effects. These include bergamot, peppermint, rosemary, clary sage, and cinnamon leaf, among other things that may inspire feelings of relaxation and homeostasis. Because CBD and essential oils are thought to share similar well-being benefits, combining them may help bring out the best in each other.
Alongside anecdotal reports that vouch for intranasal consumption being one of the most effective ways to absorb CBD, studies suggest that this delivery system may offer a staggering bioavailability level that can range up to 56%.
The premise of CBD diffuser pens is similar to that behind any regular vaping device. In essence, a cloud of vapor is released as you inhale through the mouthpiece and exhale through your nose. While these products may not necessarily diffuse aroma all over the place, the pen-like feature offers great convenience—allowing you to experience personal aromatherapy wherever you go.
Anyone who is a huge fan of burning incense at home can tell you all about its amazing benefits when it comes to apparently free a room of negative energies and, of course, smell a bit nicer. Incense is an organic material that releases highly aromatic smoke when burned. It has been used in many religious activities and important rituals for centuries. Moreover, the act of burning incense is recognized as a form of aromatherapy that is commonly used in Ayurvedic centers. What could be better than adding CBD's therapeutic value to the picture?
Whether you’re looking for incense sticks to help ward off bad vibes at home or just to add a relaxing scent to your living space, CBD-infused incense sticks might be what you need! Burning incense may not directly administer CBD to your system like if you were to consume CBD orally or topically. However, the smell of the cannabis plant alone might be enough to bring back your zen during or after a busy, rough day.
On-the-Go Nasal Sticks
CBD nasal sticks are quite new in the wellness arena, which makes them a bit hard to find sometimes. But if you do find them, then you’re in luck because they offer an easy and potent way to use CBD. They are pocket-sized, so you can easily keep them for later use.
CBD nasal sticks or inhalers are a customized blend of CBD extracts, essential oils, and organic mint flavors to help enhance breathing and promote an almost instantaneous calming effect. To use the product, simply insert the upper portion of the stick into one of your nostrils while pressing the other closed, and then inhale deeply. Repeat the steps for the other nostril.
Aromatherapy may be useful for anyone looking for some breathing space and mental clarity. While many of us may find comfort in diffusing essential oils throughout our homes as a modern and convenient form of aromatherapy, the case may be different when it comes to CBD. Unfortunately, diffusing CBD extracts may have a slim chance of providing higher absorption rates because of some issues in their molecular structures. The best part, though, is that you can always experiment with your CBD until you figure out what works for you. It pays to study your options and do some research about CBD first and foremost to make sure you end up with a more brilliant purchase.