With products ranging from edibles, tinctures, capsules, and vape oils, the question of bioavailability becomes even more relevant as methods of consumption varies between the different products.
So, what is the bioavailability of CBD when consumed under various guises and why is it important?
Before we answer those questions, it is important to first understand what bioavailability actually refers to.
What is Bioavailability
*The bioavailability of a substance is the degree and rate that it is absorbed into the bloodstream after any other processing in the body.
The most effective method of delivery with any drug is via Intravenous administration. The rate of absorption or bioavailability in this method is 100%. When comparing with other methods of administration, this is the ratio used to create a percentage bioavailability.
Three of the most popular methods of consumption are oral, sublingual and via inhalation, although most people are not aware of the bioavailability of their particular chosen method of consumption.
So, let’s take a look a closer look at these methods and their respective bioavailabilities and how it affects your CBD intake.
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One of, if not the most popular method to take CBD, is via oral consumption. The Oral consumption of CBD includes products such as oils, capsules, and edibles.
This method is particularly popular with many users as it offers a quick, easy and common method of consumption that is used for a variety of different medicines and supplements.
When CBD is consumed orally, it first passes through your digestive system before circulating throughout the liver.
Unfortunately, the bioavailability of CBD is reduced when consumed orally as it goes through a process known as “first pass metabolism”.
During this process, CBD is metabolized by the liver, lungs, gastrointestinal tract and blood. This causes a significant reduction in the amount of CBD that will finally enter your bloodstream with the rest being stored in fatty cells.
While this results in a lower bioavailability of CBD, with results varying between 6 and 13%, it has been shown to produce potentially longer-lasting effects.
When CBD is consumed consistently and on a regular basis, it will remain in the fat cells for some days before being gradually released into your endocannabinoid system.
As this route allows for a slower release of CBD into your bloodstream, it maintains a lower concentration in the blood for a longer period of time. As such, it is eliminated at a slower rate, thus producing a longer lasting effect that may last as long as 7 hours.
Potentially, this method of consumption could prove highly effective when managing certain types of chronic conditions.
So, while oral consumption doesn’t provide the highest bioavailability of CBD, if consumed consistently, it could prove to be a highly effective method of treating a variety of chronic conditions.
Sublingual consumption, otherwise known as “under the tongue” can be administered via a variety of CBD products like concentrates, oils, tinctures, lozenges, and sprays.
When you take CBD sublingually, it is absorbed through the mucous membrane under the tongue. Capillaries in the connective tissue help diffuse the substance before it finally enters your bloodstream.
This method of consumption is considered more preferable than the more common oral method, as CBD bypasses the first pass metabolism that it endures when consumed orally.
As a result, the CBD compound remains fully intact when entering the bloodstream, and this is said to produce a significantly higher bioavailability, although specific percentages are not available due to a lack of analysis at present.
Essentially, this should mean that you can take comparatively less CBD in this method than you would do when consuming orally to receive the same level of dosage.
To achieve an even better effectiveness in your dose, simply place the desired amount of CBD oil under the tongue and hold it there without swallowing for 1 minute. Allow the oil to be absorbed by the mucous membranes and you should achieve a significantly more effective dose of CBD.
The third most common method of CBD consumption comes in the form of inhalation through the lungs, typically performed with CBD e-liquid and a vaporizer pen.
With cigarette smoking finally on the way out, vaping has rapidly increased in popularity over the past 5 years while CBD vaping has also emerged as one of the more popular ways to consume CBD.
Vaporizing CBD allows it to be absorbed by your lungs, into your blood and finally across the “blood-brain barrier”.
This method is favored by many as it also avoids the first-pass effect experienced when consuming CBD orally, potentially allowing nearly three times as much CBD to enter your blood circulation when compared to the oral administration.
The estimated bioavailability of CBD in this form is said to be somewhere around 40 to 60% although definitive data on this is still not available due to a lack of clinical studies.
Vaping CBD is favored by many as it offers a quick and efficient method of consuming CBD. With the CBD directly entering your bloodstream, the effects can be felt in a matter of minutes (between 15 and 45) and tend to wear off after 2 to 3 hours.
This method of consumption is considered particularly effective when treating acute symptoms that require more urgent attention and is favored by those who prefer to administer their CBD at more regular intervals.
What is the Best way to Consume CBD?
Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer to this question. Each person is entirely unique, and as such, there is no method of consumption that can be declared “better” than another. Each has their own merits and drawbacks.
If you are looking to the highest and quickest rate of bioavailability, then sublingually and inhalation would appear to be the most effective when it comes to delivering CBD into the bloodstream. This is considered most relevant when treating symptoms that require urgent attention and a higher level of CBD in the bloodstream.
However, those who require a smaller concentration of CBD in their systemic circulation over a longer period may favor the oral form of administration. As we already discussed, this method could prove effective for those who are managing certain types of chronic conditions.
And while the inhaled option provides a quicker and potentially more effective dosage, it also doesn't last as long and thus requires more attention and more regular dosing.
While it is clear that each method has their own pro’s and con’s, it is also true that having a variety of options is clearly beneficial as each and every person has their own unique set of DNA and life circumstances.
Having the freedom to choose your method of CBD consumption is just one of the wonderful progressions made in the CBD industry over recent years and represents yet another small step in our quest to see nature legalized for all of us.