Bioavailability is a word which often crops up when discussing the advantages of CBD oil – especially CBD tinctures.
But what does bioavailability mean? Why should you care about it when choosing which CBD product to buy?
In short, you should care because not all CBD – or more specifically, not all formats CBD can be delivered in – are the same.
This is where understanding a little about what bioavailability means and how it works puts you in the best position to know what you’re getting. Here’s everything you need to know:
What is bioavailability?
If you’re trying to quickly and simply define bioavailability, think of it as how much of a certain substance is absorbed into your bloodstream – and how fast it gets there.
Imagine a substance with a high level of bioavailability. You would not need to take as much of it in order to feel the same effects as something with lower levels of bioavailability.
When it comes to CBD, bioavailability levels vary depending on how you choose to take it. For instance, you might:
- Use a vaporizer or cartomizer
- Eat it in the form of gummies or other edibles
- Place a few drops of a tincture under your tongue
- Use it topically on specific parts of your body
Choosing between different CBD forms
The differing levels of bioavailability of CBD between the methods you can use to consume it mean choosing the form which is right for you is very important. This is because it will help you decide how much you need to take to achieve your desired effects.
These are the pros and cons of the different methods you can use to ingest CBD when it comes to bioavailability:
1) Inhaling CBD (by smoking or vaping)
When you inhale CBD by smoking or vaporizing it, you send it directly to your lungs. This means that it won’t need to pass through your digestive system. Instead, it can be quickly absorbed through the thin membranes which separate your lungs from your bloodstream.
Smoking and vaping are fast and powerful methods. They produce bioavailability levels of somewhere around 31% and the CBD tends to be absorbed by your bloodstream in as little as three minutes.
This means that inhaling CBD via smoking or vaping is one of the most effective means of achieving high bioavailability levels. The only downside is that inhalation can cause irritation of the lungs in the long-term.
2) Ingesting CBD (by eating edibles, capsules or oils)
Oral ingestion is a very popular way of taking CBD – especially among people who are exploring the benefits of cannabidiol for the first time. This is because it is a very familiar action (eating) and doesn’t have any side-effects such as the possible lung irritation of inhalation.
The downside of this easy, complication-free method is that ingesting CBD results in lower levels of bioavailability. Somewhere between 6% and 20% depending on the studies you look at.
This is because when you ingest CBD it has to pass through your body’s digestive system. This process can take between one-and-a-half and three hours and, because CBD is fat-soluble, your body may struggle to absorb some of it.
However, another upside shown by some studies is that the beneficial effects of consuming cannabidiol orally may last for longer than other methods. There are also supplements available which can improve CBD’s oral bioavailability levels.
3) Taking CBD sublingually (beneath your tongue)
When you use the pipette which comes with a CBD tincture to place drops beneath your tongue, you are ingesting your CBD sublingually.
This method is great for bioavailability. Again, you bypass the digestive system, allowing the CBD to absorbed through the mucus membranes in the mouth and nose. This results in bioavailability levels of anywhere from 13% to 35%. The longer you leave the droplets in place beneath your tongue, the more likely you are to achieve higher levels – somewhere around 20-60 seconds is often advised.
It takes around 20 minutes for the beneficial effects of CBD to make themselves known if you take it under your tongue.
4) Topical CBD (in patches, creams and balms)
Some people like to apply their CBD topically. Being fat-soluble, CBD finds it difficult to penetrate water-soluble skin. However, there are various mixtures – usually ones including ethanol – which can help to resolve this problem.
Taking your CBD topically means you are in for a long but slow and steady process of absorption into your bloodstream.
If you need to maintain levels of CBD in your bloodstream over time or pain in specific areas, this might be a method worth considering. Otherwise, comparing the relatively low levels of bioavailability offered by topical to other methods isn’t really fair.
How to increase CBD bioavailability
Technically, the only way to increase CBD bioavailability is to use the most suitable method when taking it.
But there are a few workarounds you can use to encourage your body to get more from the CBD you take in:
- Take it with a meal or high-fat snack – CBD’s fat soluble nature means that ingesting it at the same time as something high in fat will help it break down in your body. Consider peanut butter, almond butter, nuts, fish that’s high in omega-3 or avocado.
- Try piperine – piperine is a compound found in black pepper and is available in supplement form. Various studies have shown it can boost CBD levels in the blood after oral ingestion by as much as 600%.
- Use a full-spectrum product – full spectrum or full plant medical marijuana products which contain CBD as well as all of the other components of the cannabis plant create something called the entourage effect. This dramatically boosts the effectiveness of the CBD.
Where to buy and what to buy when it comes to CBD
You can buy CBD edibles online as well as all kinds of tinctures, CDB edible gummies, vape cartridges and in other forms besides.
The two important things to bear in mind when choosing your products are:
- Quality – check where the plants, which your product was made from, come from and how they were grown. For instance, all K.I.N.D. products are grown using natural, organic farming methods in good old American soil.
- Dose – bear in mind those rough figures for bioavailability when you are trying to work out exactly how potent various products are. For example, a CBD tincture of 1000mg with a “serving size” of 1mg can deliver as much as 6 to 17 mg of CBD per time.
- As always, it’s best to ask the expert behind the counter of your local dispensary or inquire online to learn more if you’re not sure. They can advise which method will result in the CBD bioavailability levels which would be best for you and your condition.