From taking CBD oil sublingually to using suppositories, each type of CBD product is absorbed by your body differently. Find out more about bioavailability. How much CBD is actually absorbed by your body? Here are the best ways to increase CBD absorption to get the biggest bang for your buck.
In some CBD products, most of the CBD you consume will be destroyed before it reaches your bloodstream. How much survives for your body to utilise, is known as bioavailability. Bioavailability can be increased or decreased depending on how you take it.
Understanding how ‘bioavailable’ a product is, gives you valuable insight into how effective it will be.
What is bioavailability?
The bioavailability of any product refers to the amount of the active ingredient that will reach your bloodstream once you’ve consumed it. Once it’s been absorbed into your blood, it can be transported around your body to be used in your cells and tissues.
The bioavailability most often depends on the type of product and how it is been taken. Most methods of taking CBD only allow a limited amount of cannabidiol to reach your bloodstream. Some is broken down on the way or lost through other bodily processes.
If CBD were injected directly into your blood vessels, the bioavailability would be 100% because the full measure could be used in your body. Most other methods of taking CBD involve longer journeys to reach your blood resulting in a lower portion surviving.
Please note: We do not recommend that you inject CBD under any circumstances.
Bioavailability offers a useful way of estimating how effective a product might be. If it is highly bioavailable, more CBD can be used. Products with low bioavailability will deliver a small amount to your system and will need to be taken in larger amounts to produce a potent effect.
CBD absorption: fast facts
- CBD can be absorbed sublingually, through the skin, orally, rectally and inhaled.
- The most bioavailable form of CBD is an e-liquid/vape juice. Up to 56% bioavailability.
- You can make CBD more bioavailable by consuming it with a fat such as MCT oil.
- CBD can be absorbed in as little as 10 minutes when inhaled. Absorption can take up to two hours if eaten.
Bioavailability of different CBD products
There are hundreds of different CBD products to choose from, but they are all likely to be used in one of five ways : eaten, inhaled, absorbed under your tongue, inserted rectally or applied to your skin.
Each method transports CBD into your body but has a different rate of absorption. Different types of product deliver varying percentages of the original measure to your blood. The time it takes for you to feel any effect is likely to be different too.
The most efficient method for CBD absorption is to inhale the vapour using a vaporiser, which can deliver up to 56% of each measure to your bloodstream. This is a significant improvement compared to the 4-20% that is absorbed when you eat CBD.
CBD bioavailability chart
Uptake into your bloodstream
Time to take effect
1. Swallowed / ingested
30 minutes – 2 hours
2. Sublingually (under the tongue)
4. Inhaled or vaporised
5. Topically (rubbed into the skin)
Can be up to 45% but stays localised (enters local tissue & small blood vessels only).
1. CBD drinks or edibles
Any CBD product that is eaten or drunk must pass through your digestive system and your liver. This process has significant waste which is why only 4-20% of the CBD is available for use in your body.
Although you need to use more significant amounts of CBD to get the effect you want, these products are still popular. Capsules, drinks, edibles are convenient, discreet and can be flavoured to disguise the taste of the hemp extract.
2. CBD drops held under your tongue
Holding CBD under your tongue allows it to be absorbed across the thin membrane directly into the blood vessels. This means that it isn’t broken down in your digestive system, so there is a more significant amount available for use.
This method is most effective with liquid products like oils or tinctures. The desired number of drops is held under your tongue for 1 to 3 minutes and then swallowed. This can result in up to 35% bioavailability which is significantly better than just swallowing it.
The drawback with this method is that some products are hard to place under your tongue accurately and holding CBD in your mouth can produce an intensely bitter flavour. Finding a product with an accurate dropper or standing in front of a mirror to apply the drops can make it easier to deliver a precise measure. Also, holding oil under your tongue dulls the intensity of the flavour compared to holding it in your mouth as usual.
3. CBD suppositories inserted rectally
Because a large number of blood vessels in your rectum are close to the surface, CBD suppositories can have a bioavailability of up to 50%. However, products that can be used in this way aren’t easy to find and most people prefer not to use suppositories if there are other options available.
4. Vaporised or inhaled into your lungs
Vape oils, e-liquids and the dry herb are turned into tiny airborne droplets in a vaporiser. They can then be inhaled, drawing the CBD particles into your lungs. Then they cross the thin mucus membrane into your lung’s blood supply.
Your lungs provide a surface area of up to 75 square metres, which makes absorption into your blood quick and easy. The blood that passes through them picks up the CBD, travels to your heart and then around your body before it passes through the liver. This results in a large portion of each inhalation being available for use in your body.
CBD products burnt and smoked
Smoking CBD uses combustion to release particles that can be inhaled. The bioavailability can reach 31%, but you will also be inhaling other by-products (e.g. carcinogens) in the smoke. Also, when hemp or CBD flower burns, some of the cannabinoids are destroyed in the combustion resulting in it being far less efficient than vaping.
5. Rubbing CBD into your skin
Rubbing CBD into your skin is best when you’re aiming to target a specific area. A small amount may reach your bloodstream but not enough to provide any noticeable whole-body effects. Topical CBD is often added to skin care products or rubbed into joints and muscles.
Ways to increase bioavailability
To ensure you get the most out of every CBD product, there are some easy ways to boost the amount that reaches your blood:
Hold drinks and edibles under your tongue before swallowing
If you’re consuming CBD in a drink, oil, capsule or gummy, hold it under your tongue for 1 to 3 minutes before swallowing it. Biting open a soft gel capsule first will release the contents and increase the likelihood they can be absorbed sublingually. Gummies or other soft edibles can be vigorously chewed and then held under your tongue for better bioavailability.
Take CBD with a fatty meal
CBD dissolves well in fats so if you eat it combined with fat or follow it up with a fatty meal. It’s been found that more will survive the passage through your digestive system. Studies found that compared to taking CBD on an empty stomach, taking it with fat could increase the amount in your body by four times.
Choose water-soluble CBD products
Water soluble CBD is likely to provide a better bioavailability than those made with oil. It is specially prepared to pass quickly across your gut wall and miss out the first stage of digestion. It’s still broken down to some degree, but studies have found that the resulting concentration in your blood is higher than with standard oil preparations.
CBD affects each person in a slightly different way but knowing how much of each measure will reach your blood for use in your body, will help you to make better-informed decisions about what to buy and how to use it.
Vaping or holding CBD under your tongue are the best ways to get CBD into your system and as a result, are likely to be more cost-effective than other methods.
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Janelle is a lifestyle and cannabis writer based in Portland, OR. An expert on all things cannabis and CBD, you can find her work featured in publications like Leafly, Forbes and DOPE Magazine. She’s also an aspiring filmmaker, an avid Nutella addict and enjoys cooking long, fancy meals on the daily.
your Guide To Increase CBD Absorption – Luce Farm Wellness
As simple as CBD may seem, there’s some distinctive science behind the inner-workings of the cannabinoid that can maximize its results. While we know what CBD is capable of once it’s absorbed – it’s how much is actually absorbed that could affect your experience overall. Not to mention, actual CBD absorption will affect how much you use and how much you spend on your all-natural health and wellness routines.
That means, it’s crucial for everyday consumers to understand the best CBD routes of administration for bioavailability, and the best CBD absorption methods and tips. But don’t worry – as complicated as it might sound, we’ll break it all down in an easy-to-understand manner (that even includes adding chocolate to your CBD routines!).
So, without further ado – let’s address how to increase CBD absorption to get the biggest bang for your buck.
What Is CBD Bioavailability?
Before we learn how to increase CBD absorption let’s first better understand the bioavailability of CBD. Bioavailability is a term that references the percentage of any medication that’s actually absorbed into the bloodstream. Meaning, when you ingest any form of medication, herb, or supplement, although the dose may contain 50mg, far less is actually absorbed. That means there’s lots of room for improvement when it comes to your body making full use of your CBD dose.
CBD absorption rates depend on a couple different factors. One being, the type of product you’re consuming. For instance, edibles or CBD products you swallow will have a lower CBD absorption rate in comparison to the sublingual method. Why? Because your body metabolizes CBD through the digestive system which is chock-full of enzymes and acids that can degrade and deteriorate the cannabinoid’s delicate structure.
In comparison, CBD oil sublingual bioavailability is much higher. When you hold CBD oil under your tongue for 30-60 seconds, the compounds are absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the sublingual artery. Meaning, there’s less time and probability for your body’s natural enzymes and compounds to break down and reduce the amount of CBD actually absorbed.
The second factor that’ll affect CBD oil bioavailability specifically is the type of carrier oil that’s used. Because our bodies are made of 60% water the best CBD absorption rates come from water-soluble product types. Hence, why Medium-chain triglycerides or MCT oil is one of the best ways to absorb CBD. MCT has a lighter molecular weight than other carriers and is soluble in water which allows for maximum CBD absorption when combined.
Of course, just like some medications or vitamins are recommended only after a meal – there are some steps you can take to maximize your CBD absorption rates. So, next we’ll cover the best ways to absorb CBD with a few tips and tricks.
Top 4 Ways to Maximize CBD Absorption
Put simply – when you maximize your CBD absorption, you maximize the efficacy of its benefits. So, if you’re looking to get the most out of each dose here are 4 simple ways you can increase CBD absorption.
Consume with fatty snacks
The smaller the molecule, the better it will be absorbed by the body. That’s the simple principle behind the method of consuming CBD with snacks, or meals high in fat. CBD’s molecule structure is highly soluble into fats, and fatty oils are successful at dissolving large CBD compounds into smaller sizes. Another reason why MCT oil is so popular, is it’s a “smaller” fat than most others you’d digest, and easier to absorb too.
When you combine CBD with the following fatty foods and snacks, the fat helps CBD molecules stay in-tact and allows more to be absorbed.
- Dark Chocolate – Nearly 65% of dark chocolate’s calories are fat, and the rich treat is chock-full of antioxidants for extra benefits, too.
- Fatty fish – Salmon, mackerel, trout or herring and other fatty fish help preserve CBD molecules, with the help of its omega-3 fatty acids, protein levels, and nutrients.
- Avocados – One of the most popular ‘healthy fats’, adding an avocado to your CBD routine can maximize bioavailability.
- Nuts – A handful of fatty nuts like almonds, and walnuts can work wonders for increasing CBD absorption, especially on the go.
- Eggs – Consume your CBD every morning? Add a side of eggs that contain healthy fats, vitamins, protein, and nutrients to increase CBD’s bioavailability.
- Cheese – Packed with healthy fats, cheese is another ideal pairing to maximize CBD absorption.
Supplement with herbs
Similar to foods, certain herbs can also increase the bioavailability of CBD. So, if you’re interested in increasing your personal CBD absorption rate, consider adding the following herbal compounds to your CBD routine.
- Piperine – Piperine is an alkaloid that’s primarily found in black pepper. It has the ability to enhance CBD’s bioavailability metabolic effects of the liver by inhibiting the liver’s metabolic effects.
- Turmeric – Turmeric also contains piperine and improves bioavailability similarly to pepper. However, turmeric also contains the curcumin which helps magnify the effects of both. Recent studies prove that piperine enhances the absorption of curcumin. So all in all, when consuming piperine, turmeric and CBD together – the compounds all have greater absorption than when consumed alone.
- Apigenin – Apigenin is a compound that’s found in abundance in chamomile flowers, but also other consumables like oregano, parsley, celery, and dark chocolate (bonus!). It has the power to prevent CBD from breaking down, by binding to enzymes and strengthening its overall bioavailability.
- Capsaicin – Primarily found in spicy, hot, peppers, Capsaicin shares a similar molecular structure to CBD which helps its efficacy for increasing its bioavailability. Early studies prove that the compound has the ability to enhance cannabinoid’s responses including CBD, CBG, and THC.
Seek out CBD chock-full of terpenes
Terpenes may be well-known as the aromatic centers of hemp and cannabis plants, but in actuality are so much more. As a quick refresher, terpenes are compounds found in the essential oils of plants and produce their signature scents. But emerging research is showing that terpenes are also capable of producing their own effects, similar to that of cannabinoids.
Even more, when combined – terpenes and cannabinoids create what’s known and proven as “the entourage effect”. Like piperine and curcumin enhancing one another’s bioavailability and effects, terpenes and cannabinoids act in the same fashion. Together, they amplify one another’s efficacy and overall strength.
That means, seeking out products that are chock-full of terpenes can increase CBD’s efficacy, like maximizing its’ absorption would too. CBD products rich in terpenes are classified as “full-spectrum”. Which means the extraction process captures the entire profile of plant cannabinoids, terpenes, and phytonutrients. In comparison to “isolate” products which references the extraction of just one cannabinoid, like CBD and no terpenes whatsoever.
Last but not least – when learning how to increase CBD absorption you must know CBD oil sublingual bioavailability is the most effective overall. Even though the tips we’ve shared will help boost CBD absorption rates no matter the consumption method – CBD sublingual bioavailability will always reign supreme.
The sublingual CBD route of administration is the most direct into the bloodstream, increasing its overall bioavailability and in turn, the CBD absorption rate, too. But still, many shy away from sublingually consuming due to the raw, pure, and all-natural flavor of some CBD oils and extracts. In that case, you can always seek out a flavored CBD oil like Peppermint to enhance the taste, experience and absorption – all in one!
High Quality CBD for Highly Effective Results
Now that you know more on the unique inner mechanisms of CBD, you can better understand how CBD consumption methods and products affect CBD absorption. As a more informed consumer, it may just be time to enhance your overall health and wellness routines for maximum efficacy and benefits.
With the information you gained today, it’s also easy to see that higher quality CBD = better results. Even more, not every CBD brand or product can be treated equally. From the type of carrier oil that’s used, to the quality of plant material and level of terpenes and cannabinoids – you now know what to look for when seeking the products with the highest efficacy.
At Luce Farm Wellness, we pride ourselves on producing the highest quality CBD for the highest level of holistic, plant-powered effects and benefits. Learn more about our hands-on approach to ensuring each batch is crafted with intention, and care, for the most effective experience available on the market today.