CBD & BIOAVAILABILITY
Finding the perfect dose of CBD for you is a very personal thing. It comes down to why you’re using CBD oil in the first place, how old you are, how much you weigh, your genetic sensitivity and, of equal importance, the method of taking CBD you’re using.
If you’d like to get the most of of our CBD products (who wouldn’t?) and adjust the dose to suit your specific needs, it’s vital to understand the difference between all the different goodies available to try out. Vapes, oils, capsules, edibles/drinkables, patches and even suppositories – there are so many different options out there. Each come with pros and cons and varying levels of bioavailability.
What is bioavailability?
Bioavailability is the amount of a substance (in this case, CBD) which enters the bloodstream when introduced into the body. This has a big impact on how long a product takes to work, how long it lasts, and how much CBD you’re actually getting.
The mg amount listed on CBD wares advises the amount in the actual oil itself. When you take CBD, be that through sublingual absorption (drops under the tongue) or a square of chocolate, the mg amount that actually gets to work in your system is considerably less.
Here’s a rough guide to the percentage of CBD content which makes its way into your body. Some studies results are taken from are looking at THC, although there is substantial evidence to suggest the bioavailability actions of CBD and THC are very similar:
Vaping/Smoking/Nasal Spray: Up to 56%
Inhaling CBD is the fastest way to get cannabinoids into your bloodstream, first into the cannabinoid receptors situated in your lungs, heart and brain. You’ll feel the effects within a few minutes, which is partly why many people try this method for nausea and acute anxiety.
Sublingual oil: Up to 35%
The amount of CBD you absorb via your sublingual gland rides heavily on how long you hold the oil in place for. Ideally you should aim for between 30 – 60 seconds under your tongue. This is great way to take CBD if you prefer a slightly slower build up (most studies find that you’ll starting noticing effects at around the 20-minute mark, but of course this varies for each individual), but still decent bioavailability.
CBD Capsules/CBD Edibles/CBD Drinkables: 10 – 20% (although some studies show as low as 6%)
Oral administration has possibly the lowest bioavailability rate, but that doesn’t mean that these should be ruled out as an option for you. Although the amount you end up with after the product is broken down by digestion is considerably less than what’s indicated on the packaging, it does appear to stay in your bloodstream for longer. Over time, cannabinoid levels are believed to accumulate, making this method a popular choice among those with chronic conditions. Access to the receptors in the gut and liver (which would be less concentrated via other methods) also makes this a firm favourite for certain uses despite low potency.
CBD Topicals/CBD Skincare: Unknown
CBD topicals offer a wonderful way to directly target the cannabinoid receptors in skin cells, which is thought to strengthen the ECS of the skin, reducing inflammation and balancing sebum production. However, this form of CBD won’t get into your bloodstream.
CBD Transdermal topicals/CBD Patches: Unknown, although brands offering these can (and should) be able to provide public data demonstrating how well the CBD is absorbed.
Transdermal CBD products are specifically designed to gradually release cannabinoids into the bloodstream, however only reaching the peripheral nervous system and muscles tissue. This method takes a long time to get going (patches are usually made to be worn for a couple of days) but the slow release should mean the cannabinoids hang around for longer.
Elimination Half Life
The percentage of CBD that gets into your body with every dose is not the only thing to take into account when choosing a product to suit your needs. Elimination half life (the time a substance stays active in your body) is also a point to consider.
– If you’re after something which hits hard and fast but wears off pretty quick too, CBD vapes are usually the go-to as this method allows the cannabinoids to reach your receptors within minutes. Most trials show the effects wear off after around 2 hours.
– If a slightly softer onset and longer active life suits you, you might want to give CBD oil drops a go. The interaction with cannabinoid receptors is generally found to be fairly even around the body, with effects starting at around the 15-minute mark (although up to an hour in some cases). Via this method, the CBD should be out of your system within 6-8 hours by which point it will have been metabolised or eliminated by your body.
– You might not notice the effects of capsules and edibles right away, as the CBD that reaches your receptors after being digested and metabolised by your liver kicks in after around 2 hours, and is much lower than via other methods. However, after taking capsules consistently for a while you will start accumulating cannabinoids in your bloodstream, as they can stick around for up to 12 hours.
– As CBD topicals and CBD skincare do not enter your bloodstream, you can apply as often as you like until you reach the desired result.
– CBD transdermals are thought to offer longer lasting results and accumulation in the body, but without going through the digestive process and only in the peripheral nervous system.
– If you ask a chef who specialises in cooking with cannabis, they’ll tell you to always mix it with fats. This is because CBD (and THC) are fat soluble, meaning that taking your CBD after eating something fatty (a spoon of mayonnaise, for example) should aid absorption.
– Some studies have shown that brushing your teeth or eating right before taking CBD drops can increase the absorption rate, potentially due to high blood flow to the mouth.