What Is CBD Bioavailability and Why Does It Matter for Me?

Man in white lab jacket holding a bottle of golden CBD oil with the eye dropper filled and halfway out of the bottle.

In the rapidly evolving CBD market, consumers have a wide variety of consumption methods and products available as options – but which is the best for you?

Each method of consumption for CBD has a different bioavailability, meaning that the CBD is absorbed into the bloodstream at different rates and levels. Based on your needs, you can choose different methods of consumption so as to benefit from the varied levels of bioavailability.

So, just what is bioavailability? How bioavailability impacts your CBD experience is largely up to you; once you understand what tends to produce faster and better results, it’s much easier to customize your experience to your liking, avoid ineffective products, and save some cash.

What is bioavailability?

Bioavailability, in short, is the degree and rate at which a substance gets absorbed into the bloodstream. In other words, it’s a measure of how quickly and powerfully a substance is experienced.

Having a higher bioavailability means that more substance is released at a faster rate than it might with a low bioavailability. Products with high bioavailability produce stronger effects promptly; products with low bioavailability produce weaker effects slowly.

Those who use CBD may find this concept notable because it allows you to determine how you will need to consume (how much and how often) a product to experience the desired effects.

CBD absorption rate can be something useful to consider if you frequently use CBD products.

What is the most bioavailable form of CBD?

The most bioavailable form of CBD – that is, the consumption method that allows CBD to be absorbed into the bloodstream the fastest – is inhalation. 

Inhalation involves taking in either vapor or smoke into the lungs. Once smoke or vapor has entered the lungs, its contents, including CBD, can be absorbed into the bloodstream almost immediately.

As a user continuously inhales more smoke or vapor, more and more CBD enters their system and quickly takes action, meaning that inhalation can produce effects that aren’t just prompt, but powerful.

Other consumption methods, especially those that rely on the digestive system, release CBD into the bloodstream at a much slower rate. As a result, the effects of these products take longer to feel and tend to be more mild.

Inhalation’s effects wear off faster than the effects of other consumption methods; because a large amount of CBD enters the bloodstream very quickly, it takes less time for the body to break all of it down.

Still, inhalation leads as the most popular way to consume CBD because of its convenience, ability to produce nearly instantaneous benefits, and its versatility (easy to adjust doses or how much you consume, for instance).

How To Increase CBD Absorption

If maximizing CBD absorption into the bloodstream is your goal, you first need to understand the bioavailability of each consumption method you might utilize.

How you consume your product matters. CBD does not have one set bioavailability; instead, different product types have their own individual rate of bioavailability.

That’s because some bodily processes or functions work faster than others, meaning that products that work with these parts of the body can begin to kick in much sooner.

Here are some tips you can follow to increase the amount of CBD that is absorbed into your bloodstream:

  • Use consumption methods with a higher bioavailability, like inhalation
  • Consume healthy fats in conjunction with your CBD, like avocados or fish
  • Consume full-spectrum products to take advantage of the entourage effect

How is CBD best absorbed?

The following list demonstrates which methods produce the most powerful – that is, the fastest and strongest – effects of CBD:

  • Intravenous (injection) – 100% 
  • Smoking/Inhalation – between 31% and 56%
  • Nano-Emulsified – up to 50%
  • Liposomal – over 35%
  • Sublingual (under the tongue) Tincture – between 12% and 35%
  • Oral Consumption – between 4% and 20%
  • Transdermal – inconclusive
  • Topical – inconclusive

Each method has its pros and cons, but for the most part, the higher the bioavailability listed above, the better the results will be. 

Because CBD absorption rates may differ from person to person, it’s relatively safe to say there is no one perfect way to consume CBD. Different consumption methods might work for different people with goals of their own.

But consumption method is not the only factor that plays a role in maximizing CBD absorption.

Women dropping CBD oil onto her tongue.

Does CBD absorb better with food?

When it comes to edible product options (gummies, chews, capsules, etc.) CBD does indeed work better in conjunction with food. Because CBD is fat-soluble (meaning it can dissolve in fats and oils), it’s absorbed 3-5 times better when taken with food compared to on an empty stomach.

Research has shown that CBD does indeed dissolve in the dietary fats that you consume. With dietary fats, CBD breaks into smaller particle sizes that are easier to absorb, which accounts for more intense effects. 

Food also slows down the rate at which CBD leaves the blood by almost nine times! As a result, each dose will provide longer-lasting relief when taken with food versus without. However, if you need quick relief, then keep in mind that a full stomach could slow down the effects, although they will be more effective once they kick in.

Supplements

There are certain supplements that you can take to increase the absorption of fat-soluble compounds like CBD.

A great example is piperine. Piperine, a compound found in black pepper, works on several levels to provide powerful absorption-boosting effects. 

Piperine stimulates transporter molecules in the intestinal lining that are responsible for bringing CBD across the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream. Once CBD is absorbed, piperine inhibits enzymes that degrade CBD, providing more time to reach its target destination.

In fact, when compared to a supplement without it, a piperine-containing CBD oral supplement produced a 6-fold increase in maximum blood concentration levels.

Takaway

It is crucial to understand that not all CBD products are created equal.

One product marketed as 10mg can be stronger or weaker than another product depending on how it’s absorbed.

Each method has its pros and cons, and there is no best way to consume CBD.

Each CBD user has individual and specific issues they’d like to treat, and each person has a unique genetic makeup.

When in doubt, a knowledgeable healthcare professional can help guide you to the best options for your specific health goals. Taking the time to research the products you buy – perhaps through a tool like our directory – before you purchase them can help avoid unnecessary negative experiences with your CBD.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do you increase CBD bioavailability?

Method of consumption is an important factor when it comes to bioavailability, but there are some ways to enhance the absorption of CBD even further.

As is the case with other cannabinoids, CBD is fat-soluble. Because of this, the presence of fat may help better break down and move CBD throughout the body. 

Some studies suggest that consuming fatty foods, like nuts, avocados, or oils, in conjunction with CBD may increase its bioavailability. 

Another method is to take advantage of what’s known as the entourage effect. The entourage effect suggests that consuming multiple cannabinoids/parts of the cannabis plant will lead to a more intense and overall beneficial result. 

To reap the benefits of the entourage effect, you could try experimenting with different terpenes within your CBD products. Products that combine THC and CBD are also a good option.

Which form of CBD is most effective?

If effective means potent to you, then you may want to refer to the bioavailability list above to see which methods of consumption result in which effects.

The most effective form of CBD, though, might depend on your circumstances. Different methods of consuming CBD may be better for some individuals rather than others. Those who want more immediate relief, for example, may prefer inhalation over edible options.

To determine which form of CBD is best for you, consider what your main goals (what you hope to gain from taking CBD) are. You might also consider how frequently you will be consuming CBD or to what extent. 

You might also find it helpful to shop for products from retailers who can offer detailed information about each option. Don’t know where to start? Look no further than our shop.

How long does CBD stay in the system?

There are a few things that can impact how long CBD stays in your system. 

The first, and perhaps most obvious, is the method of consumption. The dosage (how much you’re taking) also matters, and so does how frequently you consume the CBD.

Metabolic rate can also impact how long CBD lingers in someone’s system. This is especially true for orally consumed CBD. Because digestion happens at different rates in different bodies, an individual’s experience can be quite different than others.

CBD tends to remain in the body longest from oral consumption. CBD consumed orally can linger for over 2-5 days. Some faster methods, like smoking, may linger for much less time.

Josh Murdoch

Josh Murdoch

I was born with Cystic Fibrosis, and although it is incurable, CBD and THC have been allowing me to live my life as a healthy adult now for years. For that reason, I’ve dedicated my career to spreading the good news about cannabinoids. Currently, I work for a vertically integrated cannabis company called Unrivaled Brands that operates in California, Oregon, and Nevada. Previously, I worked on two cannabis farms in northern California, one of which was located in the famous Humboldt County. I’ve also managed a medical cannabis delivery service in Marin County, California. I created CBD Facilitator to share what I’ve learned, and to recommend the best products that I have found in this chaotic market.

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