With so many CBD products available to consumers, how can we know what works and what doesn’t, and how can we improve our results? Read on to learn more.
CBD is most effective when consumed through highly bioavailable delivery methods, such as:
- Water-soluble form
- Sublingual administration
These methods of administration allow your body to absorb the CBD into your bloodstream faster, expediating and amplifying the benefits.
This article will also review ways to improve absorption, how the body absorbs CBD, and the relative speeds of absorption between each delivery method.
How Is CBD Best Absorbed?
Several factors influence how one can improve CBD absorption into the body, including method of delivery, type of CBD, and additional health factors.
- Method of delivery
Method of delivery has a significant impact on absorption rates (or bioavailability as it is termed in pharmacology). Bioavailability measures the concentration of a particular drug or substance in the bloodstream. Specific pathways through the body have higher and lower bioavailability due to how our body processes and filters drugs administered in those ways.
For instance, oral delivery of CBD most likely has some of the lowest bioavailability of any delivery method. This lower bioavailability is because the stomach and gut wall will metabolize the CBD before it even reaches systemic circulation, lowering the amount of available CBD in a phenomenon called first-pass metabolism.
By contrast, intravenous injection of CBD is, bar none, the absolute best way to absorb CBD since the CBD would be going straight into your bloodstream. However, CBD injection is only very rarely used by doctors to treat severe inflammation in hospitalized patients. This form of consumption is quite inconvenient, so you’re much better off using a CBD vaporizer, dabbing CBD, or smoking CBD flower, as inhalation is the most bioavailable method of absorption currently available.
When inhaling a CBD product, the tiny particles from the CBD pass through the semipermeable membrane of your lungs quite quickly. They also bypass the loss of potency that happens with oral administration in the stomach and mouth.
- Water solubility
While the method of delivery plays a prominent role in improving absorption in the body, the actual specs of the CBD product you’re using influence things, too, mainly if the product is water-soluble. While water-soluble may seem like an expensive new fad on the CBD scene, it’s actually quite brilliant and utilizes what we know about how the body absorbs fat-based pharmaceuticals and supplements.
CBD is absorbed much less thoroughly than most other supplements because it is oil-based. Our bodies are water-based. While water is an incredibly effective solvent for breaking down most compounds, it struggles to break down fat molecules due to their water-repellant exteriors. While the body does have ways to combat this — namely forming things called micelles around the fat that can improve absorption — fat molecules form into globules that are difficult to penetrate, leaving a large quantity of product behind.
However, water-soluble CBD helps to remedy this. While CBD producers can’t change the molecular makeup of CBD and make it un-fatty, they’ve created nano-emulsions that break up the fat-particles and coat them in water-soluble substances that keep each molecule suspended, enabling the body to absorb them better. Using water-soluble CBD for oral delivery can significantly increase the bioavailability of CBD in your body.
- Drug interactions
Additionally, how other drugs in your body are metabolized may impact CBD absorption in your body. CBD can affect how vital medications work in your body, and medications can impact CBD the same way, so it’s important to keep in mind what other drugs you’re taking when using CBD. Avoid medications with a “grapefruit warning” on the label or online, as this may be an indicator that it will interact with CBD.
What is the fastest way to absorb CBD?
The two fastest ways to absorb CBD are sublingual absorption and inhalation. The two are generally recorded as taking similar amounts of time to become effective across the board. However, one may edge the other out in personal experience since our bodies are all different and may process compounds slightly differently.
Inhalation and sublingual absorption should take anywhere between 15-45 minutes to begin working instead of oral CBD’s whopping 1-2 hour range. Using CBD with a dab rig may slightly increase the time it takes for it to begin working, with individuals who have dabbed CBD before reporting that it starts working within 5 to 15 minutes of use.
How is CBD oil absorbed in the body?
How CBD is absorbed depends on the route of administration. For instance, when CBD is taken orally, it is absorbed in a manner similar to medications and drugs. It travels from your mouth to your digestive tract, where it is properly absorbed in the stomach and intestines, then travels to the liver to be processed and metabolized before being released into the bloodstream. The final stage is when you’ll begin to feel the effects of CBD.
Other routes differ slightly. When administered sublingually, the CBD is immediately absorbed through the mucous membranes of the mouth, which are porous, and is then transferred directly to the bloodstream. In this method, the CBD completely bypasses that preemptive processing by the liver so that it can go right into your bloodstream. Inhalation works similarly — the particles are inhaled and then quickly absorbed through the mucous membranes of the lungs, which quite obviously bring those particles into rapid systemic circulation in the bloodstream.
By contrast, topical CBD is not absorbed into the body. Technically, very, very little CBD is absorbed into the bloodstream, but the surface of the skin is largely impenetrable to the CBD in its current formulation, meaning that topicals are only really able to treat surface pains.
How to increase CBD bioavailability
CBD bioavailability can primarily be increased in three ways:
1. Change method of delivery
There are no two ways about it: oral delivery has low bioavailability, with measures of its absorption estimating that it is only about 13-19% bioavailable on its own. Changing to a more highly bioavailable delivery method, such as inhalation or sublingual, may improve your results with CBD.
2. Switch to water-soluble CBD
Water-soluble CBD has been demonstrated to significantly increase bioavailability by simply making lipid molecules of CBD easier to absorb and process by our water-based bodies. Suppose you are using traditional CBD and not getting the results you want. In that case, it may be time to switch to water-soluble nano- or micro-emulsified products, which can help to increase bioavailability no matter what method of delivery you’re using.
3. Take your CBD alongside fats or supplemental herbs
There is some evidence that taking CBD with other fats, such as an edible that includes CBD butter or CBD olive oil, may improve bioavailability since CBD is soluble in fat rather than water. Additionally, some evidence suggests that diet may influence certain drugs’ bioavailability and that some herbs and foods may increase your absorption rate. For instance, black pepper, chamomile, and capsaicin-rich foods like hot peppers may increase CBD bioavailability when taken alongside CBD. Additionally, caffeine may increase absorption, if only by increasing the rate at which your stomach empties itself, speeding up the process of digestive absorption.
CBD is best absorbed when individuals use water-soluble CBD products, opt for a highly bioavailable delivery method like inhalation or sublingual administration, and make sure that they are not taking any drugs that may interfere with CBD absorption.
Additionally, CBD is also most quickly absorbed through these highly bioavailable methods, with onset time ranging from anywhere between 15 to 45 minutes for inhalation of CBD and sublingual administration. CBD’s pathway through the body changes depending on delivery method, which is one of the significant ways CBD’s bioavailability changes.
If you’re looking to purchase CBD, from water-soluble CBD to CBD flower to CBD softgels, consider browsing our directory. Here, we list a wide variety of high-quality, staff-reviewed CBD products offered by a range of reputable companies across the United States.