CBD Oil Absorption

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CBD absorption refers to the transfer of CBD from the point of administration to the bloodstream, where it is transported throughout our body to interact with our cannabinoid receptors. How CBD is absorbed, and how long it stays in our body will determine the effectiveness of a CBD product. Not all CBD is the same. Discover the differences between CBD delivery forms and the pros and cons of each. Learn how to choose the best CBD form for you.

CBD Effects and How the Body Processes CBD Oil

CBD absorption refers to the transfer of CBD from the point of administration to the bloodstream, where it is transported throughout our body to interact with our cannabinoid receptors, CB1 & CBD1 and non-cannabinoid receptors like our serotonin receptor.

How CBD is absorbed depends on how it is administered and how it is consumed. This will in part determine how effective CBD will be.

What is CBD?

CBD is the abbreviation of cannabidiol and is found in hemp plants. There are over 120 known cannabinoids, and each play a role in our endocannabinoid system. The two most popular cannabinoids are, tretrahydrocannabinol (THC) & CBD. Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive and will not get you high.

In November 2017, the World Health Organization published a report listing all of the potential therapeutic benefits of CBD. Amongst them are; stress and anxiety relief, alleviating pain, limiting inflammation, improving sleep, reducing nausea. For the full list, click here.

How Does the Body Process and Absorbs CBD?

There are 3 main absorption methods; sublingual / oral, smoking / vaping, and topical. They each have a different way of being absorbed and processed by our body, and have different levels of effectiveness.

1) Sublingual and Oral Absorption are the most common way of taking CBD. Think, CBD oils, capsules, edibles or any other food products infused with CBD.

When ingested, CBD goes through the digestive system and to our stomach. From there, it enters the hepatic portal system where CBD is carried to our liver. The liver metabolizes the CBD molecules in what is referred to as the “first-pass effect” to then go into the bloodstream.

Taking CBD edibles might not be the most effective way of taking CBD because the first-pass effect, effectively prevents the absorption of cannabinoids into the blood. This is why CBD gummies have the lowest percentage of CBD bioavailability. Sometimes even after waiting more than an hour after ingestion, you might feel nothing. For example, if you take a 10mg edible and gummies have a 20% bioavailability , it means that only 2mg of CBD will actually reach your bloodstream, which makes taking that gummy pretty ineffective. On the positive side, research has shown that despite their low bioavailability , CBD edibles produces effects that may last longer.

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For CBD drops or tinctures, studies have found that consuming CBD oil with fatty acids can help bypass first-pass metabolism, and therefore increase bioavailability and how much CBD is absorbed. Taking CBD oil sublingually and holding it under your tongue for several seconds before swallowing, allows the mucus membrane of the mouth to absorb CBD, and bypass the digestive system. This is why CBD drops have a high bioavailability, and are more effective than CBD edibles.

2) Smoking and Vaping Absorption

Inhaling CBD is one the quickest ways for CBD to be absorbed, and offers fast relief. When using a CBD vape pen or pre-roll, the compounds are absorbed through the alveoli in the lungs, which offers a large absorptive surface area. It bypasses the first-pass metabolism in a similar way as sublingual administration except that it reaches the bloodstream faster.

A key difference is that while inhaling CBD offers a faster relief than sublingual or oral absorption, the effects wear off a lot quicker. If you are suffering from acute conditions, and need immediate relief, using this method of CBD absorption is great.

3) Topical Absorption

CBD topical products are designed to provide targeted relief to a specific area. The skin has several cannabinoid receptors that absorb and interact with CBD when it is applied to the surface. With a topical application, CBD never reaches the bloodstream as human skin in general has low permeability, which means it blocks most substances from entering. This means that CBD topical application has a low absorption rate so, use CBD lotions, salves, and balms generously.

To read about how to dose CBD oil properly, click here

If you have any questions, reach out to: [email protected]

CBD Bioavailability: What Does it Mean Why is it so Important?

Not all CBD is the same. Discover the differences between CBD delivery forms and the pros and cons of each. Learn how to choose the best CBD form for you.

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Article By

In this article, we explore the various delivery methods for CBD (cannabidiol), including oral, inhaled, mucosal, transdermal, and intravenous routes.

We’ll discuss what the current science tells us about each method and their relative advantages and disadvantages in practical use.

We’ll also survey some of the important factors that affect CBD absorption and metabolism. And you’ll learn how you can best manage these factors so you can choose the ideal delivery form and dosage depending on what you’re looking to get out of the use of CBD.

This is a big topic, so let’s get straight into it.

Table of Contents
  • Oral CBD: Capsules, Oils, and Edibles
  • 1. Health Conditions

CBD offers great benefits for health and healing. Its high safety profile and non-addictive nature make it an appealing alternative to many conventional drugs.

But, in order to be effective, CBD has to reach your endocannabinoid system. This means it first needs to be absorbed into your bloodstream, a concept known as bioavailability.

Once there, it has to stay in circulation long enough to be delivered to the organs and tissues where it is needed.

So, how much of the CBD you take actually gets absorbed and used?

That depends on a process known as pharmacokinetics (how compounds are processed by the body).

In short, pharmacokinetics refers to the sum of your body’s mechanisms for absorption and elimination, the characteristics of CBD itself, and numerous external factors that can either help or hinder the way you assimilate and use CBD.

Additionally, the route of entry, or delivery method, has a lot to do with how much and how quickly CBD enters the bloodstream.

Oral CBD: Capsules, Oils, and Edibles

Oral CBD formulations, such as CBD oils and tinctures, capsules, gummies, chocolates, other edibles, and beverages are among the most popular ways to consume CBD.

However, oral CBD has the lowest bioavailability of all delivery forms.

On average, ingested CBD has a bioavailability of between 6-19% [2, 3, 4].

One reason for this is that CBD is not readily absorbed when ingested and as a result, most of it is excreted without exerting any effects.

This is due to the fact that CBD is fat-soluble (as opposed to water-soluble), which makes it a challenge for the body to absorb.

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Additionally, digestive acids and enzymes destroy a large percentage of CBD before it has a chance to be absorbed. And the small amount that gets through the intestinal wall is subject to being metabolized by the liver before it reaches the rest of the body.

The half-life of oral CBD, i.e. the amount of time it takes for half of the CBD to leave the bloodstream, may be faster than other delivery methods. Half-lives from 10 to 17 hours have been reported for high dosages between 750 mg and 1500 mg [1].

Peak levels of oral CBD tend to be lower than other delivery forms.

In one experiment, cookies infused with 40 mg of CBD produced peak blood CBD levels between 1.5 and 3 hours after ingestion [5].

However, the low absorption of oral CBD may be offset by certain advantages — such as a longer duration. A laboratory animal study found the average amount of time an orally consumed CBD molecule stays in the body, known as the “mean residence time”, was 4.2 hours.

By contrast, the mean residence time for injected CBD, in the same study, was 3.3 hours [3].

Oral CBD has also been found to lead to higher brain levels when compared to inhalation methods in animal studies [6].

Bioavailability of CBD: Vaping vs Oral Consumption

Inhaled CBD: Vaping and Smoking

Inhalation is an efficient way to consume CBD because it bypasses the digestive tract and liver allowing CBD to be readily absorbed through the thin membranes that line the air sacs of the lungs (alveoli) where it enters directly into the bloodstream.

There are several ways to inhale CBD:

1. Smoking

The most basic inhalation form is smoking.

In this case, the hemp cigarette contains unprocessed CBD-rich hemp buds (as opposed to high-THC cannabis). Smoking has a bioavailability of 31% and a single CBD cigarette containing about 19 mg of CBD can produce peak blood levels within 3 minutes [5].

The half-life of smoked CBD averages 31 hours.

The downside to smoking is that it produces combustion by-products which can irritate and, in some instances damage the lungs. These include fluorene, pyrene, acrylonitrile, and acrylamide [7].

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