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What Is CBD Bioavailability (and Why Does It Matter)?

Leading a healthy lifestyle is so much easier with CBD in your corner. 

Whether you use our pure CBD oil to relax, for muscle pain relief after a workout, or just to help stay centered and grounded, knowing more about how it is absorbed into the body can be very useful.

You probably already know that there are many different ways to take CBD and as with most things in life, different people have different preferences – that’s totally cool with us.

However, if you’re experimenting with your options, you should know that some ways make it easier for CBD to be absorbed into your system than others. This is all down to something called bioavailability, the key factor which determines exactly how CBD interacts with your body. Knowing more about it will help you reap the full benefits of CBD based on your own specific needs and how you choose to take it.

What Does Bioavailability Mean?

Bioavailability might sound like something out of a sci-fi film, but it’s actually a relatively straightforward concept. It refers to how efficiently a compound is absorbed into your body – the higher the bioavailability, the more readily it will enter the bloodstream.

Here’s where things get a bit more technical. When it comes to the bioavailability of CBD in particular, its effectiveness will be determined by how it reaches the endocannabinoid system, which is the series of receptors in the nervous system that interact with CBD. At this stage, it will also have to stay in your system long enough to reach the relevant organs and tissues in the body.

How much CBD actually gets absorbed and used will depend on your body’s mechanisms for absorption and elimination, the sum of which is commonly referred to as pharmacokinetics. Since these are also based on external factors, it’s impossible to have a single measurement of CBD bioavailability that will apply to all people. Low bioavailability is commonly caused by, among other things, age, sex, physical activity levels, stress levels, genetic phenotypes.

Why is bioavailability important?

Bioavailability is important from a research perspective, because it provides key data related to how compounds engage with the body through their delivery methods. This gives us a better understanding of how any substance enters and interacts with the bloodstream.

What Is the Bioavailability of CBD?

CBD’s bioavailability tracks how much of the compound has successfully been absorbed into the body, depending on how it has been taken. This data is useful to manufacturers, who can use it as a jumping-off point for adapting their products to increase CBD bioavailability in future. 

After all, millions of people use CBD for a wide range of benefits, so knowing more about its bioavailability could help to avoid situations where someone might not feel any effects after taking it. It also increases the chances that CBD will deliver on its promise, even when external factors may influence how it is absorbed from person to person.

As with its THC-based counterpart, CBD can be taken in the form of various edibles, vapes, topicals and oil drops – which themselves can range from strong 2000mg CBD oil for seasoned pros to milder peppermint CBD oil for those who just want something to drop into their coffee. Although it’s great for consumers to have so many options, it also makes it impossible to give a “one size fits all” answer about the bioavailability of CBD.

Three key studies suggest that the bioavailability of CBD could be anywhere from 6 to 19%, depending on how it is ingested. However, results vary because of the different absorption and elimination mechanisms we mentioned earlier.

The next best thing we can do is to share some guidelines that might help make it easier for you to figure out the most effective way to take CBD:

  • When CBD oil is held under the tongue, the mucous membranes in this capillary dense area act quickly and absorb it immediately. Taking CBD oil under the tongue bypasses the liver and digestive system, allowing it to be metabolised by enzymes right away. 
  • As with anything you eat, CBD edibles need to be metabolised first, which reduces their rate of absorption. As CBD is fat-soluble (meaning it dissolves quite easily in fatty oils), the fat and oil content of whatever you choose to back it into might also affect the rate of absorption. 
  • Vapes offer immediate absorption in the body, as the CBD doesn’t need to be metabolised before it can reach the bloodstream and beyond.
  • Spoiler alert! Topical CBD treatments like creams and serums never actually reach the bloodstream. Instead, they are absorbed through the pores and transferred to the inner layer of the skin. Although studies are even more limited outside of the realm of oral ingestion, there are signs that CBD topicals can still help the skin in various different ways.

Can You Increase the Bioavailability of CBD?

It’s possible to increase the bioavailability of CBD in your own body by familiarising yourself with the different ways of taking it. If you want a direct hit that goes straight to the bloodstream, dropping CBD oil under the tongue or using it in a vape is a good way to go. For a slower release, you could try mixing CBD oil into baked goods, which can give you a different experience altogether.

The key here is to get experimenting with what works for your own body. You can try any number of our CBD recipes to find out what you like the best, and what gives you the best results. Learning how to make CBD work for you (based on your own needs) will require some trial and error. After all, your body composition is unique and you have your own set of parameters to work with, which are inherently different from other people’s.

In order for us to get closer to more definitive insights on the bioavailability of CBD, further studies are required. Hopefully, once it is legal for CBD to be cultivated from hemp plants in the UK, it will pave the way for the creation of new products, open up more funding for different fields of research, as well as help more people to be able to lead more balanced, healthier lives.

But the ticket to all of this is CBD and we look forward to strapping in for this wild ride alongside you.

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