CBD Bioavailability: What Does This Even Mean?

Understanding the concept


If you have been paying any attention to the growing CBD market that has begun emerging in the last half-decade, it is likely that you have heard of the term ‘bioavailability.’

Most of the time, you have probably seen this written next to some new-fangled way of getting CBD into your body, whether that be through alternate methods such as vaping or using topical ointments, or through even more scientifically interesting methods like using nanoparticles.

Regardless of the precise method, each time the producers claim that it will help improve CBD’s bioavailability. But what actually is bioavailability, and why should you care?

What Exactly Is Bioavailability?

Bioavailability isn’t a term specific to CBD but is instead a scientific term used when discussing all manner of different drugs and medications.

When a particular substance’s bioavailability is being talked about, what we actually mean is the rate at which the substance is absorbed into the bloodstream and able to be assimilated into the body.

This might come as a shock for those of you that thought the CBD oil was taking effect as soon as it entered your mouth because in actuality it takes a little bit of time and effort to get the drug broken down and assimilated.

It is important to note, however, that different substances have different rates of assimilation, all of which contribute to vastly different levels of bioavailability.

For example, the widely used painkiller and anti-inflammatory Ibuprofen is well known for its extremely high bioavailability of over 80%. In this instance, this means that roughly 80% of the total amount of Ibuprofen you take will actually end up taking effect in your body.

Unfortunately, CBD has a vastly lower level of bioavailability when compared to other substances, but how much exactly is not entirely clear. In part, this is due to the rather difficult legal quandary that any and all cannabis-related products find themselves in.

However, there are a few studies out there that actually look into the rather confusing question of CBD’s bioavailability.

What Do the Studies Say About CBD Bioavailability?

There has been a lot of effort in recent years regarding CBD’s bioavailability, primarily because we still don’t 100% know. This uncertainty is inherently tied to the fact that different methods of imbibing CBD have different rates of bioavailability.

For example, one prominent study by Millar et al. for the Journal of Frontiers in Pharmacology found that, when CBD was smoked in the form of a CBD-rich marijuana plant, bioavailability was 31%. This produced the most concrete analysis of the average rate of bioavailability in humans from smoking CBD, as this study was actually a systematic review of various other studies, sourcing its information from a variety of different data points.

Other studies are not so steadfast in their convictions. In another study, conducted by Istvan Ujvary and Lumir Hanus for the Journal of Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, researchers found that the bioavailability of CBD oil was inherently low in all species, primarily due to its chemical composition.

Ujvary and Hanus reckoned that CBD’s chemical structure simply doesn’t work especially well when trying to be assimilated into the human body.

However, the study also found that, by taking CBD oil orally in a daily dose regimen of 6 doses of 100mg at a time, the bioavailability steadily increased; though a precise figure sadly wasn’t offered by the study.

To help improve bioavailability levels even more, some studies, such as one by Fukui et al. for the Journal of Pharmacobio-dynamics, found that the use of coconut oil as the inert oil produced the best results.

This is because of the fact that coconut oil is high in medium-chain triglycerides, known as MCT, which are more easily digested by the human body. This allows the body not only to break down the CBD oil faster but also to retrieve more of the cannabinoids from it than with other oils.

If you are looking for even more bioavailability in an even stranger way, then you should take a look at a further study conducted by Paudel KS et al. for the Journal of Drug Development and Industrial Pharmacy. This study found that, when CBD oil was absorbed intranasally, meaning through the nose, then the bioavailability was generally increased to a rate of between 34% and 46%. This proved the same regardless of the actual dosage, meaning it could be relied upon as a fairly dependable method of imbibing CBD.

So, What Is the Best CBD Option for Bioavailability?

bioavailability of cbd

The chief problem with trying to imbibe CBD in a reliable quantity is that CBD has an inherently low water solubility, meaning that any consumption method with a high bioavailability must be oil-based. Thus, CBD oil is a good – if somewhat simplistic – solution.

The inherent problem with this is that the body is only able to process so much of the CBD oil at once, due to the body’s inefficiency when it comes to absorbing oils.

This means that, when you need to make the decision as to what method you want to choose for imbibing CBD oil, you have a variety of options to choose from, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.

If you are looking for the highest bioavailability possible, then imbibing CBD oil intranasally is likely your best bet – however, it is a widely disliked method of CBD delivery, simply because it feels uncomfortable and isn’t exactly a covert way of imbibing cannabinoids.

Instead, the most likely method most people would choose is some kind of edible CBD oil. If so, make sure you go for one that contains plenty of MCT oils, like CBD oil that uses coconut oil.

Final Verdict on CBD & Bioavailability

When people first start getting into the world of CBD, it looks like one big chasm of confusion and frustration – there are endless questions, few answers and a whole subgenre of specialties and information that make it seem almost impossible to know what you are doing.

As you begin to learn more, however, it becomes apparent that you can learn quite a lot about the process of CBD, but the main thing that you need to decide is how you want to take it.

For those that are concerned with getting only the highest level of bioavailability, you should certainly consider taking either CBD oil made from coconut oil or even trying some intranasal CBD.

Regardless of what you choose, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about the individual bioavailability rating of whatever CBD product you choose. As long as you take the recommended dose, you should be fine regardless.

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