Here’s Why You Should Be Taking CBD Oil with Food

How eating affects the bioavailability of CBD


Literally millions of search results greet you when you Google ‘CBD.’ Many sites parrot the same information about how CBD doesn’t produce psychoactivity, how it can treat such-and-such condition, etc. Unfortunately, a lot of these articles lack the necessary information to be scientifically or medically credible.

A prime example is the dearth of details regarding whether you should take CBD oil with food. You may have heard stories of folks feeling nauseous after using CBD oil. Some claim to even vomit or get diarrhea after consuming. Of course, it is difficult to determine whether these claims are a result of the CBD or something else (like consuming on an empty stomach).

As it happens, it is better to eat food with your CBD oil in most instances. But this is not necessarily because of gastrointestinal issues.

CBD Oil with Food: A Question of Bioavailability

One of the ‘buzzwords’ associated with CBD is bioavailability. In simple terms, this is the rate and degree at which any substance absorbs into the bloodstream. As far as CBD, the higher the bioavailability the more results it will have on your body. This is because more of it impacts cells after reaching the bloodstream.

The problem with many forms of CBD consumption is that our digestive system absorbs it before it makes it to the bloodstream. Here are a few different ways to use CBD along with the likely bioavailability.

CBD Oral Consumption

This involves consuming CBD via drinks, edibles, and capsules. The problem here is that when you eat or drink any substance, it is subject to metabolic and digestive processes. These processes filter out much of the cannabidiol in oral CBD products. There is an ongoing discussion in the scientific community as to the exact bioavailability rate of oral CBD consumption.

A 1986 study published in Biomedical & Environmental Mass Spectrometry suggests that oral bioavailability is around 6%. A later 2009 study* in Chemistry Biodiversity was slightly more optimistic, suggesting that bioavailability is anywhere between 4% and 20%. Even on the upper end of the scale, this means that only 20mg of that 100mg edible you ate will make it to your bloodstream.

CBD Sublingual Consumption

This is how you use tinctures or oils. You hold it beneath the tongue so that it is administered to your sublingual gland. As a result, it is directly absorbed into the bloodstream. The quality of CBD is all-important in this scenario. A 2012 study* in Current Pharmaceutical Design showed that sublingual consumption of CBD had a bioavailability rate between 12% and 35%.

CBD Vaporizers

You can use a CBD e-liquid in a vaporizer and enjoy far higher bioavailability. As it directly enters the lungs, the CBD enters the bloodstream faster. A 2007 study by Huestis, published in Chemical Biodiversity, showed that vaporization had an impressive bioavailability rate of 56%.

On that note it is EXTREMELY important to closely evaluate the vape manufacturer for purity standards. Some companies will have oils that are contaminated with heavy metals or other toxic chemicals that may damage lung tissue. Considering the lack of any real regulation there are viable questions of safety in the marketplace.

CBD Nanotechnology

CBD sellers such as CBD Living use nanotechnology in their products. In this process, Nano-sized CBD molecules are infused in products. It allows for easy absorption and an apparent bioavailability rate of 90%, by far the highest on the market to date.

The different forms of CBD consumption and assigned bioavailability rates dictate the prices of products. Let’s say an edible has a bioavailability of 10%; you would need 100mg to get 10mg of useful CBD. If you use a vaporizer with a bioavailability rate of 50%, you need just 20mg to get the same amount of usable CBD. Keep this in mind when purchasing CBD products.

Eating Also Has Positive Effects on CBD Bioavailability

Eating food does impact bioavailability. Remember, when you use CBD orally, the active ingredients absorb via digestion. In other instances, absorption takes place in mucous membranes, or via small clusters of blood vessels (this is how CBD gets absorbed sublingually).

Oral CBD has such low bioavailability because of first pass metabolism. This results from actions of the digestive system’s enzymes before cannabidiol even gets to your circulatory system. When you eat CBD edibles or swallow tinctures, the CBD goes to the stomach. There, it breaks down as a result of metabolic processes. From there, the small intestine absorbs the CBD and it goes to the liver.

There are enzymes in the liver called Cytochrome P450. This enzymes help metabolize CBD before it gets sent throug the circulatory system. It is at this point that first pass metabolism’breaks down the CBD even more. In fact, it creates over 100 metabolites. The majority of these metabolites are not useful, and are excreted.

What does this mean in terms of bioavailability?

Unfortunately, this means the bioavailability of CBD plummets. However, there are types of food which prevent cannabidiol from running the ‘first pass’ gauntlet, thus improving bioavailability.

The above is more than mere theory; it is backed by scientific evidence. A 2013 study* published in the European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology assessed the effect of food on the bioavailability of a single dose of THC/CBD spray.

The team looked at what happened when a cannabinoid product was absorbed sublingually and then in the digestive tract after being consumed. They discovered that bioavailability was four times higher when taken after a meal, compared to being swallowed on a relatively empty stomach. It is important to note the study also showed that using the cannabinoid product with food delayed peak concentration of the cannabinoid in the blood by a couple of hours.

Best Type of Food to Eat with CBD Oil

It appears as if foods containing fatty acids and medium or long-chain triglycerides are your best bet. This is why so many CBD sellers include MCT oil in their tinctures. Fatty acids act as potent binding agents, and it metabolizes them into pure energy by the liver. As a result, your CBD does not go through the first pass metabolism process. Your body burns these fats and uses them, and cannabidiol, immediately.

Therefore, if you consume CBD oil with food, consider eating foods high in healthy fat. This includes things like olives, coconut, sesame oil, soybeans, oily fish, meat, eggs, and avocados. Yes, you can even feast on donuts!

Final Thoughts on Using CBD Oil with Food

Not everyone will remember to use their CBD oil when they eat, and some people simply don’t like doing it. In that case, you are better off exploring other methods of consumption. You can still use CBD oil, but it is better to purchase an e-liquid which works with a vaporizer. With a bioavailability rate that is several times higher than via oral consumption, you tend to get better bang for your buck. Alternatively, use CBD from brands that use nanotechnology.

 Again, keep in mind that your health is at the end of the day your responsibility. Read your labels, and do a hard inquiry of the products and manufacturers. Also, be sure to evaluate for unwanted exposures to heavy metals or other toxic chemical compounds found in lower quality vape products.

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