CBD is quickly becoming established as a popular product. This is mainly due to its non-psychoactive and health benefit potential, based on its properties that help to maintain a sense of balance (homeostasis) and well-being within our bodies.
CBD has been studied widely including:
- Habit Changes
- Energy & Focus
- Muscle Soreness Due to Exercise
- Heart Health
- Occasional Sleeplessness
- Skin Health
The rising popularity of CBD has spawned a countless number of products to choose from - each involving different methods of consumption and varying levels of concentration and purity.
With so many options available, the conversation around the “best” way to take CBD almost always touches on the topic of bioavailability.
Oral consumption is a discrete and convenient method of consuming CBD. Our guide will help navigate you through everything there is to know about oral CBD bioavailability and the factors that may potentially affect your CBD experience.
Bioavailability refers to the quantity and rate at which a substance is absorbed into the bloodstream.
The amount of the ingredient that reaches the bloodstream is then transported to the body’s cells and tissues for use where needed.
To put this differently, the type of formulation you choose to consume CBD can directly impact how much and how quickly the ingredient is absorbed and used throughout the body.
This likely also has an impact on the product’s effectiveness and any benefit the consumer can achieve.
In order to be effective, the CBD has to reach the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and bind with the receptors in our nervous systems to be processed.
While not all is known about how CBD works within the body, the ingredient must first be absorbed into the bloodstream in order for this process to happen.
How much and how quickly the CBD is absorbed will depend on the product’s bioavailability rate.
This process is more formally known as pharmacokinetics, which defines how compounds are processed within our bodies. Here, we are referring to how CBD is:
The type of CBD is the most critical variable impacting how efficiently the compound is absorbed into the bloodstream.
It is important to understand this before purchasing CBD because the body absorbs the compound in different ways.
Having knowledge of CBD bioavailability will help you to figure out which products best suit your needs. It will also help determine the dosage levels you need to take to ensure optimal results.
This way, you can purchase high-quality CBD products that will deliver the benefits you are seeking.
With such a wide variety of CBD products available on the market, the rates and extent of bioavailability vary. Bioavailability rates are typically determined by the type of CBD, product formulation and dosage levels.
Keep in mind - depending on which method you choose to administer; this will alter how much of the compound gets utilized and distributed throughout the body.
While all forms of CBD can offer the same potential health benefits, they do not have the same absorption levels, concentrations, or purity. Some formulations may have greater absorption rates and potency than others.
Usually, the lower the bioavailability of a formulation, the greater the amount of the product you will have to administer for it to produce any potential effect.
Types of Oral CBD
Similar to many other supplements, you can consume CBD in the form of capsules, gummies and powders (also often called edibles).
In addition to regular oral products, there are also a range of CBD-infused food products available.
Some prefer these products as they tend to disguise the earthy, natural taste of CBD, which some find bitter.
Caution should be taken when choosing these as the variability in each serving will likely vary widely. This makes it very difficult to predict how much to take with wide variations in outcomes.
Bioavailability of Oral CBD
Many variables may impact the bioavailability of oral CBD. Some research into CBD products on the market estimates that between 6-19% of CBD is absorbed into the bloodstream when consumed orally.
The main reason for its low bioavailability is that oral CBD has very low aqueous solubility and is highly metabolized by the liver, called the “first pass effect”. These factors make it challenging for our bodies to absorb CBD.
The body processes oral CBD in your digestive system. The ingredient passes through your stomach and gets absorbed in the small intestine. Via the intestine, the compound is then metabolized by the liver, circulated around your bloodstream and transported to the rest of your body.
However, a large percentage of the desired CBD is metabolized by the liver or not absorbed at all reaches the rest of the body.
BIOAVAILABILITY OF OIL-BASED CBD PRODUCTS
6-19% can be as low as 1-2%
Time to Maximum Blood Concentration Level (TMAX):
As a result of the “first-pass effect”, the potential effects may not be as noticeable as only a small amount gets absorbed. This lower bioavailability often causes users to require larger consumptions of a poorly absorbed CBD product to reach the desired effect.
You may also have to wait longer for the CBD’s potent effects to kick in. It can take between 1.5 - 2 hours before orally-consumed CBD reaches the bloodstream – and at a significantly lower level.
When consuming CBD capsules, the contents are not released into your bloodstream until they are digested. This may lead to a more balanced set of effects across a longer duration of time. One study found that the mean residence time an orally-consumed CBD molecule stays in the body was 4.2 hours.
We should mention that the number of studies on oral CBD bioavailability are increasing rapidly and we are learning more about the compound’s properties each year.
Similarly, there is a lot of catching up to do with peer-reviewed studies on human subjects, given that the limitations on hemp-derived CBD were only removed in 2018.
What Should I Keep in Mind When Buying Oral CBD?
Some oral forms of CBD may have different advantages compared to others. Some examples are soft gels that can take around 20 minutes to dissolve and hard shell capsules that take approximately 5 minutes. Powder packets can be added to any food or drink - or swift sticks that can be sprinkled on the tongue and dissolve almost instantly.
The dissolution rate is not really the key thing to look out for when determining bioavailability. It’s important to ensure the CBD is in a form that maximizes absorption.
Understanding which formulation is inside the product when purchasing CBD capsules and/or softgels is very important. With many capsules, manufacturers use CBD Isolate in crystal form which can have the lowest bioavailability at just 1-2%. If they contain CBD oil this can increase to 6-10%.
Not all CBD capsules are created equal and you need to ensure you look for a brand with proven absorption evidence.
Currently, there are CBD manufacturers seeking to increase the bioavailability of their product so that consumers can get the maximum health benefits in the quickest time.
If you are looking for a product with a fast-onset time, the best option is choosing an emulsified (water-soluble) form of CBD, such as found in NextEvo Naturals vegan capsules - these deliver a 400% better absorption rate than in oil-based products. Any type of regular oil-based formulation will have a very slow uptake.
The best part about taking CBD in a capsule is the pre-measured dosage amounts (dosage per serving is usually printed on the back of the product packaging). Plus, they are easy to swallow, and are flavor and odor-free so you can enjoy them with food. CBD capsules are a good place to start if you want to try oral CBD for the first time.
NextEvo products do not fall into the typical oral CBD bioavailability category - even though our products are consumed orally. Our products offer much higher levels of bioavailability thanks to our SmartSorb™ Technology.
The SmartSorb™ formula makes the CBD work with your body, turning premium hemp-derived CBD into a water-soluble emulsion. This allows the compound to work faster and deliver more CBD to your system versus other brands where 90% of the ingredient is destroyed by the digestive process.
SmartSorb™ has been proven 4x better at allowing a greater amount of CBD to be delivered to your body than oil-based CBD brands. One capsule of NextEvo Premium Pure CBD with Smartsorb™ is equivalent to 4x the amount of CBD in oil-based formulations.
The SmartSorb™ formula also allows for quicker absorption into the bloodstream, starting in as little as 10 minutes and ready to deliver its full effect in the first hour.
Extra Strength CBD Chewable Mints (left); Premium Pure CBD Extra Strength Capsules (middle) & Premium Pure CBD Gummies Citrus Mix (right).
While the above outlines the bioavailability of oral CBD products, there are other internal and external factors which can affect how bioavailable CBD is.
Fortunately, some of these factors may be under your control. For factors you cannot control, you can choose a form of CBD administration that maximizes its effectiveness.
Alternatively, click here for our blog on further ways you can increase the bioavailability of oral CBD.
The state of your health can have a significant impact on the bioavailability rate of CBD. It is very important to talk to your doctor or pharmacists before trying CBD or other supplements to understand what’s right for you.
The liver is a vital organ that aids in removing CBD from circulation and preparing it to be exported from the body. Impaired liver function has a significant impact on the effectiveness of CBD and how long it remains in the body.
In one study , individuals with moderate to severe liver impairments were more probable to have a lower absorption rate of CBD and longer clearance times after the same 200mg dose levels, compared to those with healthy livers.
Neurological Conditions & Other Factors
The following factors can play a role in determining the bioavailability of CBD.
- Physical Activity
- Stress Levels
- Disorders (eg, achlorhydria, malabsorption syndromes)
If you are suffering from a health condition, or you believe one of the listed factors may affect your CBD experience, it’s important that you consult your doctor or physician before taking any new supplement.
It’s possible to increase the chances of greater absorption by taking higher doses. Studies have found increasing the dose from 10mg to 20mg can triple absorption. Always consult a physician before changing doses of CBD.
How Much CBD Should I Take?
There is not much research available that helps to determine a specific dose that everyone should be taking.
Every reputable CBD product will have recommended dosage guidelines on the packaging.
Unless a specific dose is suggested, we recommend taking 10mg a day to begin with, adjusting your dosage depending on your tolerance and the effects achieved.
There are some variables you will need to consider when calculating dose levels:
- Age - Older people may need to take a lower dose than younger persons
- Sex - Typically, men may need to take a larger amount than women
- Weight - A higher body fat percentage means less product is absorbed, so a higher dosage may be needed
- Health Condition - A person with a chronic health condition should consult their physician before taking CBD
- Individual Physiology - Some people are more sensitive to CBD than others (if this is the case, you should always start with a small dose. Conversely, others may need to take more to notice effects)
- Product Quality - Some low-quality CBD brands are known to deliver low rates of bioavailability, drastically affecting the possible effects a user may experience. Upgrading to a high-quality premium CBD will have a greater concentration per dose and maximize your chances of experiencing any potential therapeutic effects. You can usually find how much CBD you will receive per serving by looking at the product information
Frontiers in Pharmacology - A Systematic Review on the Pharmacokinetics of Cannabidiol in Humans
Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics - Plasma delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentrations and clinical effects after oral and intravenous administration and smoking
Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics - https://www.researchgate.net/publication/233448370_A_Single_Centre_Placebo-Controlled_Four_Period_Crossover_Tolerability_Study_Assessing_Pharmacodynamic_Effects_Pharmacokinetic_Characteristics_and_Cognitive_Profiles_of_a_Single_Dose_of_Three_Formulati
Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology - Pharmacokinetics of oral and intravenous cannabidiol and its antidepressant-like effects in chronic mild stress mouse model
Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences - Drug Bioavailability
Innocan Pharma - Here’s everything you need to know about CBD bioavailability