When it comes to getting the most from your CBD oil product, bioavailability matters. CBD bioavailability impacts how your body absorbs and uses this important cannabinoid. The more bioavailable a product is, the more effectively your body will be able to use it.
Here’s what you need to know about CBD oil, bioavailability, and why it all matters.
By nature, CBD oil is not water-soluble. As with any compound that naturally occurs as oil when extracted, if you try to combine it with water it will simply separate. That isn’t to say that water-soluble cannabidiol (CBD) doesn’t exist; in fact, this year has seen an increasing number of companies offering CBD products which are specifically suitable for combining with liquid.
To understand why water-soluble CBD is gaining popularity amongst producers and buyers alike, you’ll first need to know a little bit more about bioavailability.
CBD bioavailability has been a largely overlooked subject until fairly recently. With growing competition in the cannabis industry, CBD manufacturers are now looking to create products which offer more value for the consumer's buck.
Defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “the degree and rate at which a substance (such as a drug) is absorbed into a living system or is made available at the site of physiological activity”, bioavailability is a complicated term to explain a simple concept. Bioavailability speaks to how quickly and efficiently the body absorbs and uses a substance.
Bioavailability is an important consideration across a range of products and industries, with vitamin, pharmaceutical, and supplement companies working relentlessly to offer the most bioavailable products they can manufacture.
When products are not optimized for bioavailability, only a fraction of the desired compounds are absorbed and used by the body. This means the consumer isn’t receiving the fullest benefits, and the manufacturer is essentially wasting product.
When it comes to CBD, maximizing certain products’ bioavailability—and in turn, value—means producing water-soluble cannabidiol.
If a drug or supplement is not water-soluble, it is in a form that is much less available to your body than it would be otherwise. Your body is made primarily of water: Your brain is 80% water, your cells are 90% water, and your blood is 85% water. So if a compound cannot dissolve in water, it’s no surprise that your body will have difficulty processing it.
Water-soluble CBD is up and coming right now, but will likely become much more mainstream because it presents cannabidiol in a format that’s more easily, quickly, and effectively absorbed by the body than other CBD delivery formats.
The way that your body processes CBD depends largely on the product you take and the method in which you take it. Let’s explore some of the most common options.
When applying a CBD oil or CBD salve to the skin, none of it will reach the bloodstream. It is instead absorbed through the pores into lower levels of the skin, where there are cannabinoid receptors. The permeability of the skin, particularly to cannabinoids, is low, however, if a layer is applied liberally some absorption of CBD will occur.
Whether eating your CBD in food form or taking a CBD capsule, the body processes it through the digestive system. After passing through the stomach, the CBD enters the liver where it is metabolized. As an insoluble substance, much of the CBD cannot be properly processed and so only a reduced concentration of CBD enters the bloodstream.
Vaping or smoking CBD is one of the quickest and most bioavailable methods of ingesting the cannabinoid. Vaping allows cannabidiol to enter into the lungs where it is readily absorbed and transferred to the bloodstream almost instantaneously. Because there is less processing needed by the body, more CBD is ultimately absorbed by the body.
When CBD oil is held under the tongue for 60-90 seconds, it is absorbed by the mucous membranes in your mouth. This method allows the CBD to bypass the digestive system and the liver and is instead broken down by enzymes. The CBD reaches the bloodstream quickly and ready for absorption when taking sublingually, making it more bioavailable than CBD edibles, but less than vaped or smoked CBD.
Using advancements in nanotechnology, water-soluble CBD tinctures are now available. With bioavailability ratings of 90-100% depending on the manufacturer, these products allow your body to absorb the greatest proportion of CBD. By taking water-soluble CBD sublingually, you can minimize the risk of CBD being lost in the digestive system and reap the total benefits from your product.
If you aren’t ready to make the switch to water-soluble CBD, there are a few things you can do to ensure you’re getting the most CBD bioavailability from your current CBD oil product.
While water-soluble is best in terms of absorption, vaping your CBD is a great second choice, and taking it sublingually is also a nice option especially if you’d prefer not to vape or smoke. While taking CBD oil drops may not present as much bioavailability, you’ll typically feel the effects of sublingual drops longer than you would from using a CBD vape.
Between all the different CBD delivery methods and manufacturers on the market, there’s a ton of variability in the onset, potency, and longevity of the effects you’ll feel. While you test out different products, bioavailability should be an important consideration to ensure you’re getting the most value for your dollar, but may not be a deciding factor at the end of the day.
Aside from choosing a highly bioavailable CBD product, there are certain foods you can add to your diet in order to maximize your body’s ability to absorb CBD, no matter which delivery format it’s in.
There are certain foods you can eat that help CBD bypass the initial metabolism process in the liver, which is where most of it is lost. Fatty acids and medium- to long-chain triglycerides have both been shown to increase the bioavailability of CBD.
For this reason, the best foods to eat alongside your CBD oil are:
Many CBD oil producers use a medium-chain-triglyceride (MCT) oil, like coconut oil, as a carrier oil to increase the bioavailability of their products. But a high-absorption carrier oil means next to nothing if it’s combined with an inferior CBD extract.
To ensure you’re getting the best CBD product for your money, choose a company that’s been proven to offer the highest quality CBD. It doesn’t matter what other steps you’re taking; if you invest in an inferior quality CBD, you won’t get the benefits you’re looking for.
Opt for companies who use organically grown hemp and test their CBD using third-party laboratories—there should be accompanying Certificates of Analysis available for you to view. For starters, you can take a look at our top-rated brands for an idea of which criteria and companies to seek out when buying CBD oil.
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