CBD products have become quite common in today’s world, featuring intriguing items that come in all shapes and sizes. Silky tinctures, smooth CBD vape juice, chewy gummies, and easy-to-swallow softgels, and many other product types line the shelves of both online and brick-and-mortar shops in both high and low dosage amounts. Once consumed, CBD works its way into your bloodstream and is distributed throughout your body. Unfortunately, much of the consumed CBD gets lost in digestion and is dissolved before the body can absorb it. But don’t despair just yet! Certain product types offer a better absorption rate than others, allowing your body to utilize it in the most impactful way. In this article, we’ll define what bioavailability is, which products have better bioavailability than others, and how to use each type of product most effectively. Let’s begin!
The Bioavailability of CBD
While you may not have known the exact word, you may already have some idea of what bioavailability means. Bioavailability is the amount of CBD within your body that is available for use. This differs from how much CBD you actually consume. Depending on the method of consumption, the CBD is either digested through your stomach and liver or is absorbed through your lungs. The CBD then makes its way throughout your body via your bloodstream and works naturally to help restore balance to your body’s endocannabinoid system.
Some of CBD’s bioavailability depends on the manufacturer formulation of the product. The best CBD products are water-based (as opposed to oil-based) to aid in maximum absorption into your bloodstream. It’s strongly encouraged by many health gurus to consume CBD with a meal to ensure maximum absorption. Any CBD that is not used is stored in your body’s fat cells; as the body burns fat for energy, the CBD is released and is used where necessary.
Different Bioavailability Methods
We mentioned earlier that the bioavailability of CBD varies with the type of product consumed. There are many ways to use CBD; but just because a product has a high CBD content doesn’t mean that your body can utilize all of it. Let’s take a closer look at the types of CBD products available and how much of that CBD your body actually uses.
A sublingual is a unique product type in that, while technically an edible, it’s not just simply swallowed. Rather, it is designed to be placed under the tongue and held for a minute or two and then swallowed. Once under your tongue, the CBD bypasses the digestive system (namely, your liver and stomach) and is absorbed into your mucous membrane. Your body’s enzymes get to work metabolizing the CBD. Tinctures, oils, and dissolvable strips fall into this category and can be flavored either naturally or artificially.
Sublinguals have incredible bioavailability, especially when they are water soluble. However, the bioavailability is drastically reduced if consumed orally, that is, not sublingually. Many CBD enthusiasts will advocate swirling tincture into your beverages and other liquid-based foods like soups and salad dressing. If this method works for you, great! There’s no perfect method for consuming CBD. Just know that your body won’t get to utilize as much of the CBD as if it were consumed sublingually since it must now pass through the digestive tract. The bioavailability of tinctures falls around a third or less of the total CBD content. For example, a 10mg gummy will net about 3-4mg for your body to use.
If you suffer from chronic discomforts like arthritis and sore joints/muscles, there is an entire market devoted to topical CBD products. Topicals like ointments, lotions, creams, and serums are ideal for those who need instant relief. Yet topicals pose a unique problem in that the CBD will not be able to reach your bloodstream. Rather, they penetrate your pores and inner skin layers (dermis) in what’s known as partial absorption. Topicals have the least amount of bioavailability but can be used to spot treat specific areas for immediate relief. Many topicals are formulated with menthol, resulting in a mild cooling sensation on the applied area.
Topicals can also be marketed as an extra step in your skincare routine. There are various serums that can be applied to the face and neck, scented lotions for your hands and body, and so forth. If you revel in keeping your skin fresh and pampered, consider incorporating luxurious topicals into your morning or evening skincare regimens. As far as bioavailability goes, none of the CBD will actually make it into your bloodstream.
CBD products that are designed to be taken orally and pass through the digestive system are known as consumables. Consumables are arguably the most popular due to the vast selection of flavors and textures, but are also the easiest to consume due to lack of measuring or external equipment. Gummies, capsules, and edibles are all classified as consumables and come in a variety of different strengths. Capsules specifically are the ideal option for those looking for a flavorless and odorless CBD-infused product. Consumables are very easily incorporated into meal and vitamin schedules, regardless of the time you ingest them.
The bioavailability of consumables is very low since the product must pass through your digestive system in order to be absorbed; only about 10% of the CBD content will reach your bloodstream. To put this in perspective, when you eat a gummy that contains 10mg of CBD, only 1mg of that CBD (or less!) will be absorbed. Gummies and softgels are great for beginners looking to become more comfortable with CBD consumption but aren’t quite sure where to start. Once you get more comfortable with consumable products, you may want to consider branching out into other CBD categories with high bioavailability.
The category of inhalables is a unique one: you’ll have to smoke or vape the CBD-infused product. In order to use inhalables properly, it’s recommended to have previous vaping/smoking experience. If you’re not a seasoned vaper or smoker, it may take some practice before you’re comfortable using this type of product. Inhalables also require external hardware to operate, which has a broad price range depending on the bells and whistles it comes with.
Products that fall into this category include CBD vape juice, pre-rolls, and raw CBD flower. For products like CBD vape juice, you’ll need to have a specialized low-wattage tank and power source that can heat the liquid enough to transform it into a vapor. Pre-rolls don’t require much: just a lighter and an ashtray will suffice. Raw flower, on the other hand, will require a grinder to crush the bud into a fine grounds. The ground flower can be used in a heating device such as a bong, pipe, bowl, or herbalizer. Alternatively, you can use an emptied cigarette cartridge or create your own pre-roll using rolling papers.
The bioavailability of inhalables is much higher than other methods due to the vapor/smoke bypassing your digestive system and entering into your bloodstream via the lungs. While consumables only net about 10% or less, inhalables utilize anywhere from 10-60%. Many users report feeling instantly calm and relaxed, yet without any psychoactive effects. You may find that you sleep better or feel more energetic after using an inhalable, often within a matter of minutes. There are a few downsides when it comes to using inhalables. Many consumers aren’t comfortable with smoking or vaping and thus won’t even consider inhalables as an option. For those who do use inhalables, there’s a risk that using too much heat can transform the soothing compounds into harmful benzenes. Lastly, users who use inhalable forms of CBD may experience coughing fits or chest discomfort that comes with smoking or vaping. If you do choose to use inhalables, be sure to research the proper methods or ask a seasoned smoker/vaper to help nail down the proper technique.
We saved the best for last! The award for the product type with the highest bioavailability goes to suppositories. Suppositories are inserted…down there: rectally, vaginally, or through the urethra. The intense body heat in these areas warms the suppository enough to soften, melt, and ultimately dissolve. While suppositories might be a bit of a taboo subject, their bioavailability ranks at an impressive 80%! If a suppository contains 10mg of CBD, your body will utilize 8mg of that CBD. The true dilemma for suppositories lies in the insertion method; you’ll need to be patient and gentle when using these types of products, especially if it’s your first time using them. Depending on the size and shape of the suppository, this method may take some (ahem) getting used to but can be quite rewarding. Suppositories bypass the liver and metabolism completely, making them the best product type to use if you’re wanting to harness the highest CBD content.
The market for CBD products is vast and exciting, easily available from online and in-store retailers throughout the country. You have the option to choose from familiar favorites like tinctures, easy-to-swallow softgels, inhalables like CBD vape juice and pre-rolls, and unique products like suppositories, all in various shapes, sizes, flavors, and strengths. But just because a product is available doesn’t mean that it’s right for you. You’ll want to research the product thoroughly to ensure high-quality ingredients were used, that it’s safe for you to use, and how to use it properly.
Here at Erth Hemp, we offer premium CBD products that have been crafted with high-quality ingredients and have been thoroughly tested by independent third-party labs for purity and potency. If you’re not quite sure which product to try, we offer a wide range of sample sizes to help ensure you love the product before committing to a full-size purchase. Whether you’d like to simply test the waters of CBD with edibles or go full cloud-chaser with our CBD vape juice, we’re confident you’ll find a product you love.
Understanding the bioavailability of CBD products can help you make an informed decision on which products to use. After reading this article, you should have a greater understanding of which products offer different levels of utilization by your body’s endocannabinoid system and why. If there’s anything that’s not clear or any questions you may have, feel free to reach out to our team of CBD experts. We’re eager to share our vast knowledge of CBD with you to help improve your body’s overall health and wellness. In our next article, we’ll be broaching the subject of CBD and sleep. Until then, we encourage you to browse our delightful assortment of CBD products that best fit your needs. Happy shopping! We look forward to seeing you again soon!