CBD and Bioavailability


Cannabidiol, CBD, is a compound found in the cannabis plant that has a seemingly innumerable amount of health and wellness benefits. The market has exploded over the past couple of years and with that explosion has come good and bad developments, but mostly good. As with most products, when there is growth in popularity there will be manufacturers that seek to make a profit by developing a lower quality product. CBD is not immune to this occurrence. The primary aspect of CBD that is lost on lower quality products is bioavailability. Bioavailability is one of the most essential aspects of CBD.

What Is Bioavailability?
On the surface, it seems like an intimidating word used in the medical world, but is simply a term used to refer to the amount of a substance that is absorbed. Miriam-Webster clarifies the process with its definition, “the degree and rate at which a substance is absorbed into a living system or is made available at the site of physiological activity. Simply put, how likely is it that the substance will be absorbed and used by the body at the rate that it claims?

Essentially, when a nutrient or compound is taken into the body there are several processes that it must go through in order to be absorbed and actually used. When a product is high quality and retains its availability the portion of the compound needed to produce the effects it claims will produce is more able to withstand these processes.

What’s in an Acronym?
The process of bioavailability can be best described by using the acronym LADME.

  • L – Liberation
  • A – Absorption
  • D – Distribution
  • M – Metabolism
  • E – Elimination

These are the stages CBD goes through to be used and produce its benefits.

  • Liberation – CBD is broken down into individual components by stomach acid and enzymes.
  • Absorption – Occurs in the small intestines / CBD is taken into the blood.
  • Distributed – The blood takes CBD and takes it where it is needed.
  • Metabolism – The Liver metabolizes CBD.
  • Elimination – What isn’t used is eliminated.

For CBD products with low bioavailability it is eliminated and unused.

Why is CBD Bioavailability Important?

  • CBD bioavailability changes according to how the cannabinoid is taken in.
  • CBD bioavailability is affected by first-pass metabolism in the liver
  • CBD bioavailability is important to ensure the maximum benefit is received.
  • CBD bioavailability is reduced with some CBD manufacturers making quality just as or more important as quantity.
  • CBD bioavailability impacts the desired health outcomes.

It is important because no one takes a supplement or eats a food for benefits or a specific purpose and aren’t concerned with it doing what it claims it will do. This is a waste of time and money for the consumer.

What Impacts Bioavailabiliy?
Other than poor manufacturing processes there are other variables that can impact CBD’s bioavailability. The consumer’s: 

  • Age
  • Gender
  • G.I. Health
  • Organ Function (liver and kidneys)
  • Metabolism
  • Genetics
  • Diet
  • Medications

First-Pass Metabolism
This is a phenomenon where the dose of a drug or nutrient is decreased, through metabolism, before it is ever absorbed and able to be used in the body. This can occur with CBD just as with any other nutrient. It can be avoided through some forms of CBD over others.

What CBD Form Has The Best Bioavailability?
Another side effect of the ever-growing CBD industry is the wide variety of product types that are now available. There is a CBD product for just about any consumer’s desire. Edibles, teas, tinctures, vapes, and the list goes on. Each method will have its own unique level of bioavailability. The differences may be vast or barely noticeable between forms, it just depends on the type.

CBD vaping has a different bioavailability than CBD that is ingested orally such as with tinctures or edibles. Oral capsules have better effects than rectal capsules, which are actually a thing. Oral bioavailability may be more or less effective over intravenous administration.

CBD that is made through high quality processes, no matter the form, will have higher bioavailability. Therefore, even though there may be a significant price difference in the high quality and low-quality CBD products a much smaller amount will need to be consumed of the high-quality CBD to get the same effects of the low quality at larger amounts.

Bioavailability of CBD is not a secondary issue, it is quite important and should be a major factor for the consumer. While CBD’s bioavailability is important no matter what it is being taken for, but using it for medicinal purposes makes it even more of essential. CBD’s bioavailability controls the effects that a substance elicits which is why it is being consumed in the first place.

31 thoughts on “CBD and Bioavailability”

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