We all want to get the most bang for our buck when it comes to using CBD. One of the best ways to do this? Increase CBD bioavailability! So, what is CBD bioavailability, and how can you increase it? Read below to learn more!
What is CBD Bioavailability?
Ever wonder why many medications, vitamins, and supplements are best taken with a meal? This is usually because a meal increases the absorption of whatever is being taken. That’s another way of saying the meal increases the bioavailability of the medication, vitamin or supplement. This same concept applies to CBD products.
CBD bioavailability is the percentage of CBD that is actually absorbed into the bloodstream. This is important because the more you actually absorb into the bloodstream, the more potent the effect.
CBD bioavailability is mainly determined by the type of product you take and how you take it. However, there are a few other factors and ways you can increase CBD bioavailability and its therapeutic effects. Let’s dig in!
Increase CBD Bioavailability by Changing the Type of Product You Use
CBD products come in a variety of forms including balms, tinctures, capsules, vapor, edibles, and more. While each method provides benefits, some allow for more CBD to be directly absorbed than others.
CBD Bioavailability When Swallowed
CBD that you eat or swallow requires digestion. This means that most of the CBD gets broken down by your liver before circulating into your bloodstream. Because of this, CBD products like gummies, drinks, softgels, and capsules have a lower bioavailability than products like tinctures, which get absorbed more quickly into your bloodstream under your tongue.
The bioavailability of ingested CBD is roughly 13-19%. This means that if you swallow 20mg of pure CBD on an empty stomach, sometimes less than 3mg of it will actually make it into your blood and have an effect.
CBD Bioavailability When Taken Under the Tongue
Using a tincture, spray or strip to absorb CBD in your mouth is a popular method of taking CBD. It has slightly more bioavailability (~20-30%) than swallowed CBD (~13-19%). This is because it’s a quicker and more direct route to the bloodstream, and it also avoids the liver’s first pass effect, which lowers CBD bioavailability.
This is why we recommend holding the liquid under your tongue without talking for at least 20 seconds. You can swallow the rest, and that amount will be digested with a more similar bioavailability to a pill.
CBD Bioavailability Through the Skin
CBD topicals like balms, salves, and lotions that you rub into your skin have fairly low CBD bioavailability. However, they are typically used for site-specific discomfort so it’s unfair to compare to their bioavailability to that of other methods, which are typically used to manage mood, stress, sleep, and more.
The difference is because there are more CB2 and TRPV1 receptors in your skin and periphery system than CB1 receptors, which are mainly in your brain and central nervous system.
CBD Bioavailability of Other Methods
Vaporizing CBD can be one of the most bioavailable methods at 10-60% CBD bioavailability. CBD vapes work as a way to quickly administer CBD to help manage mood, stress, and sleep.
Knowing which temperature to use is important to get the desired effect. Overheating vape juices can convert safe and therapeutic compounds into harmful benzenes. For these reasons, and because of lack of thorough research of long-term effects, Anavii Market does not carry vaporized CBD products.
Though not as popular, a rectal suppository does have more bioavailability than CBD that you eat because it also avoids how the liver breaks it down. More research is needed for specifics on this. Some recommend using coconut oil with this method.
Intravenous administration (aka injecting) has 100% CBD bioavailability, being a direct path into the bloodstream, but this is obviously not a desirable nor recommended method.
Other Ways to Increase CBD Bioavailability
There are more ways that you can raise CBD bioavailability and enhance CBD’s therapeutic effects in addition to changing the method that you take it.
Increase CBD Bioavailability with a High Fat Snack
CBD is a fat soluble compound, meaning it dissolves in fats and fatty oils. This breaks CBD down into smaller molecules which are more easily absorbed by the body. Because of this property of CBD, one of the ways to increase bioavailability of CBD is to mix it with a high fat snack or meal.
Peanut butter, almond butter, avocado, nuts and hemp hearts are all good choices!
So is having CBD dissolved in coconut oil or hemp seed oil, like many CBD tinctures and edibles already do! This makes it easier for the body to absorb more CBD.
Most CBD edibles and capsules also use CBD dissolved in oil, though adding a high-fat snack or meal still helps!
Increase CBD Bioavailability through Emulsification
Some newer CBD products emulsify their CBD using nanotechnology. Emulsification breaks CBD down into even smaller molecules, or “micronizes” them. This can be done in a water or oil-based product.
The smaller and more dispersed the molecules are, the more bioavailable they are. This is because these micronized particles pass more easily through cell membranes and into the bloodstream than larger CBD particles.
There a few types of emulsification and some increase CBD bioavailability more than others. The main differences comes down to the size of the CBD molecules, but also whether the CBD is combined with fatty oils or terpenes.
Try Barlean’s Seriously Delicious Chocolate Mint Syrup to experience the bioavailability of emulsified CBD oil.
Increase CBD Bioavailability with Supplemental Terpenes
Terpenes are fatty oils that organically occur in the essential oils of almost all plants.
Terpenes provide many of the health benefits of essential oils, and they create the popular aromas, fragrances and flavors of many fruits and herbs. Terpenes make flowers smell nice and are used as natural flavorings in many things (drinks, gum, mint candies, etc).
Terpenes occur naturally in hemp and are extracted alongside CBD and other compounds to create full spectrum CBD products. All of these compounds work together and amplify each other’s benefits. This synergy is called the entourage effect and means these compounds work better together than they do alone, and bioavailability is part of this.
Terpenes raise CBD bioavailability in multiple ways, in addition to enhancing and modulating the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids.
Here are some key terpenes to have on your radar:
- Common memory and alertness-enhancing terpene. It is found in black pepper, sage, juniper, coniferous trees, rosemary and eucalyptus.
- Also, it has documented anticancer benefits, even for those spending time in a pine forest or “forrest bathing.”
- An antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anticancer found most in grapefruit and lemons, but also lemongrass and all other citrus fruits.
- Limonene may help regulate serotonin and dopamine levels, which helps balance mood and anxiety.
- An antihypertensive, analgesic, anti-inflammatory and sedative terpene. It is found in mangos, hops and lemongrass. Considered the most sedative terpene, like CBD oil, myrcene is thought to lower your blood pressure.
- On top of myrcene being a fat in which CBD products dissolves, it also lowers the resistance of the cell membranes CBD passes through to enter the bloodstream, which increases bioavailability. Myrcene is also a precursor of menthol, which means myrcene converts into menthol (and many other terpenes.)
- Found most in peppermint, but also found in spearmint and eucalyptus. It shares similar painkilling effects with myrcene, but isn’t considered sedative.
- Menthol, limonene, pinene and myrcene are all found to increase transdermal bioavailability for the same reasons. They do this by disintegrating cell membranes to make them more permeable, so it’s easier for CBD to pass through and get into your bloodstream.
- This same effect also helps them kill bacteria. Many CBD balms and tinctures will use peppermint oil to increase CBD bioavailability for this reason.
- An anti-anxiety terpene found most in lavender, but also found in cinnamon, bay leaf, and coriander. This terpene is a glutamate (NMDA) antagonist, which creates a dissociative and tranquilizing effect.
- Linalool also enhances GABA signals without directly binding to and activating the GABA receptors to reduce excitability and anxiety.
- Linalool and myrcene have a sedative effect with CBD and will help you sleep. This is also part of why cannabis indica is more sedative. Indica has more myrcene (> 0.5%) and linalool than cannabis sativa.
- A woodsy-scented terpene found in black pepper, lavender and rosemary. BCP is a potent CB2 agonist.
- This terpene is great for inflammation-related pain management, depression, and has the potential to help treat addiction and repair damaged receptors in heroin and cocaine addicts, like CBD!
- N-Alkylamides, which are found in echinacea, are CB2 agonists just like Beta-caryophyllene (BCP) – they’re known for their anti-inflammatory and immunoprotective properties.
All of these terpenes increase CBD bioavailability by being lipids (a fancy name for fats), in which CBD dissolves. This is on top of their individual properties and the synergistic effect of them working together.
Terpenes make up a small percentage of a plant’s total composition so if taking in an isolated form, they should be diluted in a carrier oil like coconut or hemp seed oil. Terpenes, like CBD, can be eaten, swallowed, absorbed in the mouth or inhaled so take alongside your CBD to further enhance!
Increase CBD Bioavailability with Other Supplemental Herbs
A good balanced diet never hurts bioavailability, but some specific supplements like black pepper directly increase CBD bioavailability in multiple ways.
Black pepper contains many notable compounds, including some of the terpenes mentioned above. These natural compounds have many beneficial properties that raise CBD bioavailability.
Like terpenes, some of these natural chemicals are also found in other popular plants, like chamomile and hot peppers.
Chamomile flowers contain the compound apigenin, which prevents cannabinoids naturally produced inside your body from being broken down. It extends their effects by binding to an enzyme that breaks them down. Interestingly enough, in non-clinical research trials, apigenin has been shown to both reverse drug resistant cancer cells and also kill cancer cells.
Other sources of apigenin include oregano, celery, hot peppers, carob, parsley and dark chocolate.
Piperine, another alkaloid unique to black pepper, increases the bioavailability of CBD by working against the liver’s metabolic effects and does the same for turmeric, increasing the bioavailability of curcumin by 2000%. Many supplements will combine black pepper with turmeric because of this. Early research has shown that Piperine also may kill cancer by triggering apoptosis, and can also reverse drug resistance in cancer cells, like apigenin, but clinical trails are needed to prove efficacy.
Spicy Peppers contain capsaicin, which is structurally similar to cannabinoids, kill and reverse drug resistant cancer cells. This is also interesting because piperine and capsaicin both act on the TRPV1 receptors, which makes them peppery and spicy. CBD also acts on the TRPV1 receptors.
This sort of synergy occurs in other related herbs as well. Capsaicin significantly multiplies the anticancer effects of green tea catechins. The most abundant of these is EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), a polyphenol and anticancer green tea catechin, which is also a weak CB1 agonist.
Nature on nature on nature on nature! It all works together, whether it’s all of the compounds within the hemp plant or with naturally-occurring compounds from other plants.
You can change your method of using CBD, mix CBD with fats, use emulsified CBD, combine CBD with additional terpenes and herbs like black pepper, lavender and chamomile all to get more out of it.
Whether you take CBD for sleep, mood, discomfort, or other reasons, there are many ways you can maximize CBD bioavailability and fine tune CBD’s effects to suit your needs!