Better Bioavailability — Why CBD Absorption Matters

By Mile High Labs Chief Medical Officer, Keith Aqua, MD

Over the past several years, there has been increasing interest in the use of cannabinoids. In particular, cannabidiol (CBD), a natural and non-psychoactive constituent of Cannabis Sativa, has shown a wide range of promising benefits, and there is a growing body of evidence to support regular use of the compound.

As its popularity increases, consumers are beginning to ask where their CBD comes from, how many milligrams a product contains and if it’s extracted in a GMP certified facility. We welcome this increase in inquiries and applaud the companies that are doing their part to educate consumers. However, one of the most important factors for CBD effectiveness is still often overlooked—bioavailability.

What is Bioavailability?

The degree and rate that CBD is absorbed into the bloodstream is known as its bioavailability. There are several ways that CBD can be absorbed: directly by intravenous administration, orally by the digestive system, sublingually under the tongue, topically through the skin or inhalation through the lungs. Bioavailability is primarily related to the route of administration.

Each route of administration has its own unique absorption rate and bioavailability. However, CBD that is eaten or swallowed generally has a low bioavailability because it has to be absorbed through the stomach and then pass through the liver before it reaches the bloodstream and can be active. Of course, substances that are delivered right into the bloodstream by injection or intravenously have 100% bioavailability. However, CBD is not traditionally delivered in this method, and because of that, not all of the CBD administered actually ends up reaching the endocannabinoid system.

The effectiveness of these products can be measured by not only their strength, but also the method of administration, which is often the determining factor when it comes to a CBD product’s bioavailability.

Forms and Functions

There’s not enough substantial data to currently support the precise amounts of CBD absorbed through each administration method, but significant studies have been done on other cannabinoids to give us a general idea.

The problem with oral administration is first-pass metabolism, a phenomenon in which the concentration of CBD is greatly reduced before it’s absorbed into the body. The general relative bioavailability for each route of administration is provided in the table below.

There’s More To It

Many companies claim that their CBD products have the best bioavailability, and that can be important. However, many of these claims aren’t supported by concrete evidence. If you see a company claiming to have the “most bioavailable” CBD distillate, ask them for the proof!

Even though bioavailability is primarily related to the route of administration, it’s equally if not more important to choose a CBD product that is produced in the purest form. A quality, consistent and compliant CBD ingredient plays a big role when it comes to product effectiveness.

You can read more about what we do to ensure the consistency of our CBD isolate here.

Keith Aqua, MD, is the Co-Founder of the Institute for Women’s Health and Body and the Co-Founder of Visions Clinical Research. He is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology. Dr. Aqua is also a Certified Physician Investigator and has been a Principal Investigator in over 300 trials. Earlier this year, Dr. Aqua joined Mile High Labs as Chief Medical Officer where he is applying his experience to the research of CBD’s effects and benefits.

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