It’s one of the harsh truths about nutrition and supplementation: not everything you consume is absorbed and utilized by the body. It might seem like an obvious fact to some, but for others, it’s a wake-up call. After all, what isn’t absorbed is wasted, right?
When it comes to CBD, absorption is a factor worth looking into, especially with so many variables at play. Not only are there hundreds of different cannabinoid and terpene combos, but we also see varying delivery methods and formats.
Let’s find the truth about CBD absorption and bioavailability, with some tips on increasing your body’s ability to utilize daily CBD to the fullest.
What is bioavailability?
Before we learn what affects CBD absorption, it’s worth exploring the concept of bioavailability. This refers to the portion of a substance that successfully reaches a person’s system and can, therefore, take effect. It’s not just a person’s body that determines the bioavailability of a drug, but the ingredients themselves and the method of delivery in question.
For example, CBD can vary greatly in its bioavailability, based on the quality and purity of the compounds, as well as the method of administration and other ingredients factored in. 100% bioavailability isn’t necessarily attainable with CBD, but that’s generally accepted in the industry, even with top-quality products and standards.*
The point is that you should look for products with a high degree of potency and quality that you can trust and depend on. At Sunmed, we prioritize third-party lab testing for all our products to ensure consistency, transparency, and the assurance that you’re getting the best CBD products possible.*
What factors can impact CBD absorption?
Bioavailability is more about the substance itself, while absorption tends to be related to the individual consuming the product. As mentioned, the bioavailability of CBD is static, but we can control variables that improve the amount of CBD we absorb and reap the benefits accordingly. Let’s look at what factors can impact CBD absorption and set the stage for a better delivery of CBD to the system.
Like in many aspects of health and wellness, diet makes a huge difference in how the body works. The foods you consume directly impact things like gut health, blood sugar, sensitivity, and other factors that alter how we absorb compounds like CBD.
Diet is particularly important for our absorption rate with CBD edibles, including gummies, baked goods, and CBD oils that get digested with food. The presence of ingredients like black pepper — which contains piperine — can increase absorption considerably, triggering certain enzymes that increase the utilization of and effects of CBD.*
Conversely, a diet packed with processed foods and unnatural preservatives can limit the amount of CBD that our digestive system can handle and intake. The goal is to decrease the stress on the system so that we can get more from the CBD molecules we consume, even if we’re not taking CBD gummies or CBD capsules on an empty stomach.
Tolerance is a fact of life when it comes to CBD and all substances taken to achieve an intended effect. While some degree of tolerance is expected, you can navigate this issue by varying your consumption methods and introducing new types of CBD into your routine.
The goal is to vary how you take CBD so that you hit different receptors and keep the body “guessing” to ensure the benefits of CBD remain strong. While you may start the day with a water-soluble CBD tincture in your morning coffee, you can try a mix of edibles, sublingual oils, and even topical CBD formats to keep things fresh and novel for the body.*
Tolerance isn’t a bad thing — it's your body's natural way of adjusting to a compound that your body receives on a routine basis. On the other hand, tolerance is something you’ll need to consider to maintain a consistent absorption of CBD as you start to increase your intake over time.
Metabolism is a measure of the body’s ability to process and absorb the ingredients we consume. With regard to CBD, first-pass metabolism means that every serving of CBD is reduced by enzymes in the liver before it’s absorbed into the bloodstream.
On the flip side, we can work to improve our metabolic health and thereby increase the benefits of CBD through any means of delivery. This can involve losing excess fat, boosting baseline metabolism through exercise, optimizing sleep and recovery, and eating foods like spices and protein that keep the metabolism working quickly and efficiently.
There is no shortage of ways to consume CBD, from organic tinctures and oils to edibles of all kinds. You can even smoke or vape CBD, which can even bypass first-pass metabolism and increase absorption directly into the bloodstream.
As we pointed out, varying delivery methods can boost your overall absorption and limit your tolerance to specific formats. The more you juggle different delivery methods, the more you’ll get from your CBD routine overall.*
How can you increase your CBD absorption?
We can see that many factors affect how CBD is absorbed, but which of these are within our control? Let’s cover some practical tips you can employ to boost your CBD absorption and reap the benefits of CBD with every serving.
1. Consume CBD with fatty foods
Studies reveal that CBD is absorbed better when consumed alongside high-fat foods. The good news is that the stigma has been lifted from dietary fat, thanks to trends like the keto and primal diets. Provided you choose healthy forms of fat like MCT, coconut oil, and clean saturated animal fats, you can stay on track with your nutrition and get more from CBD in the meantime.
So, the next time you take CBD, why not mix a tincture with a coconut smoothie or a serving of scrambled eggs? Prepare a CBD oil dressing for a salad, or drizzle it over an avocado. There are countless ways to intake healthy fats with your preferred type of CBD and integrate them in a healthy, tasteful manner.
2. Use your CBD sublingually
The sublingual delivery of CBD is one of the best ways to take CBD, whether in the form of a tincture or CBD oil with a dropper.
The process is simple: just draw the CBD oil into the dropper and release it on the area of the mouth underneath the tongue. Let the liquid sit there for at least a minute so that it absorbs before swallowing the remainder.
With so many membranes and vessels in this sensitive area of the body, CBD is absorbed quickly and effectively while bypassing the digestive system for increased utilization.
3. Choose full spectrum CBD products
The CBD products you choose can make a huge difference in the efficiency of your absorption. Full spectrum CBD products include the complete range of compounds found naturally in the cannabis plant, including CBD, trace amounts of THC, analog cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and more.*
In other words, it’s the full representation of the cannabis plant in extract form, and the body is able to utilize more of these compounds as a result.
4. Try water-soluble CBD products
Water-soluble CBD products are simple and convenient alternative to edibles and traditional tinctures. They are designed to dissolve in water, allowing you to mix them in drinks and sip them at your own pace for a fast-acting, yet steady absorption.*
The soluble format may also mean the body can better utilize the compounds. This is because of Sunmed's cutting-edge water soluble formulation process called liposomal emulsification; the smaller molecular size allows for increased bioavailability and a faster onset of benefits.*
What is the entourage effect?
The entourage effect refers to the synergy of multiple cannabinoids and other components found in the cannabis plant. Rather than consuming pure CBD and nothing else, broad spectrum and full spectrum formats give you a wider range of active compounds that work together and deliver amplified benefits.*
Can the entourage effect enhance CBD absorption?
The entourage effect might not increase CBD absorption, but it can certainly boost the effects of the CBD you are able to absorb. The same amount of full spectrum CBD, therefore, can deliver increased health benefits compared to the same amount of CBD isolate, giving you more bang for your buck.*
The bottom line
CBD absorption and bioavailability can be difficult to gauge with precision, but we’ve offered a simple framework to help you maximize the efficacy of the CBD you take in any format. Keep your regimen varied, track your results, and let Sunmed guide the way with high-quality hemp products you can trust every step of the way.