What is Bioavailability & Why Does it Matter for CBD?
If you’re a newcomer to the world of CBD, it can be a lot to take in. Between all the different products, strengths, brands, flavors, and formulas, it’s enough to make your head spin.
On top of all that, you’re constantly learning new things about how CBD works and how your body interacts with it. And in that search for knowledge, I’m sure you’ve come across something called “bioavailability” at least once or twice.
But what does bioavailability mean, why is bioavailability important, and how does it affect the way you enjoy CBD? Luckily, you’re in the right place (which you probably already know given the title of this blog). So let’s dive right in and discover the significance of bioavailability, what affects it, and what it means for you.
What is Bioavailability?
In a technical sense, bioavailability refers to how much of the CBD you take actually makes it into your bloodstream, where it can begin to activate your endocannabinoid system (ECS). In practice, it’s the reason why certain types of CBD take longer to affect you or why some forms of CBD seem “stronger” than others.
For instance, let’s say you were able to insert CBD directly into your bloodstream without passing any other organs. That method would have 100 percent bioavailability, meaning that your body is now absorbing every milligram of CBD that was in that formula.
On the other hand, if you were to take that same amount of CBD oil with food, you might only absorb about half of what you had taken. That’s a big difference. And it also means that the way you take your CBD affects your optimal serving size.
But there’s more than just serving size to take into account when thinking about CBD bioavailability.
What Factors Affect Bioavailability?
Now that you have an idea of what bioavailability means, let’s clear some things up and help you start to truly understand how to make the most out of every serving of CBD.
Forms of CBD
We’ll get into the specifics of some of the most popular forms of CBD soon. But for now, the key point is that different forms of CBD break down differently. In the example above, we established that ingesting CBD isn’t as efficient as adding it directly to the bloodstream. Now we’re going to learn why that happens.
Without getting too technical, the reason bioavailability is different between different forms of CBD is the “filters” it goes through on its way to the bloodstream.
For example, when you eat something, it begins its journey through the body by being broken down by your digestive tract, which sucks out all of the nutrients and sends them throughout the body.
However, this process is not completely efficient, so not all of the nutrients and other compounds found in food will always make it out of the digestive tract. That means that some of the CBD is left behind as well.
Now, the remaining CBD must pass through the liver, which acts as the main filter for your bloodstream. Fortunately for you (but unfortunately for CBD), the liver is a very strong and aggressive filter, which means that it’s not going to let things through without a fight.
Because of this, much of the remaining CBD is filtered out before the rest of it finally passes into your bloodstream and connects with the ECS.
While understanding the different types of CBD products is extremely important, nothing is more crucial than being in tune with your body and how it responds to things. This is true when it comes to the bioavailability of CBD as well.
Things like height, weight, prior medical history, and personal experience with different CBD products are all crucial pieces to the puzzle. It’s impossible to say exactly how much each of those factors changes the bioavailability of a product, but each of them certainly plays a part.
Bioavailability of Popular CBD Products
For a lot of first-time CBD users, CBD topicals are a great entry point. Many include proven pain-fighters like menthol, and they are a great way to get started.
However, while there are cannabinoid receptors near the skin, there is no clear pathway for topicals to enter your bloodstream. That means that they are technically not bioavailable at all.
But don’t let that discourage you! That doesn’t mean the CBD topicals don’t work at all, it just means that where and how they work is different from other forms.
Topical CBD is the perfect choice for direct relief from things like post-workout soreness. But if you’re looking for something for general, everyday wellness, the next two types of products are right up your alley.
“Ingestible CBD” refers to any CBD that passes through your digestive tract. This includes everything from CBD gummies, to novelty items like cotton candy, and even to the CBD oil you mix in with your morning coffee.
Like we discussed in a previous section, ingestible CBD is not an extremely efficient way to get CBD into the bloodstream. But what it lacks in efficiency it makes up for in comfort and ease of use.
If you’re new to trying CBD, or if you just prefer a little flavor and fun with your daily servings, then ingestible CBD is a great avenue to explore. But keep bioavailability in mind when crafting your recipes.
Start low, with your normal serving, and build slowly until you find a comfortable balance. Take your height, weight, metabolism, and tolerance level into account (for you long-time CBD users). Listen to what your body is telling you, and before you know it, you’ll be firing on all cylinders.
Of the three most popular types of CBD products, sublingual tinctures, more commonly just called “CBD oil tinctures,” are easily the most bioavailable when taken correctly.
To take a sublingual tincture properly, take a dropper full of CBD oil and squirt it under your tongue. Next, hold it there, swishing gently, for 30 seconds to a minute before swallowing.
By doing this, you are letting CBD directly enter your bloodstream through the tissue in your mouth (the same mechanism used by other dissolvable supplements). This process is also why tinctures are called “sublingual,” which simply means “under the tongue.”
What Does Bioavailability Mean for You?
In fact, here’s one last example to show how you can apply bioavailability to your daily life. Let’s say you’ve got a big day tomorrow, and you really need to get a good night’s rest. You know you want a CBD sleep aid, and you’re deciding whether to take a capsule or a tincture.
Before, you might have just picked whichever felt the easiest at the moment. But now you know that the sublingual tincture will get into your bloodstream just a little bit quicker than the capsule will. So, because time is of the essence and you need to fall asleep as soon as possible, you know to trust a tincture this evening.
Still Not Sure What Product is Best For You?
Even after you know more about bioavailability, choosing the right products to fit your needs can be tough. So if you’re still debating between different products, or you’re looking for a little more info before you pull the trigger, we’ve got the perfect page for you.
Our Find Your Product page is full of important information, useful tips, and a “Find Your Product” quiz that can help you narrow down the options and find exactly what you’re looking for. Check it out!