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The explosion of the cannabidiol (CBD) industry has brought about an increase in the number of products that are available for consumers to choose from. There is great versatility in the compounds obtained from cannabis, and this offers a wide range of possible applications. Today, CBD can be applied to almost everything – dietary supplements, personal care products, bath bombs, coffee, and much more.

There is a wide range of CBD product known, but as a consumer, without the basic education of the products, it can be difficult to choose the right product(s) and make the best choice.

Talking about the “best” way to use CBD almost always leads to the issue of bioavailability, which can be confusing for someone who doesn’t know much about what bioavailability actually is. So, what is bioavailability? And how does bioavailability affect the user experience of CBD oil and other products? Let’s take a look below.

What is bioavailability?

Bioavailability is the amount and rate at which something is absorbed into the bloodstream, in this case, the rate at which CBD is absorbed into the bloodstream. Understanding the bioavailability of substances is important for determining how much and what form of it to take. It is crucial to ensure that you are consuming the correct dose, in order to achieve the desired effects.

The rate of absorption of CBD into the bloodstream largely depends on the means of administration. In other words, the rate of absorption depends on how it is consumed. For example, CBD can be taken as an oil. So, it can be placed under the tongue or applied topically, or even inhaled. All of these consumption methods determine the level or rate and degree of absorption, and distribution. It also determines the removal of the compound from the human system.

What is the bioavailability of the different ways of taking CBD?

  1. Taking CBD orally

Most of us know the basics of how oral consumption of a drug or supplement works. It is simply the consumption of something through the mouth to the digestive system. Some methods of oral CBD administration are through CBD edibles, capsules, and even beverages.

A 1986 study showed that the bioavailability of CBD, when taken orally, was around 6%. However, a report from 2009 showed an absorption rate of between 4% and 20%, depending on the concentration. Although these two studies show results that are significantly different, both prove that the oral consumption of CBD has very low bioavailability. A bioavailability rate of 20% is poor, yet the most optimistic proved by the studies. And that only came after orally taking the most concentrated CBD.

To put in perspective, this means that if you eat a CBD edible, or drink a CBD beverage that contains 100mg of CBD, your body system will only absorb 20mg at most.

  1. Taking CBD sublingually

The sublingual gland is under the tongue. Any substance placed directly on this gland is absorbed into the bloodstream directly. This is referred to as sublingual administration. It is a very popular way to take CBD, especially among young people. Also, CBD may be consumed in different ways sublingually. This includes sprays, CBD tinctures, concentrates, and even lozenges.

When compared to oral methods of consumption, the absorption of CBD sublingually is done in a more direct manner and takes less time to show its effect. In addition, sublingual consumption has higher bioavailability. The bioavailability can be anywhere from 12% to 35%, which is significantly higher than oral consumption, as discussed above. 

  1. Vaporising CBD

You may also use a vape pen or e-cigarette to vaporise CBD directly into the lungs.

When you use this method, your CBD lands directly in your lungs, and then is immediately absorbed into your bloodstream. This ensures there is only a small breakdown of CBD loss, resulting in a high bioavailability.

There are numerous studies that show that when you vaporise, you can get anywhere from 34% to 46%. And more recently, studies show that the bioavailability of vaped CBD can be as high as 56%.

What this means is that vaporising CBD presents one of the highest bioavailability levels you will find, especially when compared to oral and sublingual methods. 

If you decide to vape, rest assured it is easy to do. And bearing in mind that CBD oil is vaporised at a low temperature (at about 160° C to 180 ° C), vaping is safe for the lungs. It is one of the popular ways of taking CBD, not only for its safety and high bioavailability, but it also takes a short time to reach the system, and show its effects.

Additionally, it is quite easy and convenient to carry a vaporiser or a vape pen. For this reason, many people prefer carrying it to edibles, tinctures, a bottle of CBD pills, or even sprays. 

  1. Rectal CBD

Rectal administration is another way you can take CBD into your body. It is preferred the most among cancer patients who are taking CBD. It was scientifically proven when applied to monkeys that the bioavailability is quite low, at around 13.5%. That is quite poor, which is important to note as it is a popular method of administering CBD. The reason for the low bioavailability is because the administration is location-specific. There is minimal absorption into the bloodstream because of the arteries and veins in the rectal area.

  1. CBD Topicals

There are a number of brands which currently add CBD to their topicals, as there are numerous skin health benefits found in CBD. This includes the ability to help reduce inflammation, acne, pain, and psoriasis, and provide anti-ageing properties. This is the method with the least bioavailability and consequently, the least used method of administering CBD.

If you want to use topical methods of CBD, you should specifically find products with nano-technology, encapsulation or micellisation. This means that the product is capable of entering your body through the dermal layers and therefore will provide you with the desired effects. 

  1. CBD intranasal bioavailability

When CBD is taken intranasally, there is a bioavailability of around 34% to 46%, with some studies showing a bioavailability as high as 56%. Inhaling CBD has proven to be the one method with very high bioavailability.

When you inhale CBD (possibly using a vape pen or vaporiser), it is directly absorbed through your lungs, almost immediately. From there, it goes directly into the bloodstream, which allows it to easily and quickly travel and bind with the main endocannabinoid receptors that are stimulated by the CBD substance. With any subsequent breath (or inhaling), more CBD is passed into the system, and you provide yourself with a higher dose of CBD in a very short amount of time.

So, this is the bioavailability of the various methods of taking CBD. The knowledge of this is important to help you decide which product to buy, and which method is best to administer your CBD.

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