The half-life of oral CBD, i.e. the amount of time it takes for half of the CBD to leave the bloodstream, may be faster than other delivery methods. Half-lives from 10 to 17 hours have been reported for high dosages between 750 mg and 1500 mg .
The most basic inhalation form is smoking. In this case the hemp cigarette contains unprocessed CBD-rich hemp buds (as opposed to high-THC cannabis). Smoking has a bioavailability of 31% and a single CBD cigarette containing about 19 mg of CBD can produce peak blood levels within 3 minutes .
Inhalation is an efficient way to consume CBD because it bypasses the digestive tract and liver allowing CBD to be readily absorbed through the thin membranes that line the air sacs of the lungs (alveoli) where it enters directly into the bloodstream. There are several ways to inhale CBD.
Oral CBD: Capsules, Oils, and Edibles
We’ll also survey some of the important factors that affect CBD absorption and metabolism. And you’ll learn how you can best manage these factors so you can choose the ideal delivery form and dosage depending on what you’re looking to get out of the use of CBD.
Peak levels of oral CBD tend to be lower than other delivery forms.
The half-life of smoked CBD averages 31 hours.
On average, ingested CBD has a bioavailability of between 6-19% [2, 3, 4].
With all three of the above methods, you consumed the CBD through your mouth. There is one alternate way to take CBD—topically through the skin. With this method, CBD engages primarily with the endocannabinoid receptors located in your peripheral nervous system—so, it’s best for providing targeted pain relief in a particular area, such as arthritic joints or sore muscles.
CBD suppositories, like those sold by Endoca CBD, may also increase the bioavailability of CBD, allowing it to enter the bloodstream via membranes in the anus or vagina. One study found that rectal application can be 25% to 50% more effective than oral administration, providing an average bioavailability of 13.5%.
You can’t really increase the bioavailability of CBD. What you can do, however, is optimize your method of administration to ensure you receive your ideal dose of CBD.
Sublingual Bioavailability of CBD
When CBD is inhaled, such as through a vape pen or vaporizer, it can be absorbed through your lungs nearly immediately. From there, the CBD directly enters your bloodstream, allowing it to travel and bind to the appropriate endocannabinoid receptors throughout your body. With each subsequent breath, you inhale more CBD, providing yourself with a continuous dose of CBD that can be absorbed quickly (within minutes) and efficiently (direct entry through the lungs).
Because the CBD only interacts with local receptors in your skin, though, it won’t enter the bloodstream. As a result, topical administration will be ineffective for relieving conditions which require the CBD to bind to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and central nervous system, such as anxiety, epilepsy, or PTSD.
Some CBD brands have created innovative products that address topical CBD’s problem of lower bioavailability. For instance, transdermal patches, like those sold by CBDistillery, enable the CBD to cross through the skin and enter the bloodstream. According to one study of arthritic rats, transdermal patches significantly relieve pain and inflammation in the knee joint.
Of course, the trick here is to hold the CBD in the appropriate place (beneath the tongue) for an appropriate amount of time (30 to 60 seconds). If you swallow too soon, or apply the drops above your tongue and swallow quickly, you may as well be taking the CBD orally—which, as we’ll review in the next section, offers significantly lower bioavailability.
You may already know there’s a host of ways to take CBD, from swallowing a daily capsule to adding an oil to your AM latte. However, what you may not know is each product has a different bioavailability rate, meaning some methods allow for more potency and easier absorption.
Here, we break down everything you need to know about CBD bioavailability, from the most absorbent methods to simple tips that enhance your experience.
CBD with the Highest Bioavailability Rate
While the bioavailability of topical CBD hasn’t been quantified, it’s believed to serve a whole new purpose compared to the CBD you consume. You see, a CBD balm or cream isn’t able to enter the bloodstream, but experts believe it can interact with local cannabinoid receptors in the spot you apply it.
One easy way to enhance the bioavailability of CBD is to use a higher concentration of your go-to product. While this doesn’t make it more absorbent, it does mean more milligrams of CBD will enter your bloodstream. Just keep in mind that the FSA recommends no more than 70mg per day.
CBD oils are applied sublingually, which involves placing a few drops of CBD Oil under your tongue – where the large blood vessels are close to the surface – allowing it to cross the thin membrane and enter directly into your bloodstream. Capsules are simple, simply swallow 1-2 with water and let them get to work. And gummies? Simply chew and go.