CBD has exploded in popularity over the last few years with the growing legalization of cannabis products and raising interest in this versatile compound. CBD’s popularity is helped by its range of potential health benefits and that it doesn’t induce the “high” typically associated with cannabis.
CBD has been shown to positively affect the symptoms of pain, anxiety, neurodegenerative disorders, inflammation, and sleep disorders. But while CBD can have wide-ranging and significant health effects, not all forms of CBD are created equal.
While CBD is found in cannabis, it can also be consumed as an extract. There is a range of CBD products available, from chocolate to moisturizers to vape oil. The way that you choose to consume CBD will determine how effective it will be and how fast you feel its impact. There are benefits and drawbacks to all CBD products, but here is a compiled list of how different consumption techniques will affect how you absorb and experience CBD.
How Does the Body Absorb and Use CBD?
CBD’s effects on the body occur when the compound interacts with various receptors, and different delivery methods of CBD will alter how fast CBD is able to reach those receptors and induce its varying effects on the body.
The amount of a substance that enters your circulation and is able to interact with different receptors is known as bioavailability. The bioavailability of CBD varies depending on the method of consumption and the form of CBD used. The bioavailability of a compound like CBD is measured as a percentage, and this percentage tells you the amount of the substance consumed that was absorbed by the body.
Bioefficacy refers to how well a substance is able to induce a specific effect on the body. The two components are also related. For example, a patient looking for a high CBD effect will find better bioefficacy in CBD products with a higher bioavailability percentage.
Knowing the bioavailability of certain CBD products will help you to understand which CBD product is best for you.
CBD Consumption Methods
There are many ways to consume CBD, but the main four that you’re likely to encounter are vaping/smoking, eating, sublingual (under the tongue) application, and nasal sprays.
While some products may have a higher bioavailability and induce stronger effects, that doesn’t necessarily mean all CBD substances high in bioavailability also have a high bioefficacy. For example, a product that provides high CBD effects and availability may only have a short duration and not hold the highest bioefficacy for someone trying to treat a chronic illness.
With so many different CBD products available, it’s important to figure out which consumption method works best for you and your needs.
Vaping and Smoking
CBD inhalation products that use vaping or smoking as a consumption method are some of the most popular CBD products on the market. You can use CBD-extract vape liquid, CBD-only hemp, or other CBD concentrate products.
Vaping or smoking CBD will provide some of the highest bioavailabilities on the list because the CBD is inhaled into the lungs. Your lungs are extremely permeable, meaning compounds such as CBD can quickly be absorbed into your bloodstream.
Smoking CBD will provide a bioavailability of around 31%, while vaping CBD may provide a bioavailability of up to 70%. However, CBD also quickly reaches peak blood concentration at only three minutes post-consumption.
This means that inhaling CBD through smoking or vaping would be ideal and would have the highest bioefficacy for those wanting an immediate but short-lasting effect.
It’s also important to keep in mind that there are risks associated with both smoking and vaping, so be sure to consult your doctor before consuming CBD this way.
Edible CBD products are extremely popular because of their ease of use and long-term effects. Thanks to the expansion of cannabis products, you can find a veritable smorgasbord of edible CBD products. From chocolates to candies to simple supplements, there’s an edible CBD product for everyone!
Although edible CBD products may be delicious and easy to get, they also have the lowest bioavailability on this list. Edibles have a bioavailability of around 6-20%, with this range showing the unpredictability of CBD’s bioavailability. This low absorption rate is largely due to the high metabolic action of the gut, where the edibles must pass through.
CBD edibles also have a slow-release time, reaching their peak at around one and a half to three hours. This substantially longer peak means that, while lower in bioavailability than other CBD products, edibles may have a higher bioefficacy for individuals wanting more sustained treatment for chronic illnesses. For example, patients suffering from chronic pain may value longer-term edible CBD treatment as opposed to the quicker turnover of an inhalation treatment.
While it may not seem all that different from simply eating a CBD product, consuming CBD by placing it under your tongue can increase bioavailability when compared to edible products. This is because compounds placed under the tongue are absorbed by the mucous membranes which can quickly transfer CBD into the bloodstream and help CBD to avoid being broken down by metabolic action in the gut.
The peak concentration levels of sublingual CBD has been reported at around two hours post-consumption. Sublingual CBD has also been found to be well-tolerated in studies. With similar long-lasting effects to edible CBD but with potentially higher bioavailability, sublingual CBD may be an effective option for individuals wanting a strong but long-lasting treatment.
CBD nasal sprays deliver CBD to the thin mucous membranes of the nasal passage, allowing for faster and more concentrated absorption.
Research has shown the CBD nasal spray can provide a bioavailability of 34-46%, which is particularly high when compared to some other consumption methods. The bioavailability is also reached rather quickly, with peak concentration being achieved within 10 minutes.
Due to its relatively high bioavailability and quick absorption rate, CBD nasal spray would have a high bioefficacy for individuals looking for instant, concentrated effects. Acute symptoms may benefit better from this type of treatment.
The Bottom Line
Different ways of consuming CBD will provide you with varying bioavailability levels. When it comes to deciding which consumption method is best for you and provides you with the highest bioefficacy, you should consider your concentration and timing needs.
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