Your lungs provide a surface area of up to 75 square metres, which makes absorption into your blood quick and easy. The blood that passes through them picks up the CBD, travels to your heart and then around your body before it passes through the liver. This results in a large portion of each inhalation being available for use in your body.
There are hundreds of different CBD products to choose from, but they are all likely to be used in one of five ways : eaten, inhaled, absorbed under your tongue, inserted rectally or applied to your skin.
Time to take effect
Take CBD with a fatty meal
Because a large number of blood vessels in your rectum are close to the surface, CBD suppositories can have a bioavailability of up to 50%. However, products that can be used in this way aren’t easy to find and most people prefer not to use suppositories if there are other options available.
Please note: We do not recommend that you inject CBD under any circumstances.
Holding CBD under your tongue allows it to be absorbed across the thin membrane directly into the blood vessels. This means that it isn’t broken down in your digestive system, so there is a more significant amount available for use.
Each method transports CBD into your body but has a different rate of absorption. Different types of product deliver varying percentages of the original measure to your blood. The time it takes for you to feel any effect is likely to be different too.
CBD offers great potential for health and healing. Its high safety profile and non-addictive nature make it an appealing alternative to many conventional drugs.
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 .
With this method, you draw liquid CBD oil held in a cartridge past a heating element that atomizes the CBD — producing a vapor that you inhale.
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.
In one experiment, cookies infused with 40 mg of CBD produced peak blood CBD levels between 1.5 and 3 hours after ingestion .
Bioavailability refers to the degree and rate at which a substance is absorbed into your bloodstream to be used where needed. Physiological processes and consumption methods can affect cannabis absorption, rendering its effects somewhat hit-and-miss.
Transdermal patches can be super effective at targeting localized or systemic pain. They allow for a steady infusion of active ingredients to the delivery site, so the patient is unlikely to experience spikes of THC in the bloodstream.
What factors influence cannabis bioavailability?
For those who smoke or vape, bioavailability can be enhanced by minimizing sidestream loss and increasing the number of puffs. “Using a desktop or handheld vaporizer with flower will eliminate sidestream losses,” Frye advises. If you think you get more bang for your buck by holding your breath, think again. “There is no evidence supporting holding one’s breath for more than 10 secs,” says Frye.
Another lesser known method of administration is intranasal delivery, which enables cannabinoids to be easily absorbed with a rapid onset of 10 minutes or less. “Intranasal methods are highly bioavailable at 34-46%,” says Frye. “It’s a particularly helpful mode of delivery for patients who are having a seizure or for patients trying to abort an impending seizure or migraine.”
Some of the most common and convenient cannabis products, such as capsules, soft gels, tinctures, and edibles, limit bioavailability due to the first pass through the liver. “With edibles, absorption is slow, unpredictable, and highly variable,” says Frye. “Only about 6% of the dose is absorbed. The onset of action can be as long as 6 hours; it’s very easy to take too much, and the effects can last as long as 20 hours!”