Why the Bioavailability of CBD Matters

By August 19, 2019 No Comments

The bioavailability of CBD has been a popular topic lately. What is bioavailability? Why does it matter when it comes to CBD? How does this affect how CBD is available to your body? We’ll get to all of that. It’s important to know about these little pieces of science so that you have a better understanding of how CBD is interacting with your body and what happens once you take your dose of CBD.

What is Bioavailability?

Bioavailability refers to the amount of a substance that goes into your bloodstream. The manner in which you ingest a compound or substance plays a role in how much of it will be absorbed by your body. The most important factor is the method of consumption.

The bloodstream can absorb compounds and substances in 4 ways:

  • Absorption
  • Ingestion
  • Inhalation
  • Injection

Since CBD is not injected often, the body has 3 other common methods to absorb the cannabinoid. It is important to note that intravenous introduction of compounds and substances (pharmaceuticals) have 100% bioavailability since they are being injected directly into the bloodstream. When CBD is taken orally, such as in a capsule or edible – bioavailability decreases significantly.

Your lungs have a greater absorption rate than your digestive system since ingested items must pass through several systems and organs, including the liver and digestive system, before becoming available to your body.

image of the body's salivary glands

Factors that Play a Role in Bioavailability and CBD

When your doctor writes you a prescription, the bioavailability of that medication has already been determined through studies and clinical trials. This is what allows pharmaceuticals to have standardized dosing. Due to restrictions on research and clinical trials regarding anything having to do with the cannabis plant family – this information is lacking in the CBD industry. This does not, however, mean that you can’t find a dose that works for you.

Everyone’s bodies have different needs, and just like pharmaceuticals – a dose that works for you might not work for someone else.

Factors that play a role include:

  • Body mass
  • Form in which the CBD is taken
  • Metabolism
  • Barriers within your own body that may inhibit compounds from entering your bloodstream

It seems complex – and it is, but if you are like many CBD users, you’re using more than one type of CBD delivery method. It is common for CBD users to combine the use of capsules and tinctures or tinctures and vape or any of those and edibles. Which CBD delivery methods have the highest bioavailability? We’ll get to that in the section below.

Bioavailability and CBD Delivery Method Choice

When you’re wondering how much CBD is actually available to your body, the delivery method you choose matters. This may cause you to question if the amount of CBD that you’re already taking is enough. But, you should also know that increasing your dose to ensure that your body is receiving enough is also easy to do.

Always start with the manufacturer’s suggested dose of your chosen CBD delivery method. Evaluate how this dose is working for you after one week. If you don’t think it’s doing enough for you, increase by a couple of milligrams and start the evaluation process over. Continue to repeat this process until you’ve found a dose that seems to work the best for you.

internal look at blood vessel and cells

Can you Inject CBD?

Yes, you can inject CBD but it is probably the least popular way to get a dose of the cannabinoid. It involves knowing where your veins are, how to inject medication intravenously and using a blend of CBD that has a carrier oil that is safe to inject without causing damage to other parts of your body (such as clogs or blood flow issues).

While this is not a suggested method for using CBD, it is the only way for the body to receive 100% of the CBD it’s being given.

*We do not suggest injecting hemp CBD extract products unless instructed by your doctor or team of doctors.


Inhaling CBD either by smoking CBD flower or using CBD vape has the next highest bioavailability. You might think that oral administration would be next in line, but we’ll explain why it’s below inhalation in a bit. When you inhale CBD, either by smoking CBD flower or using vape, your lungs are able to deliver the CBD directly to your bloodstream. Your mouth is also able to absorb some of the CBD vapor to help get more of the inhaled cannabinoid into your bloodstream.

The rate of vaping or inhaling CBD’s bioavailability ranges between 34% and 56%.

Edibles and Capsules

The bioavailability of CBD edibles and capsules is only about 20% to 25%. Yes, this is surprising. However, you have to take into account the quality of the hemp CBD extract that is used, how pure it is and how much is in the edible or capsule. What this means is you’ll have to actually ingest more than your body actually needs because a good portion of the CBD in the edible or capsule will be lose.

This low bioavailability of CBD rate is due to the path of digestion and metabolic processes in the body.

Sublingual Administration

Sublingual administration applies to CBD tinctures. The bioavailability of CBD via tincture is between 12% and 35%. You might think that this is low, and it is less than oral consumption, but this is a method for those that need a dose of CBD immediately. A gland under your tongue known as the sublingual gland starts to absorb the CBD immediately and it goes directly to your bloodstream.

So, even though it’s suggested to hold a CBD tincture under your tongue for a full minute – try holding the liquid under your tongue for as long as 5 minutes. This will help more of the CBD get to your body faster.

The only thing that takes away from absorption of CBD sublingually is the enzymes in your saliva.

CBD tincture Alchemy

Closing Thoughts

We hope that this guide will help you better understand how much CBD your body might actually have available depending on the CBD delivery method that you choose. It may help you to appropriately find your ideal dose. It may also help you understand how much CBD you will need to purchase every month. Should you have any additional questions about the bioavailability of CBD, please don’t hesitate to ask!

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