“There’s more than one way to skin a cat” is a weirdly morbid saying, but the phrase's core concept rings true – there are a lot of ways to accomplish the same task. This has never been more true for cannabidiol (CBD). With the rising demand for CBD products, there are a plethora of different ways to get your daily dose. They range from sublingual sprays, to vaping CBD oils, to smoking good old-fashioned joints. Yet most people don’t know that the way in which you ingest CBD can drastically alter its effective dosage.
CBD’s Bioavailability: Understanding Its Variations
In general, not all of the CBD you consume will directly affect your body: only a certain percentage will be able to enter your systemic circulation and produce its active effects. This percentage is referred to in science as “bioavailability,” and it strongly depends on the manner in which CBD is introduced to your system. For example, the oral bioavailability of CBD is roughly 15 percent. That means for every 100 milligrams of CBD that you eat, only 15 milligrams will actually reach your bloodstream.
There are two main reasons why this happens. First, CBD is hydrophobic, meaning that it is not very water-soluble. In the same way that oil does not like to mix with vinegar, CBD does not like to stay in your bloodstream. Instead, it rapidly diffuses out of your blood and accumulates into your fatty tissues. Unfortunately, this significantly reduces the amount of bioactive CBD that can enter your systemic circulation, allowing for less CBD to be carried to its active sites in your body and thus lowering its overall bioavailability.
Second, when an organic compound like CBD enters your gut, it has to pass through the liver before it enters your circulation. During this transition, the liver will actively reduce the amount of CBD, either through absorption or through chemical breakdown by liver enzymes. This phenomenon is called the “first-pass effect,” where passing through the liver reduces the concentration of bioactive compounds.
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