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Bioavailability of CBD: Comparing Methods of CBD Administration

The Science Behind CBD Bioavailability: How Much CBD is Actually Used?

Bioavailability of CBD varies greatly depending on the method of administration. The averages for CBD bioavailability by method of administration are:

  • 6% – 15% for oral (swallowed and digested by the GI system) CBD
  • 35% for oromucosal (absorbed directly through the mouth)
  • 34%-46% for intranasal (applied through the nose)
  • 40% for vaporized (absorbed through the lungs)
  • 20:1 for liposomal


Not all CBD consumed orally actually reaches the endocannabinoid system.

Due to the digestive processes that occur when CBDs enter the blood stream through the GI system, the oral administrative route provides the lowest bioavailability.  The “first-pass effect” refers to the metabolism of CBDs in the liver, which causes a significant portion of the CBDs to be broken down into unusable components.

While the AVERAGE oromucosal absorption rate is 35%, studies have shown a wide range of variability. Nabiximols (Sativex®) is an oromucosal spray containing THC and CBD in an approximate 1:1 ratio, and reports up to 90% absorption. Sativex is not legal or approved for use in the US. It is postulated that increasing the length of time that tinctures and sprays remain in the mouth may increase overall absorption. More studies need to be performed to determine what factors improve bioavailability.  For both mouth sprays and tinctures, it is currently recommended to hold the CBD liquid under the tongue for 30-60 seconds before swallowing.

Oral CBD Sprays

According to this NIH article []
“Oral mucosal (e.g. sub- or supralingual) administration of drugs is often the route of administration of choice when the drug shows a large first-pass effect after oral delivery. Systemic exposure of drugs after oral mucosal administration is often expected to be a route of administration with a fast onset of action.’ [NIH]

Hemp CBD Oil Liposomes

Liposomes are very similar to vesicles, which are structures that the body naturally produces.  Liposomes are tiny hollow spheres that have the ability to carry both water soluble and fat soluble compounds through the body and through cell
membranes. This allows CBD to enter the bloodstream at a 20:1 ratio, meaning you are getting 20x the amount of bioavailable CBD per dose as opposed to other CBD tinctures and CBD oils.

You can receive cannabinoids into the body faster, deeper and easier than ever before. Elixonol has patented a process where they pre-dissolved CBD Hemp oil and embedded it into microscopic liposomes. This technology allows you to absorb more cannabinoids with the aide of naturally occurring phospholipids which support cellular health and delivery of CBD directly into the cell.

Absorption, onset of action, and bioavailability are all factors to consider when purchasing a CBD product.

CBD is processed by the liver and other digestive organs. Some CBD is also stored in fat cells. This allows CBD to remain in the body for days, releasing gradually for use by the endocannabinoid system.

Some people with chronic conditions consume CBD in a way that it builds up in their system and is effective throughout the day. Capsules and other consumables tend to be absorbed by the fatty cells, and if taken at larger doses, can provide benefit throughout the day. A study by Zhornitsky and Potvin[Cannabidiol in humans-the quest for therapeutic targets] defined “high-dose” oral CBD as 150-600 mg/day.

Many consumers experience a satisfactory effect by consuming a 25mg capsule twice per day (morning and night).

A good way to get immediate and longer term results from CBD is to use a spray or tincture under the tongue for oramucosal absorbtion and then swallow after 30-60 seconds.

Vaporizing Cannabinoids

Vaporizing with a vape pen or e-cigarette allows CBD to be absorbed by the lungs, into the blood, and across the blood-brain barrier. This avoids the first-pass effect altogether, allowing nearly four times as much CBD to enter your circulation (as compared to the oral administration) for a maximum bioavailability of 50% to 60%.

The first effects of inhaled cannabis usually occur within a few minutes, and gradually wear off after 2-3 hours. Vaping is effective for treating acute symptoms that need to be addressed quickly. By vaporizing a CBD e-liquid or high-CBD concentrate, you could potentially feel its effects 30 to 60 minutes faster. This makes vaping CBD an extremely efficient delivery method especially if you’re looking to manage an acute condition.

Cannabinoids are extracted and strained away from the cannabis plant using some sort of solvent. That can be CO2, alcohol, or chemicals.  CO2 extraction is considered the best process, but chemicals like butane and polyglycol can also be used to extract cannabis oil from the plant to make a vape oil. Some people even make their own vape oils at home with alcohol.

The E-liquids we sell have no added polyglycol or butane, and are extracted using CO2 method.  Our vape pens are discreet, simple to use, odorless, and smoke-free.

 Dosage matters

It’s great to know that you have something that works, but keep in mind that like everything else (from medicine to being a skillful chef in the kitchen), precise amounts count.

Dosage of CBD should follow the old adage “start low, go slow.” Experts recommend what they call titrating to effect – the process of slowly increasing one medicine or one liquid, with another medicine or liquid. New users are recommended to take 5 to 10 mg daily at first, as this is the typical small serving size for an adult. Depending on your metabolism, body weight, and desired effects, you might want to start with no more than 15 mg per day. You can always up the serving size after your body gets accustomed to it. Using 50mg to 100mg  or more per day is not uncommon.

Exciting New innovations

Elixinol’s new rapidly dissolving Hemp Liposomes are the latest enhancements to cannabinoid delivery. The inner hollow part of the liposome is filled with water and is where water soluble compounds are carried. The outer surface of the liposome is also water soluble which allows the liposome to dissolve in water. These features combined result in faster uptake and increased bioavailability.

Research and innovation are bringing new possibilities to consumers. Canadian company Lexaria Corp’s new patent-pending technology test results showed it may increase CBD’s bioavailability by nearly 500 percent! This opens the door to possibly using the ingredient for dietary supplements.

Chris Bunka, Lexaria’s CEO. says “simplistically, a bioavailability rate that is 500% theoretically means a consumer can ingest 80 percent less product and achieve the same expected outcome. This is a dramatic change in the way edibles could be formulated.”

The company recently announced its first private label agreement – a new line of cannabidiol/herbal products manufactured under the Timeless Herbal Care Limited (“Timeless”) brand name.

Currently sold exclusively in Jamaica, the company has an option to acquire semi-exclusive rights in the US and Canada “to use Lexaria’s patent-allowed palatability and absorption improving technology to develop, produce and sell certain products containing cannabidiol and other active ingredients under the Timeless brand” in those countries.

Want to know more?

Find useful information and resources here on our website. Check out our Buyers Guide for an increasing variety of top quality products. Or contact us and tell us what other products you’d like us to carry.

Here at Bhangers, we’re about more than just running a business. We’re about community and promoting a healthy lifestyle. Let us know how we’re doing!


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