Whichever cannabinoid you like the most, it’s natural to seek the most effective ways to ingest Cannabis sativa derivatives. These days, there are tons of different ways to consume CBD, CBG, CBN, or even CBC, and each consumption method has different attributes. In this brief overview, learn what bioavailability is, why it matters, and whether smoking or orally ingesting cannabinoids provides the highest bioavailability.

What is bioavailability?

The absorption rate of a substance, also known as its bioavailability, is the rate at which it uptakes into your body. The higher the bioavailability of a substance, the faster it will take effect and the more of it your body will use before it is excreted.

Substances with low bioavailability are generally less effective, and the effects they do provide are muted. If a substance has high bioavailability, however, it offers potent, intense effects.

The bioavailability of a substance is modulated by a variety of factors. Each substance you can ingest has an inherent degree of bioavailability, and some substances are simply harder for your body to process than others.

In many cases, however, the method by which you ingest a substance affects its bioavailability more than is inherent characteristics. Simply by changing the ingestion method you use, you can improve the bioavailability of your favorite substances, making them more effective and efficient.

Why does bioavailability matter for cannabinoids?

Since most bioactive cannabinoids are lipid-soluble, they absorb well into your body’s tissues as long as they are accompanied by oil-based substances, such as the oils naturally present in hemp extract. The bioavailability of cannabinoids changes significantly, however, depending on the method you use to ingest these beneficial hemp-derived substances.

If you love the effects that cannabinoids provide, it’s natural to want to experience these effects to the fullest extent possible. High-bioavailability cannabinoid products are also more cost-effective since they provide increased effects with fewer cannabinoid molecules. Therefore, you’ll want to choose the cannabinoid ingestion methods that offer the highest bioavailability.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the same cannabinoid can be bioavailable in either a specific part of your body or across your entire system depending on the method you use to ingest it. When you apply CBD topically, for instance, this cannabinoid has relatively high bioavailability at the local area of application, but this bioavailability doesn’t extend throughout the rest of your body.

As a result, applying CBD topically has high local bioavailability by low systemic bioavailability. When you apply CBD under your tongue, on the other hand, this cannabinoid has remarkably high systemic bioavailability that allows its effects to spread throughout your entire body.

Bioavailability of edible cannabinoids

Now that you have an idea of what bioavailability is and the role it plays in cannabinoid metabolism, let’s examine the bioavailability of two popular cannabinoid ingestion methods. Ingesting cannabinoids orally is one of the most common ways that people enjoy CBD, CBG, and other cannabinoids, but this ingestion method doesn’t offer very high bioavailability.

When you ingest cannabinoids orally, they are filtered by your liver once they enter your gastrointestinal tract. As a result, experts estimate that the bioavailability of orally ingested CBD is only 13-19%, which means that your body is not capable of using very much of the CBD you ingest using this method.

Bioavailability isn’t everything, however. Even though your body can only use a small amount of the CBD you ingest orally, the effects of cannabinoids you consume using this method persist for 3-6 hours as the CBD you ingested slowly makes its way through your digestive tract. If you want your CBD experience to last as long as possible, oral ingestion is still the most valuable ingestion method.

Bioavailability of smoked or vaporized cannabinoids

Smoking or vaping cannabinoids provides impressively high bioavailability. Some studies suggest that the bioavailability of vaporizing CBD is as high as 56%, which means that your body may use more than half of the cannabidiol you ingest when you inhale this cannabinoid.

As a result, the effects of vaping or smoking CBD are intense and fast-acting. However, the effects of inhaled CBD don’t last nearly as long as the effects of orally ingested CBD. In most cases, the effects of inhaled CBD dissipate within less than an hour, which allows other cannabinoid ingestion methods to retain their relevance.

The Bottom Line

While discovering the bioavailability of your favorite cannabinoid ingestion method is important, it isn’t the only factor that matters. Every type of major cannabinoid product on the market is valuable in its own way, so don’t discount the benefits of orally ingested cannabinoids just because this ingestion method has relatively low bioavailability. Enjoy each cannabinoid ingestion method for its unique benefits, and rely on GVB Biopharma as your ally as you share your love of CBD, CBG, CBN, and other cannabinoids with the world.

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