If you're new here, you may want to subscribe to my free Email alerts. Thanks for visiting!


by Contributor

Image: qimono at Pixabay, License

(Jan. 8, 2020) — There are several ways to consume cannabis products and they all have different effects on the body. One of the big reasons is the bioavailability of the active ingredients of cannabis. In short, the effects can change depending on how you use it.

Once you know a bit about bioavailability, you can make an educated choice on which products to buy at your favorite dispensary, like the online dispensary TheAmsterdam. Knowing just how much of your preferred cannabinoids make it into your system can help you choose not only a strain but also a delivery method.

What Is Bioavailability?

In short, bioavailability refers to the rate and the degree in which a particular substance is absorbed into your bloodstream to be used where it is needed. Your own physiology and delivery method can impact the absorption of cannabinoids. The more bioavailability your cannabis or your delivery method has, the less quantity you need to reap the benefits.

What Can Influence Bioavailability?

Legalization efforts are one explanation for the surge of popularity that cannabis is experiencing. Another explanation is the range of consumption methods available. Edibles and tinctures can take away some of the stigma that is still associated with cannabis, but it can also affect their bioavailability.

CBD and THC oils, which are used to produce most edibles, are limited in their bioavailability. This is because the human body is comprised of mostly water. The old saying is proven by science: oil and water do not mix.

So, when cannabinoids are ingested as an oil, the onset of the effects is delayed. The bioavailability is also limited. Another factor limiting the efficacy of cannabis oils is the fact that it must be digested and then metabolized before it reaches the bloodstream. This process limits the amount of THC and CBD that actually reaches the circulatory system.

Is There a Way to Increase the Bioavailability?

The good news is that bioavailability is affected by how you consume cannabis. For example, a CBD topical ointment or transdermal patch can penetrate the skin ten times more effectively than THC. However, THC has a higher bioavailability when administered orally or delivered via the lungs.

When administered as a sublingual spray, the bioavailability of THC in the bloodstream was 30-50% higher than CBD administered orally. However, the bioavailability of THC is still limited when ingested orally, averaging about 4-12%. THC bioavailability increases dramatically when smoked or vaped, to an average of 30%.

Therefore, the best way to increase the bioavailability of THC is to smoke or to vape the oil. With CBD, the best method of ingestion is using a transdermal patch or CBD-infused ointment.

But I Don’t Want to Inhale Smoke or Vapor. What Can I Do?

If you’re completely uncomfortable with vaping or smoking, there are some things that you can do to increase bioavailability.

THC is a fat-soluble compound. Ingesting healthy fats with your edible or tincture can actually increase the bioavailability. Eating some guacamole or avocados, hummus, or dark chocolate can increase the bioavailability of THC. Foods that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids bind to cannabinoids, helping them to be processed faster. Nuts, eggs, fish, chia seeds, etc., can help to improve the bioavailability of your cannabinoids.

Another way in which you can increase the bioavailability of your cannabinoids is to exercise. Less fat equals faster and longer-lasting high. Exercise can also help you feel less guilty about eating that fatty treat to help improve the bioavailability.

While edibles and tinctures are indeed a popular and less stigmatized way of getting cannabinoids into your system, be aware that cannabis consumed this way has less bioavailability and might not work as well. Smoking and vaping is definitely the way to get the maximum bioavailability. If you’re worried about stigma, vaping produces much less of the odor associated with marijuana and most people won’t be able to tell you’re not vaping an e-juice.

Note:  The above information is not intended as medical advice.

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.