Bioavailability and You

To a certain degree all of us know a bit about how bioavailability works. Bioavailability refers to the percentage of any drug that enters your body’s circulation and is actually able to take effect. It’s the science behind why smoking, vaping and edibles affect us all so differently. When it comes to the therapeutic side of cannabis, it’s important to know how to get maximum use out of your products. Bioavailability allows us to take better control and gain a deeper understanding of the relationship between cannabis and our bodies.

The method you choose to intake your cannabis directly affects its bioavailability. Smoking and vaping are probably the two most common ways of taking cannabis, they also have the highest bioavailability percentages. With a range of between 30-65% absorption, the effects are usually felt instantly, but not for long. Usually, within an hour or so, most, if not all the effects will have dissipated. Recent studies have shown that vaporizing cannabis allows for better and faster absorption, but not longer in effect.
When it comes to edibles, we have two main options: sublingual and oral. Sublingual doses are usually taken by placing the solution under the tongue for about 15-30 seconds and then swallowing the remaining solution. Sublingual absorption sits at around 30-50% and usually takes affect a few minutes after ingestion. Tinctures, mints and candies usually fall within the sublingual umbrella.

Edibles that have to go through the Gastrointestinal tract fall under the oral classification. These have the lowest bioavailability, about 6-15%. The gastrointestinal tract is a very hostile environment, there are many harsh chemicals that our stomach uses to breakdown food. When ingested orally, cannabinoids don’t take effect until after they have passed through the stomach, which is why it may take up to 2+ hours to feel the effects of edibles.

Topicals allow for concentrated application with a lot more wiggle room when it comes to dosages. Because the skin is lined with CB2 receptors, cannabinoids are non psychoactive when applied topically, even THC. CBD has a higher affinity for CB2 receptors, which makes it a lot more efficient as a topical.
There are a few other aspects that can play into bioavailability as well. Some studies have shown that healthy saturated fats play a role in how well your body receives cannabinoids. Saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature, you can find them in eggs, chicken, fish, etc.

Understanding how bioavailability works allows me as a retail associate to find the perfect product for our customers. It also allows our customers to take better control of their cannabis journey and find the perfect balance for them and the experience they are looking to have.

By Educator – Esther Wacheke