The cannabis plant has a odd circuitous path and relationship with humans. More often in progressive regions, cannabis and the specific cannabinoid called CBD (cannabidiol) is considered not only above-board, but a social good solving all manner of physical and cognitive ailments.
Not all CBD is made equally. More importantly, the CBD bioavailability means even all equal cannabidiol is used by the body differently.
In this article, we will provide some clarity for consumers of CBD oil about the quality and type of cannabidiol and how it is best used without side effects or long-term damage.
The CBD Bioavailability of Isolate vs Full Spectrum
Cannabidiol is only one of at least 85 active cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. Modern chemists have found ways to isolate the CBD itself, which produces what is called CBD isolate. This compound is a little more stable, but (more importantly) has virtually no chance of including THC that could get some people into trouble with drug testing.
On the other end is the CBD full-spectrum, which is a more gentle process that brings in the “entourage effect” with other cannabinoids and theoretically improves the bioavailability and efficacy of the CBD.
There is little evidence on the entourage effect specifically and what does exist sometimes includes THC and is done on medical treatments (like cancer) , but as more research is published, we will probably find increased value of using full-spectrum CBD oil.
Humans often respond better how nature intended for us to use certain molecules (or more accurately, how we would have used them for generations). The coca leaf is rarely dangerous or “bad” until highly distilled and synthesized into cocaine.
Sometimes it is better to take things as a whole package.
CBD Bioavailability: Oral Administration
Down the hatch! Oral administration refers to the standard capsule full of CBD powder (or oil) that’s swallowed with or without food. There is nothing wrong with oral administration especially when the ingredients are combined with others that may not improve the bioavailability of CBD, but may provide other health benefits or effects.
For the sake of CBD bioavailability specifically, this is one of the least effective ways to take cannabidiol, however. According to the scientific research, only 6 – 15% of CBD is absorbed by the digestive tract and gastrointestinal system .
This lower level bioavailability in supplement form is not a deal breaker. After all, it’s possible to use nootropic stacks that can prove beneficial for performance above CBD oil alone. Another way to bypass this issue is simply taking a higher dose of the CBD oil as it is still on par with some of the other administration methods.
CBD oral is not the best administration for absorption, but it is one of the easiest and can be useful with a high enough dose or other complimenting nootropics and compounds.
CBD Sublingual: Tincture Bioavailability
From a bioavailability perspective, a CBD tincture is a more viable method for having well absorbed cannabidiol. The administration is technically referred to as a CBD sublingual method because (as the name suggests) it is under the tongue.
The capillaries under the tongue allow for the cannabidiol to go directly into the bloodstream, which avoids the “first pass metabolism” from the oral (swallowed) dose of CBD. A CBD sublingual dose may be anywhere from 20 – 35% bioavailable , which is superior to the oral dose by quite a bit.
This is the go-to administration method if CBD bioavailability is of importance and interest to you. Even though there are some more effective ways of using CBD, we don’t recommend them for other reasons.
CBD Bioavailability and Vaping
Vaping or smoking CBD oil is the most effective way to administer cannabidiol. The large surface area of the lungs means the CBD can enter the bloodstream in a similar way as under the tongue, but on a quicker scale.
In certain situations, this is great. Having a 40% or more bioavailable CBD oil at your fingertips is good especially if you are suffering from an acute need of cannabidiol, but most people in most situations are not.
There are all types of arguments against vaping from dissenting voices whether it is because of the other chemicals involved or with the simple assumption that it isn’t healthy for the lungs (not to mention not very useful for children or dogs who seen benefits from CBD).
Vaporized CBD can be the most bioavailable form, but it’s best used in certain instances where anxiety is high.
The CBD Bioavailability Hack You Didn’t Expect
The evidence is not conclusive, but there is research suggesting that one of the best CBD bioavailability hacks is to use cannabidiol rectally .
You saw that correctly… putting things up the butt.
Looking at the pharmacology of the cannabis plant, it is easy to see how rectal administration is not only more bioavailable than the oral administration method (and about the same as CBD sublingual), but it is also more useful under certain conditions.
Some people use CBD for the purposes of pain relief and especially issues that are impacting parts of their body below the neck. Using a CBD rectal administration could be a solution as it is in certain examples like an anecdotal account with Crohn’s disease:
“I've made my own with a mold (handmade) and my 45mg/ml cbd in coconut oil. I've had Crohn’s disease for 13 years and decided to try cbd suppositories two years ago. My inflammation / flares are mostly in my lower colon now and they do help tremendously with pain, internal bleeding, fissures, etc (all Crohn's symptoms).”  – cbarthistory
This is not the be all, end all, but just another tool in your toolbelt if you decide to maximize the benefits of CBD oil.
CBD Bioavailability: Each Tool is Different
There is no “right” or “wrong” way to use CBD oil, but now you know the various different methods that can be used and when they are effective.
The oral CBD bioavailability is low, but when combined with other ingredients or taken at a higher dosage, can be a much more pleasant way to consume cannabidiol. The sublingual CBD tincture is valuable to increase absorption under the tongue. The vaping / smoking method can be effective if you are willing to subject your lungs and throat to the side effects and it is a perfect tool when anxiety relief is needed in an acute fashion.
Finally, the unspoken rectal CBD administration can be incredibly effective for people searching for a way to utilize the compound for bodily purposes.
With a greater understanding of how to utilize these tools, we hope you can benefit from having a wide spectrum of options rather than being confined to only a few particular dogmatic choices.