Eat Fats to Increase the Amount of CBD Your Body Absorbs

Christine Colbert January 1, 2020 0 comments

New studies are exploring how to increase the absorption of CBD into the body, and fatty foods appear to the key.

Recent studies about the bioavailability of CBD will now offer more insight for consumers. This includes how they can make the most out their cannabinoid treatment. By delving into how to increase CBD bioavailability, researchers discovered ways the body can absorb CBD more efficiently.

First, what is bioavailability? In a nutshell, it’s the rate at which a substance (like CBD or THC) absorbs into the bloodstream. By increasing that rate, a person could potentially feel the effects faster and more strongly. Additionally, there would be lower costs related to purchasing the substance. This information is especially helpful to consumers of CBD, since it is a highly lipophilic molecule that is difficult for the body to absorb.

A study, published in Frontiers Pharmocology (2018), found that, “plasma levels of CBD were increased when CBD was administered with food or in a fed state, or when a meal is consumed post-administration.”

These findings were later corroborated by a study published in Epilepsia (2019). Here researchers concluded that administration of CBD combined with a meal increased bioavailability. In fact, the research showed a distinguishable difference between taking CBD after eating, instead of taking it while fasting.

What Food Types Increase CBD Bioavailability?

So, we now know it’s a good idea to take CBD with a meal for optimal absorption into the bloodstream. But what kind of foods work best? The answer is fatty foods, however, how much fat is still unknown, since not all fatty foods are the same. Also, the research hasn’t controlled for a specific amount. 

Why does a fatty meal increase bioavailability? Foods that are high in fat take longer to digest, and they also increase bile secretion. This delivers more time and aid to the process of absorption. And it turns out, eating a high-fat meal is effective in boosting bioavailability regardless of the method of treatment. Meaning, this doesn’t just aid in the absorption of CBD when consuming it orally. A study in the European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology (2012) found that a high fat meal increased bioavailability in subjects who took THC and CBD oromucosal spray.

cbd bioavailability suggested by picture of fatty foods that help absorb cbd

Which Method of CBD Administration Delivers the Best Bioavailability?

When consuming CBD orally, it must first pass through the digestive system, which can change the structure and concentration. So, capsules and edibles may not be the most ideal method. However, other delivery systems bypass the digestive tract, such as inhalation methods, transdermal gels, topical creams, or intranasal sprays, which have been shown to exhibit faster absorption rates.

What about smoking or vaping CBD? Vaping has a relatively high absorption rate, while smoking does not. However, both methods offer more bioavailability than ingestion of CBD. This is because they avoid that necessary pass through the digestive system. Research into THC inhalers has been shown to also provide better bioavailability than both smoking and vaping, though whether that is also true for CBD remains to be seen.

Chewing gum may also been known to be an effective delivery method of CBD, since it utilizes the “sublingual pathway.” Just like nicotine gum that steadily releases small doses into the body, CBD chewing gum operates in the same fashion. Sublingual administration is also, of course, the method of CBD oil. This method delivers the best “bang for your buck.”

Through the semi-permeable mucous membrane lining the mouth, cannabinoids can absorb without going through the gastrointestinal system. But the rate of absorption is still much lower than nasal sprays, transdermal gels/creams and inhalation methods.

cbd bioavailability suggested by doctor holding cbd bottle in front of hemp field

There is Still Much to Learn About CBD Bioavailability

Other delivery methods for CBD, like suppositories and even belly button cannabis, are now being explored, but how they rate in bioavailability in humans is still in the discovery phase. At the end of the day, the best delivery system really depends on the specific needs of the consumer. For instance, what symptoms each individual aims to treat with CBD, and other health conditions that should be taken into account. An example of this would be someone with asthma smoking CBD. This might not be a preferable or wise consumption method.

But regardless of how one chooses to consume CBD, this much is clear: administering CBD along with a meal that is high in fat increases CBD bioavailability, which allows for greater absorption. This is good news for folks on a ketogenic diet, but it doesn’t mean CBD consumers should go out and immediately switch to a diet that is high in fat. Individual health concerns must be considered, and of course, some high fat foods are healthier than others.

For example, eating a bucket of fried chicken with a dose of CBD might help increase absorption, but it’s not not be the best health option long-term. There are other, healthier choices for foods high in fat — such as nuts, olives, fatty fish, and avocados.

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