What is Bioavailability?

CBD 101
What is Bioavailability?

You have a lot of choices when it comes to how you want to take your CBD. Understanding the basic principle of nutrient bioavailability can help you decide what products will best align with your needs and lifestyle.

In short, bioavailability describes the percentage of CBD that makes its way into your system once it has been introduced to your body. It is sometimes referred to as “nutrient absorption.” Usually when we talk about bioavailability, we’re talking about how much of a compound reaches your bloodstream, but some topical formulations target specific areas of the body and only deliver compounds to the nerves and muscles that lie right beneath the skin. 

When CBD is introduced to the body, it is metabolized in different ways depending on how the CBD was delivered. These metabolic processes determine how much CBD will eventually be absorbed, or “bioavailable” to you.

Other factors related to CBD bioavailability are onset and duration. Onset describes how long it takes for you to start feeling the effects of the CBD product, while duration is how long those effects will last. 

Product formulation, concentration, delivery method/dosage form, and individual variations in physiology affect what the bioavailability, onset, and duration of CBD will be. Long-term use of CBD will also result in an additive effect as the cannabinoid levels build in the body over time. This could prolong the duration of benefits for any one method.

Different Ways to Take CBD

Sublingual administration means taking CBD tincture under your tongue, allowing the cannabinoids to absorb into your bloodstream through the tissue (specifically, the mucus membrane) there.

Topical administration means applying CBD to the surface of your skin, allowing the cannabinoids to absorb through the skin, or “dermal,” layer.

Oral administration means swallowing CBD oil capsules. Oral administration allows the cannabinoids to absorb into your bloodstream through the GI tract (e.g., stomach, intestines, etc.).

Comparing Delivery Methods

Of the products offered by Lazarus Naturals, sublingual administration of CBD has the highest range of bioavailability, followed by oral administration, then topical administration. Bioavailability for all methods, with exception to topicals, can be boosted by administering CBD with fats. This means that taking CBD with food or in a softgel formulation could increase the amount of CBD that goes to work in your body. 

In terms of how long it will take for you to feel the effects of your CBD product, sublingual administration will always have the shortest onset times, with benefits taking effect 10-15 minutes after administration. Topical administration takes about 1-2 hours (though you’ll start feeling the effects of pain-relieving ingredients like capsaicin and wintermint right away) for the CBD to pass through the skin layers and begin affecting inflammation and muscle soreness. Orally administered CBD takes about 2 hours for you to feel the effects. 

Topical administration tends to result in the longest duration, followed by oral, then sublingual administration, though the range for each of these methods can overlap depending on individual factors such as weight, metabolism, and genetics.

How to Decide Which Delivery Method Will Work Best for You

If you are looking for fast-acting, highly effective relief, sublingual administration is a great choice. You’ll begin to feel the effects of CBD in 10-15 minutes and can expect it to last for several hours. 

Edible CBD is also a great option if you want a bit more time between administration and the onset of effects. Bioavailability is slightly lower with orally administered CBD than with sublingually administered CBD, but CBD gummies, tarts, and softgels are by far the simplest way to take your CBD serving for the day!

If you are driving or are concerned about focus in the hours after administration, you may want to opt for a THC-free formulation until you know what CBD serving size best suits you.

If you are looking to relieve issues such as localized body aches or muscle soreness, a topical CBD is a great choice for targeting specific areas. 

We learn more about CBD bioavailability every day in cannabinoid research, but when it comes to what works best for your situation, you know best. Take the time to learn how to take CBD properly, how to determine servings size, and what each method offers, and you'll be sure to find the right balance.