What is Bio-availability and Bio-delivery in CBD? Why Does It Matter?

Thanks in part to the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp is now federally legal, and therefore more CBD products are on the market than ever before. It seems like there are a hundred different ways to consume CBD these days. It shows up in tinctures, face creams, topicals, even sweet treats like lollipops and gummy bears. 

With all these options out there, how do you know which CBD product is the most effective? Does it make a difference if you smoke CBD or apply it topically? Let’s find out!

What Is CBD?

cbd molecule

Cannabidiol, or CBD as it’s abbreviated, is one of the most common compounds found in the cannabis plant. We refer to these types of compounds as cannabinoids. Like other cannabinoids, CBD is primarily concentrated in the crystalline structures called trichomes found on the outside of cannabis buds. 

Often when people think about cannabis, they immediately think of THC—the other most common cannabinoid found in the plant and the one responsible for producing the infamous high associated with marijuana. Unlike THC, CBD is non-intoxicating, so consuming it won’t get you high. However, there are plenty of benefits from CBD. 

For one, research suggests that cannabidiol could be an effective tool for mitigating difficult-to-treat pain. Current mainstream pharmaceutical therapies for pain like opiates come with debilitating side-effects and the risk of addiction. For this reason, many who suffer from chronic pain choose to supplement their treatment plans with CBD. 

CBD can also produce relaxing and calming effects that can help users unwind after a long day. Not only is CBD useful in destressing at the end of a workday, certain studies indicate that the compound can help treat anxiety disorders as well as insomnia

What Are Bioavailability And Bio-delivery?

bioavailability and biodelivery

Bioavailability and bio-delivery are both terms we use to describe how CBD enters our bloodstream.

Bioavailability refers to the total amount of CBD our body is able to use and will vary based on consumption methods. In general, CBD has lower bioavailability meaning most of the cannabinoid doesn’t make it into our bloodstream and produce its therapeutic effects. However, there are methods that are more effective than others. 

Bio-delivery measures the time it takes for the compound to become effective. Similarly to bioavailability, these rates are largely dependent on the intake method. If a method has higher bio-delivery, that means there is less time between the initial consumption and when the effects are felt. 

Why Is Bio-delivery and Bioavailability Important?

If you’re using CBD for a medicinal purpose like pain management, then you likely want to make sure that you’re maximizing the full curative potential of the cannabinoid. Likewise, if you’re in pain, you want to feel relief as soon as possible, not an hour after intake. This is why bioavailability and bio-delivery rates matter to consumers. 

Which Intake Methods Have The Best Bioavailability and Bio-delivery? 

cbd intake methods

Topical CBD, like creams and balms, have some of the lowest bioavailability since very little of the cannabinoid makes it to the bloodstream through the skin. However, the CBD can permeate the skin and may be useful in relieving pain in the specific area of the body where it was applied.

Edible CBD is trendy right now, and honestly, who doesn’t love the idea of getting their CBD from a tasty sour candy. However, because oral consumption methods require the compound to navigate through our digestive system before entering the bloodstream, they offer rather low bioavailability and delivery. The average bioavailability of oral consumption is only around 6-19%. This means that up to 94% of the CBD in it just goes to waste when using a CBD gummy.

Sublingual methods involve placing CBD under the tongue and allowing the cannabinoid to be absorbed by the tissues in the mouth. Using sublingual CBD gives consumers slightly better bioavailability and bio-delivery than oral consumption methods, but not by much. 

Inhalation methods, like traditional smoking, vaping, or using E1011’s CBD delivery device, Elon®, offers the highest bio-delivery and bioavailability when compared to other methods. When using inhalation methods, bioavailability can be as high as 50%, and bio-delivery takes only a matter of minutes. For these reasons, inhalation methods are considered the most effective methods available on the market today.