How Bioavailable is Your CBD and Plant Medicine?
With the popularity of CBD oils or “tinctures,” it was inevitable for other ingestible forms of CBD to crop up. Manufacturers are processing CBD in a variety of ways to try to increase the effectiveness of their products. One important aspect of ingestible CBD products is how well it is absorbed into the body, a process referred to as bioavailability.
We turned to one of our trusted cannabis experts, Dr. Jessica Knox, to learn more about bioavailability to help us understand why some of the CBD products we’ve tried seem to have more of an “effect” on us than others. Dr. Knox explained that when you take in a CBD oil, only about 10% to 14% of it is actually absorbed into your body and made available where it is needed. Your body metabolizes the rest then expels it, bypassing any place it might have an effect.
According to Dr. Knox, cannabinoids like Cannabidiol or CBD, dissolve better in fat than water because they are lipophilic. CBD extracts are typically placed in oil because the oil increases CBD’s ability to be absorbed into your body.
Can Highly Bioavailable CBD Get You High? No, But…
One CBD product I’ve tried that seemed to give me an immediate rushing feeling that left me wondering if I was getting just a little bit high is FOCO Organics 1200 tincture. How is that possible, I wondered, because I know that CBD is not psychotropic.
“This is common with some people and really has to do with the amount of cannabinoid receptors that we each have genetically expressed,” explains Dr. Kaufman, the Chief Medical Officer of FoCo Organics. “It’s good to adjust the dosing to whatever feels most comfortable. The good news is that the supplement will probably have better effects on people who are more sensitive like this.”
Dr. Kaufman explained that oils that are distilled from hemp plants contain a variety of phyto-nutrients and organic compounds such as terpenes (C10H16) and antioxidants. FoCo’s oil is full-spectrum, using the whole plant.
“The genetic variety of Foco organic hemp has these nutrients in abundance. Many of the non-CBD elements in our oils are synergistic and help with bioavailability. It is this genetic strain in these properties that make our oil superior in functionality and effectiveness.”
FoCo Organics is a woman inspired, co-founded, and owned cannabis company. FoCo Organics’ 1200mg tincture comes in a natural flavor that is closer to the plant taste but mild and pleasant and also wild orange flavored with certified organic ingestible essential oil.
Making CBD Water Soluble
While oil increases CBD’s ability to be absorbed into your body, some companies are processing CBD to be more bioavailable in water using pharmaceutical techniques and developing liposomal and nanoemulsion preparations. Dr. Knox explains that liposomal preparations surround CBD molecules with tiny fat particles, and nanoemulsions make CBD more water-soluble by breaking it down into nanoparticles that are combined with a fatty emulsifier.
One CBD oil I’ve tried that is more water soluble is Mello Mind. When I take this product, I also “feel something” meaning that instead of gradually, over extended periods of time, I feeling less achy or less anxious, I feel brighter or lighter shortly after taking it.
According to the folks at Mello, the (human) body “prefers” water-soluble supplements because they mimic the body’s natural state and can make their way to the liver more readily and less altered. The liver is the place where what we consume is absorbed into our bloodstream. Most oil-based tinctures are “not easily recognized by the body, and so by the time the CBD makes its way to the liver, the body has thrown a large proportion of it away, rendering often pricey tinctures ineffective.”
MELLO MIND is a water soluble CBD product that you can add to any beverage or cold food items like dipping sauces, salad dressing, and smoothies. Mello Mind uses a water-soluble formulation that “makes it easier for the body to fully absorb all the benefits of full-spectrum CBD — meaning you’ll feel the effects much faster – as little as 15 minutes to take effect.”
While there is little scientific evidence at this point proving that any new forms of CBD increase bioavailability, they are becoming more prevalent in the marketplace.
Is Bioavailability a Benefit?
While on the surface, having your supplement or medicine be more bioavailable sounds like a plus, but could you have too much of a good thing?
“It’s hard to say definitively whether increasing CBD bioavailability is a good thing,” Dr. Knox explains. “On the one hand, it certainly seems good to reduce the fraction of CBD the body wastes each time we consume it. This may allow consumers to use less CBD to achieve the benefits they’re seeking. On the other hand, I always worry when we ‘play’ too much with nature. Maybe there’s a good reason we don’t yet understand for the cannabinoids having limited bioavailability.”
Is There a Downside to More Bioavailable CBD?
Dr. Knox acknowledges that some people using CBD products claiming increased bioavailability have reported quicker onset of effect which may be beneficial. CBD that is more bioavailable can also have a much stronger effect than a person is used to with the same serving size of a more conventional CBD product.
“It’s also possible – stress on possible – that increased absorption of CBD could increase the risk for drug interactions since more CBD per unit consumed will be reaching the liver,” Knox explains.
The bottom line? When starting a new “enhanced bioavailability” CBD product, start with a very low dose – no more than 5 mg at a time if you’re a CBD novice. If you’re a more experienced user, start with no more than half of your usual dose of conventional CBD product. Once you know how it affects you, slowly increase the serving size as needed.