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Bioavailability – Why Much of the THC and CBD You Consume is Wasted

Bioavailability – Why Much of the THC and CBD You Consume is Wasted

In the CBD and THC worlds, many brands claim to have 100% bioavailable oils.  Is their product an intravenous product?  If not, the product is not 100% bioavailable.  Seems to be a marketing claim those brands should not be making, and most do not have the clinical trial results to prove the claim.  Like we always say, if a brand is making a false claim on one front, what else are they doing to mislead potential customers for a sale?

If you knew that only 6% of your CBD or THC gummies would enter your bloodstream, would you still purchase them?

With the current frenzy surrounding cannabis and its therapeutic benefits, it’s easy to gloss over the bioavailability of these products.  Let’s dig into this a bit further.


In pharmacology, bioavailability is a subcategory of absorption and is the fraction of an administered dose of unchanged substance that reaches the systemic circulation, one of the principal pharmacokinetic properties. While intravenous bioavailability is always 100 %, the oral bioavailability is usually less than 100 % because of incomplete absorption and/or first-pass elimination.

As an example, if 10 mg of a substance is administered orally and 7 mg of it is absorbed unchanged, the bioavailability is 0.7 or seventy percent (70%). 

When talking about CBD or THC “bioavailability” it comes down to what percentage of CBD or THC is actually absorbed into the bloodstream. This is important because the more you actually absorb into the bloodstream, the more potent the effect. CBD and THC bioavailability is mainly determined by the type of product you take and how you take it.

There are many forms and ways you can consume CBD and THC: lotions, tinctures, oils, e-liquids, capsules and more. Each of these different forms requires a different usage method, and each product typically comes in multiple concentrations.

The consumer can get easily confused and unfortunately misled.  Bioavailability comes down to the consumption method and the concentration amount or potency.

Vaping as a consumption method will have a faster onset (a couple minutes) of effects; however, vaping can be very dangerous to your health.  Please read the BE WELL Blog Post (VAPING: Safety or Sales) for more insights.

In contrast, a soft gel capsule will have a longer onset (40 minutes or more).  When cannabis is ingested orally, it is absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and transported via the portal vein to the liver, where it is metabolized. As a result of this process, only a limited quantity reaches the circulatory system.

Oral administration lasts longer than smoking, eliminating the need for frequent dosing. Oral methods also avoid irritation to the airways and the risk of malignancies associated with smoking or vaping.


As mentioned above, if you want to get the most bioavailability out of your CBD or THC, the most direct route would be intravenous administration.  This is not the most practical or desired method however.

Also mentioned above, vaping is a method, but one we do not recommend.  Vaporizing dried cannabis is a “better” method than e-liquid vaping…however vaporizing also has its dangers similar to smoking, etc.

For oral consumption (edibles, oils, capsules), one method that boosts the absorption is to combine the cannabis product with healthy fats such as guacamole, hummus or dark chocolate.  This is another reason why many brands use MCT from Coconut Oil as a carrier for sublingual oils.  MCT stands for Medium-Chain Triglycerides with two or three fatty acids having an aliphatic tail of 6–12 carbon atoms, i.e., medium-chain fatty acids. Rich food sources for commercial extraction of MCTs include palm kernel oil and coconut oil.

There is still more research which needs to be completed, however as a brand, we feel the sublingual method using a safe, premium oil is the best approach.

 Please review these BE WELL Blog Posts for more information:

4 Ways to Use Hemp Oil / CBD

How Much CBD Should I Take?

Cannabis is a Phytoremediator - Understanding Why That Matters

What is CBD Isolate?

What is Full Spectrum Phytocannabinoid Rich Hemp Oil with Naturally Occurring CBD?

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