When it comes to cannabinoids, there is one term that everyone should know: bioavailability. This term remains widely misunderstood and overlooked, in spite of it having the biggest impact on whether or not we end up getting the results that we want with cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-8 THC.
Bioavailability is a somewhat complex matter because it’s dependent on a wide array of factors that start with the actual raw plant material and end with the packaging and storage of individual products. However, there are clear indicators of bioavailability that we will be detailing so that you can know exactly what to look for to ensure the quality of experience that you’re looking for.
What Does Bioavailability Mean?
Bioavailability is a term that refers to the efficiency of a compound’s ability to absorb into the body to be fully effective. It determines how much of the compound actually impacts the human system, rather than getting regarded as waste and leaving the body before offering its active effects.
Whenever we take any type of cannabinoid-based product, we have a clear goal in mind, which is to experience the effects of the cannabinoid in a way that improves the way in which we feel. A product that has low bioavailability is not going to offer the full extent of a cannabinoid’s effects, because some aspect of the product is preventing the cannabinoid from fully absorbing into the body to release its properties as expected.
Bioavailability matters no matter which cannabinoid you’re working with. This means that the rules of bioavailability apply to both CBD and THC, and so with both of these products, there are key things you should be paying attention to when shopping to ensure that you end up with as bioavailable of a product as possible.
What Direct Factors Can Determine Bioavailability?
The key to rating the bioavailability of a product is paying attention to certain factors pertaining to how the product was developed and produced, and most of this information is provided by the company you intend to buy from. That being said, here are the key factors that you should be looking for when choosing a CBD or THC formula.
Factor #1: Delivery Method
Each delivery method has a specific level of bioavailability, which determines how quickly the effects are felt, how long the effects last and how potently the effects behave in the body.
- Inhalation: Products that are inhaled offer the most bioavailable delivery method, which is why when we inhale via smoking or vaping we feel the effects the quickest and strongest.
- Sublingual: Sublingual products (tinctures) are also quite bioavailable, and the effects can be felt in less than 45 minutes while being fairly potent in terms of how they feel.
- Ingestion: Ingesting cannabinoids, either in the form of an edible such as a gummy, or a beverage, offers lower bioavailability, which is why it can take over an hour before the effects are felt, and why the effects are a bit more subdued than other delivery methods. Note: For some people, this is actually desirable, coupled with the fact that edibles and other ingestible methods can offer the longest-lasting effects, for up to 8-hours.
- Topical: Topical products are in fact highly bioavailable, but the effects stay localized to the area onto which the topical was applied. Applying a cannabinoid topical directly to an area of the body allows the compound to absorb quickly through the skin to reach the cannabinoid receptors of the skin, muscles, and joints in minutes.
Factor #2: Dose Strength
Technically, bioavailability does not refer to a product’s potency. It determines the proportion of a substance that absorbs to be effective. However, products with higher milligram strengths introduce higher concentrations of cannabinoids into the body, which then increases the amount that does end up absorbing properly to provide its properties to our system.
Factor #3: Quality of the Hemp Plant Material
Ultimately, bioavailability starts with the hemp plant. Hemp plant material grown using organic methods is more bioavailable, as the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and other strong chemicals can interfere with the stability of the cannabinoids, and cannabinoids that are lacking in chemical stability struggle to fully absorb into the body due to changes to their molecular makeup that inhibit full bonding to cannabinoid receptors.
Factor #4: The Extraction Method Used
Different extraction methods can yield varying levels of bioavailability as well. Some extraction methods can be quite damaging to the stability of individual cannabinoids, such as solvent-based methods which can cause the compounds to degrade due to exposure to powerful solvents, or extraction methods that rely on high temperatures that cause the cannabinoids to break down quickly.
- For CBD, CO2 extraction is ideal as it involves the use of pressurized carbon dioxide which doesn’t damage the chemical structure of the cannabinoid.
- For delta 8, steam distillation is the ideal method, as it also preserves the structural integrity of the compound so that it can remain as bioavailable as possible.
Factor #5: Additional Processing Methods
Different processing methods such as purification (the refinement of specific cannabinoids to yield higher purity levels) and winterization (the removal of lipids) can yield a cleaner and more concentrated cannabinoid product, but there must be a balance maintained as these processes can also strip the cannabinoids of their bioavailability by destabilizing them, as excessive processing tends to do. This is why it is important to find a company that’s known for using high-end processing methods that preserve the compounds as much as possible.
Factor #6: A Product’s Age and How It’s Stored
Did you know that cannabinoids degrade over time? In return, this causes them to degrade and weaken, thus becoming less bioavailable to the body due to a weak ability to bind properly to cannabinoid receptors. Cannabinoids in their pure extracted form can last for up to a couple of years, but if not stored properly, they can actually break down even sooner. CBD and THC should both be kept in environments that are cool, dark, and dry, as light, heat, and even humidity all cause these compounds to degrade quickly.
Factor #7: Type of Hemp Compounds Present
The more hemp compounds in a product, the more bioavailable it may be. Compounds in hemp share a synergistic relationship with one another that aids in the bioavailability be enabling each other to absorb more efficiently into the body. Full spectrum products are highly bioavailable due to what’s known as the “entourage effect”, referring to maximum synergistic value that comes from consuming all of the naturally occurring compounds together.
Sativa Remedy: Carrying Products with Maximum Bioavailability for Maximum Satisfaction
A hemp product can sound very appealing based on the way in which it’s described by a manufacturer, but ultimately, bioavailability is key to how successful a product will be. That’s why you should always look for products made by reputable companies that utilize the best extraction methods, storage methods, and formulation methods that allow the cannabinoids to be as bioavailable as possible.
Sativa Remedy goes to great lengths to ensure that each brand/manufacturer we carry has gone through every step of manufacturing in order to create the most bioavailable hemp cannabinoid products available on our site.