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If you’ve read up on CBD before - specifically different ways to take CBD - then you are probably familiar with the term ‘bioavailability’. Whether a newbie to CBD or an experienced user, we all want to know how to get the most out of the CBD products we are paying for. This is why bioavailability is an important thing to understand.

Bioavailability heavily impacts the effectiveness of different drugs - CBD included - and how they work in the body. In this article, we will explain exactly what this means and how this applies to CBD products.

What Does Bioavailability Mean?

In short, bioavailability refers to the amount of a substance that is absorbed into the bloodstream and the rate at which this occurs. When you take any drug, only a proportion can actually reach your bloodstream and have the desired effect. This is due to the processes that the substance must pass through in order to reach its final destination - i.e. the bloodstream.

For example, if you take a pill orally, it must pass through the metabolic systems (the liver) and digestive systems which will filter out a fairly large proportion of that substance. So in order to maximise the bioavailability of a drug, you want a consumption method that will provide the most direct route to the bloodstream.

How Does This Relate To CBD Products?

When you take drugs from your pharmacist, doctor, or over-the-counter medications, the prescribed/recommended dosage already takes bioavailability into account. With CBD, there are so many different products on the market, all with varying methods of consumption. This causes the bioavailability to differ.

This essentially means your optimum dosage will change depending on the type of product you are using. This is one of the reasons why it’s so difficult to recommend one ideal daily dosage for CBD users. If you want to get the most out of your CBD products, you should first consider bioavailability and which type of product might be the most effective.

So, What Is The Best Way To Take CBD In Terms Of Bioavailability?

Sublingually (CBD Oils)

Many people would probably assume that CBD oils would have a similar bioavailability to CBD edibles and soft drinks. However, this is far from the truth! ‘Sublingually’ refers to the method of absorbing a product via the sublingual glands underneath the tongue. This allows the CBD to be absorbed across the thin membrane directly into the blood vessels. This is why it is so important to hold the CBD oil under your tongue for at least a minute before you swallow.

CBD oils can therefore provide an excellent alternative to CBD edibles in terms of effectiveness. And if you’re disappointed that the tasty CBD sweets aren’t as effective as CBD oils - don’t worry! At Dr K, we have a delicious fruity lemon flavour and a fresh peppermint flavour for you to enjoy.

> Estimated bioavailability: up to 35%
> Average time to feel effects: 15-25 minutes

Topically (CBD Skincare Products)

Using CBD topically is very different from using the other CBD products we have listed. When you apply the product to the skin, the CBD enters local tissue and small blood vessels only in that area - so it does not actually reach the full bloodstream. This means that CBD topicals are excellent for treating pain or discomfort in one specific area of the body without having an effect on the body as a whole.

The bioavailability is fairly high since the product can be applied in a targetted area and absorbed into the skin quickly. At Dr K, we use nano-emulsified droplets in our CBD topicals. In short, this means that the CBD particles are tiny - much smaller than that of most topicals on the market. Therefore, the CBD has a much easier time absorbing deeply into the skin and providing quick and effective relief.

> Estimated bioavailability: up to 45%
> Average time to feel effects: 25-45 minutes

Orally (CBD Edibles)

This is probably the least effective way to take CBD in terms of bioavailability. However, many CBD users absolutely love using edibles since they are so easy to take. Plus - CBD gummies, chocolates, and other tasty treats probably provide one of the most enjoyable consumption methods!

As we briefly mentioned above, when we ingest CBD orally the CBD must pass through the metabolic and digestive systems before it can reach the bloodstream. This causes a large proportion of the CBD to be lost along the way.

> Estimated bioavailability: 4-20%
> Average time to feel effects: 30-120 minutes

CBD Soft Drinks

In addition to CBD infused foods, you can also find CBD soft drinks on the market - one of the most common is CBD infused water. CBD soft drinks have similar effects to CBD edibles since they are consumed orally and must be digested and metabolised.

> Estimated bioavailability: 4-20%
> Average time to feel effects: 30-120 minutes

Vapourised (CBD E-Liquids)

CBD e-liquids provide one of the highest bioavailabilities of all CBD products. This is because the vapourised droplets are inhaled directly into the lungs. From here, they cross the thin mucus membrane directly into the bloodstream. Plus, the large surface area of the lungs means that this absorption happens very quickly and easily.

However, we would not recommend vaping CBD (or anything for that matter) at Dr K. Unfortunately, the dangers of vaping seem far too real. Since vaping is a fairly new phenomenon, there is a lack of evidence and regulation to suggest that it is safe for us at all. And since smoking is so damaging to human health, it isn’t unwise to suggest that vaping could have similarly drastic implications.

> Estimated bioavailability: up to 56%
> Average time to feel effects: 10-20 minutes

Intranasally (CBD Nasal Sprays)

Taking CBD intranasally can be just as effective as vaping it, but without the negative implications to our health. This involves spraying the product into the nostril and sniffing it into the lungs (you may be familiar with this method if you have used a cold & flu nasal spray before).

Intranasal CBD products are far less common than the other products we have listed - possibly because it’s not a very enjoyable method of consumption!

> Estimated bioavailability: up to 56%
> Average time to feel effects: 10-20 minutes


  1. CBD Bioavailability. [online]
  2. CBD and Bioavailability.[online]
  3. What is CBD Bioavailability and Why Does it Matter? [online]
  4. Is Vaping CBD Safe? [online]
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