Shopping for cannabis products can sometimes feel a little intimidating simply because of how many terms and phrases you need to be aware of. If you’ve gone shopping recently, you may have noticed products that claim to have “high bioavailability,” or use “nanotechnology” to boost bioavailability — but, what does this even mean?
Today, we’re taking a look at what cannabis bioavailability is all about, and whether or not it matters in terms of product efficacy or quality. So, let’s find out: does higher cannabis bioavailability really matter?
What Does Cannabis Bioavailability Mean?
Before we talk about the importance of high bioavailability in cannabis products, it’s important to establish what bioavailability is in the first place.
The dictionary definition of bioavailability is “the degree and rate at which a substance (as a drug) is absorbed into a living system or is made available at the site of physiological activity.” Thus, cannabis bioavailability judges how quickly cannabinoids like THC are absorbed into the body and get to work.
When it comes to cannabis, different products have different levels of bioavailability depending on the actual consumption method. Products that you inhale, for example, provide some of the highest levels of bioavailability, as well as tinctures you consume sublingually.
Along with different consumption methods, other aspects also increase bioavailability like how the product is made, and even what kinds of foods you pair your consumption with. Products with 2% or more fat content tend to increase cannabis bioavailability because of the cannabinoids’ ability to pair with fats.
So, when you see products that claim they have high or “higher” bioavailability, this means that the company has crafted their products using a way that allows them to better break down in the body.
The Bioavailability of Different Cannabis Products
As we mentioned briefly, different cannabis products have different levels of bioavailability, and this can directly affect your experience overall.
Quickly, we wanted to give you a rundown on the major types of cannabis products/consumption methods to let you know what you can expect in terms of natural bioavailability. This way, you know which products are right for you when it comes time to shop.
Flower (as well as pre-rolls or blunts) is well-known for providing the quickest effects out of all cannabis products. This is because, when you inhale cannabis, the cannabinoids are immediately absorbed within the lungs and can start providing strong effects right off the bat.
However, smoking or vaping isn’t going to provide you with the highest level of bioavailability possible. This is because, when you smoke, not all the cannabinoids make it to your lungs. The ones that don’t are wasted, and you’re left with a quick and potent high, but maybe not the most powerful one.
The percentages vary, but people report the bioavailability of cannabis flower to be anywhere from 10-35% — and this is high, just not the highest.
The bioavailability of cannabis tinctures will range significantly depending on the product itself and how you consume it.
Most tinctures on the market today are crafted with a typical oil-based formulation that binds to the fat molecules in the body. Buyers have two types of consumption options when it comes to tinctures: oral or sublingual.
Oral consumption means that you take your tincture and add it to your food or beverage and then consume it as you would an infused food. While this is somewhat effective, as we will discuss in a moment, the cannabinoids won’t produce nearly the efficacy they would if you consumed the tincture sublingually.
Sublingual consumption means that you place the drops of tincture under your tongue and hold it there for about 60 seconds before swallowing. This helps the tincture better absorb into the body, creating quicker, more powerful results than when you add it to your smoothie or tea.
Thus, the bioavailability of sublingual consumption is slightly higher than oral consumption.
You might be surprised to learn that edibles have some of the lowest levels of bioavailability, despite giving you some of the strongest highs. When you consume cannabis orally, the cannabinoids go through a lot just to get to the liver, already reducing strength levels.
Then, once it reaches the liver, very small amounts of cannabinoids are actually absorbed. People report that the bioavailability of edibles is anywhere from 4-12%.
But, does any of this really matter? What kind of effect does high bioavailability have on your cannabis experience? We’ll explain.
Does Higher Bioavailability Matter?
Simply put, yes, higher bioavailability does matter. The higher the bioavailability, the easier it is for the cannabinoid to absorb in the body. The easier this process is, the more potent the cannabinoids are because they don’t have to go through as much traveling.
CBD has very low bioavailability resulting in only a fraction of the amount you take (6% or less) actually being absorbed by your body.John McDonagh, NextEvo
NextEvo, a premium CBD brand, understands exactly how and why this process is crucial for consumers to understand: “Bioavailability is very important because it is a measure of how much of the bioactive (CBD) is absorbed into the bloodstream, which is how nutrients get distributed throughout the body,” shares founder John McDonagh.
He goes on to explain, “If it doesn’t get into the bloodstream it is less likely they can have a benefit to the user. CBD is a lipophilic molecule, thereby when ingested orally, it has very low bioavailability resulting in only a fraction of the amount you take (6% or less) actually being absorbed by your body.”
Thus, when you have products with high bioavailability, not only do they produce results quicker, but the results tend to be much more potent than those from products with lower bioavailability.
Higher bioavailability is crucial for people who require potent results from their cannabis. If you have a high tolerance, you want to make sure you’re consuming products that act quickly and provide you the relief you’re looking for. This is why many experienced consumers turn to products like tinctures or even flower for the quickest, most powerful results.
In this day and age, people want the bioavailability of products like flower but not in flower form. So, you may come across tinctures, topicals, or even edibles that have been made with nanotechnology to help enhance bioavailability.
Most products use an oil-based CBD or CBD isolate which results in extremely poor bioavailability.
Essentially, this means that the cannabinoids in those products have been shrunk into minuscule sizes to allow them to be absorbed into the body easier. Now, you can find products of all types that work quicker — and more powerfully — than ever before thanks to higher bioavailability and unique technologies.
NextEvo’s founder explains the reasoning for this: “Most products use an oil-based CBD (tinctures, gummies) or CBD isolate (capsules, gummies) which results in extremely poor bioavailability.”
However, the professionals over at NextEvo want to stress that enhancing bioavailability means more than just shrinking some cannabinoids — ingredients and emulsions play huge roles here, too: “NextEvo Naturals uses a proprietary emulsion called SmartSorb which we use in all of our product forms to ensure consistent high bio-availability with each and every dose.”
Without a proper emulsifier to mix the components, you’ll never get the bioavailability you’re looking for.
Getting the Most Out of Your Cannabis Products
If you want the most out of your cannabis products, it’s best to turn to products with high bioavailability. You can find water-soluble tinctures, high-potency flower, or even edibles made with nanotechnology these days that can help enhance bioavailability and create the cannabis experience you’ve always wanted.
Remember to read labels closely to see if the products mention anything about enhanced bioavailability. If they do, you know you’re in for quite a treat.