Updated on January 8, 2024

CBD absorption

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Key takeaways

  • Our bodies can absorb CBD through the skin, by inhalation, and under the tongue (sub-lingual).
  • Inhaled CBD are absorbed quickly and can produce an effect in less than 5 minutes but the effects only last for a short time.
  • Orally ingested CBD offer a gentler approach and longer effect on users.
  • Factors that can affect CBD absorption include dosage, mode of administration, presence of other compounds, and health status of the user.
  • The best method of absorption is the one that provides the best effect for you.

What is CBD absorption?

CBD absorption refers to the process by which the body takes in and utilizes CBD after it has been introduced, usually through ingestion, inhalation, or topical application. The absorption of CBD can vary depending on the method of consumption. In this article, we would study the different routes of CBD absorption.

What are the common ways of CBD absorption?

  1. CBD absorption by inhalation

Inhalation is a way to take in CBD through your breath. It's a quick method, and you'll feel the relaxing effects almost right away. But remember, inhaling CBD doesn't mean smoking a cannabis joint. You can inhale CBD using a vaporizer, an electronic cigarette, a dab bong, or an ultrasonic nebulizer.

  1. CBD absorption by mouth

This is also known as oral absorption. This involves a slower absorption process compared to inhaling it. When you ingest CBD, it has to go through your digestive system before getting into your bloodstream. The liver processes CBD, and only about 20% of it gets into your body.

It takes more time for your body to absorb CBD orally, so the effects are slower to kick in and not as strong as inhaling. However, this slower pace can be an advantage for some. Taking CBD orally provides a gentle and lasting effect, usually within 30 to 60 minutes after ingestion, lasting up to 6 hours.

This method is liked by those dealing with chronic pain, as it spreads the therapeutic benefits over time. It's also easy for beginners. You can use CBD oil in your drinks or on food, take daily capsules, or consume CBD-based food products. A recent study found that eating CBD with a high-fat meal can increase its oral absorption.

  1. CBD absorption under the tongue (Sublingual absorption)

Sublingual CBD absorption is straightforward: just place a few drops under your tongue and let them sit for about 30 seconds. This allows the cannabinoids to be well absorbed by the mucous membranes. Using this method, it takes approximately 5 to 20 minutes for the cannabinoids to reach the bloodstream and produce relaxing effects, much faster than the oral route.

Using a dropper helps you precisely and easily measure your CBD dose. This method is advantageous and suitable for all types of users. In countries where medical cannabis is legal, doctors often recommend sublingual CBD intake because it's a simple, convenient, and accurate technique that delivers quick results.

  1. CBD absorption through the skin

For a different way to use CBD, you can apply it directly to your skin using creams, oils, or treatments. Keep in mind that the relaxing effects will stay in the area where you apply it, as the cannabinoids won't reach your bloodstream. So, if you have specific areas of pain, skin issues, insect bites, or bone and joint inflammation, CBD creams can be a great choice. Hemp is also making waves in the cosmetic and beauty industry because of its antioxidant, firming, and healing properties. CBD creams are known for promoting skin health, slowing down aging, and giving your skin a youthful glow. It's a trendy and beneficial addition to your skincare routine!

How is CBD digested in our body?

When you consume CBD, especially through the mouth or under the tongue, the process of digestion and absorption begins in the digestive system. The following processes will summarize how your body breakdown and use CBD.

  1. Ingestion: CBD is typically consumed orally, either through CBD-infused products like oils, capsules, edibles, or beverages.
  2. Stomach Acid Breakdown: Once ingested, CBD travels to the stomach, where it encounters stomach acid. The acidic environment helps break down the CBD and other components of the ingested product.
  3. Passage to the Small Intestine: After initial breakdown in the stomach, the remaining CBD moves to the small intestine. This is where the majority of nutrient absorption takes place.
  4. Absorption into the Bloodstream: CBD molecules pass through the walls of the small intestine and enter the bloodstream. This process is crucial for CBD to reach systemic circulation and have effects throughout the body.
  5. Transport to the Liver: The bloodstream carries the absorbed CBD to the liver. In the liver, CBD undergoes a process known as the "first-pass effect," where enzymes metabolize it. This step can affect the concentration and form of CBD that reaches the systemic circulation.
  6. Distribution to the Body: After processing in the liver, CBD is distributed throughout the body via the bloodstream. It can interact with various receptors, including those of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which plays a role in maintaining balance and homeostasis.
  7. Metabolism and Elimination: Any remaining CBD undergoes further metabolism and is eventually eliminated from the body, primarily through urine and feces.

What are the factors that can affect CBD absorption?

Several factors can influence the absorption of CBD in the body. These factors can vary depending on the method of consumption and individual characteristics. Here are some key factors that can affect CBD absorption:

  1. Method of Consumption:

Inhaling CBD produces a faster effect than other means of administration. This is because the CBD goes directly into your lungs start interacting with the receptors. Orally administered CBD will have to be activated by the liver before they can start interacting with receptors. This is why it takes an average of 30 minutes before you feel the effect.

  1. Dosage:

The amount of CBD consumed plays a role in its absorption. Higher doses may saturate the body's absorption capacity, potentially affecting the efficiency of absorption.

  1. Bioavailability:

Bioavailability refers to the proportion of CBD that enters the bloodstream and is available for use by the body. Different methods of consumption have varying levels of bioavailability. For example, inhalation generally has higher bioavailability compared to oral ingestion.

  1. Individual Variations:

Individual factors such as metabolism, body weight, and overall health can influence how quickly and effectively the body absorbs and processes CBD.

  1. Product Quality:

The quality of the CBD product, including its formulation, purity, and source, can impact absorption. High-quality products are more likely to deliver consistent and effective results. This is why Nesas Hemp is keen on producing highly effective and verified pure CBD products.

  1. Interaction with Food:

Consuming CBD with or without food can affect absorption. For example, taking CBD with a high-fat meal may increase its absorption, as cannabinoids are fat-soluble.

  1. Presence of Other Compounds:

The presence of other cannabinoids, terpenes, and compounds in full-spectrum CBD products can contribute to the "entourage effect," potentially influencing absorption and overall effects.

  1. Metabolic Enzymes:

Enzymes in the liver, particularly those of the cytochrome P450 family, play a role in metabolizing CBD. Some individuals may have variations in these enzymes, affecting the rate of CBD metabolism.

  1. Administration Timing:

The time of day and frequency of CBD administration can influence its absorption and effects. Consistent dosing schedules may contribute to more predictable results.

How do you take CBD for best results?

The ideal method varies for each person, so it's about finding what suits you best. Consider factors like how quickly you want the effects, your familiarity with CBD, and your budget. If you want rapid and strong effects, inhalation or sublingual options are good choices. For a gentler and longer-lasting experience, oral absorption may be more your style. If you're new to CBD, start with simple methods like CBD oil or capsules. And if you have some extra cash to spare, investing in quality equipment like a vaporizer or nebulizer could be an option. The key is to explore and discover your own CBD happy place.

Want to Learn More?

  1. Living, Beyond Organic CBDa Oil Vs. Dead CBD
  2. Is CBD Safe? What You Should Know About It
  3. CBD Regulations: Where Do We Stand on Organic Hemp Oil?
  4. The CBD Benefits for Kids — Why Moms are turning to hemp 
  5. What is CBDa? What To Know Now


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Izgelov, D., Davidson, E., Barasch, D., Regev, A., Domb, A. J., & Hoffman, A. (2020). Pharmacokinetic investigation of synthetic cannabidiol oral formulations in healthy volunteers. European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics, 154, 108-115. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejpb.2020.06.021

Junaid, M. S. A., Tijani, A. O., Puri, A., & Banga, A. K. (2022). In vitro percutaneous absorption studies of cannabidiol using human skin: Exploring the effect of drug concentration, chemical enhancers, and essential oils. International Journal of Pharmaceutics, 616, 121540. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpharm.2022.121540

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The content on Nesa's Hemp blog is for educational purposes only. We meticulously research and cite our sources, but advise consulting a professional before making decisions based on our information. We derive our content from reputable studies and publications, but individual circumstances may vary. We cannot guarantee the accuracy or applicability of our content to every situation. Nesa's Hemp blog and its authors are not liable for any loss or inconvenience resulting from reliance on our information. By using our blog, you waive any claims against us regarding the accuracy or completeness of our content.

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