Bioavailability is a concept that is well known to doctors and pharmacists, though non-medicos are not much aware of it. However, it is essential to understand, as it is a factor that decides the efficacy of any medicine, supplement, natural extract, and so on.
Although two products may claim to have a similar amount of CBD per dosage and yet they might act differently due to differing bioavailability.
In simple terms, bioavailability is the amount of substance that goes into the bloodstream after intake. Thus, 90% bioavailability means that if 100 mg of any product is taken, then 90 mg can be found in the bloodstream after some time. It means that products with low bioavailability may not work as expected.
Achieving good bioavailability is a challenge – particularly with natural extracts. Reason for this is that unlike most medications, natural compounds are chemically more complex, and molecule size is larger. The human body can readily accept low molecular weight salts, but it strictly controls the movement of large and complex molecules. Just take an example, the molecular weight of CBD is almost twice that of acetaminophen.
Factors affecting bioavailability
A number of factors influence the bioavailability of medications and food items. Many natural extracts and medicines interact with food items when ingested, which may delay their absorption or even prevent. Similarly, part of natural extracts might be destroyed by gastric juices.
Once the remaining extract reaches the small intestine, it faces many hurdles there too. These hurdles exist for the safety of the human body, to prevent any toxic substances from reaching the bloodstream. Thus, the intestinal barrier is very selective in allowing the products to get into the body. Some products are destroyed when trying to enter the intestine.
Finally, when the natural extract and medication get absorbed, they are sent to the liver via portal vein for further checks and processing. Some extracts might be destroyed in the liver if the body finds them too toxic, and this is called the first-pass metabolism.
Once the extracts like CBD reaches the blood, it can achieve various target organs. However, CBD cannot stay in the bloodstream forever. After a few hours, liver cells metabolize most of it, and kidneys remove the metabolic by-products.
It means that all manufacturers of medications and natural supplements have to find ways to improve the bioavailability of their products. So that to ensure that their supplements work. And as one may have guessed by now, that bioavailability depends on the root of administration, too.
Bioavailability also depends on the route of administration
Most effective route of administration is intravenous, which achieves 100% bioavailability. However, not every substance can be injected intravenously. Since intravenous route also exposes to a higher risk of toxicity. Moreover, only water-soluble compounds are suitable for such use. Intravenous formulations of CBD are not available due to safety issues.
The oral route is the most commonly used and preferred route by people. It is highly convenient to take drugs, natural extracts orally. Not all oral medicals are made equally, as they come in various forms like oils, syrups, suspensions, tablets, capsules, gummies, food-additives, and so on. And each oral form has its pros and cons. CBD researchers are paying particular attention to improving bioavailability through this route. Manufacturers try to achieve this in several ways like combining CBD with other fatty acids for better availability or even mixing it with other natural substances like piperine.
Inhalation is another common route with high bioavailability. Those using cannabis for recreational purposes prefer this route due to almost immediate effect and excellent bioavailability. That is why many individuals love smoking. However, when it comes to supplements, creating formulations for inhalation is not that easy, as one has to ensure a higher level of purity.
The sublingual route involves placing CBD or other natural extracts below the tongue and holding there for some time. Since tissues below the tongue have excellent blood flow, some compounds may get absorbed well and immediately. Sublingual products may be available in tablets, sprays, lozenges, and so on. Since drugs or natural compounds taken in this way work quickly, this route is preferred in the treatment of some conditions like cardiac diseases. However, this route is only suitable for products that require minimal amounts to be absorbed for working.
There are many other routes like rectal or vaginal suppositories, skin patches, chewing gums, and so on. Each of the routes has its unique benefits. Slowly, CBD products are getting available with improved bioavailability and in different forms.
For consumers, it is not easy to understand these concepts. Thus, one way to ensure that they are buying the CBD with high bioavailability is by selecting the better-known brands.