In pharmacology, the term ‘bioavailability’ refers to the ability of a substance to enter a person’s system and produce its intended effects. When it comes to marijuana, being familiar with bioavailability will give you greater control over your high and your dosing methods.
Keep reading to find out how understanding bioavailability can help you to make the most of your cannabis experience!
How Does The Bioavailability of Cannabis Work?
Different methods of consuming cannabis have different bioavailability ratings. In simple terms, this means that consuming a specific amount of cannabis in one way may be significantly more effective than consuming it another way.
While the method of consumption obviously matters, in scientific terms, it is really the route of administration that determines the bioavailability of specific cannabinoids like THC and CBD. Different routes of administration affect the way in which the human body absorbs, distributes, and processes a substance. By consuming cannabis in certain ways, your body will be able to absorb more of it, and its effects will be more potent.
Why Does The Bioavailability of Cannabis Matter?
Knowing how bioavailability works will help you to get the most out of your cannabis. If you are looking to make the most of your small stash or limited cannabis funds, consuming cannabis in ways that maximize its bioavailability will help you do so.
For medical cannabis patients, understanding bioavailability is even more important. Choosing the correct route of administration to medicate through will give them the best chance of producing intended effects and successfully treating their symptoms.
The Bioavailability of Common Consumption Methods
The only known route of administration to have a near-perfect bioavailability rating is intravenous (IV) administration due to the fact that it enters the bloodstream immediately. However, when it comes to cannabis, IV administration is not possible, leaving us with the next best thing: vaporization.
A study from 2016 found that some commercially available vaporizers were capable of achieving bioavailability ratings of between 50% and 80%. This means that vaporization is by far the most effective consumption method for both recreational and medical consumers. When it comes to smoking, a study from 2005 found the bioavailability of inhaled cannabis smoke to be roughly 30%.
If consumed sublingually in the form of tincture, cannabis has a bioavailability of between 15%-30%. Despite their lower bioavailability, sublingual oils and tinctures hit the system very quickly. Typically, the effects of CBD and THC can be felt within a matter of seconds.
Lastly, cannabis edibles have the lowest bioavailability ratings around, clocking in at roughly 4%-5% due to the metabolism’s first-pass effect. Despite this, many health-conscious consumers still prefer to regularly consume edibles rather than potentially harmful smoke.
While sublingual tinctures and infused edibles have a lower bioavailability than smoking or vaporization, they are also safer to consume. Unlike smoke or vapor, tinctures and edibles contain no harmful carcinogens.
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