The bioavailability of cannabis is a very important factor that most people don’t know about. If your cannabis isn’t bioavailable, your body can’t absorb the majority of the beneficial effect. That could mean that only 6% of the cannabis in an edible will make it to the bloodstream. That’s a tiny amount when you consider the cost of most edibles and cannabis products.
Bioavailability is the degree and rate at which a substance is absorbed into your bloodstream to be used where needed. Between consumption methods and physiological processes, cannabis absorption can be more hit-or-miss than a sure thing.
To ensure that your body is absorbing as much cannabis for medicinal effects as possible, it’s important to purchase bioavailable cannabis. You’ll also need to consume less for the same effect with bioavailable cannabis, saving you money and helping you learn more of what your body needs and responds to.
If you’ve never heard of bioavailable cannabis and its importance for your body, you’re not alone. While bioavailability is one of the most important aspects of cannabis, it’s the least understood among consumers.
With the influx of cannabis products available, especially tinctures and edibles which are both made with oil, the bioavailability became compromised in this medium. Fifth grade science taught us all that the body is between 70% and 80% water, which means that cannabis tinctures and edibles have a harder time being absorbed because, as we also learned early in life, oil and water don’t mix.
Cannabis suspended in or made with an oil base is not going to absorb as well and the bioavailability can be compromised. Cannabis and cannabinoids are fat-soluble, meaning that they are absorbed best when eaten with fatty foods such as butter and other fatty foods.
In an article titled Why You Need to Eat Fat with Your Cannabis on HelloMD the author talks about the importance of the connection between cannabis and fats to make the most of the medicinal properties. “When a person eats a cannabis edible that contains a high-fat ingredient or has a relatively high- fat meal along with eating a marijuana edible, these fats appear to stimulate activity in the intestinal lymphatic system. In this way, the compounds that are dissolved in fats are transported into the bloodstream by this secondary lymphatic system and made available to the body.”
Additionally, not all fats are created equal, as we’ve seen from massive adoption and obsession over coconut oil in the past decade. Coconut oil has been embraced by the cannabis industry for its ability to deliver the health benefits similar to saturated fat. “Saturated fats, which are mainly found in animal products, are high in long-chain fatty acids and are the most effective medium for dissolving cannabis compounds. Plant-based fats—such as olive oil, sesame oil or avocado oil—are unsaturated. Although they can make cannabis compounds bioavailable too, they may not deliver the full effect as efficiently as saturated animal fats do.”
How to Maximize Bioavailability
This is one case where it doesn’t matter what type of cannabis you consume, as long as you eat it along with something fatty. If you’re vegan, this can prove challenging as you’ll be limited to plant-based fats.
Cannabis products, such as capsules, soft gels, tinctures, and edibles, limit bioavailability because they first pass through the liver before they are absorbed and metabolized by the body. Absorption is low with edibles, which is why many people say they don’t feel anything from edibles.
Here are some simple ways you can increase bioavailability and get to most out of your cannabis:
Eat Fatty Foods
It’s a good thing munchies are a side effect for most cannabis users because this can truly help absorption in the body! Eat a fatty meal or snack right before or after you consume cannabis and wait about 30 minutes to see how your body reacts. Chances are that you’ll experience the effects of the cannabis faster and maybe even a bit stronger than normal. This can be anything that is considered a fatty food like burgers, tacos, buttered popcorn, guacamole, dark chocolate etc. Basically everything you crave when you’re high. Now you don’t have to feel bad about the munchies!
You’re typically going to get a longer lasting high or experience from ingesting cannabis rather than smoking or vaping it. You probably already know this from that time in college you ate that homemade weed brownie and couldn’t move for 4 hours. When you smoke, it goes through the system much faster and doesn’t last nearly as long. Edibles that are baked, like cookies or brownies, will likely be made with butter rather than oil and will be more bioavailable than a gummy.
While this might be the last thing you want to do while you’re high, there are actually many benefits to working out while high, one of them being bioavailability. Cannabis is fat-soluble and is stored in the fatty tissue in the body. Working out helps release cannabis from fatty tissue (typically relied upon for drug tests) and can help increase and maximize your high. When cannabis is just sitting in the fatty tissue, it’s dormant. When it’s released, it becomes active and can enhance the high.
Eliminate “Sidestream Smoke”
Sidestream smoke (aka second hand smoke) can decrease bioavailability when you blow out a huge hit from a joint, vaporizer, or bong. To minimize sidestream smoke, take smaller hits. And regardless of what Snoop Dogg taught us all in the 1990s, there is no evidence that suggests holding the smoke in longer will get you higher. Taking smaller hits, however, will do the trick.
If you’re freaking out about how much cannabis you’ve wasted to poor bioavailability over the years, don’t worry. Stop into The Spot 420 to talk to our professional budtenders about which products are best for you and how you can support the bioavailability of your cannabis. Once you know how best to consume cannabis for the maximum effects, you’ll be armed with the education to go forth and get super high, or just reap the many medicinal benefits of the plant.