Understanding how CBD and THC are metabolized is an important step in knowing which types of CBD/THC products are best for your personal use. Everything we put into our bodies is metabolized—broken down into substances that can be used by our cells. The process of metabolizing varies according to how a drug enters the body. CBD/THC salves, edibles, smokables, capsules and oils all interact differently with the body.
First Pass Metabolism
CBD/THC capsules, oils, tinctures and other edibles must pass through the digestive system where the compounds are absorbed and transported to the liver where they are further broken down before entering the bloodstream. This is called “first pass metabolism.” With the long journey oral products must go through, it’s no surprise that the beneficial compounds of CBD—or bioavailbility—are significantly reduced through first pass metabolism.
According to a study by the World Health Organization, as little as 6% of oral CBD is actually absorbed by the body. Even so, oral consumption is the most convenient method for many people who depend on CBD and THC products to manage pain, anxiety and other symptoms. To increase the bioavailability of your oral and edible products, take them after food, especially food that contains MCT fatty acids such as olive or coconut oil. Sublingual dosing—holding the products under the tongue for 60-90 seconds before swallowing—may increase bioavailability.
Creams, salved ointments and bath bombs containing CBD and THC are effective treatments for localized conditions like joint or muscle pain. When applied, the CBD/THC is absorbed through the pores and can directly interact with cannabinoid receptors. While topical products are the least likely to help with system-wide illness or disorders, they are an excellent choice for targeted treatment of aches and pain caused by inflammation.
Smoking and Vaping
Smoking a cannabis strain or e-liquid is the fastest way to feel the effects of CBD and THC. When smoked, the compounds enter your bloodstream directly for a higher level of bioavailability. Smoking and vaping may be a less convenient form of using CBD/THC for some people, but for those who want fast effects, it’s the best option.
The CBD/THC product that works best for someone else may not be the best choice for you. Combining edible, topical and smokable products for the highest bioavailability could be the most effective method for meeting your specific needs.