There is still a lot to be discovered about CBD and the way it works in the body. Although each person reacts differently to the substance, there’s always some science applicable to all consumers. And while we long had to rely on anecdotal proof of how CBD actually works; an increasing body of scientific research makes it easier for us to understand the plant’s substance now. Providing us with answers to questions as: ‘should I consume CBD oil drops with food or does it work better on an empty stomach?’

Using CBD

As you might know, most CBD products are best consumed multiple times a day. In the morning, around lunchtime and at night before you go to bed - for example. Though something you might not’ve considered, is that your body processes your CBD oil drops differently on those various occasions. Mostly because of the biological variables we provide the Cannabidiol (CBD) to work with.

For instance, you might take your CBD drops on an empty stomach when you wake up; on top of a light lunch during the afternoon and after a serious meal at night. Even though it might look like this won’t make a big difference, nothing could be further from the truth. As science proves, the food you might or might not have eaten does impact the way CBD is processed by the body. And consequently, the way it affects the body.

How CBD works in the body

To understand why that is, we have to look at the way the body absorbs Cannabidiol. More specifically, we focus on CBD’s bioavailability and how that might be influenced by the ‘first-pass-effect’. Bioavailability means the ratio in which a substance becomes actively available where it’s needed, after consumption. Or in other words, how much and how fast CBD actually reaches the bloodstream after you take the oil.

And as you might’ve learned in one of our other blogs - about the water-soluble CBDactive+ for example - Cannabidiol in itself generally has a very low bioavailability. Even when it’s diluted with a carrier oil, like hemp seed oil or olive oil.

In fact, regular CBD oils provide a bioavailability of just 6-12% of the consumed Cannabidiol. Which means that much of the consumed cannabinoid is actually broken down by the body before it can make a difference; in something we call the ‘first-pass-effect’. Considering the fatty molecules have a hard time traveling through the mouth’s tissue; regular CBD oils need to pass through the digestive system before they can be processed by the liver.

There, the body breaks the consumed cannabinoids down into over 100 different metabolites. All with the help of the so-called P450 cytochrome enzymes. Though unfortunately, the body breaks down and excretes much of these metabolites before they reach the bloodstream. With a low bioavailability of the product as a result. Meaning you might need more CBD oil to reach the desired effect; compared to CBD products with a higher bioavailability; like CBDactive+.

Taking CBD oil drops with food

Though as science shows, there is an easy and cheap way to make the substance more effective; and that is to take your CBD oil combined with food. Proven by researchers of the University of Minnesota, consuming CBD with food could possibly avoid the first-pass-effect and increase the efficacy of the drops you take.

This research was performed on eight adult participants with therapy-resistant epilepsy; and focussed on exploring the impact food has on CBD’s effects. For the experiment, participants received ‘one dose of 99% pure CBD capsules’. In other words, capsules filled with CBD isolate crystals. And they were instructed to consume it on an empty stomach, as well as after a fatty meal (840-860 calories). Blood plasma levels were noted immediately after taking the CBD and again several days later.

As the results show, the body absorbs four times more Cannabidiol - and much faster too - when consumed with fatty food than it does on an empty stomach. And despite of the relatively small size of the study, it does in fact confirm what we know about the absorption-rate of fats and oils.

Fatty acids and CBD

This study’s results are backed by a review done by the Harvard Medical School - which focused on the bioavailability of fatty acids in the body. Which showed that conventional fats and oils act as energy-rich and quick-acting fuel.

Accordingly, the body absorbs fatty food faster and so avoids that part of it is broken down by the ‘first-pass-effect’. In most cases, CBD is diluted with a carrier oil consisting of organic fats or fatty acids. However, this is often not enough to protect the CBD from the P450 enzymes. Thus it might be advisable to start taking your CBD after you’ve eaten; or combine it with fat foods as fish, avocado, nuts, red meats and coconut oil to name a few.

More effective CBD

On the other hand, there are products available, especially developed to reach maximum bioavailability. Take our CBDactive+ for example, a water-soluble CBD extract with all cannabinoids and terpenes needed for the best entourage effect. Due to the chemical make-up of the active ingredients in this product, it completely avoids being ‘attacked’ by the P450 enzymes; and is absorbed for the full 100 percent. Accordingly, this means that a CBDactive+ product with 4% CBD is comparable to a regular CBD oil of 40% in terms of effects.

Summarizing, it might be advisable to increase the number of healthy fatty acids you consume daily to increase the effects from regular CBD oils. Another possibility, is switching to a hemp product with a high bioavailability like CBDactive+. All depending on what you’d like to achieve with the use of the cannabinoid supplement, of course.

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