Houdini Lab

Explanation of Cannabis’s Bioavailability.

What you should know.
Whether you use cannabis medicinally or occasionally vape, it’s critical to understand the bioavailability of cannabis. Understanding how cannabis works in conjunction with the various methods of consumption can assist you in selecting the delivery method that is best for you.

What is the term “bioavailability”?

To be effective, a substance must first be absorbed by your body. Simply explained, bioavailability refers to the amount of a chemical absorbed into the bloodstream and distributed to certain tissues and organs. 1,2

Consider how much of the chemical is available for your body to utilize.

Bioavailability is expressed as a percentage of the product dose that is absorbed in the body. If 100 mg of a medicine is administered orally and 70 mg is absorbed unchanged, the bioavailability is 0.7 or 70%.

In general, the greater the bioavailability, the less of the active ingredient is required to provide the desired effect. For instance, when your body absorbs more CBD, the effect is more effective.

Bioavailability varies by individual.

Numerous factors can affect your body’s ability to absorb cannabis, including your age, general health, certain gastrointestinal conditions, and whether the product is taken with or without meals.


Additionally, the bioavailability of cannabis varies according on the cannabinoids used and the way they are given into the body. (for instance, if you swallow it or inhale it).

Cannabis consumption methods

Cannabis can be used in three primary ways: inhalation, sublingual, or oral. Here is a summary of each.




For both formats, residual effects can persist up to 24 hours. 3

Cannabis dried’s bioavailability

Ten to thirty minutes after administration, the effects are felt.

The effects may last up to six hours* three

Due to the fact that inhalation is the quickest route of delivery, many people prefer to take cannabis in this manner. According to one study, smoked THC had an average bioavailability of roughly 25-27 percent. 4 When smoking cannabis, the effects typically begin about ten minutes after inhalation. 3

However, when it comes to smoked cannabinoids, much is dependent on the depth of inhalation, puff duration, and breath hold. Due to the fact that the benefits of smoking cannabis are outweighed by the negative effects of smoke, smoking is not generally suggested for therapeutic purposes.

Vaping’s bioavailability

Ten to thirty minutes after administration, the effects are felt.

The effects may last up to six hours* three

As with smoking, vaping makes use of the lungs to absorb cannabinoids. Because it is usually believed to be safer than smoking, it is being investigated as a possible substitute for smoking. According to one study, the greatest method for increasing cannabis’ bioavailability was to use a vaporizer. 5 Vaping devices are available in an array of shapes and sizes. With the proper vaporizer, bioavailability for THC and CBD can range between 36% and 61%. 5

Capsule bioavailability

The effects are felt within 30 minutes to two hours, but it takes four hours to feel the maximum effect.

The effects may last up to 12 hours* 3

Oral administration techniques, in comparison to inhalation, have a reduced bioavailability. This is because the swallowed capsule must pass through the stomach’s acidic environment and then through the liver before entering the bloodstream. In rare instances, the liver may alter or metabolize the product before it reaches the bloodstream. 1

One study discovered that when prescription cannabinoid medications such as synthetic THC are taken orally, only around 10% to 20% of the prescribed amount enters the bloodstream, indicating substantial liver metabolism.


Sublingual methods—oils and sprays—bioavailability

The cannabinoids are absorbed directly through the mucus membranes of the mouth and nose, bypassing the liver and entering the bloodstream immediately. Peak blood levels have been detected within around two hours using this method, although there is considerable variance across individuals in terms of time from commencement to peak effects. 4

Topical medications’ bioavailability

These are administered to the skin in the form of lotions, ointments, bath salts, and oils. Cannabinoids are hydrophobic, meaning they oppose water, which limits their penetration into the aqueous layer of the skin. While not extensively examined, some research indicates that cannabis lotions and balms applied to the joint have a minute-to-hour onset of action and a two-hour duration of impact. 6

Edibles’ bioavailability

The effects are felt within 30 minutes to two hours, but it takes four hours to feel the maximum effect.

The effects may last up to 12 hours* 3

Edibles, or cannabis-infused foods, include a variety of products, including baked goods (e.g., brownies, cookies), beverages (e.g., coffee, tea, juice, and soda), and candies (e.g., chocolate, hard and soft candies). As with other oral forms, consumables have a lesser bioavailability than inhaled forms and can be inconsistent. 4

Bioavailability was shown to be only 4 to 12 percent in one investigation utilizing an oral dosage of 20 mg THC in a chocolate cookie.

6 Another study indicated that chocolate cookies containing 40 mg of CBD had a bioavailability of approximately 6%. 4

Slow absorption might cause complications when it comes to edibles, particularly for new users. Due to the fact that they do not operate instantly, some believe they need be used more frequently to obtain the desired effect. However, exceeding the recommended amount within the acceptable time frame may cause undesirable side effects such as fear and paranoia. 4

What is the bottom line? Whether you like to ingest cannabis by inhalation or edibles, always adhere to the recommended dosage. If you’re new to cannabis, start low and gradually increase your amount until you discover a dose that works for you.