CBD is rapidly becoming one of the most diverse supplements in the world. It first hit the market in its herbal form before becoming popular as an oil. Today, there are dozens of ways to consume and enjoy CBD. Notably innovative methods include vape e-liquids, topical ointments, shampoos and even candles. Of course, the tried and true methods remain some of the most enduring and popular forms of taking CBD. This is why consumables and capsules are often at the forefront of people’s minds when they think about CBD.
Which is better, though? Which method of consuming CBD offers the best results? Before we can answer these questions we have to consider the biological processes that allow our bodies to absorb and process CDB.
CBD and Bioavailability
You may have come across this term in CBD marketing. It is a relatively obscure physiological term that, in pharmacology, defines the measurement of the speed and amount a particular drug reaches the site of action. In other words, the bioavailability of paracetamol, for example, measures how fast-acting and effective it is at controlling pain.
When it comes to CBD, the nutritional definition is a better fit. This is because of the amount of CBD an individual needs to consume to notice its effects vary from person to person. In other words, bioavailability for dietary supplements can be defined as the proportion of the administered substance capable of being absorbed and available for use or storage. This variation is better addressed by nutritional science.
When CBD is consumed, it interacts with a system of receptors in your body known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). These receptors can be found throughout your body, but the highest concentrations are found in the brain and gut. This means the CBD with the highest levels of bioavailability will target these areas to ensure maximum absorption.
In short, methods of CBD consumption that are internal (vaping, oils, capsules) ensure more CBD binds to your ECS than methods that are external (topical creams). Although there are other considerations to take into account. One is the form the consumable CBD takes. If the CBD is suspended in vegetable fat, it is more likely to be stored by the human body, reducing its bioavailability.
CBD and The Entourage Effect
The Entourage Effect is controversial in the CBD industry. While there is a pool of evidence that supports its existence, it has yet to be scientifically verified. In short, it describes how the many components in the hemp plant interact with the human body to produce an effect that is greater than the sum of its part. Essentially it is all the components of the hemp plant synergising with each other. One of the most striking pieces of evidence for the entourage effect is how CBD and THC interact with each other.
THC is the psychoactive cannabinoid that is frequently associated with the ‘high’ cannabis users chase. On its own, it can have a stimulant effect, this is what can lead to the paranoia associated with a ‘bad high’. CBD, however, seems to have a counteracting effect on THC, reeling in the worst of its excesses and promoting a more relaxing, mellow high.
Patients prefer the entourage effect of the whole hemp plant. In the 80s, the drug Marinol was invented. It was a synthetic THC drug that was expected to work as well as the cannabis plant. However, it was found that patients much prefered the plant. This may be linked to the fact that the whole plant has over 85 active cannabinoids that may work in conjunction with THC to produce a more beneficial effect.
CBD Edibles Vs CBD Capsules
With these two topics in mind, we can now compare and contrast the efficacy of edibles and capsules. Both are certainly in the upper spectrum of bioavailability when it comes to the CBD market as a whole. On top of this, both are extremely convenient ways to consume CBD, they don’t require any fiddling with dropper bottles, vapes, or topical ointments.
CBD edibles come in a huge array of shapes and forms. From home-cooked brownies to store-bought gummy sweets, the choices are pretty endless. Whatever their form, edibles are products you eat that contain a certain level of CBD. These aren’t generally marketed as or intended to be a medicinal product. They are often simply confectionaries with a certain level of CBD.
It could be argued that CBD owes a lot of its popularity to a type of edibles. CBD coffee dominated the headlines in early 2019, with cafes across the world offering coffees infused with a few drops of CBD oil. Though these are drinks, their intention and composition are very close to edibles.
One of the main differences between edibles and capsules is how long the effects take to become noticeable. Edibles take a bit longer, around 30 minutes, as they have to be metabolised in the digestive system. Also, the bioavailability of the CBD in edibles can be compromised by the form the edible takes. A high-fat or high-carb edible could mean that the CBD is stored in fat cells, locked away from the ECS. However, edibles generally work with the herbal form of CBD, so you can expect the entourage effect to be present.
CBD capsules don’t have the tasty appeal of edibles as they generally come in the form of gel-caps that contain a carefully measured dose of CBD. Capsules should be a familiar sight to anyone who has taken health supplements. Generally, the CBD in the cap is dissolved in coconut oil or hemp seed oil. They have a much faster absorption rate than edibles, with users being able to feel their effects within a few minutes. Their dosage is easy to measure and very consistent when compared to edibles.
When it comes to bioavailability, capsules tend to come up on top - the gel-cap dissolves quickly, releasing the CBD to be absorbed directly. When it comes to the entourage effect, it really depends on the product in question. If a capsule is made with full-spectrum CBD oil, then you can expect the entourage effect to be present.
In short, if you are looking to enjoy the effects of CBD in a more measured and controlled way that you can work into your daily vitamin routine, look no further than capsules.