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In recent times, we’ve seen the popularity of CBD as a supplement skyrocket. Due to its great potential in helping healing and health in general, and its non-addictive nature, it has become an appealing alternative to many other conventional drugs.

So how does one get the most benefit out of CBD? It’s a reasonable question – do I get the most impact out of CBD by taking it just after eating or maybe in the morning on an empty stomach?

CBD as a supplement can come in many forms, such as oils, gummies, edibles, topicals, and capsules, to name a few.

Just as with any supplement, your body has mechanisms for digesting them and directing them to the desired destination through your bloodstream.

The rate and efficiency at which this is done are known at the bioavailability.

Bioavailability can vary within the different forms of CBD, and we will explore what it is that can give you the most bang for your buck when it comes to maximizing the impact CBD benefits have on you.

The general scientific advice is that CBD should be taken with a meal to maximize your uptake from the dosage.

Generally, supplements and medicine are advised to be taken with food; this increases the percentage of the required chemicals absorbed into the bloodstream.  

What is CBD Bioavailability? 

Medical practitioners usually prescribe the consumption of supplements or medications to be taken with meals – this allows the chemical ingredients in them to be absorbed better by the body.

To put it differently, the meal increases the supplement’s bioavailability or medication.

The same idea applies to CBD bioavailability, which is the exact percentage of CBD being absorbed by the blood.

This is undoubtedly an essential factor as the potency of the substance increases when it is absorbed directly into your bloodstream. 

The bioavailability of CBD can be increased by taking it alongside certain foods, which help to absorb the substance into your bloodstream quicker. Hence the argument leans towards the benefit of taking CBD on a full stomach.

Different forms of CBD also have different bioavailability because of how they have been synthesized and their method of ingestion. 

How do I increase the bioavailability of CBD?

For CBD in its purest form, less than 10% will get into your bloodstream when ingested. However, there is a way to increase this value – consume fats alongside your CBD. The University of Nottingham conducted a recent study.

Researchers concluded that CBD is best taken alongside foods that contain fatty acids or medium and long-chain triglycerides – such as olives, avocados, and fish, to name a few.

These fats are helpful because ingesting more fatty acids alongside CBD will help bypass the first level of digestion, so the CBD isn’t broken down immediately.

The longer the CBD is in your stomach, the more time it has to be digested, and it becomes more bioavailable to the body. 

CBD also becomes more bioavailable when taken sublingually (under the tongue as drops, for example); this method of ingesting CBD helps you bypass the liver.

Instead, the compound is metabolized by your enzymes. This makes it a more bioavailable form of CBD than edibles, for example.

The most bioavailable form of CBD is vaping – the compound enters your lungs and is absorbed by your bloodstream. 

CBD and the Endocannabinoid System 

As you may know by now, CBD is the other prominent cannabinoid found in cannabis (THC is the other, but we’re not concerned with that here).

Experts aren’t entirely sure how CBD interacts with the ECS, but they know that it doesn’t bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors the way THC does. 

Instead, many believe it works by preventing endocannabinoids from being broken down, which allows them to have more of an effect on your body.

The lack of THC (<0.3%) in CBD, means the effects of CBD can be felt without any psychoactive effects THC induces. 

Preventing the endocannabinoids from breaking down, this allows more CBD to be absorbed into the bloodstream – an act that is vastly enhanced when taken with high fatty foods.

Taking CBD on a full and empty stomach

A recent study conducted by pharmacologists at the University of Minnesota examined how eating a meal affects the absorption of CBD.

The results were pretty conclusive – the researchers found that, on average, patients who were administered CBD in a fed state had

14 times more maximum concentration of CBD in their blood and four times more in their body than those in a fasted state.

CBD concentration in your blood is a huge factor in determining how impactful it is. 

Finishing thoughts

Although studies are still ongoing, it can be said with confidence, through enough evidence, that you get the most out of your CBD when taken with a meal, preferably high in ‘good’ fats.

This allows your digestive system to work on the compound longer and enables a greater concentration absorbed into your bloodstream.

Don’t get us wrong, we’re not suggesting having a large Big Mac meal every time you take CBD, but be aware that you will reap the greatest benefits by taking it on a full stomach rather than an empty one.    


  1. Am J Transel Res. 2016 ‘Dietary fats and pharmaceutical lipid excipients increase systemic exposure to orally administered cannabis and cannabis-based medicines
  2. Angela K Burnbaum ‘Dietary fats and pharmaceutical lipid excipients increase systemic’

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