There is a surprising amount of misinformation on the internet regarding whether CBD oil should be taken on an empty stomach or after meals. However, a little research and a basic understanding of digestion, and the answer becomes clear for those on a daily, sustained CBD oil supplement routine.
Does CBD Oil need to be taken with food?
The easy response is yes.
To fully answer this question though, first we need to take a look at a term called bioavailability. Defined as “the degree and rate at which a substance (such as a drug) is absorbed into a living system or is made available at the site of physiological activity,” bioavailability describes the amount of an active ingredient absorbed by the body based on factors like the type of product taken.
Taking products orally, where the active ingredients are absorbed through digestion, instead of the mucous membranes in the mouth, can diminish the bioavailability of active ingredients like CBD. This is due to the effects of first pass metabolism altering the structure of CBD.
First pass metabolism is the main reason for the lower oral bioavailability of CBD.
(First pass metabolism is caused by the actions of enzymes of the digestive system before CBD reaches the circulatory system.)
CBD is acted on by enzymes in the liver called CYP450 mixed function oxidases to yield more than 100 different metabolites, not all of which are used by the body.
There are a number of ways that oral bioavailability can be enhanced. Once such way is by taking CBD with medium and long-chain triglycerides (fatty acids). A recent study suggested that co-administration of CBD with these fatty acids can bypass some first pass metabolism.
While some other websites encourage you to take CBD oil products orally on an empty stomach for faster results, this may reduce the overall potency of the CBD oil itself, sacrificing speed for strength. Because of the effects of enzymes during digestion, we suggest that CBD oil products that are taken orally, be taken with food (especially meals high in medium-chain triglycerides) to increase potential bioavailability.
Another way to increase bioavailability is to instead take products specifically designed for sublingual absorption under the tongue. Products absorbed this way, like pure CBD oils, tinctures, and liquids, have a higher bioavailability and faster onset.
A study on a sprayable cannabinoid product that was absorbed first sublingually and then in the digestive tract after being swallowed demonstrated the positive effects of eating before taking a CBD supplement.
Results of the study showed that bioavailability was 4-fold higher for CBD when taken after a meal.
However, it also demonstrated that food can delay peak concentration in the blood by a couple hours.
For most customers taking a daily CBD oil supplement, there is more value found in a delayed, heightened level of CBD in the bloodstream.
In simpler terms, taking CBD oil products with food allows there to be more CBD in your system for a longer period of time after use, giving you the most bang for your buck when using the products.