A Look Into Bioavailability
Queue the airhorns! The research is in, and it’s huge. Raw cannabis has now been scientifically proven to be the most readily bioavailable form of the plant. You may be wondering—what is bioavailability exactly? And why does that matter? Well, let us break it on down for you.
Bioavailability (n.) refers to how readily any active ingredient can be absorbed and used by the body. More specifically, it’s the amount of a given substance that actually enters circulation once administered. So when we talk about cannabis and bioavailability, what we’re really interested in is how much of the cannabinoids reach the bloodstream and so are able to have an active effect.
What the Research Shows
In a recent study conducted in Italy, researchers found THCA to be up to 30x more bioavailable than THC, and CBDA more than 18x more bioavailable than CBD. The way that the study measured this was by first preparing two different means of cannabinoid administration—a decoction (alcohol) and an infusion (olive oil). They then measured the levels of the aforementioned cannabinoids in each preparation before administering them to the participants (on separate occasions). Interestingly, the level of cannabinoids were highly variable in the alcohol preparation, but stable and predictable in the olive oil infusion. After they gave the participants the sample(s), they then drew their blood over various time intervals, recording the concentration of cannabinoids and their metabolites at each interval. The results were remarkable: in every case, the level of THC & CBD in the participants’ blood never even came close to that of THCA and/or CBDA. And this was true even when the cannabinoids were administered in equal amounts (see Table 3. right—click to expand).
What all of this means for the cannabis consumer is that not only do the raw cannabinoids have superior bioavailability compared to their “activated” counterparts, but also that you would need far less of them to attain the same therapeutic benefits. This is especially important for those who practice milligram counting, or judging a product’s effectiveness by the sheer amount of THC or CBD it has. Really, those molecules comprise only a very small part of what makes a cannabis product “work”. When evaluating what is best for you, it’s crucial to consider where the cannabinoids come from (e.g. isolate, distillate, infusion, etc.), and what that means for the overall formula (e.g. terpenes, flavonoids, and nutrients—or lack thereof).
How to Shop
If you’re looking to add cannabis into you wellness regimen, we recommend that you look for products that are whole-plant & full-spectrum. With those criteria met, you’ll receive the benefits of both the raw and decarbed cannabinoids. Awakened’s 1:1 Raw Cannabis Sublingual is perfectly balanced formula that is particularly rich in CBDA & THCA, and yet only contains two ingredients—whole plant cannabis and extra virgin olive oil. Available at select dispensaries throughout California.
Pellesi L, Licata M, Verri P, Vandelli D, Palazzoli F, Marchesi F, Cainazzo MM, Pini LA, Guerzoni S. Pharmacokinetics and tolerability of oral cannabis preparations in patients with medication overuse headache (MOH)—a pilot study. European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 2018;74(11):1427–1436. doi:10.1007/s00228-018-2516-3