best way to use cannabis
best way to use cannabis

What’s The Most Effective Way To Absorb Cannabis?

What is the best way to ingest cannabis into the body?

Posted by:
DanaSmith on Monday Oct 2, 2017

What’s The Most Effective Way To Absorb Cannabis?

Is There a Best Way to Consume Cannabis for Maximum Bloodstream Absorption? from CannabisNet on Vimeo.


Understanding bioavailability of different methods of absorption


There are so many different ways to take cannabis these days, and all of them have a different potency. Aside from the strain, bioavailability is the reason why edibles take several hours to hit you compared to smoking or taking oil sublingually.


Understanding the bioavailability of different strains will help you better understand which method is best for you. Doing so will help you get the most out of your money while helping you treat certain ailments, such as chronic pain, more effectively. The method of administration is basically defined as how you consume cannabis – whether inhaled, ingested, or applied on the skin, it determines how much of the cannabis plant your body absorbs then distributes. Intravenous applications are thought to deliver 100% bioavailability, so the other methods of administration are compared to intravenous administration. This applies to both CBD and THC products.


There are also certain factors that affect the bioavailability of cannabis as well as other substances. This includes sleep cycles, metabolic rate, food interactions, age, the health of one’s gastrointestinal tract, and other things that are used in the manufacture of the drug.

cannabis capsules

Ingesting Capsules or Edibles: 4-12%


Cookies, snacks, and other edibles all require the cannabinoids to be processed in the liver before it makes it to your blood stream. Since this entire process can take a while, this is the reason why edibles take the longest to take effect compared to other methods of administration, also the same reason why it’s not ideal for people who need cannabis to manage chronic pain or other ailments that require immediate relief.


From the liver, the fat cells that contain the cannabinoids as well as the other nutrients and compounds from the cannabis plant are then transferred to the bloodstream, giving you a powerful body high. After this, it goes to your head, giving you a head high. Since the average bioavailability of edibles is around 6%, this means that around 6% of the cannabinoid content is absorbed by your body. The rest of it ends up excreted.

cannabis joint

Inhalation or Smoking: 18-40%


The most common form of ingesting cannabis is through inhalation or smoking. This method is much quicker than the oral route, which is why you feel the effects of cannabis much faster after smoking compared to eating edibles. One study assesses that the bioavailability of cannabis when inhaled is at 18% but another study says that when vaporized instead of combusted, bioavailability through inhalation increases to 40%.


The reason why inhaling cannabis results in better bioavailability is because the lungs are more permeable compared to the liver. Your lungs have a large absorptive surface area as well as better blood supply for the cannabinoids to enter into circulation. By inhaling the plant, it bypasses liver metabolism and goes quicker into your bloodstream.

sub lingual tinctures

Sublingual: 15-25%

Sublingual administration of cannabis places it under the tongue. Whether using a lozenge or tincture, the sublingual route enables the cannabinoids to be absorbed through the capillaries found underneath the tongue and entering the bloodstream immediately. In some cases, the bioavailability of sublingual products can even reach as much as 75% so you need less product to experience more of its therapeutic benefits.


Sublingual methods are known to affect people quicker, so there is also a much lesser chance of consuming more than what you really need. However, the dosage of sublingual products will vary depending on the potency and the kind of product.

topical cbd

Topicals: Lowest bioavailability

Since topicals can’t get you high, it’s a popular administration method of choice for patients who prefer the therapeutic benefits of cannabis without the psychoactive effects. Human skin has the lowest absorption rate for cannabinoids, which means that you’ll often need much more product to get the desired effect.


It’s also important to remember that CBD and CBN are much more permeable to the skin than THC. These 2 cannabinoids are also more likely to activate the CB2 cannabinoid receptors, which is why you see more CBD and CBN topicals than those that contain THC. Since cannabis-infused gels, creams, lotions, ointments, balms and the link only affect the skin surface area on which they’re applied and in some cases also the muscles beneath, they are the most effective cannabis product for patients who are seeking localized relief from inflammation, arthritis, pain, muscle aches, and tension.



To be safe, new users are recommended to start with dosages at 10-15mg of CBD, then gradually work your way into a tolerance with your product and administration route of choice as needed.



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