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Bioavailability of Cannabis Edibles

Sep 10, 2020
Cannabis Consumption

Bioavailability of Cannabis Edibles

Medical marijuana patients find they have numerous options today when it comes to obtaining medical cannabis. They aren’t forced to rely on pipe or paper to get the relief they desire. Edibles or products infused with marijuana come in several forms, including cookies, drinks, butter, cooking oil, and candy. As a result, every individual discovers they receive the option of experimenting with different forms to find the one or one that best meets their needs.

Consuming cannabis allows the substance to enter the bloodstream once the digestive process is complete. The edible breaks down in the stomach and moves to the intestines where it is absorbed. Using cannabis-infused products allows the individual to obtain the benefits of the substance without the need to inhale smoke, eliminating the exposure to tar, carcinogens, carbon, and more.

Certain individuals, such as those requiring supplemental oxygen, rely on cannabis-infused edibles, as they are unable to smoke. Furthermore, individuals with digestive or eating disorders find edibles containing CBD offer a great way to reduce nausea while providing essential calories and nutrients the patient needs.

Cancer patients frequently struggle with nausea during treatment, and the same holds true for women expecting a baby. Morning sickness plagues numerous women during this time, and the cannabis-infused edibles keep the sickness under control. Using edibles allows for more discretion, which many prefer. Others choose this option thanks to the longevity of the effects, as cannabis-infused edibles effects last longer than those seen when a person smokes marijuana.

Men and women new to medical marijuana often start with a low dose of approximately 10 to 15 milligrams of active cannabinoids. Nevertheless, what works for one individual frequently does nothing for another. Individuals must experiment with different edibles and potencies to discover which works best for them. Maintain a journal throughout this process to recall which products and dosages worked and why. The ratio of cannabinoids in different doses needs to be recorded throughout the trial-and-error period to determine which yields the highest therapeutic effect for the condition being treated.

Edible Options

Manufacturers offer a wide range of cannabis-infused edibles for consumers today. However, these products fall into one of three categories. Some work via gastrointestinal uptake, which means they are digested in the stomach. Others work through oral uptake with the help of saliva, and certain products work through both oral and gastrointestinal uptake. How does one know which category a product falls under?

Gastrointestinal Uptake

An item a person chews and swallows falls under the gastrointestinal uptake category. This includes Purple Kush brownies, Blue Widow chocolate bars, Mochalope macaroons, Chemdawg cookies, and more. Most cannabis-infused edibles fall into this category, as the stomach absorbs the cannabis. Users must understand it takes longer for the cannabis to be activated within the body. In some cases, the activation takes two hours or more. Nevertheless, the effects last longer. In fact, a person might obtain eight hours of relief with the consumption of a cannabis-infused edible that is absorbed through the stomach.

Consumers often complain of the unreliability of cannabis-infused edibles that fall into the gastrointestinal uptake category. They say at times one slice of cake provides an amazing high, and at other times they eat an entire batch of cookies with no relief. Why does this disparity exist?

To answer this question, users must understand the first-pass effect. As food moves through the liver, this organ blocks the absorption of certain substances, including a number of psychoactive compounds. As the liver removes the compound that provides the relief, the user doesn’t see an abatement of symptoms. However, this doesn’t explain why edibles, at times, provide an extreme high.

Experts believe the extreme high could be attributed to the THC being converted to 11-Hydroxy-THC or 11-OH-THC, a substance known for offering a psychoactive effect that is more potent. The body absorbs more of the 11-OH-THC when this is the case, which in turn leads to the extreme high. Scientists feel this may be due to the ability of 11-OH-THC to cross the blood-brain barrier easier than THC. However, users typically say it’s simply a matter of bad luck or an excessive dose.

Oral Uptake

In contrast, cannabis-infused items that typically remain in the mouth without being swallowed work through oral uptake. Items in this category include sativa lollipops, indica lozenges, and even CBD gum, and tinctures, along with many others. These edibles provide immediate relief, but the effects last approximately two to three hours.

Tinctures and other oral uptake edibles provide fast relief due to their ready bioavailability. It is believed the user obtains fast relief as the edible bypasses the liver’s first-pass effect. The effects are seen more rapidly when this step is avoided.

Hybrid Edibles

Hybrid edibles, not necessarily coming from hybrid cannabis seeds, work by combining aspects of oral and gastrointestinal uptake, which means they are absorbed in both the stomach and the mouth. Items in this category include chocolate bars and infused drinks. While they offer the fast-acting relief seen with oral uptake edibles, the effects last longer. Patients typically witness the effects within 30 minutes, and the relief continues for four hours or more.

Understanding the Effects of Edibles

Most edibles require heat during preparation, and inactive cannabinoids convert to THC, CBD, and CBN when exposed to this heat. The decarboxylation process, together with the high THC levels found in edibles, provides the ideal combination needed to treat multiple medical conditions and disorders. This includes muscle inflammation, muscle spasms, nausea, insomnia, nervous system disorders, and autoimmune disorders, and patients must have the capacity to take the medication. When possible, individuals should look for infused edible products that have not been completely decarboxylated, as they contain the acid forms of CBD and THC. These forms tend to be extremely beneficial to patients and come with their own medicinal benefits.

Men and women struggling with Crohn’s Disease discover they benefit greatly from cannabis-infused edibles. This autoimmune disorder affects the gastrointestinal tract, and as many as 700,000 Americans today have received this diagnosis. As the edible impacts the digestive tract, patients receive both active and inactive cannabinoids that benefit them right at the source of their problems.

Consuming cannabis in edible form affects an individual differently than smoking cannabis. Numerous factors play a role in the effect the user observes, including the edible type and potency, the user’s tolerance level and body chemistry, and the amount consumed. First-time users must take this into consideration, so they are prepared for the strong potency as well as the long-lasting effects.

Users often turn to CBD to relieve their anxiety only to be surprised that their anxiety and paranoia increase when the edible is first consumed. They are new to cannabis edibles, which leaves them feeling uncertain. As a result, they experience anxiety and paranoia. Fortunately, these feelings tend to fade as the individual becomes more familiar with cannabis-infused edibles and their effects.

When a person smokes cannabis, they receive a small percentage of the cannabinoids with each draw. The effects are felt right away, which isn’t the case with edibles. Users typically find they don’t experience any effects for 30 minutes to an hour. As a result, the person needs to try the edible and wait a period of time to see how they are affected by it. The user feels the effects in waves over a period of two to six hours, as the stomach processes the cannabinoids.


As the potency of cannabis-infused edibles remains unknown to many users, individuals must carefully choose a dose to try initially. Determining the exact potency tends to be challenging because the strength of the edible depends on the potency of the product with which it is infused. As a result, experts recommend starting with 10 to 15mg of active cannabinoids.

When comparing products, consumers must determine the strength of each product. The product label often shows this as 10x, 20x, or something of this nature. In most cases, one dose is 5x, so the strength tells you how many doses are in the product. However, consumers still cannot definitively say how much cannabis is found in the product.

Other manufacturers label their products with information about the amount of cannabis listed in grams. Nevertheless, this information doesn’t help unless the user knows the potency of each gram. The same holds true for products that display the total cannabis content alongside the number of grams. What this label doesn’t tell you is what individual bioactive compounds are found in the product.

Once the person has a better idea of their reaction to the product, consider upping consumption to 30 to 100 mg of active cannabinoids every day. This does vary by user, however, so don’t hesitate to speak to the medical provider to determine the appropriate dosage for your needs. This often requires trial and error with regard to different potencies and the type of infused edibles consumed.

When purchasing cannabis-infused edibles, look for lab-tested products, ones that make use of quality ingredients, and provide information on the label. The label needs to offer a recommended dosage and more. The cannabinoid content numbers found on the label serve as a good guideline when determining the dose. If the label doesn’t provide testing data, ask if the product has undergone this type of testing.

Budtenders serve as a good resource when you go to choose premium cannabis-infused edibles. They know what they sell and can help you determine which products best meet your needs. The feedback they receive from other customers benefits you at this time.

Know the Health Risks.

Men and women often ask about the health risks associated with cannabis-infused edibles. The edibles remain perfectly safe, and users don’t need to be concerned about long-term toxicity. Know that the edible companies are supposed to abide by all local health and safety regulations. However, at this time, no entity currently oversees these companies to ensure they remain in compliance. It falls on the patient to research the different companies and choose a reputable supplier. Most states demand suppliers obtain a commercial cooking license before they are permitted to sell to dispensaries, but that is it.

Furthermore, determining the quality of the cannabis used to create the products is difficult. Some companies use cannabis that is otherwise unsellable to make edibles. This explains why it is crucial for consumers to know the supplier and only buy from those that lab test their offerings. Another option is to create your own cannabis-infused edibles. Additionally, anyone with severe allergies needs to consider carefully which edibles to consume, as they may contain trace amounts of allergens.

Consider cannabis-infused edibles if you don’t like to smoke marijuana. You obtain the same benefits, although there are differences. By knowing these differences, you can ensure you get the dose you need and the relief you desire.

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