Updated: Apr 4
In the simplest terms, CBD is most effective when taken with or after food. Essentially, if there is food in the stomach, this will increase the effectiveness of the cannabinoid. Why this happens comes down to a few factors and body processes that need a little further explanation.
Bioavailability You may have heard the term ‘bioavailability’ thrown around when reading about CBD, either in articles and blog posts or on the label of your CBD. But without knowing what this term truly means, it is difficult to appreciate the information that it presents. The bioavailability of a substance signifies its absorption into the body. In other words, it is a measure of how much of the initial dose taken successfully reaches its intended targets in the body. The higher the bioavailability of a chemical, the more impact it can have in smaller doses. When you take CBD with food or after food, this can actually improve the bioavailability of the plant-based compound. When taking CBD orally, it is absorbed through the digestive system and there’s a key process called first pass metabolism involved in the absorption of cannabidiol into the bloodstream.
First Pass Metabolism
When CBD is taken orally, it must pass through the digestive system in order to reach the bloodstream and take effect. When things pass through the digestive system they head to the stomach first where they are broken down. These particles are then absorbed by the small intestine and sent to the liver, which is where having other foods present in your digestive system will be beneficial. In the liver, CBD is metabolised with help from a group of enzymes. This is where first pass metabolism takes place, which breaks CBD down into over a hundred different metabolites, many of which are excreted and are not used. This process reduces the concentration of CBD and therefore its bioavailability, and ultimately its potency. However, if there is food in your system, this will help the CBD to bypass the first pass metabolism and a greater concentration will make it to the bloodstream.
Ideal Foods While the simple act of having food in your digestive system while taking CBD improves the compound’s bioavailability, there are certain foods which are more effective than others. Taking CBD with foods that have a large amount of medium and long-chain fatty acids are far more effective in promoting the bioavailability of CBD. Here are some of the foods which we suggest taking before or alongside your CBD:
Natural oils (olive, coconut, avocado, sesame)
And in addition to these foods with medium and long-chain fatty acids helping bolster the effectiveness of CBD in your system, the majority of these foods have their own unique health benefits. Oily fish, in particular, is widely recognised for being incredibly beneficial due to the large amount of omega-3 fatty acids which are present. Omega-3 has all kinds of wide-reaching benefits including fighting depression and anxiety, improving eye health, lowering the risk of heart disease, and fighting auto-immune diseases. Meanwhile, the other food products mentioned have properties such as high fibre and natural fats which boost healthy metabolism.
While many people are happy to take CBD on its own or opt for forms such as capsules or sprays, others prefer to incorporate it into their food and meals. This might be to conceal the taste, which some may find too earthy for their palette, but for others, it’s simply a case of getting a little bit creative in the kitchen. Which brings us on nicely to our next question.
We hope this answers all your questions about whether CBD should be taken with food. When taking CBD, remember that it will be more effective if you have food in your digestive system to increase the bioavailability and impact of the compound. Try and keep the foods you are eating alongside the CBD as healthy as possible and high in fatty acids to boost not only the CBD but also your digestive and immune system.
Check out our CBD kitchen for recipe ideas.
(1) https://canex.co.uk/6-million-people-use-cbd-in-the-uk (2) https://www.singlecare.com/blog/cbd-survey/