CBD Dosing and Bioavailability

For many, CBD products are a more comfortable place to start in exploring cannabis, since CBD (or cannabidiol) has no psychoactive effects. Depending on what state you live in, CBD may be the only legal cannabis option. Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD products from hemp have now been federally decriminalized. Even on its own, CBD can help with pain relief, stress, and insomnia. We want to share best practices of CBD consumption so you can get started.


There are a range of ways CBD can be taken, but some are better than others. In a recent panel our founder was on, co-panelist Shari Boyer (founder of Plant Society) introduced the topic of CBD bioavailability. This basically means how much actually gets absorbed into your system.

When taken orally (pills, edibles, beverages), the bioavailability of CBD is surprisingly low. Studies have estimated that only about 6-20% of CBD is actually absorbed this way. This means you could take 20 mg of CBD, but your body might only absorb 2 mg!

If you are taking it orally, Shari recommends taking CBD with foods that have fatty acids, because this helps your body to absorb more of it. Fatty acids (like oils, nuts, fish and meat) are absorbed more quickly and directly into the body, so using them as a carrier gives you a better chance of absorbing more CBD.

A slightly more effective way to take CBD is sublingually. CBD oil, tinctures, and concentrates can be absorbed under the tongue. This method bypasses the digestive process, so the CBD is absorbed more directly into your system. This method helps your body absorb around 30% of the CBD.

Other than more extreme methods like injection and intranasal administration, the most effective way to take CBD is by inhalation. About 40% of CBD is absorbed into the body when inhaled. There are good options for CBD-only vape pens, but we encourage you to explore the possible risks associated with vaping.

Topical Use

Another way to use CBD is through topical application. CBD creams and lotions are on the rise, which people are using not just for muscle aches and pains, but even arthritis and MS. Early research shows that CBD is not absorbed into the bloodstream topically, but helps locally reduce inflammation and pain.


Even though CBD is not psychoactive, we still encourage you to start low and slow, as taking too much could have side effects such as fatigue and appetite issues. Research is limited, so dosing suggestions vary. Some suggest taking 1-6 mg of CBD for every 10 pounds of body weight, and most agree that it depends on how serious the issue is that you’re trying to treat. Consult a medical professional who specializes in CBD before starting regular use, or reach out to our clinical partner, Sue Feldmeth, at MC Consulting for a consultation.