All medications, prescription drugs, and substances act differently within the body, typically due to absorption. As wonderful as it would be for all drugs to absorb the same way in the human body, this simply isn’t the case. Instead, several factors come into play when regarding the absorption of a drug, resulting in varying effects for consumers.
Today, we’re taking a look into the top factors affecting drug absorption and how this corresponds to CBD use, as well. When you understand how a drug reacts within the body, it becomes easier to comprehend why or why not a drug works for you.
Before we talk about the fundamental factors affecting drug absorption, let’s cover what this means first.
Drug absorption refers to a drug’s ability to break down and travel throughout the bloodstream. The substance must have a specific composition and solubility in order to pass through the body’s blood-brain barrier. If it cannot cross this barrier, it cannot get into the bloodstream.
Once in the bloodstream, the drug can then move where needed, helping the body heal as it is supposed to. Of course, not all medications are made the same, which is why absorption time and methods vary from drug to drug. CBD, for example, must be crafted carefully to ensure higher bioavailability, as the cannabinoid itself doesn’t easily break down in the body. Thus, preparing CBD oil for pain or other complications becomes tricky: how do you get CBD to absorb adequately?
By looking at the factors that affect drug absorption, manufacturers have been able to produce substances that not only dissolve well within the body but work efficiently, too. So, what are those influential factors?
In general, there are a lot of things to consider when thinking about drug absorption. Below, we’ve listed just the top factors that affect this medicinal breakdown, but there are many others that you may want to consider, as well.
In terms of absorption, there are two main constants to think about: bioavailability and absorption rate. Bioavailability refers to the actual amount of the drug that was absorbed, while absorption rate refers to how quickly the drug breaks down within the body and gets to work. When considering how effective a drug’s absorption is, you must keep in mind those two elements. But, what exactly affects a substance’s bioavailability? We’ll discuss the top five factors.
It may not come as a surprise, but a drug’s solubility plays a considerable role when understanding a substance’s absorption ability. For the medication to actually penetrate the blood-brain barrier, it needs to be able to break down properly. Solubility refers to a drug’s ability to be dissolved, typically within water. Some substances, like CBD, are not water-soluble, making them more difficult to absorb within the body.
Focusing on CBD, brands must get creative with their products and how they craft them. Recently, cannabis science has discovered how to essentially shrink cannabinoids into such a small form that they become water-soluble rather than just fat-soluble. With this, the CBD can better absorb into the body, and CBD benefits for pain become all the more prominent.
This isn’t just the case for CBD, either. All drug manufacturers must consider a products’ solubility before producing. If the drug simply cannot dissolve or break down within the bloodstream the way it needs to function, then you must make adjustments. Without solubility, there’s no way you can have an effective drug or medication — it just won’t absorb, otherwise.
Corresponding with solubility, a drug’s formula or composition is another significant factor affecting drug absorption. As a whole, some medication forms simply absorb better in the body than others, just because of the way they react when consumed. Drug forms refer to the different formations you find your drug as, like tablets, capsules, or liquid solutions.
Each form functions differently when consumed, creating slightly different absorption and bioavailability rates. This is because these forms force you to consume the drug in various ways.
Think about how differently your medications react in their unique forms: a pill for a sinus infection will act quite differently than a nasal spray. One will work almost instantly, with effects lasting only temporarily, while the other will create more long-lasting results, but it will take much longer to hit you fully. This reaction simply comes down to the form of the drug itself — not necessarily anything biological with you.
As the form of your drug changes, so does the way you consume it. Consumption methodology plays a massive role in how it affects drug absorption in the human body.
Drugs come in various forms, creating various consumption methods. Typically, you come across medications that you take orally or just with a glass of water. This consumption method is most common. However, depending on the ailment or complication, you may also find medications in sublingual, topical, or inhalant forms, as well. The way an oral medication works inside the body is tenfold different than how an inhalant form works, just as we noted above. Now, let’s use CBD as an example once again.
One of the most popular CBD products out there is CBD oil for pain. Companies design these CBD oils to be taken sublingually or absorbed underneath the tongue. This consumption method shows serious promise in terms of absorption rate, as the sublingual glands under the tongue give the cannabinoids a fast track to the bloodstream. With CBD oils, effects kick in quickly and powerfully, making these sublingual oils many consumers’ go-to choice.
Of course, other consumption methods are just as efficient — the specifics are just a bit different. These drugs are incredibly efficacious in terms of pills and capsules, but they take longer to work because you must first digest them. After your body digests and breaks down the substance, then it can get to work. Again, this doesn’t necessarily influence how effective they will be for you; instead, it just emphasizes how quickly they get to work in the body due to how you consume them.
You also have to pay attention to gastric emptying when considering drug absorption. Gastric emptying is a patient-related factor that refers to your ability to empty the stomach and move substances to the small intestine. Typically, those who suffer from consistent stomach upset experience gastric emptying complications.
Gastric emptying can significantly speed up a drug’s absorption rate in the body, creating shorter effects. This is because everything within the stomach is dumped before the medication gets the time to fully absorb and work the way it’s meant to.
Doctors and other medical professionals can treat conditions like these over time, and they likely should if they’re a consistent issue. Gastric emptying may have a direct correlation to how effective your medications are, and you shouldn’t have to suffer just because your stomach is a little out of whack.
Finally, you also have to consider the actual pharmaceutical ingredients used within the drug when talking about drug absorption. Manufacturers craft all medications differently, using unique ingredients and substances. Each of these ingredients will influence the way the drug acts inside the body, including how it breaks down and absorbs. Some components may have quicker absorption times than others, while some may struggle to dissolve in general.
The ingredients that a drug manufacturer uses are going to vary depending on what the substance is for, where it is supposed to target, and how potent it is. If you find that a specific ingredient simply doesn’t react within your body the way you want to, this is an ingredient you want to avoid within your medications. After all, everybody reacts uniquely! You just have to find what works best for you and your body.
Take the time to discuss pharmaceutical ingredients with your doctor if you suspect certain additives may be an issue. From there, you and your PCP can help determine which medications have the best drug absorption for you and your condition.
Along with the factors related directly to the medication, you have to think about patient-related factors when discussing drug absorption. In some cases, the way a drug absorbs in the body may not have anything to do with the actual medication itself — but it may relate to some of your biological factors, instead.
Factors like age and diet can directly affect how a drug absorbs. As you age, your body changes drastically, adjusting to its newer way of living. For some, this means that your body may not act as it once did, now struggling to absorb certain medications. This difficulty can also stem from poor diet, as it may depend on what you have in your stomach at the time. Gastrointestinal factors like fluids and foods may influence the way a medication breaks down if consumed orally.
You also need to keep in mind any other medications you might be taking at the time. Drug-to-drug interactions are pervasive, and they often affect how the other drug reacts when consumed. This is why it is integral to discuss with your doctor your current medications before deciding to consume anything else — even if it is as gentle or as natural as CBD. You simply never know how your two drugs may act — or counteract — when you take them together, so sit down for a conversation with your doctor first.
We’ve mentioned CBD for chronic pain or CBD oil for inflammation throughout this piece, but why is that? Well, that’s because CBD’s drug absorption abilities are unlike anything we’ve seen yet.
With how popular CBD products are these days, it’s crucial to discuss why they act so differently within the body than other products. As we mentioned at the beginning, when first extracted, CBD is not water-soluble. Simply put, if you mixed CBD with water, the two substances are just going to separate, not blend together. Thus, companies have started manipulating CBD’s composition to increase this bioavailability and create a better product.
As it stands, many CBD brands choose to combine their cannabidiol with fatty ingredients like oils. This is because CBD is fat-soluble and quickly breaks down within this substance. Then, when consumed, the cannabinoids have a much easier time traveling throughout and working effectively. However, the absorption rate of a fat-based CBD product versus a water-soluble one varies significantly. The choice is yours.
We are in the infancy stages of understanding CBD. Research is still ongoing, and as we’ve learned, there are so many factors affecting drug absorption rates in your body. While some of these factors depend on the substance itself, others are the result of your unique biological composition. The best way to determine that medications work best for you is to listen to your body and see how it reacts to different changes. Doing this with a substance like CBD oil for pain is ideal; the cannabinoids are natural and come in various forms. Whether you want to try a sublingual oil, an edible, a capsule, or even a topical is entirely up to you.
Understanding drug absorption is the best way to find a medication that gels with your body. Even though it may be a bit confusing, and it isn’t always the most fun topic of conversation, it is certainly more than worth it to discover the relationship your body has with medicinal drugs. This way, the next time you’re searching for some CBD products for pain, you know precisely what methodology you want to consume — and what’s best for you.