Health & Wellbeing

CBD absorption significantly affected by high-fat foods

Research has found CBD blood levels were up to 14 times higher when an oral CBD formulation was consumed with a high-fat meal, compared to fasting
Research has found CBD blood levels were up to 14 times higher when an oral CBD formulation was consumed with a high-fat meal, compared to fasting
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Research has found CBD blood levels were up to 14 times higher when an oral CBD formulation was consumed with a high-fat meal, compared to fasting
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Research has found CBD blood levels were up to 14 times higher when an oral CBD formulation was consumed with a high-fat meal, compared to fasting

Despite cannabidiol (CBD) now being an FDA-approved medicine, designated to help control seizures in children with severe epilepsy, there has been very little study into how food affects the cannabis-derived compound's absorption. A valuable new study from scientists at the University of Minnesota has strikingly found that CBD absorption is significantly increased when it is consumed alongside high-fat foods.

Epidiolex is an oral CBD formulation approved last year by the FDA. While prior human dosage trials into oral solutions found CBD blood levels can be up to four times higher if consumed with a high-fat meal, the general guidelines for taking Epidiolex suggest it can be taken with or without food. The most specific dosage instruction is currently only to take the medicine at the same times each day.

In order to better evaluate exactly how the body's absorption of CBD can vary with food intake, the new study examined CBD when administered via capsule formulation. The researchers say that due to increased inconsistencies found when dosing liquid formulations, capsule consumption allows for more accurate delivery to the gut and more consistent absorption. This offers accurate blood level data for the purposes of a dose study such as this.

The research compared CBD concentrations between fasting states and when consumed within half an hour of eating a breakfast meal composed of over 800 calories, with almost 600 of those calories coming directly from fat.

The results were dramatic, with average CBD blood levels appearing to be 14 times higher when the medicine was consumed with high-fat food. The increased levels of absorption were not connected to any differences in psychoactive or cognitive effects but the study does hypothesize an improved effect of CBD on seizure control if consumed with a high-fat meal.

"For epilepsy patients, a goal is to maintain consistent blood concentrations of drug," says Angela Birnbaum, co-author on the new research. "This study shows that CBD concentrations could vary significantly if patients take it differently, sometimes with or without food. Variations in blood concentrations could leave a patient more susceptible to seizures."

There are limitations to the conclusions reached in this study, perhaps the most glaring is the question of whether an equally caloric meal, but lower in fat, influences the absorption of CBD the same way. Another problem is the small sample size of the study. Only eight adults were investigated, and while the results do fit with prior research into CBD absorption and high-fat food, the study is far too underpowered to conclusively examine whether certain meal conditions actively improve the seizure prevention aspects of CBD.

Nevertheless, the researchers do come away from the study with several reasonably conclusive recommendations. It is suggested future efficacy studies for CBD must account for these food effects. And, while not all meals offer consistent concentrations of fat, the most important dosage advice is that CBD is consumed with some kind of food at the same time every day.

The study was published in the journal Epilepsia

Source: University of Minnesota

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