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Do High-Fat Foods Help Aid CBD Absorption?

Healthy high fat breakfast

A study published by the University of Minnesota this summer quickly swept across the media. The study announced that high-fat foods were effective at increasing CBD absorption in the body. As usual, publicly aimed headlines made big general statements, but after a closer look, there is much to be discussed below the fold.

What we've done here is to take a sober look at the study and boil it down into real-world impacting conclusions, open questions, and recommendations. Join us as we dive in and talk about fatty foods, CBD, and bioavailability.

A critical review of the study

The study, published here, took a group of 8 patients suffering from refractory epilepsy and split them into two groups. Four fasting individuals that went without breakfast in the morning before their dose and the other four individuals ate 840-860 calorie high-fat breakfast burritos before taking their dose.

A very important point to note is that the study utilized pharmaceutical-style CBD administration. Test subjects were given capsules filled with CBD isolate.

Critical points upon review:

  • The most important note here is that we recognize that consuming CBD with fats does work to aid absorption. This study is not groundbreaking news, however. A previously published study provided a detailed account of this same concept back in 2016 and cites studies that utilize similar concepts as early as 1991.
  • Though the study is clearly aimed at pharmaceutical applications, it doesn't directly carry over as a real-world breakthrough:
    • The concept of fats aiding in absorption is well known and utilized across the public CBD industry. Almost exclusively you'll find that products contain fatty carrier oils like MCT oil in order to aid absorption. Rarely will you find CBD isolate in capsules being sold as a standalone product.
    • It's been noted in studies like this one that the entourage effect observed when consuming full and broad-spectrum products may help to aid in the overall absorption and bioavailability of the various compounds in the extract.
  • The study lacks nuance in terms of effectiveness across different amounts of fat, types of fats consumed, and the timing of consumption.

All of this said, the topic of CBD bioavailability is incredibly important as the compound suffers from low absorption in many cases. This is seen in the research being performed on the topic as well as the advances made in product development to help improve absorption.

Outstanding questions

This study, and public discussion of the concept, does raise many points for discussion that would ultimately help us better understand the situation and make future progress in both the pharmaceutical and public consumption of these compounds.

  • Since there is evidence of whole-plant applications being more bioavailable, how would the same study compare if full and broad spectrum alternatives were utilized in place of CBD isolate?
  • Does fat consumption have the same impact on water-soluble products utilizing various types of emulsions?
  • How effective are the fatty carrier oils in existing products? Is the fat content of the product alone enough to achieve maximum bioavailability?
  • Are some fat sources more effective at aiding absorption than others?
  • What is the ideal amount of fat to consume, and when, to achieve maximum effectiveness?

Without answers to these questions, unnecessary over-consumption of fats could easily occur with the simple hope of increasing bioavailability. The ultimate goal is finding what is really effective so that we can apply the 'less is best' rule.

Our recommendations from the study

While we've been fairly critical to the study so far and opened up more questions than we've answered, there are still some valuable takeaways here.

The big conclusion is: why not take CBD with the healthy, fat-containing foods you already consume? Even though we aren't sure at the impact on real-world products, no evidence points to consuming CBD oil with food to be a bad thing. With the potential of increased absorption on the table, it makes sense to take advantage, even if the improvement is minor.

Until more specific information is revealed through further studies, we suggest the following:

  • Consume CBD with healthy high-fat meals you're already eating like those including those that contain nuts, seeds, avocados, and fish. Also, consider CBD-infused bulletproof coffee!
  • Consume CBD with fat-containing supplements you may already take like omega-3 rich fish oil.
  • Be conscious of your chosen method of ingestion and choose highly bioavailable product types.
  • Choose CBD products that are designed to aid absorption including those that utilize carrier oils and water-soluble technologies (like ours here at Big Sky Botanicals!)
  • Test, observe your results, and adjust as necessary!

As we learn more about the topic, we will be sure to update you. Subscribe to our newsletter below to stay in the loop, and be sure to leave any experiences you have consuming high-fat foods with CBD in the comments below!

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