Optimizing the Effects of Edible Cannabinoids

There are multiple ways to consume a cannabinoid The most common method is infusing cannabinoids into edibles. The biggest reason people do this is because cannabinoids do not have a high bioavailability on their own. On average, the bioavailability for two of the most popular cannabinoids (CBD and THC) ranges from 4% to 19% (2) (3). To help increase bioavailability, consumers use a few different ways depending on user preference. One of the most popular infusing cannabinoids into gummies. This combination helps increase the bioavailability since the cannabinoid can bind to a fat. The other method is through a MCT oil (Medium-chain triglycerides derived from Coconut oil) based tincture. Consumers put the cannabinoid and MCT into a safe container and apply a low amount of heat for a period of time so that everything binds. This method is excellent for people who like to measure their doses. The last method is through capsules or softgels. Other consumers follow a similar method to tinctures and combine MCT oil and the cannabinoids and place the mixture into a capsule for ingestion. Others that do not have the ability to make the capsules purchase soft gels that have a similar MCT oil mix with cannabinoids infused into the softgels.

How are cannabinoids processed in the body?

 Once the cannabinoid is consumed it then travels to and through the digestive system. Once it goes through the digestive system it then travels to the small intestine it makes its way towards the liver. Since THC is one of the most popular cannabinoids we will include some information about it as an example. When THC reaches the liver from the small intestine the liver converts THC into 11-hydroxy-THC. The 11-hydroxy-THC then binds to the CB1 receptors in the endocannabinoid system and then you would feel its effects. 

How long do edibles take to kick in?

Depending on your endocannabinoid system the effects can take as little as 30 minutes or in some cases up to 4 hours. There are multiple factors that can affect the time an edible can kick in. One factor that has the biggest impact on the time it takes for an edible to kick in is the method of ingestion. The fastest way for an edible to work is sublingually. For the best bioavailability tinctures that are MCT based would be the choice since it is derived from coconut oil since other tinctures may be ethanol based. In order to use a tincture a consumer would take a dropper to apply a predetermined amount under your tongue and hold it there for approximately 60 seconds and swallow it. The tincture is able to go into effect quicker because it is absorbed into the mucous membrane and then into the bloodstream. For this reason, tinctures can take as little as 30 minutes to feel the effects. Other edibles like gummies and softgels have to go through the regular digestive process so it can take as little as an hour and up to 4 hours depending on the person to feel the effects. The other part of that is related to a person's metabolism. Each person's metabolism can vary as greatly as their shoe size.

How long do edibles last?

Edibles have a varying range of effective time from 2 to 6 hours. There are several different reasons why there is such a wide range of effective time. One of the biggest reasons is how often you intake cannabinoids. People that intake cannabinoids build up a tolerance to a certain milligram amount over an extended period of time. The same goes for people who do not intake cannabinoids often, a lower dose can typically have a stronger effect on a first time user. 

How can I make the effects last longer?

There are a few ways you can make edibles last longer. The most important way to help increase the bioavailability of the cannabinoid. This is why some people tend to eat their edible with a meal. Another way would be to add the cannabinoids into something like peanut butter, hazelnut spread or another high fat item. The benefit of eating an edible with food or a high fat item is that it will last longer than if you ate it on an empty stomach.

How can I make the effects kick in faster?

The fastest way for an edible to kick in faster is on an empty stomach. The reason being is that there is nothing else in the stomach to digest so the edible is broken down and processed faster. The tradeoff of making an edible kick in faster that way is that the length of effective time is shorter than that of someone who ate an edible with a meal or fatty item. The other way to speed up the time to feel effects is to use a MCT based tincture. Tinctures are absorbed through the mucous membrane under the tongue and then directly into the bloodstream. This method bypasses the digestive system and processing of the liver making the delivery significantly quicker.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6275223/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6275223/

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