Can You Take CBD Oil On An Empty Stomach


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An increasing body of research makes it easier for us to understand how CBD works. Providing us with answers to questions as: ‘should I consume CBD oil drops with food or does it work better on an empty stomach?’ The research has found that CBD oil combined with food high in healthy fats increases the amount of CBD absorbed into your system. You can take CBD with or without food, but your choice influences bioavailability.

Is it better to take CBD oil with food or on an empty stomach?

There is still a lot to be discovered about CBD and the way it works in the body. Although each person reacts differently to the substance, there’s always some science applicable to all consumers. And while we long had to rely on anecdotal proof of how CBD actually works; an increasing body of scientific research makes it easier for us to understand the plant’s substance now. Providing us with answers to questions as: ‘should I consume CBD oil drops with food or does it work better on an empty stomach?’

Using CBD

As you might know, most CBD products are best consumed multiple times a day. In the morning, around lunchtime and at night before you go to bed – for example. Though something you might not’ve considered, is that your body processes your CBD oil drops differently on those various occasions. Mostly because of the biological variables we provide the Cannabidiol (CBD) to work with.

For instance, you might take your CBD drops on an empty stomach when you wake up; on top of a light lunch during the afternoon and after a serious meal at night. Even though it might look like this won’t make a big difference, nothing could be further from the truth. As science proves, the food you might or might not have eaten does impact the way CBD is processed by the body. And consequently, the way it affects the body.

How CBD works in the body

To understand why that is, we have to look at the way the body absorbs Cannabidiol. More specifically, we focus on CBD’s bioavailability and how that might be influenced by the ‘first-pass-effect’. Bioavailability means the ratio in which a substance becomes actively available where it’s needed, after consumption. Or in other words, how much and how fast CBD actually reaches the bloodstream after you take the oil.

And as you might’ve learned in one of our other blogs – about the water-soluble CBDactive+ for example – Cannabidiol in itself generally has a very low bioavailability. Even when it’s diluted with a carrier oil, like hemp seed oil or olive oil.

In fact, regular CBD oils provide a bioavailability of just 6-12% of the consumed Cannabidiol. Which means that much of the consumed cannabinoid is actually broken down by the body before it can make a difference; in something we call the ‘first-pass-effect’. Considering the fatty molecules have a hard time traveling through the mouth’s tissue; regular CBD oils need to pass through the digestive system before they can be processed by the liver.

There, the body breaks the consumed cannabinoids down into over 100 different metabolites. All with the help of the so-called P450 cytochrome enzymes. Though unfortunately, the body breaks down and excretes much of these metabolites before they reach the bloodstream. With a low bioavailability of the product as a result. Meaning you might need more CBD oil to reach the desired effect; compared to CBD products with a higher bioavailability; like CBDactive+.

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Taking CBD oil drops with food

Though as science shows, there is an easy and cheap way to make the substance more effective; and that is to take your CBD oil combined with food. Proven by researchers of the University of Minnesota, consuming CBD with food could possibly avoid the first-pass-effect and increase the efficacy of the drops you take.

This research was performed on eight adult participants with therapy-resistant epilepsy; and focussed on exploring the impact food has on CBD’s effects. For the experiment, participants received ‘one dose of 99% pure CBD capsules’. In other words, capsules filled with CBD isolate crystals. And they were instructed to consume it on an empty stomach, as well as after a fatty meal (840-860 calories). Blood plasma levels were noted immediately after taking the CBD and again several days later.

As the results show, the body absorbs four times more Cannabidiol – and much faster too – when consumed with fatty food than it does on an empty stomach. And despite of the relatively small size of the study, it does in fact confirm what we know about the absorption-rate of fats and oils.

Fatty acids and CBD

This study’s results are backed by a review done by the Harvard Medical School – which focused on the bioavailability of fatty acids in the body. Which showed that conventional fats and oils act as energy-rich and quick-acting fuel.

Accordingly, the body absorbs fatty food faster and so avoids that part of it is broken down by the ‘first-pass-effect’. In most cases, CBD is diluted with a carrier oil consisting of organic fats or fatty acids. However, this is often not enough to protect the CBD from the P450 enzymes. Thus it might be advisable to start taking your CBD after you’ve eaten; or combine it with fat foods as fish, avocado, nuts, red meats and coconut oil to name a few.

More effective CBD

On the other hand, there are products available, especially developed to reach maximum bioavailability. Take our CBDactive+ for example, a water-soluble CBD extract with all cannabinoids and terpenes needed for the best entourage effect. Due to the chemical make-up of the active ingredients in this product, it completely avoids being ‘attacked’ by the P450 enzymes; and is absorbed for the full 100 percent. Accordingly, this means that a CBDactive+ product with 4% CBD is comparable to a regular CBD oil of 40% in terms of effects.

Summarizing, it might be advisable to increase the number of healthy fatty acids you consume daily to increase the effects from regular CBD oils. Another possibility, is switching to a hemp product with a high bioavailability like CBDactive+. All depending on what you’d like to achieve with the use of the cannabinoid supplement, of course.

Need help finding the right product for your personal needs? Get in touch – we love to help!

Should You Take CBD Oil Before or After Meals?

CBD oil is consumed in various ways, including as oil or tincture, in capsules and in food. When consumed with food, there are benefits to taking CBD after eating fatty foods or eating CBD edibles with ingredients known to have healthy fats. Though you can take CBD oil at any time, using it after meals may deliver maximum benefits.

How Does CBD Work in the Body?

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is one of the more recent discoveries concerning the human body. The surprising discovery was how much the ECS regulates important bodily functions, including pain, body temperature, immune responses, pain and more. The ECS is comprised of cellular receptors located in the brain and throughout the body, and the receptors process chemical signals as their regulatory process. The body produces endocannabinoids, molecules similar to cannabis plant molecules, to activate the receptors, so they regulate the various bodily functions mentioned.

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There are two main receptors called CB1 and CB2. The brain has more CB1 receptors than other kinds of receptors. CB1 receptors regulate the other neurotransmitters, helping them adjust as necessary to control things like hunger and body temperature. CB2 receptors are found mostly in immune tissues, so they assist immune functioning.
Activating CB2 receptors with cannabis (hemp plant) cannabinoids does not produce a high. Stimulating CB1 receptors does lead to experiencing a high. CBD does not bind directly with CB1 or CB2 receptors. It acts indirectly, and in that way, CBD influences how the receptors work. CBD is called an antagonist because it modulates the effects of stimulating the CB1 and CB2 receptors.

Medical research is ongoing to determine if CBD could be useful for doing things like reducing pain and hunger. Though more research is needed, there are labs and medical institutions regularly conducting clinical trials to determine exactly how CBD works in the body because CBD offers promise as potential drug therapy in the future.

Should You Take CBD Oil With Food?

Can you eat CBD oil? If so, should you take CBD oil with or without food?

A Singlecare survey found that 33 percent of Americans have used CBD at least once. Millions of people are already regularly using CBD, and many prefer taking CBD oil with or in food.

There are two things to understand about CBD consumption, either in a carrier oil or as CBD oil added to food.

  1. The first is bioavailability. The term bioavailability refers to the amount of CBD that enters the circulation system. The amount of CBD influences the effects experienced. Bioavailability also refers to how long it takes a substance to enter your circulation system.

2. The second term is “first-pass metabolism.” When you orally consume drugs, food, drinks or other substances by swallowing, they must go through the digestive system. As the substance is processed, some are metabolized by your body’s tissues before reaching the liver for processing into the circulation system and eventually the brain.

This process takes time, so any effects felt from swallowing CBD oil or consuming edibles are delayed. The one exception is that taking CBD oil sublingually bypasses the first-pass metabolism process and increases the amount of CBD that enters the system.

Swallowing CBD oil leads to low bioavailability for these reasons. Also influencing bioavailability is your personal metabolic rate and the way CBD is consumed, like in a capsule or in food.

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Should you take CBD oil in food?

There is research that found taking CBD oil with high-fat foods can increase CBD bioavailability. One study reported that bioavailability can be increased four-fold by taking CBD with a high-fat and high-calorie meal compared to taking CBD on an empty stomach.

The reason is that cannabis cannabinoids are lipid-soluble, so taking the CBD oil with or in foods with dietary lipids like butter, whole milk or vegetable oil increases bioavailability. You can also take CBD oil mixed with oil like sesame oil to increase bioavailability. Researchers found the primary mechanism for the increased bioavailability is due to the transport of the CBD via the intestinal lymphatic system rather than the liver.

What Foods Work Best With CBD Oil?

The question then becomes the best high-fat foods to take with CBD oil combined with food. Some fats are good for you, and those are the fats you want to concentrate on. You do not want to eat a lot of fatty foods that lead to health problems. CBD cookies make a great snack and may contain high-fat ingredients, but you cannot live on cookies. Healthy fats are found in oils like sesame oil, coconut oil and MCT oil. Foods rich in healthy fats include:

  • Fatty fish, like trout and salmon
  • Nuts, like walnuts and almonds
  • Avocado
  • Dark chocolate
  • Yellow yolk in eggs
  • Hard cheese containing the most fat

If you love cookies, choose CBD edibles purposely made with healthy high-fat ingredients, like ones made with peanut butter and palm oil. The intentional choice of ingredients increases CBD bioavailability while helping you avoid consuming unhealthy fats.

The best time to take CBD oil is right after eating a meal because the CBD remains in your digestive system longer as your body processes the food. Taking CBD after eating food gives you the best chance of increasing bioavailability by four times, as mentioned earlier.

Do you swallow CBD oil? Yes, you can swallow it. You can also take CBD oil on an empty stomach. However, to maximize bioavailability, you would want to take a CBD tincture sublingually, so the CBD is absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the capillaries under the tongue. You hold the CBD oil under your tongue for 30-90 seconds before swallowing the oil.


You can take CBD with or without food, but your choice influences bioavailability. You want to achieve the highest bioavailability, so using CBD oil with food makes sense based on medical research to date. The research has found that CBD oil combined with food high in healthy fats increases the amount of CBD absorbed into your system. Taking CBD after a meal slows down absorption, which gives the CBD more time to reach your circulation system.


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About the Author

Michael Levin is a CBD enthusiast, a researcher, writer and editor in the cannabis space, experienced CBD user and educator. He believes CBD can help improve our overall health and wellbeing.

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