High fat food helps body absorb CBD

Eating high-fat foods after taking oral cannabidiol (CBD) capsules can increase absorption in the body, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Minnesota and published in the journal Epilepsia.  

While CBD capsules were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in patients with seizures in 2018, very little was known about the effect of food on CBD absorption. The study tested whether fasting or a high fat meal has an effect when cannabidiol oral capsules were taken by patients.

To find out what effect a fatty meal would have on CBD absorption, the research group measured CBD concentrations in epilepsy patients at the MINCEP Epilepsy Care clinic who were taking 99 percent pure CBD capsules. Researchers compared concentrations from patients who took CBD on an empty stomach and a standardized fatty breakfast, like a breakfast burrito.

"The type of food can make a large difference in the amount of CBD that gets absorbed into the body,” said Angela Birnbaum, PhD, FAES, a professor in the College of Pharmacy and study co-author. “Although fatty foods can increase the absorption of CBD, it can also increase the variability as not all meals contain the same amount of fat.”

The study found CBD exposure is vastly increased when CBD is taken with high fatty foods, according to the abstract. When compared to fasting, taking CBD with food increased the amount of CBD in the body by four-times and the maximum amount recorded in the participants' blood by 14-times. No cognitive differences were identified, which is consistent with previous studies, researchers said.

"For epilepsy patients, a goal is to maintain consistent blood concentrations of drug," said Birnbaum. "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."