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Bioavailability: a pharmacological measure

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Bioavailability is a measure derived from pharmacology. It indicates the proportion of an active ingredient that is available unchanged in the systemic circulation (especially in the bloodstream). The bioavailability of an active ingredient is measured in percent (0-100%). It provides information on how quickly and to what extent an active ingredient is absorbed and is available at the site of action.
Depending on how you take an active ingredient, its bioavailability can be higher or lower.
In the following, will explain to you in more detail which forms of consumption there are and what degree of bioavailability can be achieved through them.

  • Smoking & Vaporization: If an active ingredient is taken while smoking, it enters the bloodstream through the lungs. Although this takes longer than sublingual ingestion (ingestion under the tongue, e.g. of tinctures, concentrates or sprays), it is still faster than when capsules or food are taken orally. Vaporization is similar to smoking. The active ingredient also enters the bloodstream via the lungs, from where its potential can unfold. Since the active ingredient is heated more during vaporization, it has a higher bioavailability in this form of intake than in smoking. The bioavailability of vaporization is about 50-60%, while it is much lower with smoking (30%).
  • Oral ingestion: When taking active ingredients orally, there is an important factor to consider – the so-called “first-pass effect”: After oral ingestion, an active ingredient first reaches the stomach and small intestine. Before it is passed on from there into the bloodstream and can thus be distributed in the body, it must pass through the liver. In the intestine and liver, however, an active ingredient can be exposed to certain chemical reactions. This can often result in a reduction in bioavailability. For this reason, active ingredients that enter the body through oral administration have an average bioavailability of just 15%.
  • Sublingual intake: When taking the drug sublingually (e.g. tinctures, drops or sprays are taken sublingually), the mucous membranes in the mouth already absorb the active ingredient. From there, it enters the bloodstream directly. This means that the “first-pass effect” described above can be bypassed and, depending on the active ingredient, the bioavailability can be almost 100%.

Very briefly:
Bioavailability is an important indicator of how efficiently an active ingredient can unfold its potential in the human body. Depending on the type of intake, it varies. While oral intake ensures an average bioavailability of just 15%, sublingual intake can achieve almost 100% depending on the active ingredient.

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