Cannabidiol Oil Ingested as Sublingual Drops or Within Gelatin Capsules Shows Similar Pharmacokinetic Profiles in Healthy Males

Drusus A Johnson, Mark P Funnell, Liam M Heaney, Thomas G Cable, Patrick C Wheeler, Stephen J Bailey, Tom Clifford, Lewis J James

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Cannabidiol (CBD) is a nonintoxicating phytocannabinoid used in clinical treatments and sold widely in consumer products. CBD products may be designed for sublingual or oral delivery, but it is unclear whether either is advantageous for CBD absorption. This study compared CBD pharmacokinetics after providing CBD oil as sublingual drops and within orally ingested gelatin capsules, at a dose relevant to consumer products. Materials and Methods: Eight males completed three conditions in a participant-blinded, randomized crossover design. Participants received the following combinations of placebo and CBD-containing (69 mg/mL) hemp oil in capsules and as sublingual drops: placebo capsules/placebo drops (Placebo), CBD capsules/placebo drops (CBD-Caps), and placebo capsules/CBD drops (CBD-Drops). Blood samples, blood pressure, and subjective scales were obtained/completed hourly for 6 h and at 24 h. Discussion: Plasma CBD concentrations were not different between CBD-Caps and CBD-Drops (interaction effect p=0.76). Peak CBD concentration (28.0±15.6 vs. 24.0±22.2 ng/mL), time of peak CBD concentration (4±1 vs. 4±2 h), and area under the concentration curve (45.3±20.3 vs. 41.8±23.3 ng/mL·6 h) were not different between conditions (p≥0.25). Cardiometabolic outcomes (plasma glucose/triacylglycerol, heart rate, blood pressure), liver function (plasma alanine aminotransferase/aspartate aminotransferase), kidney function (plasma creatinine), and subjective feelings/symptoms were not different between conditions (p≥0.07). Conclusions: Plasma CBD profiles were comparable between CBD-Caps and CBD-Drops, suggesting that there were not meaningful differences in routes of CBD absorption between conditions. This implies that CBD oil delivered sublingually is swallowed before oral mucosal CBD absorption occurs, which may have implications for research design, CBD product design, and consumer product choice.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCannabis and cannabinoid research
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Sep 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
L.J.J. has current/previous funding from Entrinsic Beverage Company LLP, Herbalife Europe Ltd., Bridge Farm Nurseries Ltd., Decathlon SA, PepsiCo, Inc., and Volac International, has performed consultancy for PepsiCo, Inc., and Lucozade, Ribena Suntory, and has received conference fees from PepsiCo, Inc., and Danone Nutricia. In all cases, monies have been paid to L.J.J.'s institution and not directly to L.J.J. L.J.J. is part of the National Institute for Health Research's Leicester Biomedical Research Centre, which is a partnership between University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Loughborough University, and the University of Leicester.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright 2023, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.


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