Salmon with juniper berries

CBD oil is being used by individuals for an array of conditions—from insomnia to pain. While many are reporting great results, what if there were a way to get even better results? What if those improved results were achieved by simply adjusting the time you take your CBD and what’s in your stomach when you take it?

The University of Minnesota recently asked the question: “What is the effect of food on CBD Absorption?” What they found is thought-provoking and illuminating for anyone using CBD.

CBD Absorption Research Methodology

University of Minnesota researchers published their findings in Epilepsia earlier this year. The research compared the effect of fasting and eating high-fat foods on the absorption of CBD oral capsules.

To find out what effect a fatty meal would have on CBD absorption, researchers compared two groups of adult epileptic patients. One group of patients took CBD on an empty stomach and the other took the CBD within 30 minutes of eating a high-fat breakfast meal.

Both groups “fasted” overnight before taking their CBD dose in the mornings. The official fasting group was given breakfast a full four hours after they took their CBD dose. The other group ate their breakfast, a high-fat burrito, within 30 minutes of taking CBD. The breakfast consisted of 840-860 calories with 500-600 coming from fat.

Afterward, the research group measured CBD concentrations in the blood and bodies of each group of patients.

The same test was repeated two weeks later. This time, however, the groups alternated. The patients who had been in the fasting group the first time were now in the group that ate the high-fat breakfast burrito within 30 minutes of taking CBD. And vice versa.

CBD Absorption Research Findings

“The type of food can make a large difference in the amount of CBD that gets absorbed into the body. 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,” said Angela Birnbaum, a professor in the College of Pharmacy and study co-author.

Dr. Birnbaum is a researcher who focuses on the variability of drug concentrations and responses in the elderly, pregnant women, children, and drug addiction. Her research includes the investigation of epilepsy medications including medical cannabis.

The study found:

  • CBD exposure is vastly increased when CBD is taken with high fatty foods;
  • 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.

“Increases in the amount of the CBD dose being absorbed into the body can also lead to lower medication costs,” said Ilo Leppik, study co-author and professor in the College of Pharmacy. Leppik is also an adjunct professor at the Medical School.

Ilo Leppik, MD, is an epilepsy specialist. His research focus includes neurology and epilepsy—specifically around epilepsy in older adults, canine status epilepticus, and treating epilepsy with cannabis.

The University of Minnesota’s College of Pharmacy is the only pharmacy school in Minnesota, with campuses in the Twin Cities and in Duluth.

Woman taking a pill

Concentrations of CBD Critical for Epileptic Patients

“For epilepsy patients, a goal is to maintain consistent blood concentrations of the 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.”

The research was funded by the Epilepsy Foundation of America, the Patricia L. Nangle Fund, and a gift from a grateful family. The CBD used in the study were FDA approved, 99% pure CBD capsules that had prescribed to the adult patients for seizures.

What are the Implications for CBD Oil Users?

For patients suffering from epilepsy, the body and blood levels of their prescription CBD could mean the difference between more or fewer seizures.

But what about everyone else?

Though the study was small-scale (eight adults completed the study), it is significant. There are not a lot of human trials around the use of CBD. Further, one could presume that CBD body and blood levels would increase in anyone under the same circumstances, not just epileptic patients.

If you suspect that CBD isn’t as effective for you as others, despite using the same dosage and brand, it might be time for a change. Consider adjusting your diet and the time you take your CBD. On the other hand, maybe CBD is already very effective for you but you are interested in seeing if it could be even more effective. Either way, there are certainly plenty of good reasons to add some high-fat foods to your diet.

Proponents of High-Fat Foods

The CBD absorption research by the University of Minnesota is just one of the most recent endorsements for the value of high-fat foods.

Today, there are many diets that include high-fat foods. Perhaps the most well known of these is the ketogenic diet. Individuals choose the keto diet for health reasons, weight-loss or both. The concept of this diet is for you to get more calories from protein and fat and less from carbohydrates. You cut out carbs that are easy to digest, like sugar, soda, pastries, and white bread.

Research suggests that a low-carb, high-fat diet can help you lose weight, which in turn can help ward off chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease. This type of diet may also increase the number of calories your body burns.

All Fats are NOT Created Equally

When it comes to fat, the adjective that precedes it is REALLY important. In case you need a refresher of middle school grammar, an adjective is the part of speech that describes something. And with fat, the adjective used is the difference between good, O.K. and REALLY, REALLY bad. So think about that when choosing what high-fat food to eat to possibly boost your CBD absorption, consider the type of fat.


1. Monounsaturated Fats – Good Unsaturated Fats

Monounsaturated fats protect the heart. They also support insulin sensitivity, fat storage, weight loss, and healthy energy levels. Good sources of monounsaturated fats include:

  • Macadamia nuts
  • Olives and olive oil
  • Avocado

2. Polyunsaturated Fats – Some are Good and Some are Bad

Polyunsaturated fats include Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats. Omega 3’s reduce inflammation, support healthy hormone levels and cell membranes. Omega 6 fatty acids are important to support healthy brain and muscle functions but, on the downside, they promote inflammation in the body.

Americans Get Too much of a Good Thing

We only need a small amount of omega 6 fatty acids in our diet. The problem is that the standard American diet is filled with them (e.g., most baked goods, packaged foods like cookies and crackers, chips, french fries, bread, and snacks). Corn, soybean, safflower, cottonseed, grapeseed and sunflower oils are all high in omega 6’s. Any food that’s fried, baked, or microwaved using these oils will oxidize and create an inflammatory response in the body.

The solution?

Eat more omega 3 fats:

  • Flax
  • Salmon
  • Walnuts

Eat less omega 6 fats. Stay away from soy and corn oil – period. 95% of soy and corn oil is derived from GMO seeds that numerous studies have shown to increase body fat and inflammation.

3. Saturated Fats – Some are Good and Some are Bad

Interestingly, saturated fats have been vilified for the last 40 years. However, under the dietary guidelines restricting saturated fats, chronic illness has risen rather than declined.

Saturated fats are solid at room temperature. Saturated fats have been assumed to cause heart disease by raising cholesterol in the blood. However, no experimental evidence has ever directly linked saturated fat to heart disease.

There are many conflicting viewpoints on saturated fats. We recommend these healthy choices:

  • Coconut oil
  • MCT oil
  • Raw butter

Red meats like beef, pork, and lamb all contain saturated fat. Chicken contains less. We recommend grass-fed meat only. Processed meats that contain saturated fats like bacon, hot dogs, sausages, and lunch meats should not be eaten. The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified these processed meats as class 1 carcinogens.

Some Fats Are Bad For You

4. Trans Fats – Really, Really Bad

This is the REALLY, REALLY bad fat we mentioned earlier.

Trans fatty acids or trans fats are formed when manufacturers turn liquid oils into solid fats. An example of this is shortening and hard margarine. Manufacturers create trans fats in a process called hydrogenation.

“What’s that?” you ask.

In a nutshell, hydrogenation is a process by which liquid vegetable oils are converted to solid fats simply by adding hydrogen atoms.

Manufacturers hydrogenate because it increases the shelf life and flavor stability of foods. Indeed, trans fats can be found in many foods including vegetable shortening, margarine, crackers, cereals, candies, baked goods, cookies, granola bars, chips, snack foods, salad dressings, fats, fried foods, and many other processed foods.

Studies show that trans fat increases cholesterol levels, heart attacks and possibly even diabetes.

Like saturated or animal fats, trans fats contribute to clogged arteries. However, unlike saturated fats that come from coconut oil, MCT oil, and avocado, trans fats have NO benefits.

So read your labels and stay away from them.

How Did Fats Get to Be the Bad Guy?

Scientific studies dating from the late 1940s showed a correlation between high-fat diets and high-cholesterol levels, suggesting that a low-fat diet might prevent heart disease in high-risk patients.

By the 1960s, the low-fat diet began to be touted not just for high-risk heart patients, but as good for the whole nation.

After 1980, the low-fat approach became an overarching ideology, promoted by physicians, the federal government, the food industry, and the popular health media.

Many Americans subscribed to the ideology of low fat, even though there was no clear evidence that it prevented heart disease or promoted weight loss.

Ironically, in the same decades that the low-fat approach assumed ideological status, Americans got fatter. We then began to see an epidemic of obesity. Nevertheless, the low-fat ideology had such a hold on Americans that skeptics were dismissed.

Only recently has scientific knowledge about fats begun to create a widespread shift in the way American view and consume fats. Eating good fats has been shown to help weight loss, lower bad cholesterol levels, raise good cholesterol levels, and potentially lower heart disease.

In Conclusion

Though additional research will most certainly reveal more about CBD absorption, the research done by the University of Minnesota is a good start.

If you are interested in adding CBD to your regime, visit our online store.