Fatty Meals May Increase CBD Absorption, Q&A with Dr. Angela Birnbaum

Sep. 3, 2019

Dr. Angela Birnbaum's interview with MedicalResearch.com 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? 

Response: Little was known about the effect food has on the amount of cannabidiol (CBD) that is actually absorbed into the body. Because of various state laws, CBD preparations vary from state to state. In Minnesota, however, the law only allows pure forms of cannabidiol providing a consistent supply of product including a purified CBD capsule formulation. Due to its pharmacological properties a low amount of a CBD dose reaches the blood stream and the effect of food had not been well described.

Our study was done to determine the amount of cannabidiol

that is absorbed with food as compared to an empty stomach at doses used in epilepsy patients, which can be higher than the dose often used for other conditions.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings? 

Response: Our results showed that the total amount of cannabidiol that reaches the blood was on average four times higher when CBD was given with a high fat meal. We also found that the highest blood concentration observed after a CBD dose was on average fourteen times higher with the meal.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The amount of cannabidiol that gets into the body may increase with higher fat meals. The variability introduced by differences in fat content in a meal could further determine how cannabidiol is absorbed into the body. This makes it difficult to predict overall drug exposure in a person. Not being able to anticipate changes in CBD concentrations in a person’s body can increase the chances of a patient experiencing seizures and the extent of possible drug interactions.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: There is a lot of information that we do not know about CBD. Further research is needed to determine if CBD works for many of the proposed uses and how drug exposure is related to an individual’s response. There are also potential interactions with cannabidiol and drugs that are prescribed to treat medical conditions that need to be explored.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Persons who are considering using cannabidiol should consult with their primary care provider to ensure that it will not interfere with any current therapy or medications.

I have nothing to disclose.


Angela K. Birnbaum, Ashwin Karanam, Susan E. Marino, Christopher M. Barkley, Rory P. Remmel, Michaela Roslawski, Mary Gramling-Aden, Ilo E. Leppik. Food effect on pharmacokinetics of cannabidiol oral capsules in adult patients with refractory epilepsy. Epilepsia, 2019; 60 (8): 1586 DOI: 10.1111/epi.16093