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Sublingual Use of Cannabis
Before you swallow, cannabis can also enter the blood stream. Under the tongue and within the mouth there are a large number of blood vessels which can absorb cannabinoids. Common examples of these type of medications include dissolvable strips, sublingual sprays, or medicated lozenges or tinctures.
Sublingual delivery is not only a socially acceptable and convenient way to medicate, but intake through the oral mucosal membranes in your mouth is also a very effective way to ingest cannabinoids. This method provides for rapid and effective absorption directly into your systemic circulation because of the increased bioavailability of the cannabinoids.
“Compared to other delivery methods, uptake through blood vessels and micro-capillaries in your mouth is one of the best ways to increase the bioavailability of cannabinoids.”
Bioavailability is a subcategory of absorption in pharmacology that refers to the fraction of an administered dose of unchanged drug that reaches the blood stream. The only way to achieve true 100% bioavailability, by definition, is to administer a drug intravenously.
Compared to other delivery methods, uptake through blood vessels and micro-capillaries in your mouth is one of the best ways to increase the bioavailability of cannabinoids. This “first-pass” of medication, as it’s referred to, allows the medication to avoid having to pass through your liver where it would be broken down making it significantly less beneficial and bioavailable.
Whenever you take any other medications orally – i.e. swallowing pills or eating an edible – a small fraction of that drug is metabolized in the liver before it even reaches systemic circulation (blood stream), thus decreasing the overall bioavailability of the medication.
Additionally, sublingual delivery provides rapid effects similar to smoking without exposing the lungs to heat, tar, or other unwanted collateral effects, including unpleasant smoke smell, smoky taste, dry mouth, throat irritation and caused both by smoke and hot embers that often enter the user’s mouth and lungs during administration. When ignited, a large percentage of the cannabinoids present in the cannabis literally “go up in smoke.”
From "Cannabis Consumption" on Medical Jane