Did you know that Cannabidiol (CBD) is hydrophobic (an oil)? What this means is that it will repel water, but mixes well with another oil. Hence, why a lot of CBD companies, like Natural Stress Solutions, make CBD Oil. However, with the help of a little science, they can be formulated into water-soluble nanoemulsions. In this form, they appear to be water-soluble.

Now lets be clear, despite the name, CBD and other cannabis molecules never actually dissolve in water, instead, they are transformed into a more water-friendly form. “Water-soluble” means it is able to homogeneously incorporate into water by separating into molecules or ions (dissolve like sugar, alcohol or salt). Oily substances, however, are repelled by water, which forces them to stay separate from it. So a more accurate term for these products would be ‘water-compatible’. Despite this fact, the term ‘water-soluble’ has established itself across the CBD industry due to its use in the marketing of CBD products.

CBD and other oils can, however, be made water-compatible if they are formulated as oil-in-water nanoemulsions, which are stable and visually homogeneous oil/water mixtures. Nanoemulsions can be prepared in concentrated forms (tens of mg/ml) that are fully miscible with water and, therefore, appear water-soluble. In addition, nanoemulsions can be made translucent and practically tasteless, which means that they can be mixed into water without compromising its optical clarity or taste.

So lets talk about the 3 different kinds of water-soluble CBD.

  • Liposomes
  • Microemulsions
  • Nanoemulsions

Liposomes are water-containing spherical structures ranging in size from 50-5000 nanometers. They are made of an internal water-friendly (hydrophilic) compartment surrounded by a water-insoluble (hydrophobic) bilayer. CBD extract can be stored in the bilayer membrane. The downside to this method is it uses highly complex manufacturing procedures and requires high surfactant levels.

Microemulsions are 100-5000 nanometer droplets formed by solubilizing CBD oil in water. These emulsions are created using a chemical process and have the downside of requiring high amounts of surfactants which results in some undesirable side effects for the user.

Nanoemulsions are today’s best method of creating water-soluble CBD products. These products are created by breaking up the extracted CBD into 10-100 nanometer droplets. The mechanical process used to create these nanoparticles requires a low amount of surfactants. This method also allows for all natural surfactants to be used. These benefits reduce the downsides associated with synthetic and high-surfactant use. Additionally, these particles are translucent which means they can be added to drinks without being visually detected.

So what would be the benefit of Water Soluble CBD? Well lets be honest, there are quite a few benefits to water-soluble tinctures and capsules when compared to traditional oil-based products. One of those benefits is going to be better value. Depending on the method used to create the water-soluble product, the bioavailability can increase as much as 500%. In this case, you’d need 1/5th the dosage for the same results. Often, the price per dose is lower compared to similar oil-based products. You will also find they are more effective, and there is less waste. The higher bioavailability means that less of the product is wasted when ingested and more product is actively put to use. This leads to the CBD being able to absorb into the body quicker, thus they take less time to become active when compared to their oil-based counterparts. Last but not least, thanks to the developments in technology, CBD and other cannabis molecules can now be mixed into water-based drinks and beverages.

Since our bodies are made of ~60% water, CBD naturally resists absorption into the bloodstream. This has a big impact on the bioavailability of some of the most popular and convenient forms of taking CBD including capsules, tinctures, topicals, edibles, and drinks. As an example, when oil-based CBD capsules or soft gels are swallowed, some studies show that as little as 4% of the substance actually makes it to the bloodstream. What this means is that up to 96% of the CBD ends up being flushed from the body without ever having an active effect. While other CBD products have to reach the digestive system before taking effect, the nano-sized nutrients available in water-soluble CBD soar past the blood-brain barrier and penetrate cells immediately, allowing for nearly 100% bioavailability and absorption.

While there is still some research being done on water-soluble products, we are looking to expand from our CBD isolate (Pure CBD), and crude CBD (Full Spectrum CBD), to water-soluble CBD sometime in the future. Stay tuned for future updates about water-soluble CBD products! 

Read our recent blog: 5 CBD Facts by clicking here.