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The incredible rise in popularity of cannabidiol, a.k.a. CBD, has made industry innovation climb like no other. Some of that innovation is for brands and companies to stay at the head of the field and the science within it; some is to find new ways to stand out in such a popular and ever-expanding arena; and some innovation, like nano CBD, covers both. Many CBD producers now tout their application of “nanotechnology” with CBD, citing its efficacy in increasing CBD’s bioavailability and absorption. Let’s talk about how it does that.
What is nanotechnology?
Nanotechnology refers to matter science conducted on an atomic, molecular, and supramolecular scale. The nanotechnology field pulls from many areas of science, engineering, and technology, such as applied physics, materials science, molecular biology and chemistry, and mechanical and electrical engineering, among others, to construct materials and products from molecular units at the atomic level, or deconstruct them down to that level on the “nanoscale,” which is 1 to 100 nanometers. For reference, 1 nanometer is 1 billionth of 1 meter, or 0.00000001 meters. A sheet of newspaper—which is already thin as far as paper goes—is 100,000 nanometers thick. In other words, nanotechnology deals with things that are very, very, very small.
Nanotechnology in CBD
In CBD science, nanotechnology is used to create specific particles, such as liposomes or lipid nanoparticles, that stabilize CBD molecules. The CBD molecules are broken down into smaller components, then coated with a layer of these nanoparticles, effectively keeping CBD in the bloodstream for longer and increasing overall absorption. One 2017 study even refers to CBD-specific pro nanolipospheres for oral CBD delivery as “natural absorption enhancers.” That study, conducted on rats, found nano CBD to provide a 600-percent increase in bioavailability compared to normal CBD. What this means for consumers is that you could feel the effects of nano CBD much faster and potentially for longer.
The how and why
Remember how oil and water don’t mix well (or at all)? Well, CBD is fat-soluble—hence why it typically comes in oil forms. However, our bodies are mostly water, and water-soluble things are absorbed better in our cells than things that are non-water-soluble. So, fat-soluble CBD falls into a category that’s not as easily absorbed naturally. Nano CBD, sometimes commercially called “water-soluble CBD,” is an attempt to fix that. The lipid nanoparticles that coat nano CBD essentially act as an emulsifier for those particles to inhabit a water-soluble space, since having emulsified particles means smaller pieces, which means more surface area on each particle and better chances for absorption. Some of the particles coating nano CBD are also penetration enhancers, which act as a solvent on and for the cell membrane and (again) increase absorption.
On top of that, some scientists and others in the CBD and cannabis industries are particularly interested in nano CBD because of what else happens in our bodies when we ingest CBD and cannabis through other means. For instance, smoking cannabis products is great for absorption, but smoking in general is not good for our lungs in the long run, no matter what it is that you’re smoking. In a different vein, our stomachs and livers tend to dismantle and disable many of the other cannabis compounds when we ingest cannabis-derived products orally. With nano CBD, the idea is that both of these outcomes could potentially be avoided and people could receive even greater benefits from CBD and cannabis products.