What does it mean when CBD is advertised as water soluble, and is the term “water soluble CBD oil” more than just a marketing buzzword?
In today’s CBD space, consumers confront a plethora of terms describing the products they use and how effective they might be. Sublingual, topical, hemp-derived, isolate, liposomal, full- and broad-spectrum, micro- and nano-emulsified CBD. The list seems to grow every time a new CBD product of any kind hits the shelves.
Added to that list is another descriptive term many consumers are seeing a lot more of today: water-soluble CBD.
Water and CBD–what could be healthier, right? But if you peek behind the hype, you might be surprised to learn what these kinds of products really are and how they work. More importantly, you’ll understand how the technologies used by companies differ. And we’ll explain other more advanced scientific innovations used to deliver CBD — and more of it — into our bodies.
Below, we took a closer look at the subject of bioavailability, water solubility and why any of this matters when you’re buying CBD.
What most of these new “water-soluble” CBD products are trying to promote is the inference that they are somehow more bioavailable. This exotic new product form also combines two healthy buzzwords: “water” and “CBD”.
Bioavailability is a measure of how much of a molecular compound ends up in the bloodstream, where it can be delivered to wherever it’s needed in the body. Products with a greater degree of bioavailability can work faster and more efficiently than those with less.
It’s important to note that substances soluble in water can be more easily absorbed by the human body, which is made up of as much as 60% water. Cannabinoids of all kinds, including CBD, are lipophilic molecules. That means they are oil-based compounds that are not really soluble in water.
These oil-based cannabinoids dissolve only with great difficulty. Extracted hemp oils will float in water just like any other kind of oil. In general, a substance’s water solubility can have a correlation with its bioavailability, too.
Bioavailability — the molecular concentration delivered into the bloodstream — is affected by different factors, including how the product is consumed. For example, a chemical compound delivered intravenously will deliver 100% bioavailability, because it arrives intact directly in the circulatory system and does so chemically intact. Likewise, compounds smoked or inhaled go from the lungs directly into the bloodstream. These consumption forms also provide a fairly high degree of bioavailability.
But compounds that have to undergo metabolism in the liver are broken down and degraded in what’s called first-pass metabolism. Most likely, no other biological process affects bioavailability more.
The liver’s role in bioavailability
First-pass metabolism is the process in which any orally taken substance is swallowed and enters the digestive system. Next, it is filtered through the gut wall and liver before finally being able to enter the bloodstream. It’s a time-consuming process dependent on the condition of a person’s digestive tract, as well as how many other substances also have to undergo the same process at the time.
More importantly, though, this slow enzymatic metabolism in the liver also substantially degrades — or breaks down — a great many of the chemical compounds going through it. As a result, most orally consumed CBD is destroyed in this process, and little of it — perhaps as little as 4% — makes it through the liver and eventually into the bloodstream.
Bioavailability is important in whether or not a health product works for a person. As a result, CBD consumers have taken notice. So have many CBD companies and their marketing departments.
Water-soluble CBD makes a splash
With greater bioavailability as a stated goal, some CBD makers are selling products touted for their “water-soluble” benefits. This solubility descriptor is increasingly showing up in CBD tinctures and beverages. It’s even used to describe some of the flavorless CBD isolate powders that can be added to foods and drinks.
The product forms might differ but the water solubility focus is the same, as is the suggested benefit of an oil-based, hydrophobic cannabinoid somehow being made more “soluble” in water and, thus, more bioavailable in the human body.
Though these kinds of CBD products do carry specific benefits, they actually are made with a CBD delivery technology that isn’t as sophisticated, or effective, as some of the other cannabidiol delivery methods being used by some of today’s innovation-forward CBD manufacturers.
Water soluble or ‘water compatible’?
Water soluble CBD products could more accurately be described as ‘water-compatible.’ The oily CBD itself isn’t made soluble but instead is contained inside a structure with an affinity to water. It is like the inverse of putting a smartphone inside a waterproof case to keep it dry. We would say the phone is not waterproof, but the case is. Nanoemulsions containing CBD are akin to a case that likes water and can demonstrate many of the attributes of being water-soluble.
Nanoemulsions suspend tiny oil droplets in water, and their size can range from 10 to 1,000 nanometers. These emulsions are made up of small nanoparticles, which are designed to enter our bodies more easily between membrane walls, thus elevating their level of bioavailability. These nanoparticles are typically made with sound-wave technology that can make them exceedingly small. They are stable in form (meaning the chemicals in them are dispersed fairly uniformly) and are clear in appearance, making them especially suited for food and beverage applications.
By employing nanoemulsion technology, so-called water-soluble CBD products also don’t have to rely on common emulsifiers such as lecithin, propylene glycol or MCT, all of which also can affect taste dynamics in food products, as well as the bioavailability of the products. The quality of the emulsifier can also have an effect on the bioavailability of the product.
What do we mean by ‘solubility,’ anyway?
Solubility is more accurately about how chemicals dissolve in a liquid at a specific temperature, something that tells you nothing about a chemical compound’s bioavailability. It is a measure of degrees of how much solute–the CBD–can be carried in the saturated solution. This is the solubility equilibrium, which defines a chemical compound’s equilibrium. The concentration of the solute in a saturated solution is known as the solubility.
Believe it or not, activated CBD does dissolve in water. But only a minute fraction of it will, making it, essentially, insoluble. And solutions–technically called solvents–can hold only so much of a dissolved solute. Anything above a specific concentration will precipitate out and be wasted. So solubility primarily depends on the chemistry of the solute, in addition to the particle size, as well as environmental factors such as temperature, pressure and concentration.
Solubility is an important metric, but it’s not the only one–nor the main one–to necessarily affect the bioavailability of a CBD product of any kind.
Better delivery technologies for CBD
Less sophisticated water-soluble CBD emulsion products boost bioavailability to a degree but they still can’t escape the chemical breakdown that comes from ingestion and first-pass metabolism in the liver.
Wana Brands understands the importance of avoiding first-pass metabolism in order to boost bioavailability. Through advanced chemistry, we have developed CBD products that not only are water-soluble but also minutely small, with a particle size less than 100 nanometers, which is about the width of a strand of hair.
Wana’s new hemp tincture powered by Quicksilver Scientific technology modifies the chemistry and the particle size of the CBD and adjusts it so more than just a fraction can dissolve in water. It accomplishes this with innovative liposomes that are small enough to pass between body cells and enter the bloodstream directly. This technology guarantees one of the highest degrees of bioavailability outside of a needle injection.
In addition to being incredibly small, these liposomes are nano-sized collections of cannabinoids that are encapsulated – completely surrounded – with a molecular structure that tricks the body into believing they are water-friendly nutrients. This creates a much quicker uptake, beginning immediately in the mouth and avoiding the molecule destruction that takes place in the liver during first-pass metabolism.
Wana Brands also has partnered with Azuca for use of its process of encapsulating CBD molecules with a different technology. Azuca’s process is compatible with foods and relies on an open-ended encapsulation around the cannabinoids. It’s sturdy enough to not break down in digestion and can slip through the liver without degradation or loss of bioavailability.
Both of the processes work as Trojan horses, easily invading the bloodstream after tricking the body into believing they are water-based elements.
Is water soluble CBD just hype?
Many consumers might find water-soluble CBD of great benefit to their health routines and goals, given the beautiful complexity of our biology and the way it’s governed by the endocannabinoid biome.
But consumers also should understand the differences between CBD science and CBD marketing. That way, they can choose the products that work for them the best.
As long as they possess this knowledge, we know CBD consumers will make better choices, without being distracted by marketing gimmicks.
Try Wana Wellness for yourself
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