A New Water-Soluble CBD Formulation

Some recent highlights and curiosities from the amazing world of cannabis science and therapeutics.
By Adrian Devitt-Lee On September 11, 2019
Close up pouring purified fresh drink water from the bottle on table in living room

Dosing CBD and other cannabinoids is challenging, both due to low bioavailability and large differences between how individuals metabolize drugs. Conventional pharmaceuticals are easier to dose partly because they are water-soluble. Thus numerous groups have tried to make water-soluble formulations of cannabinoids.

An article in Molecules detailed the absorption and kinetics of a new formulation of self-emulsifying CBD. This means that, when exposed to water, the CBD becomes encapsulated in small lipid spheres around twenty million times smaller than a meter. These microscopic particles are easier to absorb, as demonstrated in a recent human study by German researchers at BioTeSys.

People taking the self-emulsifying formulation — as compared with CBD infused in medium-chain triglycerides — absorbed more CBD and reached the peak concentration in a shorter time (one hour as opposed to three hours). It sounds good, but here’s the catch: Formulations with a faster onset are usually processed faster, requiring more frequent doses. If a typical edible lasts around 4 hours, for example, the self-emulsifying CBD’s effects might only last 2 hours. The authors conspicuously avoid mentioning their formulation’s half-life, although such would usually be reported in a thoroughly reviewed study. Were the authors trying to avoid this criticism of their propriety formulation by omitting this information?

The authors also noticed a sex difference — with regular (non-emulsified) CBD, women absorbed significantly more CBD than men, but the sexes appeared to uptake the self-emulsifying formulation equally well. The sample size was too small to say much based on this, but it is an important consideration for future work. Many studies on the endocannabinoid system show sex and gender differences, while much preclinical work continues to use all-male models. Attention to gender differences is essential.

Short description: 
Adrian Devitt-Lee, Project CBD's chief science writer, is employed as a research chemist by the University College of London.