With so many cannabidiol (CBD) products available on the market, it can be difficult for users to choose the right one. While CBD offers a wide variety of benefits for one’s health, including relief from pain and inflammation, choosing from all the available hemp oil, tinctures, topicals, and edibles can be challenging(1).
Nowadays, there are CBD beverages available, which are made from water–soluble CBD. However, note that CBD is a highly lipophilic molecule (dissolves in fats), which means CBD may combine with the fat content of food to improve its solubility, absorption, and bioavailability(2).
How Water–Soluble CBD Is Made
Manufacturers of CBD, the non-psychoactive component of hemp, rely on nanotechnology to create CBD that can be absorbed into the water. This advanced technology breaks down CBD into tiny particles(nanoemulsions) through sound waves(3).
These emulsifiers are smaller than 100 nanometers in size. One nanometer is one-millionth of a millimeter, which means these CBD particles are small enough to blend with the particles in water(4).
Research on the effectiveness of nanotechnology and CBD is limited. However, one study found that lipid-based CBD nanoparticles absorb more easily into the body(5).
This occurrence is due to the tiny nanoparticles that can pass through cell membranes and into the bloodstream much more quickly than larger CBD particles.
However, since studies on nano CBD are in their infancy, the use of water-soluble CBD and nano CBD have to be explored further.
Bioavailability: What It Is and Why It Matters
Bioavailability relates to how quickly the human body can absorb a drug or metabolite and how much of a specific product can enter the bloodstream(6).
When it comes to CBD, a person is getting more value from their CBD product when more CBD is absorbed in the body.
Sufficient bioavailability depends on various factors, including(7):
CBD Bioavailability: What Research Says
A study mentioned that CBD’s potential is hindered by its low water–solubility, low bioavailability, and its fluctuating onset time, duration of efficacy, and the intensity of its effect (pharmacokinetics)(8).
Due to the fat-loving nature of cannabinoids, one way to improve the bioavailability of CBD is to have a healthy diet of long-chain triglycerides (saturated fats)(9).
A study that used liposomal CBD administration noted that utilizing a sac of phospholipid enclosed in a water droplet to carry drugs and other substances or liposomes in the delivery of CBD showed benefits on the glucose levels of 10 healthy individuals(10).
However, the absorption rate of CBD oil products still depends on CBD and the method of delivery in which the product is taken.
Like CBD soft gel supplements and CBD capsules, ingested CBD products are believed to have the lowest bioavailability because of the first-pass effect.
The first-pass effect means that the product goes through the digestive system first and is then processed in the liver before being used by the body(11).
The bioavailability of CBD products administered through the ingestion route has an average of 6% to 15%. These figures are significantly lower than the bioavailability of inhaled CBD products that have an average of 16% to 44% absorption rate(12).
Despite its relatively low absorption rate, the ingestion route of administration has the highest average period of effect (6 to 8 hours) compared to the 2– to 4-hour duration of vape inhalation and CBD sublingual administration(13).
The higher bioavailability of inhaled CBD is due to how it goes directly to the porous lungs and bloodstream(14). Vaping and smoking fall under this route of administration.
Moreover, the sublingual or mucosal delivery method has the second-highest bioavailability rate with an average of 6% to 20%(15).
When CBD is taken sublingually, it is absorbed through the capillaries under the tongue’s mucous membrane and the cheeks into the bloodstream(16). CBD tinctures are typically taken using the sublingual method.
Research and clinical trials are still being done to develop a more efficient and effective way to take CBD.
What Is Water-Soluble CBD?
Oil and water do not mix, and neither do CBD oil and the water in the body. Because the body is made up of about 60% water(17), the bioavailability of many CBD-infused products is affected. Thus, the body may have difficulty absorbing these products.
CBD oil does not necessarily need to be water-soluble to take effect. However, the high bioavailability of water-soluble products may further maximize the effects of CBD.
A study noted that cannabinoids, like CBD, are naturally hydrophobic molecules that do not blend well with the skin’s aqueous layer(18).
According to a study conducted to test the bioavailability of CBD oral formulations, water-soluble CBD powder was approximately 4.5 times more bioavailable than the lipid-soluble CBD powder(19).
However, the limited studies on water-soluble CBD did not mention the duration of its effects.
Benefits of Water–Soluble CBD
Some of the possible wellness benefits of water-soluble include the following:
- Potentially higher bioavailability: A study mentioned that water-soluble CBD has a higher bioavailability than fat-soluble CBD(19).
- Many possibilities: Once CBD has been absorbed into the water, it can create many delicious beverages and food products
- Taste: CBD is known to have a natural grassy, nutty, and earthy flavor.
A study noted that some water-soluble CBD products are infused with taste enhancers together with the naturally lipophilic compound and non-ionic surfactant (a mild substance attracted to water)(20).
How to Maximize CBD Bioavailability
Because CBD–infused water has its limitations, some CBD users may be looking for other ways to get the most out of their CBD products.
The good news is that eating certain foods can facilitate faster absorption of CBD by the body. Many foods high in “good fats” – triglycerides, like medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), and foods with fatty acids – may help the body absorb the CBD more quickly. Some of these foods are:
- Coconut oil
- Soybean oil
- Fatty fish
It is also best to choose the best-quality CBD out there because it may more likely contain the right amounts of CBD.
Choosing to purchase from a CBD company that sends its products to a third-party lab for testing may also ensure that the buyer receives products that contain the amount of CBD the seller claims to offer.
It is also a good idea to choose a CBD product extracted from organic hemp plants. It may ensure the user is not getting any undesirable “extra content,” such as pesticides or herbicides, in the CBD product.
Health Benefits of CBD-Infused Water
While the Food and Drug Administration or FDA has not officially approved the use of CBD water, it can help treat various health conditions by working with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS is a neuromodulatory system believed to regulate functions in the central nervous system, such as immunomodulation, analgesia, and inflammation(21).
According to Bethany Halford in her paper Medicine from Marijuana, CBD-infused sodas and CBD-infused water promise refreshment and relaxation(22).
The ECS has receptors that are believed to modify central nervous system functions, including pain, moods, and the sleep cycle(23).
Some studies showed that CBD reduced seizures by up to 45%, without the strong side effects of many traditional seizure medications(24).
Other studies indicated that in tuberous sclerosis, which affects the nervous system the same way as epilepsy, CBD-infused water was effective in reducing seizures by up to 69 % of the time(25).
Another nervous system condition is multiple sclerosis, which interrupts the information flowing between the brain and the body.
Studies showed that CBD-infused water reduced and even eliminated the symptoms of mood swings, pain, and fatigue caused by the condition(26).
Problems With CBD-Infused Water
While CBD water offers many health benefits, there are a few drawbacks that consumers should know. Because this is still a relatively new product, companies are still developing the best products for consumers.
- Not all CBD water contains a significant amount of CBD. Many brands of CBD water only offer about 2mg to 5mg CBD in each serving size. People using CBD to treat illnesses and conditions may need larger amounts of CBD to see any results.
- Even CBD water that contains more CBD may not be effective. One study stated that CBD was very unstable and that light can cause this cannabinoid to degrade and become ineffective quickly(27). The problem is that many companies sell their CBD–infused water in a clear container, where the liquid sits for weeks at a time.
Users interested in using CBD dissolved in water should look for options in darker–colored containers. They should also look at the CBD content in each container and the overall product price.
What Is CBD Oil?
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil comes from the hemp plant’s harvested and dried flowers(28). The flowers are steeped in methanol before being placed in freezing temperatures to remove any fats and distilled before a carrier oil is added.
CBD extract in oil form is mainly composed of CBD, the non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant(29).
However, hemp oil extract may also have other compounds aside from CBD (as in full-spectrum CBD oil), including terpenes, flavonoids, and traces of the psychoactive compound, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)(30).
In some cases, CBD oil does not include THC. However, it still contains other cannabinoids, like cannabigerol (CBG) and cannabinol (CBN), terpenes, and flavonoid profiles (broad-spectrum CBD oil). CBD oil may also include the CBD molecule alone (CBD isolate)(31).
However, traditional CBD oil comes with its own set of problems because many experts believe that only a small part of the CBD is absorbed into the body.
CBD is a naturally lipophilic molecule that dissolves in lipids or fat; hence, CBD does not mix well with water(32).
This lipophilic characteristic of CBD is one reason for its low bioavailability or absorption rate(33). Novel solutions, like the use of nanotechnology in producing CBD, are being explored to improve this limitation.
Still, the studies on water-soluble CBD products are a relatively new development.
- Grinspoon, P., (August 2018), Cannabidiol (CBD) — what we know and what we don’t, retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cannabidiol-cbd-what-we-know-and-what-we-dont-2018082414476
- Millar, S., Stone N. L., et. al., (November 2018), A Systematic Review on the Pharmacokinetics of Cannabidiol in Humans, retrieved from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2018.01365/full#:~:text=As%20CBD%20is%20a%20highly,et%20al.%2C%202013
- Poole, C. P., Owens, F. J., (2003), Introduction to Nanotechnology, retrieved from https://books.google.com.ph/books?hl=en&lr=&id=XfzgEoY9SNkC&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=nanotechnology&ots=rPV7weciyd&sig=qy0D0ki7w7NeoTZhSOZT1r0CpXc&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=nanotechnology&f=false
- Bruni, N., Della Pepa, C., Oliaro-Bosso, S., Pessione, E., Gastaldi, D., & Dosio, F. (2018). Cannabinoid Delivery Systems for Pain and Inflammation Treatment. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 23(10), 2478. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules23102478
- Le, J., (October 2020), Drug Bioavailability, retrieved from https://www.msdmanuals.com/professional/clinical-pharmacology/pharmacokinetics/drug-bioavailability#:~:text=Bioavailability%20refers%20to%20the%20extent,on%20its%20design%20and%20manufacture.
- Millar, S. A., Maguire, R. F., et.al., (August 2020), Towards Better Delivery of Cannabidiol (CBD), retrieved from https://www.mdpi.com/1424-8247/13/9/219/htm
- Konieczny, E., (2018), Healing with CBD, retrieved from https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AGlxnhS2SoFeOXEuysv75bd_C9pEnwsU/view
- Blair, E., (n.d.), Next Generation of Liposomal Delivery for Cannabidiol From a Hemp Extract: A Safety Study, retrieved from https://cellg8.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Safety-Study-Published-2.pdf
- Konieczny, E., Op. Cit.
- USGS Water Science School, (n.d.), The Water in You: Water and the Human Body, retrieved from https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/water-you-water-and-human-body?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects
- Huestis M. A. (2007). Human cannabinoid pharmacokinetics. Chemistry & biodiversity, 4(8), 1770–1804. https://doi.org/10.1002/cbdv.200790152
- Hobbs, J. M., Vasquez, A. R., et. al., (March 2020), Evaluation of pharmacokinetics and acute anti‐inflammatory potential of two oral cannabidiol preparations in healthy adults, retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ptr.6651
- Guindon, J., & Hohmann, A. G. (2009). The endocannabinoid system and pain. CNS & neurological disorders drug targets, 8(6), 403–421. https://doi.org/10.2174/187152709789824660
- Halford, B., (July 2018), Medicine from Marijuana, retrieved from http://diverdi.colostate.edu/C480A3/reading%20materials/legal%20&%20policy/20180723%20C&EN%20-%20medicine%20from%20marijuana.pdf
- Zou, S., & Kumar, U. (2018). Cannabinoid Receptors and the Endocannabinoid System: Signaling and Function in the Central Nervous System. International journal of molecular sciences, 19(3), 833. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19030833
- Silvestro, S., Mammana, S., Cavalli, E., Bramanti, P., & Mazzon, E. (2019). Use of Cannabidiol in the Treatment of Epilepsy: Efficacy and Security in Clinical Trials. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 24(8), 1459. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24081459
- Perucca E. (2017). Cannabinoids in the Treatment of Epilepsy: Hard Evidence at Last?. Journal of epilepsy research, 7(2), 61–76. https://doi.org/10.14581/jer.17012
- Kogan, N. M., & Mechoulam, R. (2007). Cannabinoids in health and disease. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 9(4), 413–430. https://doi.org/10.31887/DCNS.2007.9.4/nkogan
- Fairbairn JW, Liebmann JA, Rowan MG. The stability of cannabis and its preparations on storage. J Pharm Pharmacol. 1976 Jan;28(1):1-7. doi: 10.1111/j.2042-7158.1976.tb04014.x. PMID: 6643.
- Place, G., (July 2019), How to Harvest and Dry Hemp for CBD Production, retrieved from https://catawba.ces.ncsu.edu/2019/02/drying-hemp-for-cbd-production/
- Konieczny, E., (2018), Healing with CBD, retrieved from https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AGlxnhS2SoFeOXEuysv75bd_C9pEnwsU/view
- Millar S., Op. Cit.