- Water-soluble or non-oil-based formulations can be better absorbed into the bloodstream when being consumed with food.
- There was a large difference in the absorption of water-soluble CBD versus oil-based or isolate.
- “Another thing that happens when taking CBD with food is that food slows down the passage of CBD through the gastrointestinal system, so there is a better chance of it being absorbed since it is dwelling longer in the smaller intestines.”
Over the years, researchers have debated how water-soluble cannabidiol measures up to CBD isolate and oil-based formulations of CBD when it comes to absorption. A new pharmacokinetic study not only discovered the answer to this question, but also found CBD’s impact on the liver and how food can impact absorption.
Water-Soluble CBD’s Impact on Absorption
Conducted by NextEvo Naturals in conjunction with Colorado State University’s Department of Health & Exercise Science, the study showed that over 500 percent variance in maximum blood concentration was achieved between water-soluble CBD ingredients. While some researchers have found that it helps to eat when taking oil-soluble, this new Colorado State University study is one of the first, if not the first, to show that water-soluble or non-oil-based formulations can also be better absorbed into the bloodstream when being consumed with food.
“The study clearly showed the superior absorption qualities of water-soluble CBD forms, and a number of different formulations were tested that were around the same type of design, but they just used different materials like natural emulsifiers. There was a large difference in the absorption of water-soluble CBD versus oil-based or isolate,” Dr. Gerry McNally, VP of R&D at NextEvo Naturals, said. “There was also a very notable effect in taking water-soluble products with food — it significantly increased the total amount of CBD that was absorbed.”
Water-Soluble CBD vs. Oil-Based & Isolate CBD
More correctly termed water-dispersible, water-soluble CBD is CBD oil that has been broken through a four-step process into fine crystalline particles, making it easier to be absorbed. The powder form of this CBD extract can easily be ingested by mixing into drinks or food.
According to Dr. McNally, CBD and all cannabinoid compounds do not dissolve in water. Because of the lipophilic materials they are made of, they will dissolve in certain oils, which is why some of the first formulations that hit retail shelves were capsules and tinctures. Many of these oil formulations have a better absorption rate over CBD isolate — so if you put isolate into a tablet and consume it, users will get less than four-to-five percent of absorption, whereas oil-based solutions will give users anywhere between five-to-ten percent, and sometimes more, absorption.
The biggest differences between water-soluble and oil-based CBD are their physical format and bioaccessibility, or absorption rate, according to Zolt.
Structure & Taste
Water-soluble CBD is in powder form, while CBD oil is in oil form. Both can be taken orally, however pure CBD oil has an earthy taste that might not be for everyone. Water-soluble CBD powder often does not taste like hemp, and can even come in fruit-infused flavors.
Water-soluble CBD is known to have a higher absorption rate than other forms of CBD. This is because the CBD has been broken down into even smaller particles that can be easily absorbed by the body.
CBD isolate is pure CBD with no additional compounds, which means that it does not contain active compounds like other cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes. One major cannabinoid that CBD isolate does not contain is THC, which is why some users opt for isolate. One downside of this is that users will not get the entire benefit of the plant, known as the entourage effect, a term used to describe the synergistic effect of the full range of cannabinoids and hemp biomolecules working together.
Food Helps with CBD Absorption
The Colorado State University study also found that eating food prior to taking any form of CBD will promote the release of various digestive chemicals and liquids, including bile, that greatly influences the absorption rate of CBD. “Another thing that happens when taking CBD with food is that food slows down the passage of CBD through the gastrointestinal system, so there is a better chance of it being absorbed since it is dwelling longer in the smaller intestines. If someone takes CBD, they should take it with a meal for maximum effect,” Dr. McNally said.
CBD Does Not Harm the Liver or Kidneys
One area of significant controversy pertaining to the potential health benefits of CBD relates to the liver. While some studies have suggested that CBD may promote favorable liver function, and may even be included in comprehensive treatments for liver diseases, others have suggested that CBD may harm the liver. The Colorado State university study found that single 30 mg doses of CBD did not negatively impact liver and kidney functions.
“Compounds like CBD or cannabinoids in general are very insoluble materials. Because they permeate into the cells, by the time they are processed through the liver, there is not much CBD left. We believe that water-soluble formulations get taken in through the lymphatic system, which avoids CBD from going through the liver and results in much higher levels in the blood system,” Dr. McNally said.
It is extremely important for organizations to continue to conduct studies on CBD and cannabis and their impacts on the human body. While much is still left unknown, studies like this give us a better idea of how CBD works and how it can better help with certain ailments.