With so much choice for hemp-based products on the market, we all want to know we’re making the right choice and getting value for money. Many people complain about trying hemp or CBD and not noticing any effect. But could this be because they’re not actually taking CBD the right way? More people are singing the praises of water-soluble hemp – but what does that mean? And could it be more effective?
If you shop around for CBD products, you’ll notice that the majority of them are oil-based: tinctures, balms, oil-filled capsules, and so on. There’s a pretty simple explanation for that: CBD is naturally lipophilic, or fat-soluble. In other words, it can only be dissolved in other oils, which are often known as carrier oils.
However, you know how when you try to mix oil and water, they will eventually separate back into two distinct layers? That’s because oils are hydrophobic, or “water-fearing.” This might make for a cool visual effect, it isn’t great news for oil-based supplements when you consider that the human body is around 70% water. It is especially problematic when that oil is swallowed: studies have shown that between 80 and 90% of the dosage is lost during digestion, meaning only 10 to 20% is absorbed by the body. The rest goes, well, the same everything else that passes through the digestive system – down the pan.
What is Bioavailability?
This phenomenon is called bioavailability. Bioavailability refers to how much of a dose of a substance your body is absorbing, compared to how much you took in the first place. At one end of the spectrum, you have something like an intravenous injection, where almost 100% of the medication goes directly into the bloodstream. On the other hand, you have something like oil-based CBD supplements, as we saw earlier.
The main issue that stops CBD in oil form from being absorbed through the stomach is a phenomenon called the First Pass Effect. This is where a substance (i.e. CBD) must pass through the gut and the liver before it enters general circulation, during which time it is metabolized and much of the dosage is either lost or altered.
While this may all sound a little technical, the important thing to know is that how you take CBD has a huge effect on its efficacy.
Can Water-Soluble Hemp Increase Bioavailability?
So how can we make sure that we’re getting the most goodness out of the CBD we take?
It’s worth noting that the issue of bioavailability is not unique to CBD. In fact, almost all medicines on the market will have gone through rigorous testing to ensure that they are being taken in the most effective manner. This usually involves changing the substance slightly so that it can bypass issues like the First Pass Effect.
In the case of CBD, one method that is thought to increase bioavailability is making it more soluble in water, meaning that it can be more easily absorbed by the body. This technique is also used in substances like vitamin C. The process for making CBD water-soluble typically involves micellization, or breaking the CBD down into tiny nanoparticles, which are more compatible with water and more easily absorbed by the body.
Although there has still not been a definitive scientific study that water-soluble hemp increases the bioavailability of CBD and other cannabinoids, a number of recent studies have highlighted the importance of micellization.