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Can CBD or THC be Made Water-Soluble?

[fa icon="calendar"] Jul 3, 2016 10:11:12 AM / by Alexey Peshkovsky, Ph.D.

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Cannabinoids (CBD, THC, etc.) are hydrophobic (water-hating) oily substances and, as such, not water-soluble. They can, however, be formulated to be water-compatible and appear water-soluble.

The term "water-soluble CBD" has lately been extensively used throughout the medical cannabis industry. "Water-soluble" means able to homogeneously incorporate into water by separating into molecules or ions (dissolve like sugar, alcohol or salt). Oily substances, however, are repelled by water, which forces them to stay separate from it.

CBD, THC and many other oils can, however, be made water compatible if they are formulated as micro- or nanoemulsions, which are stable and visually homogeneous oil/water mixtures. The definitions of these emulsion types, important differences between them and methods by which they can be prepared are provided in our earlier blog post: "Achieving Stability of Oil-in-Water and Water-in-Oil Emulsion Products" as well as in this free eBook:

 Guide to making stable emulsions

Both micro- and nanoemulsions can be prepared in concentrated forms that are fully miscible with water and, therefore, appear water-soluble. Both require the use of surfactants, which dilute the products, but are not otherwise a major concern, since several natural options are available with minimal negative effects. It is, of course, beneficial to use as little surfactants as possible. This is where nanoemulsions have a clear advantage: the amounts of surfactants used for their preparation are up to 10 times lower that those needed to make microemulsions.

Benefits of CBD and THC Nanoemulsions

Besides being water-compatible and easily mixed into beverages at essentially any desired concentrations, cannabis extract nanoemulsions (nano-cannabinoids) provide exceptionally high bioavailability and therapeutic effect, and are absorbed by the body, either orally or through the skin, very rapidly and completely. The uptake starts to occur in the mouth almost immediately upon oral administration. This means higher potency and faster onset of action for lower doses.

Further information on CBD and THC nanoemulsions, including how they can be prepared using ultrasonic liquid processors, is provided in our recent blog post: "Are Cannabinoids More Effective in Nano Form?"

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Topics: Emulsion-based Products, Medical Cannabis

Alexey Peshkovsky, Ph.D.

Written by Alexey Peshkovsky, Ph.D.

Dr. A. Peshkovsky is a co-founder and President of ISM. He is responsible for setting the overall strategic direction for the company as well as for overseeing equipment and applications development. Dr. Peshkovsky holds a B.A. in Chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Columbia University. He is the author of over 40 scientific papers, patents and presentations as well as two books on ultrasonic liquid processing.

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