Derived from the cannabis sativa plant, cannabidiol, better known as CBD, is the substance responsible for certain medicinal properties of cannabis. Unlike another component of cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol — or THC — CBD is not psychoactive, meaning that it does not produce a “high.”
In recent years, CBD has been used for relieving epilepsy, inflammation, pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and anorexia. As more clinical studies are performed on the use of CBD in various medical conditions, we will have a more comprehensive profile of its efficacy and safety.
CBD can be extracted as part of a whole-plant extract. It is also commonly extracted in the form of CBD oil. Two common varieties of the cannabis sativa plant are hemp and marijuana, the former having a lower concentration of THC.
CBD oil is usually extracted from the flowers of cannabis sativa or, more particularly, from small hairs called trichomes that cover the flowers and leaves. Several different methods are used to extract CBD oil from the trichomes, including ethanol extraction, carbon dioxide (CO2) extraction, chemical solvent extraction with hexane or butane, and solvent-free extraction. Most procedures also include a heat decarboxylation step, in which the naturally occurring cannabidiolic acid is converted into CBD.
Challenges Associated With CBD Oil
Once the CBD oil is extracted, it is sometimes used as is. However, CBD oil by itself is not very palatable and may irritate the skin if applied topically. Thus, many companies are now adding CBD oil to products such as beverages, foods, tinctures and topical creams. Because many tinctures and creams are oil-based, infusing them with CBD involves mixing CBD oil with the tincture or cream. However, beverages such as water and tea require CBD extract or CBD oil to be water-soluble, which presents a bit of an issue.
Another challenge of administering CBD oil lies in the inconsistent amount of CBD delivered, which affects its efficacy and the ability to measure its therapeutic effect.
Using Nanoemulsion Technology to Make CBD-Infused Consumer Products
An increasingly popular solution for making CBD ‘water-soluble’ is to create a CBD nanoemulsion. To begin to form an understanding of how a nanoemulsion works, picture taking a bottle containing oil and water. When you shake that bottle of water, the single layer of oil will split to form many smaller droplets. When making a nanoemulsion, you’re doing this same thing but using specialized equipment that shears the particle size of the oil to under 100 nanometers. Other ingredients are also added to the mixture to make sure that the tiny oil droplets stay small.
When small enough (under 100 nanometers), the nanoemulsion can be used to infuse various liquid-based products with the now ‘water-soluble’ CBD. The term ‘water-soluble’ is a misnomer when referring to nanoemulsions, but more easily conveys the idea that the oil can now be put into water-based products and will disappear.
In addition to being ‘water-soluble’, nanoemulsions enhanced the amount of an active ingredient that is absorbed and also improve the speed at which it’s absorbed. CBD nanoemulsions have many benefits, and are becoming the preferred choice of many manufacturers when formulating and producing their infused consumer products.