by Claudia S. Copeland, Ph.D.

When it comes to developing new beverages, the field of consumption nanotechnology has radically expanded our options. Nanotechnology products based on nanoemulsion and microemulsion make the development of creative drinks supplemented with lipophilic ingredients like CBD painless and straightforward. With user-friendly tools to help you supplement a beverage with nonpolar ingredients, designing new nutraceutical-fortified drinks has never been easier. Here, we propose combining two wellness heavyweights — CBD and omega-3 fatty acids — into a single tasty and satisfying beverage.

CBD — a Potent and Legal Cannabinoid

CBD, under-studied in the past due to restrictions on using cannabis, has exploded in popularity based on anecdotal reports. These stories are being steadily backed by a growing body of research confirming the helpfulness of CBD for anxiety, epilepsy, and other challenges.

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid — a natural component of the cannabis plant. The cannabis plant, with all of its component cannabinoids, historically has been valued as an herbal medicine. While it’s most well-known for treating cancer, patients have also found it to be helpful for a number of other ailments, including epilepsy, ADHD, glaucoma, and pain.

Although more than 30 states have relaxed or removed prohibitions against growing and/or possessing marijuana, it remains a federal offense. Federal law, however, allows the cultivation of hemp, a variety low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the cannabinoid responsible for the “high” conferred by marijuana. Cannabis plants with less than 0.3 percent THC are classified as hemp and can be grown legally. This has substantially increased access to non-THC cannabinoids, chief among them CBD. It exhibits anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and can act as a neuroprotective agent, antipsychotic, anxiolytic, and anti-epileptic. Because stress is linked with impaired immune function, CBD’s anxiolytic effects could serve to strengthen the immune system as well.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are nutraceutical powerhouses, with a wealth of research supporting their health benefits. Chief among these is their protection against cardiovascular disease; clinical studies have indicated that they can reduce the heart’s susceptibility to arrhythmias, lower triglyceride levels, lower blood pressure, and decrease platelet aggregation. They are known for their benefits to neurological health (probably via anti-inflammatory mechanisms) and may support the microglia, brain cells that in turn support neurons.Limited evidence indicates that they may also be helpful in cancer prevention, eye health (prevention of age-related macular degeneration and dry eye disease), rheumatoid arthritis, developmental coordination disorder, cystic fibrosis, asthma, and mental health conditions.

Unlike CBD, omega-3s are legally available via foods you can buy in the grocery store. The best way to get your daily omega-3s is by eating specific types of whole foods, such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, English walnuts, fish, and other seafood (including seaweed). If you have a busy lifestyle, though — one that doesn’t include a lot of time for cooking or even shopping for these rather high-end ingredients — you might find it hard to get enough omega-3s from foods. For people who find it difficult to get enough omega-3s in their diet, a beverage supplemented with them would be a very welcome helping hand.

How Two Good Things Go Well Together

It’s fairly common knowledge that omega-3s are good for your heart, and there’s strong evidence that they’re also good for joint problems, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Less well-known is that CBD also confers benefits for such inflammation-related illnesses. As an anti-inflammatory agent, CBD could help with cardiovascular health, and it has been shown in a mouse model to protect against rheumatoid arthritis. Both CBD and omega-3s have also shown promise against cancer.

CBD, Omega-3s, and Neurocognitive Health

Both CBD and omega-3s have shown promise in treating or preventing neurocognitive disorders, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and attention disorders. While CBD has not been extensively studied in this regard, strong evidence supports its efficacy as an anxiolytic. Because anxiety can interfere with thinking and learning — even to the point of damaging parts of the brain involved in memory — it stands to reason that if CBD can reduce anxiety it protects memory and general cognition.

In addition to reducing anxiety, cannabis is widely (albeit unofficially) used to treat ADD. In a study of 268 forum threads, published in the journal “PLOS ONE” in 2016, 25 percent of those posting  asserted that they found cannabis to be therapeutic for ADHD. While there have been few scientific studies on CBD’s treatment efficacy for ADD, there is good evidence regarding omega-3s. In both children and adults, evidence points to a link between attention deficit disorder symptoms and omega-3 deficiency.

Finally, omega-3s appear to be neuroprotective against spinal injury, and CBD appears to be protective against neurotoxicity.

CBD, Omega-3s, and Mental Health

Evidence is growing that both CBD and omega-3s can help you not only to think better, but also to feel better. Both CBD and omega-3s have been shown to be helpful in treating depression. Of course, improved physical health and diminished pain can make it easier to engage in depression-fighting activities like daily exercise and social engagement. Both CBD and omega-3s have been protective against psychosis as well.

The Problem of Solubility

With all these benefits, a beverage supplemented with CBD and omega-3s is bound to be popular.  It’s easier said than done, though, because CBD and omega-3s are both nonpolar molecules, whereas water is a polar molecule — and nonpolar molecules do not naturally dissolve in polar ones. CBD and omega-3s do not dissolve well in water, and while they could be shaken before drinking (like oil-and- vinegar salad dressing), they would have very low bioavailability. That is, although they can easily enter their target cells once they get to them, they will never reach those target cells if they cannot be absorbed into the body from the intestines. No absorption means no effects. In order to be well-absorbed, they must be water-soluble.

Their only hope is to get help from an emulsifier — a molecule that is polar on one end and nonpolar on the other, allowing it to “grab” onto both the nonpolar solutes (CBD and omega-3s) and the polar solvent (water). Unfortunately, traditional emulsifiers are not strong enough for this task.

That’s where the power of nanotechnology comes in.

The Solution of Consumption Nanotechnology

Using nanotechnology, it’s possible to formulate water-soluble CBD and water-soluble omega-3s in a single drink. This can be done using nanoparticles, such as polymeric micelles — tiny spheres that are nonpolar on the inside and polar on the outside — that coat and encapsulate the CBD and omega-3 molecules; or nanoemulsions, colloidal systems that can carry fat-soluble substances such as CBD and omega-3s in a polar solvent. Using this technology, CBD and omega-3s can readily dissolve into a water-based beverage.

Development of nanotechniques require years of scientific research and experimentation. With Axiomm, though, you can take advantage of them without needing to reinvent the wheel: The scientists at Axiomm have developed plug-and-play products — like µMIX and µSHOT — that can easily convert nonpolar omega-3s and CBD into water-soluble ingredients. All you need to do is add the color and flavor elements that make your beverage attractive and unique to perfect your brand-new omega-3 and CBD-infused beverage.

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