In the wake of legalization, millions of people are discovering the benefits of hemp oil, a rich source of natural phytocannabinoids. It’s not often that a supplement as revolutionary as this becomes available to the general public sans-prescription. This development, however, is not without its drawbacks; hundreds of companies and individuals are selling hemp products, many without properly labelling, testing, or formulating their products. How can the average consumer be expected to identify the best hemp supplements and topicals? Further compounding this issue, several distinct dosage forms exist, including both oil and water-based products.
The Great Debate: Oil vs Water
While the vast majority of hemp extract sold today is in “oil form”, a new delivery technology is gaining traction; consumers are slowly adopting nano hemp oil, also called water soluble hemp oil. Studies suggest that the bioavailability (the body’s absorption) of cannabinoids in oil form may be as low as 5-10%. That’s a lot of wasted active ingredient! However, bioavailability may improve dramatically in a well-engineered nano formulation.
Though cannabinoids cannot be made “truly” water soluble without altering their molecular structures, they can be made “effectively” water soluble through nano-emulsification. Benefits of nano-emulsification also include enhanced absorption, which is highly dependent on the cannabinoid particle size (smaller is better).
Typical cannabinoid nano-emulsions on the market today have a particle size in the 150 – 1500 nm (nanometer) range, (some are even larger). Based on published pharmacokinetic research conducted on similar hydrophobic compounds, we would expect some bioavailability enhancement for products on the 150 nm end of that spectrum (research suggests 2 to 3-fold), but very little bioavailability improvement on the larger end.
The real magic seems to happen below about 70 nm, this is where we see large improvements in water compatibility and bioavailability. In one study on curcumin absorption, researchers saw a 10.5-fold enhancement with an average particle size of 69 nm. Therefore, you should look for nano-hemp products with documented average particle size below 70 nm, or better yet, below 50 nm. In this battle, a well-made water soluble hemp extract is the clear winner!
So are we out of the woods yet?
Not even close..
Stay tuned for our next article on selecting the best water soluble hemp products and avoiding manufacturers who use questionable ingredients (like Polysorbate-80), violate FDA labelling guidelines to hide ingredients, and lie about particle size. Stay Tuned!
Chemical Engineer and CSO at Cannasol Labs