What Is Nanotechnology and How Does It Create Water Soluble CBD?
For the past few years that CBD has been booming, CBD oil has been the standard form that most consumers use to take it. And there’s a good reason for that: it’s simple, it’s versatile, and you can use it in many recipes. But now water soluble CBD is starting to move into the market, and along with it a term that’s exciting to some people and a bit scary to others: nanotechnology.
But what is nanotechnology, and why do you need it to make water soluble CBD? Read on to find out, along with where to buy the best water soluble CBD products and how to use them.
What Is Nanotechnology?
If you’re an engineer or a science fiction fan, you’ve probably been hearing about nanotechnology for decades. For the average layperson, it basically means “technology at an incredibly tiny scale.”
That’s basically true, although the word is a bit more specific than that.
What’s a Nano, Anyway?
The prefix “nano” is actually Greek for “dwarf,” but it acquired a special meaning in the modern era as scientists and engineers started coming up with words to describe numbers and measurements that were either too unimaginably huge or unimaginably small to have names before. One that might sound familiar is “googol,” a name made up for 10 to the 100th power, which a certain Internet startup later adopted with a slight change of spelling.
“Nano” was introduced at a scientific meeting in 1947 to mean “a billionth.” This led to the coining of “nanometer,” or a billionth of a meter. To give you an idea of how small that is, consider how the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative website puts it: “(I)f a marble were a nanometer, then one meter would be the size of the Earth.”
Technology at the Nano Scale
What’s so tiny you can measure it in nanometers? Those are basic building blocks of all matter, atoms, and molecules. Legendary physicist Richard Feynman first outlined the idea that technology could manipulate matter at that level of precision back in 1959. Later, in 1974, Japanese science professor Norio Taniguchi coined the term “nanotechnology” to describe certain processes in semiconductor production.
But it wasn’t until the 1980s that things really took off because that was when microscopes were developed that could actually see things at the nano scale. Since then, a whole bunch of applications for nanotechnology have been developed. The way that computers have shrunk from room-sized in the 1960s to pocket-sized today owes a lot to nanotechnology. It has also proven useful in many ways for medicine, and that’s where it caught the attention of CBD manufacturers.
Nanotechnology and CBD
Just to be clear: over-the-counter CBD and other cannabinoids are not medicine. They haven’t been approved by the FDA to treat or prevent any illnesses. But there are certain common ways that your body absorbs whatever you put into it, whether it’s medicine, food, nutritional supplements, intoxicants, or anything else. And that’s where nanoencapsulation technology comes in.
Nanoencapsulation is a technique that encases teeny tiny bits of a substance in capsules or coatings that are so small they can be measured in nanometers. This was first developed in the drug industry as a way to increase a product’s bioavailability.
Bioavailability refers to the percentage of a substance that you consume that makes it into your bloodstream. When you eat or drink something, for instance, it goes through your body’s digestive tract, where it gets broken down by acids, enzymes, and the brute strength of your stomach and intestinal muscles.
That’s how your body extracts the bits that it needs, like nutrients. But not surprisingly, all that grinding and dissolving can break down some of the beneficial substances along with the unneeded ones. So when scientists talk about the percentage of a substance that’s “bioavailable” when consumed in a certain form, they mean the percentage that survives the breakdown process to get into your bloodstream.
Nanoencapsulation can improve a substance’s bioavailability if the capsules are made from a material that protects the substance from degradation, but that your body can still absorb. As noted, the drug industry refined the techniques for doing this first to improve the bioavailability of pharmaceuticals. But unsurprisingly, once CBD became a hot business, somebody thought to bring the concept to the new sector.
Nano CBD Arrives
“Nano CBD” started appearing on the scene a couple of years ago. It uses the same nanoencapsulation technology we just described but encases tiny particles of CBD. CBD companies advertised it as a faster and stronger alternative to the type of CBD you get just from extracting it from hemp and dissolving it in oil.
As with many things to do with CBD, the research is still catching up with the market. There are actually a lot of things that can affect the bioavailability of CBD that scientists are still figuring out. And while early studies on nano CBD are promising, we can’t say for certain exactly what the bioavailability of a given CBD product is.
However, it also became apparent to CBD makers that nano CBD had another big advantage – it was potentially water soluble. And that addressed one of CBD’s biggest issues: in its natural form, it isn’t.
Why You Need Nanotechnology to Make Water Soluble CBD
If you’re a regular CBD shopper, you may have wondered: Why are CBD oil tinctures the easiest sort of CBD products to find? Why oil?
The reason is embedded in the nature of the CBD molecules themselves. Some kinds of molecules bind to water molecules and so are water soluble, while others bind to fats and are fat soluble. And as we know, oil and water don’t mix.
When CBD and other cannabinoids are first extracted from the hemp plant, their form is a crystal. This is not very appetizing, so the practice of dissolving the crystal in an edible oil developed early on the CBD market. Other products, such as edibles and capsules, also use oil as part of their formulation to make the CBD go down easily.
Nano CBD in Water
Technically speaking, you can’t really make CBD entirely water soluble the way that, say, sugar is water soluble. But you can make it close enough for all practical purposes by breaking it up into tiny particles that disperse in water.
A combination of normally incompatible liquids like this is called an emulsion. The word actually comes from the Latin word for milk, since milk is itself a natural emulsion combining butterfat with water (among other things). You can also create a primitive emulsion when you make salad dressing out of oil and vinegar and shake it up. That does blend them temporarily, but if you leave the dressing to sit, the two substances will separate again.
So in order to create a shelf-stable emulsion, we need to get high-tech. Nano CBD provides the way to make CBD water, CBD drink mixes, and water soluble CBD tinctures.
cbdMD’s Water Soluble CBD Products
So that’s how to make water soluble CBD in general. But how about the specifics? What kinds of products can you get with water soluble CBD, and what can you use them for?
CBD Drink Mixes
The first water soluble CBD products that we launched here at cbdMD were the CBD drink mixes. These are powdered drink mixes in different fruit flavors that you can easily blend with water or any water-based beverage.
How did we make them? With a version of nanoencapsulation technology involving Quillaja saponaria, the soapbark tree. The inner bark of this tree is called quillaia, and when ground up, it can be used as a substitute for soap, which tells you something interesting. What does soap do? It breaks down oil and grease and washes it away with water. So you can see the bridge between oil solubility and water solubility.
Despite its name, the bark of the soapbark tree is used less often in soap than as a food additive. It helps keep soft drinks foamy and preserves the moistness in baked goods and puddings. So it’s the perfect substance for making an edible CBD product.
cbdMD uses quillaia to make the tiny capsules that break up the CBD extract into bits that disperse in water. The inner part of the shell bonds with the CBD molecules, but the outer surface allows it to be water soluble.
The CBD drink mixes are very tasty, but they are limited by the flavors available. That’s why we created a water soluble CBD tincture that you can use in even more ways.
Water Soluble CBD Tinctures
cbdMD’s upcoming water soluble CBD tinctures use similar nanotechnology to the drink mixes, but the formulation is naturally going to be different because tinctures are liquid rather than powder. Since using MCT oil like our other tinctures obviously isn’t going to work, the primary ingredient in the water soluble tinctures is glycerin.
Glycerin is a substance you’ve no doubt heard of; it’s in food, skin care products, wound care products, vape juice, and even the fuel of some high-powered race cars. It has an astonishing range of applications. So what the heck is it?
Chemically speaking, glycerin is a type of carbohydrate called sugar alcohol – though that’s a slightly misleading name because it’s not going to get you drunk. It’s called that because its molecular structure resembles both sugar and alcohol. It is sweet to the taste, though not as sweet as cane sugar.
Glycerin is super useful for a few reasons. It’s a humectant, which means that it attracts water to itself and preserves the moisture, which is why it suits a water soluble product. It’s also popular as a thickening agent because it’s like honey in its consistency – but with a texture that’s slippery rather than sticky.
Glycerin is also mildly antimicrobial, which is why it turns up in topical medicines and as a preservative, though that’s less relevant to its use in a CBD tincture. The point is that it’s a well-known substance that’s quite safe when consumed in reasonable amounts. And while it is a sweet carbohydrate, it has a lower glycemic index than sugar, so you can incorporate it even into a low-carb diet.
While glycerin can come from both animals and plants, we use only vegetable glycerin, so our water soluble CBD tinctures are just as vegan as our other tinctures.
How to Use Water Soluble CBD
One of water soluble CBD’s greatest benefits is its flexibility. Since there’s water in nearly everything we eat and drink, you can slip it easily into a wide range of recipes, or you can just take it straight. But let’s take it one product at a time.
Using CBD Drink Mixes
cbdMD’s CBD drink mixes come in convenient single-serve pouches with 25 mg of CBD in each. The simplest way to prepare them is to empty a packet into 8 oz of water, shake it thoroughly, and enjoy!
As much as the fruit flavors would seem like they’d make good popsicles, we advise against freezing a premixed CBD beverage. Using it in hot drinks like tea is fine, however. You can also use the drink mixes in carbonated drinks, though obviously, the shaking part would create a problem. You’re best off making the drink like a highball cocktail, shaking up a highly concentrated solution with plain water, and then pouring the carbonated beverage on top.
The flavors of lemonade, kiwi strawberry, peach, and fruit punch are good straight, but you can also get creative with blends. Check out our previous blog with some CBD drink recipes.
Using a Water Soluble Tincture
Tinctures are the most flexible of all, especially if they’re unflavored. If you’re taking a tincture straight, you might prefer our lemon flavor, but the sweetness of the glycerin means that even the unflavored version is mildly sweet.
Taking the water soluble tinctures is different from taking CBD oil straight because of its faster absorption. We’ve always advised holding the CBD oil tincture under your tongue for 30 to 60 seconds before swallowing because that way some of the CBD can get to your bloodstream via the mucous membrane instead of traveling through your digestion.
If you recall our discussion about bioavailability above, you’ll understand why we do that. A lot of CBD gets broken down in the digestive process, and what remains takes longer to get to your bloodstream than if it goes through the mucous membrane. So while there’s nothing wrong with just swallowing a CBD oil tincture like normal, you’ll get slower and more gradual results.
Water soluble CBD doesn’t have that problem. Remember that the nanoencapsulation method was developed in the first place to prevent substances from getting broken down. And since your body is mostly made of water already, you don’t have to break down a water soluble product to get out the good bits the same way you do with the oil.
So all you have to do is squeeze a dropperfull into your mouth and swallow. Just keep in mind that it’s going to come out of the dropper a bit slower, because of that thick glycerin consistency.
But of course, another great thing about water soluble CBD is that you can blend it with water-based products. Our CBD recipe portal includes some beverage ideas that would work great with water soluble CBD, like a CBD Arnold Palmer and CBD kombucha.
How Much Water Soluble CBD Should You Take?
After all the talk about bioavailability, you might be wondering how water soluble CBD is going to make you feel. If you take the same amount that you were previously taking of an oil-based CBD product, will it yield stronger results?
Probably, but it’s impossible to make hard-and-fast rules about it because everyone’s physiology is different. Think of how differently you and your friends can react to drinking alcohol or even eating sugar.
So the best way to figure out how much water soluble CBD you should take is to experiment with it. Try starting with your normal amount of CBD and monitor how you feel. If you feel no immediate difference, you might still want to track your response over a few weeks, because of how CBD can build up in your system over time. Gradually adjust your regimen as needed.
If you have no history with CBD but are thinking of starting with a water soluble version, just start with the recommended daily serving on the container and do the same self-monitoring described above. Try to stick to a consistent daily regimen as much as possible for best results.
From Science Fiction to Your House
Now that you know how to make CBD water soluble, you can cook up some nanotechnology as your next home science project! Just kidding. Nanoencapsulation may be a bit tough to wrap your head around, but it just goes to show what a remarkable age we live in when the stuff of sci-fi dreams is now just a few clicks away. So stay tuned for the launch of our water soluble CBD tinctures, and meanwhile, check out our drink mixes to get a preview!