However, in the CBD industry, “nano” is thrown around pretty loosely, frequently describing much larger things. Why? Simply because “nano” sounds so coooool.
Nano-Enhanced Hemp Oil = Nano-Sized Drops of CBD Oil
You can visualize a droplet of any CBD oil product as one of those carnival ball-pits full of plastic spheres. Most of those spheres are molecules of the carrier oil (coconut oil, olive oil, etc.) but there’s a much smaller number of CBD molecules interspersed throughout — mostly hidden inside the ball-pit with very little at the surface or edges.
Nano-Enhanced CBD Benefits
Because your mouth and your digestive tract are moist and watery, and because oil & water don’t mix, when you swallow a CBD product it tends to stay in droplets or globules, with most of the CBD molecules hidden and inaccessible until fully digested.
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And this is assuming that the CBD product in the bottle is exactly what’s reported on the label, something that some CBD companies are wont to do. In 2019, the FDA issued several warning letters to CBD firms for products that did not contain the amount of CBD they purported to contain, and for using language that suggested CBD could cure, treat, or prevent disease, a big FDA no-no.
CBD, more formally known as cannabidiol, is everywhere. Given the incredible enthusiasm, you would never guess that CBD is not exactly legal, leaving CBD purveyors in a legal grey area. This lack of federal oversight has created a lot of wiggle room for companies seeking an edge or niche in an increasingly crowded and competitive space. One such niche is the very sci-fi sounding name nano (or water-soluble) CBD, touted as being more effective and bioavailable (the degree to which a nutrient is available for the body to use) than other formulations.
Devit-Lee zeroes in on how people consume cannabis compounds generally as potentially altering its bioavailability regardless of formulation. “The way the problem [with nanoemulsion] is often framed is ironic because it’s framed around potency,” he said. “When you eat CBD, if you take it first thing in the morning before food, you might absorb 3-6 percent. If you take it with a fatty food, you might absorb more of it.”
Like any trend, nano CBD has its skeptics.
Devit-Lee also notes that every state has different testing requirements, and each lab has a different formulation for detecting drugs. In other words, just because it says something on the label doesn’t make it so. “If you have a good product that has some terpenes that help with absorption and with medicinal effects — if it’s a good quality product in general you don’t need to do this nanoformulation. But if you have bad quality hemp products, maybe [nano] can help them stand out,” he added.
Kurek begins by noting that nano-sized delivery technologies are not unique to CBD and are widely used by pharmaceutical companies to ensure bioavailability. “Nano CBD is a CBD molecule coated with very small particles, such as liposomes or lipid nanoparticles (LNPs), that stabilize the CBD and can move in our blood faster than ‘naked’ CBD, to effectively reach the target,” he explained.
The technology used in Nano CBD isn’t new.
Acknowledging that the onset of nanoparticles takes about half as long as regular CBD, he also notes that the molecule spends about half as much time in your system. “Practically speaking, is that much different than taking a stronger dose? I don’t know that consumers would find it [nano CBD] much different.”
Kurek adds, “Nano CBD is a CBD molecule packaged in nano-carriers that are the size of about 100 nanometers — or one-billionth of a meter — which allows the “package” to stay in the body for a longer time and to slowly release the intact CBD in the targeted tissue.” To illustrate his point, he mentions a 2017 study that reported a 600% increase in bioavailability of oral Nano CBD compared to CBD in a rat model.