Making Water-Soluble CBD for Infusions

CBD is a fat-soluble cannabinoid that is growing in popularity

For bioavailability and for the sake of making CBD-infused beverages, it is important to know how to make water-soluble CBD. In this article, we describe solubility and solutions for making water-soluble CBD, such as by using a CBD nanoemulsion.

As medicinal cannabis and THC become increasingly acceptable and legally available, a parallel interest is growing in the benefits of another component of cannabis — cannabidiol, or CBD. CBD, a non-THC (non-psychoactive) cannabinoid, can be helpful for a vast number of medical conditions, including anxiety, epileptic seizures, chronic pain and spasticity from multiple sclerosis.

Because CBD does not produce psychoactive effects, which can interfere with life functioning, there is a growing demand for products containing isolated extracts of this cannabinoid. Unfortunately, CBD — like THC — is hydrophobic. That is, it does not naturally dissolve in water, which means that it not only resists being dissolved in water-based beverages but also is not well-absorbed by the body.  The good news is that there are ways around this challenge, but before we get into how to make CBD water soluble, we need to take a look at what it means for a substance to be water-soluble and why this property is so important.

CBD and Other Hydrophobes
CBD, as well as other cannabinoids like THC, is nonpolar and therefore hydrophobic. Like the fat-soluble vitamins (including vitamins A, D, E and K) and the essential fatty acids (including linoleic acid, omega 3 fatty acid and omega 6 fatty acid), cannabinoids don’t readily dissolve in water. Of course, they can be extracted from plant matter via a simple deep fry in vegetable oil, and isolated CBD will also happily dissolve in oil. For maximal efficacy, though, it would be ideal to be able to infuse CBD in a beverage — and not just because of the convenience of “drinking your nutraceuticals.”

Why Solubility Is Important
Water solubility is not just important for making attractive beverages; it’s also vital to bioavailability. For a substance to be bioavailable (able to have a biological effect in our bodies), it must first be absorbed from our gastrointestinal tract into our body tissue. Since the fluids inside our GI tract are mainly composed of water (and, indeed, our bodies in general are mainly composed of water), a substance must be water-soluble in order for it to be well-absorbed.

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