Are you really getting the benefits from your edible cannabinoids?

Keith Woelfel, Director of R&D at Caliper Foods, shares key insights into cannabis formulation studies and absorption rates to help manufacturers optimise their products.

The available consumer health benefits of cannabinoids are wide ranging – from pain and inflammation management to relaxation, mood and sleep assistance. Cannabinoids contain an array of compounds: the psychoactive delta 9 THC, non-psychoactive CBD, sleep-inducing CBN, energising THCV, to name just a few of the 113 identified types. All cannabinoids in their native state are fat-based, and (unfortunately) often poorly absorbed when ingested. If they are poorly absorbed, then consumers are less likely to reap the potential health benefits and this presents a challenge for manufacturers.

To answer this question, cutting-edge manufacturers are studying the pharmacokinetics of cannabinoids to understand the rate and amount of cannabinoid absorption when consumed, along with onset and duration times. Clinical research, conducted in humans across a multitude of commercial formulations, is shedding light on how well and how fast cannabinoid edible formulations are absorbed into the body. The primary finding is that converting cannabinoids from a lipid base to a water-based format drastically improves both absorption amount and rate. The secondary finding is that the ingredients and processes used to create the emulsion have a significant impact on their absorption profiles.

In a recent study, water-soluble CBD formulations increased blood absorption by as much as 434 percent over oil-based formulations. This absorption, or ‘area under the curve’ (AUC), generally occurs within four hours of consumption — the timeframe in which most consumers expect to reap any benefit. The water‑based formulations are significantly more effective at being absorbed within 10-45 minutes.

The current market’s lipid-based formulations didn’t achieve peak absorption until close to two hours (116 minutes), which is a long time to wait for a benefit. At 30 minutes post-consumption, CBD levels circulating in the blood steam were 990 percent greater in the water-soluble formulation versus the oil-based formulations. This means that the CBD in the water-soluble formulations is more likely to positively impact the endocannabinoid system throughout the body measurably faster and effectively provide the intended health benefits to consumers in a more predictable and dependable manner.