Photo by Kaya Kelley for Herb
The old aphorism, “let food be thy medicine” should be the new mantra for the cannabidiol (CBD) industry. Thanks to technological advancements and creative minds, relaxing hemp-infused beverages are hitting the shelves with unprecedented fervor. Sodas, teas, coffees, and fancy flavored sparkling waters are all examples of the CBD drinks and elixirs available for consumers today.
Yet, why are CBD drinks suddenly so popular? There’s a simple answer to this question—CBD makes you feel good. Hemp-enhanced sodas are far more than a sweet-tasting pastime. Featuring an added dose of CBD, these new infused products have a special knack for inspiring natural feelings of calm.
In recent years, the hype about CBD has taken a foothold across the globe, and for good reason. The compound is a natural product of the cannabis plant and is found in both hemp and marijuana varieties. There is still a lot that scientists don’t know about the molecule, yet as the research unfolds, the chemical appears to hold benefits as a household nutritional supplement.
Back in the 1960s, researchers in Israel were the first to discover CBD and suggest that the compound may have health-promoting value. Since its discovery, scientists have been scrambling to uncover just how the compound works in the human body and what benefits it may hold. Today, a quick search for “cannabidiol” in a public medical database produces over 2300 peer-reviewed papers on the compound.
While there’s still much to learn about CBD, there are a few benefits that seem to pop up over and over again. Should the research hold up to the hype, CBD is a natural anxiolytic and stress reliever. It is also a potent antioxidant, potentially protecting cells from stress-related damage.
There is perhaps one quality to thank for the rising popularity of CBD drinks. The molecule has the ability to inspire a sense of calm and natural ease in its consumers. In fact, emerging medical research suggests that CBD may have anxiolytic properties, reducing feelings of fear and apprehension during stressful situations.
When infused into a beverage, CBD is more easily absorbed into the bloodstream. For this reason, drinking CBD is likely to exert calming effects more quickly than taking a capsule or consuming solid food.
The problem with CBD beverages is that not all CBD is created equal.
If early research is any indication, CBD is a potent plant-based antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. According to a patent filed by the U.S. government, cannabinoids like CBD may even have stronger antioxidant potential than vitamins E and C. Antioxidants work by neutralizing harmful free radicals in the body, which can damage cells and DNA.
Free radicals are produced in the body during normal cellular processes, like exercise and the metabolism of food. But, harmful free radicals can also come from external sources like air pollution and chemically-contaminated foods. As an antioxidant, CBD blocks the damage caused by free radicals. When free radicals are not neutralized, they can contribute to disease and aging over time. While some of these processes are inevitable, diets rich in antioxidants from plants are theorized to promote health and longevity over the course of a lifetime by diminishing the negative impacts of free radicals.
The calming benefits of CBD may sound enticing, but why drink it? CBD can be absorbed under the tongue, swallowed in capsules, applied to the skin, inhaled via vaporization, and even infused into solid foods. Yet, while all of these options are valuable to consumers, some products are highly effective while others are not. Different CBD products work differently in the human body. Although there are many ways to consume the cannabinoid, some products are more beneficial than others.
In scientific terms, each of these different consumption methods features a different level of bioavailability. Bioavailability refers to the ability of the body to absorb a particular supplement and then put that supplement to use. For those hoping to take CBD daily or on a regular basis, bioavailability is an important concept to understand.
The more bioavailable the supplement, the greater the benefit to the consumer. According to NextCBD, a company which pioneered specialized nanotechnology to enhance the bioavailability of CBD, 95 percent of CBD is destroyed before entering the bloodstream. This loss occurs due to the way in which CBD is metabolized by the human body.
In general, here are three basic rules that influence the bioavailability of CBD products:
Supplements that are highly bioavailable reduce waste by allowing consumers to experience the greatest effects even at low dosages. Liquids, like CBD drinks, are digested and metabolized more easily than solid foods. Hence, choosing the right CBD is important to justify bioavailability.
CBD Drinks deliver carefully measured dosages of CBD in a way that is easy for the body to absorb. Since liquids are easier to digest than solids, CBD drinks typically feature a fast activation time of around 30 minutes. All the while, the effects of a liquid CBD supplement last longer than inhaled or sublingual CBD.
Even in the realm of CBD drinks, however, not all products are created equally. The bioavailability of CBD also depends on how the cannabinoid was extracted, prepared, and infused into the product. To enhance the efficacy of CBD supplements, many companies use nano and microtechnology to ensure that the cannabinoid can effectively be used throughout the body. Using this technology, CBD can more easily circulate through the bloodstream.
Of all of the different products and formulations available, water-soluble CBD drinks and supplements are among the most bioavailable. In this case, term soluble refers to the ability of CBD to fully dissolve in water. When CBD can easily dissolve in water, it means that the supplement is more readily absorbed into the bloodstream, and with a high rate of effectiveness to boot.
CBD, however, is not naturally water-soluble. The cannabinoid is a fat-derived compound, and, as the common saying suggests, oil and water don’t mix. The molecule itself is a natural component of plant resin, which is an essential oil produced by the cannabis plant. This resin dissolves in fat like butter and cooking oil, not water.
In the human body, fat-soluble and water-soluble nutrients are absorbed and utilized in fundamentally different ways. Water-soluble nutrients are absorbed directly into the bloodstream from the small intestine, while fat-based compounds are either pulled out of the digestive tract via stool or are absorbed through the lymphatic system before being tagged for removal by the liver. More often than not, when you consume cannabis-infused foods and beverages, the majority of the active components are excreted before they even enter the body.
To solve this problem, scientists have developed new delivery technologies to improve the absorption of CBD. One such company is HYGIA Nutrients, which is a subsidiary of Ananda Scientific, a company that has developed a new form of micro-nanotechnology called “liquid structures”. This technology does not change or manipulate the CBD particles, but rather provide extremely small delivery vessels to dramatically increase absorption and prevent the breakdown of CBD in the stomach. As such, the nano-sized CBD is more easily able to enter the bloodstream and travel to cells throughout the body.
In contrast to water-soluble CBD preparations like nextCBD, some CBD drinks are infused with simple hemp resin extractions. These drinks are infused with either CBD isolate or CBD oil that has been extracted using carbon dioxide as a solvent. Unfortunately, while these drinks may produce some effect, these types of infusions tend to have poor bioavailability.
CBD can only enter the bloodstream with a high degree of efficacy when it is made to be water-soluble and stable. Without the use of nanotechnology or other preparation methods like the nextCBD formulation used by HYGIA Nutrients, most of the CBD consumed will not be absorbed directly into the bloodstream.
To improve the absorption of CBD drinks infused with CO2 oil or isolate, the beverage will need to be infused with shelf-stable, water-soluble CBD. While adding creamer to a cup of CBD-infused coffee could help increase the absorption of regular CBD into lymphatic and blood circulation, the bioavailability of these types of drinks is still far less than that of bioenhanced CBD. As mentioned above, most of the CBD you consume in foods and beverages is excreted before it makes it into the body at all.