The main problem with cannabis edibles is timing…
The cannabis edibles market has come a long way since the early days of homemade brownies infused with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Now, it’s possible to eat your cannabis in foods ranging from trail mix to gourmet chocolates to honey.
Cannabis edibles appeal to those who don’t want to smoke or vape cannabis, but still want a potent dose of cannabinoids. Many consumers find that having to commit a lengthy amount of time to a cannabis experience—that can potentially be unpredictable, too—can be inconvenient and frustrating.
But edibles take a different route to deliver their effect. When you eat a marijuana edible, you consume the cannabinoids along with a number of other ingredients. And they’re all processed together through the stomach and the rest of the digestive system. Consumption of the other ingredients coupled with the digestive process (plus what may already be in your stomach) mean that the cannabinoids’ effects can be unpredictable in timing and strength.
Another issue with marijuana edibles is that cannabinoids are fat soluble, or lipophilic, which means they must be dissolved in fats in order to become bioavailable. This is why cannabis cooking typically involves cannabis-infused butter or other kinds of oils such as coconut or olive. Combining cannabis with fat helps the intestines transport cannabinoids into the liver and from there to the bloodstream.
So what with nanoemulsions and the weed market?
Washington state’s legal cannabis market already has a handful of companies employing nanoemulsions in their recipes. Fairwinds Manufacturing markets a cannabis tincture that is a nanoemulsion. Discovery Garden has topicals containing them, and according to the company Tarukino, their products Pearl20 and Velvet Swing Weed Lube use nanoemulsions as well.
Nanoemulsion has made its mark in California, too. Sunderstorm Scientific’s Lucidity 3:1 nanoemulsion blends THC and CBD along with 5-HTP, a mood elevator. Its effects are felt within 5-10 minutes. Lucidity is a blend of three parts THC to one part CBD.
Oral administration of cannabis — that is, eating the stuff, usually through consuming edibles — is one of the most convenient routes for many people. This is especially true of those who don’t want to smoke or vape. But there are difficulties and complications.
One major difficulty, of course, is the non-solubility of cannabinoids in water. When cannabinoids are consumed via edibles, they act through gastrointestinal absorption. This means effects are delayed for at least 30-45 minutes, and sometimes two or more hours.
For the same reason, formulating cannabis-infused beverages has been challenging, because THC doesn’t dissolve in water. That severely limits the deliverability of doses. Poor water solubility results in low bioavailability. Only a small fraction of cannabinoids in edibles is absorbed, requiring consumption of a lot more than would otherwise be necessary.
Why nano-cannabinoids are so potent in edibles?
Cannabis nanoemulsions (nano-cannabinoids) provide very high bioavailability. If you’re guessing this means you also get very high, you are correct. Cannabinoids can be absorbed by the body through nanoemulsion, either orally or through the skin as a topical treatment, rapidly and completely. Since nano-cannabinoids are water-compatible, they can be easily mixed into beverages at any desired potency.
nanoemulsion, therefore, means good things like higher potency of edibles, as well as the quicker onset of action and lower effective doses, reports the Sonomechanics Blog. Companies like Industrial Sonomechanics and Hielscher Ultrasound Technology make nanoemulsions using ultrasound.
How do they do it? A process called high-shear cavitation produces “violently and asymmetrically imploding vacuum bubbles and causes micro-jets that break up cannabis extract droplets down to the nanometer scale.” Droplets of about 70 to 90 microns are apparently the perfect size. Another company, CAT Scientific, uses a similar process with a high-shear homogenizer employing a rotor.