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Hemp/CBD Beverages' Misleading Marketing - Part 2: CBD/Hemp Extraction Technology


Written by: Brian Sudano

This piece is part 2 of a 3-part series of articles regarding misleading marketing of hemp/cannabidiol (CBD) beverages in the U.S. The first part defined the CBD / Hemp Landscape. This part addresses the various CBD / Hemp extraction technologies.

There has been much misrepresentation of various technologies used to extract hemp. Virtually all of the hemp (or CBD) that is on the market is produced from oils extracted by various methods. The extraction techniques use various solvents, including ethanol, supercritical liquids (such as CO2), butane, and other chemical extraction or physical manipulation. All oil molecules (including THC and CBD, other cannabinoids, terpenes, essential oils etc.) dissolve in fat in the body. The delivery of fat-soluble plant ingredients via ingestion results in only a small portion of the active ingredient (or benefit) being delivered to the body. Thus, 10 milligrams (mg) of CBD as free oil consumed translates into only a couple of mg or less being absorbed.

There are several other aspects to consider in connection with CBD oil extracted from hemp. One is its inherent bitterness, which drives fairly substantial sweetener use by marketers to mask it. Oil also has a slow on-set, which means it may take 15 to 45 minutes to experience any benefit, such as a calming effect. Finally, oil has a cumulative effect as it never fully leaves your body as it is processed by the liver. In the pharma industry, they refer to this as half-lives. The toxicity results from high levels of CBD in Epidiolex, 100 mg or higher, revealed some issues with stomach as well as liver problems. The potential roles of chemicals used in the formulation are unclear at this time.

To address the flavor issues and to achieve uniform dispersion in water (currently misstated as making these oils "water soluble"), marketers have used techniques such as nanoparticle formation, encapsulation, and emulsification (and even combination of more than one of these formulation tricks) to reduce the bitter taste without needing a large amount of masking agents, including sweeteners. However, the cannabinoids are still delivered in oil form even though providers are calling it water soluble. The proper definition would be water dispersible as the amount of bioactive ingredient being absorbed is still only around 10% to 20%. Emma Stone's article in Leafly, an on-line publication, on October 28, 2018, "Most THC and CBD oil go to waste in your body-here's why" states that bioavailability of oil consumed orally in a clinical study averaged only 4% to 12% of the amount consumed.

All natural water-soluble hemp extracted directly from the plant without the aid of chemicals is the only form that we are aware that provides nearly 100% bioavailable absorption in the blood stream. The hemp is not extracted from the plant as oil first and then manipulated to allow for water dispersion. This also does not involve a synthetic process, similar to what is used in many cases in pharma, to achieve true water solubility. The benefits are numerous.

In the final part of this series, we will explore what makes water-soluble hemp better than oil and why it can address most of the product obstacles that will hinder broad acceptability and sustainable growth of hemp beverages.

If you missed Part 1 of this 3 part series, see:

For more on the cannabis market and the CBD beverage opportunity see Beverage Marketing Corporation's report entitled Cannabis Beverages in the U.S.

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