Market Analysis | Trends & Insight
Nanoemulsions offer opportunities for CBD product manufacturers to significantly improve the efficiency and impact of their products. Evidence shows that there is rising demand for these nanoemulsion-based CBD production methods, as brands look to offer new ways for consumers to access lifestyle-based CBD products, while simultaneously optimising the effectiveness of those products.
Traditional CBD form factors which require users to ingest products orally through popular methods such as gummies, gel capsules or tinctures, require CBD to be initially processed by the body, via the digestive system, where compounds are broken down before it is absorbed into the blood stream. The efficiency of the digestive system varies from person-to-person meaning that the time taken for CBD compounds to be absorbed can differ significantly.
In terms of the amount of CBD that is actually transferred to the bloodstream, this is known as bioavailability. Bioavailability refers to the percentage of a substance that is absorbed into the bloodstream after any other processing is performed by the body. When it comes to processing CBD via the digestive system bioavailability tends to be very low.
One of the biggest impacts on bioavailability is the fact that CBD is hydrophobic and therefore doesn’t mix well with water. In the bloodstream, this means that CBD oils are quickly dispersed away from the bloodstream and they collect in fatty tissue.
Other methods like sublingual administration (under the tongue sprays, lozenges, and tinctures) improve the speed with which CBD can reach the blood supply, however once in the bloodstream the similar issues arise.
The cells in the human body are generally only capable of directly absorbing particles that are 60-80 nanometres in size. Even the highest quality CBD oils tend to have particles that are around 2000 nanometres in diameter, which is why the body struggles to absorb them into the bloodstream and why bioavailability tends to be very low.
Improving the water-solubility of CBD is something that has seen significant innovation over recent years and there are now a number of methods available to producers, which allow them to process CBD particles in order to increase the bioavailability of their products.
Nanoemulsion-based solutions are fast acting and have high bioavailability, meaning the body will absorb a higher amount of the CBD. This is because nanoemulsions, which have been used for many years in other industries such as pharmaceutics and cosmetics, can be absorbed into the body and brought into the bloodstream more quickly without requiring any external oils or fats.
Processing CBD oil into a nanoemulsion effectively renders the CBD oil water soluble, meaning it can be mixed easily into solutions and as an ingredient in beverages. Because the particles are so small, even though you are ingesting the CBD orally, the particles do not need to be broken down by the stomach and they enter almost immediately into your bloodstream.
The bioavailability of the CBD product increases exponentially, as a result, with virtually all of the CBD particles entering the bloodstream.
|Standard Oil||2000+ Nanometres||10% or less|
|Liposomal Microemulsion||100-1000 Nanometres||<20%|
Over the last few years, several new technologies have emerged enabling CBD producers to create products that break the oil particles apart into tiny molecules. These particles are then emulsified, allowing them to remain stable in this form.
Despite the name, the emulsified CBD-rich oils do not actually dissolve in water but they are transformed into a more water-friendly form. The small particle size simply allows them to disperse throughout water – effectively increasing the surface area of the compounds.
Nanoemulsions are formed by breaking up CBD extracts into 10-100 nanometre particles. They are created using a mechanical process that requires a low amount of surfactants (compounds that lower the surface tension (or interfacial tension) between two liquids), compared to other methods of processing water-soluble CBD like microemulsions or liposomes.
Nanoemulsions also allow for all-natural surfactants to be used. They are completely water-compatible and can be easily mixed into water, or any beverage, and the produced particles are translucent meaning they cannot be visual detected when added to drinks.
Additional benefits of using a nanoemulsion over a standard oil, or microemulsion, include, low viscosity, high interfacial surface area and long-term kinetic stability.
The results of this process significantly improve formulation techniques. The table below shows a typical microemulsion formulation, including the high-levels of additional surfactants required (source sonomechanics.com).
|Active ingredient (e.g. CBD extract)||10%|
|Carrier oil (e.g. Miglyol)||30%|
|Surfactant (e.g. Oelic acid)||15%|
|Surfactant (e.g. Tween 80)||33.75%|
|Surfactant (e.g. Cremophor RH 40)||11.25%|
From this it can easily be seen that the formulation requires a large amount of active ingredient along with additional ingredients that degrade the quality and taste of the end solution.
By contrast, the table below shows a typical nanoemulsion concentrate (with some water, but before the addition to a beverage) formulation (source sonomechanics.com):
|Active ingredient (e.g. CBD extract)||5.4%|
|Carrier oil (e.g. olive oil)||7.2%|
|Surfactant (e.g. Quillaja saponin)||2%|
For a typical cannabinoid dose of 10 – 15 mg, requiring 20 – 30 mg of CBD oil extract to be present in a beverage, a nanoemulsion-type formulation will only contain about 7 – 11 mg of surfactant, making the beverage much easier to bring into compliance with regulations and helping it retain its original taste.
These advantages of nanoemulsion, over conventional emulsion, including the micro-droplet size of nanoemulsion combined with the higher efficiency as a better carrier are driving growth of the global nanoemulsion market.
Edibles made with other types of oils and distillates have an inconvenient and inconsistent bioavailability profile. They are water insoluble and require an external oil or fat in order to be absorbed into the body, which reduces their potency and makes them take significantly longer to take effect.
Drinking beverages containing CBD nanoemulsions is convenient and predictable. The body reacts quickly, absorbing the CBD compounds in the first 10-30 minutes, with the effects generally lasting a few hours.
These attributes make nanoemulsions useful for pharmaceutical purposes, as it’s easier for medical practitioners to know how much to prescribe. Similarly, users feel the benefits immediately, potentially averting cases of over-usage.
Transparency Market Research (TMR) predicts an increased growth in the global nanoemulsion market, estimating a market value of $14.91 billion by the end of 2025.
Many manufacturers are now implementing the use of nanoemulsions as a process for developing water-soluble CBD. There is particular interest in new market segments given nanoemulsion products allow CBD to be much more easily added to beverages.
Global markets for speciality and herbal teas are already expected to grow significantly over the next 5 years, as consumers move away from traditional tea varieties. It can be expected that CBD tea brands will potentially make up a significant proportion of this sector going forward.
Similar markets for speciality coffees and cold brew coffees are also already seeing CBD brands start to gain in popularity.
Given the massive adoption of CBD products across the sports and health & fitness markets, CBD-infused drinks in these sectors also stand to perform well going forward.
From a product development perspective the benefits of using this type of compound are particularly attractive.
Water-soluble CBD products allow manufacturers to more accurately measure CBD content and to provide end-users with much more accurate advice on dosage. Doses also react more consistently across users allowing manufacturers to better understand interactions, and likely responses to their products. Similarly, doses can be more accurately regulated to improve consistency during application.
This opens up opportunities for CBD brands to develop formulations that manage active ingredients much more effectively than was previously possible.
Peshkovsky, A., S. Leibtag, Data Obtained at Industrial Sonomechanics, LLC. 2016.