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Are CBD Liposomes Worth the Hype?

The cannabidiol industry is experiencing an extraordinary level of growth in recent years. Despite the confusion surrounding legality in some states, sales of the non-intoxicating cannabinoid continue to rise. In a bid to stay relevant, sellers and manufacturers continue to explore new options.

There is also a quest to improve the absorption rate of CBD. A higher level of bioavailability means more of the cannabinoid goes where it is needed. For reference, vaporization has a much higher absorption rate than CBD consumed orally or sublingually. An increasing number of CBD merchants now offer liposomal CBD. It is a type of product that utilizes something known by the pharmaceutical industry for over half a century.

What Are Liposomes?

The best way to understand more about liposomal CBD oil is to learn more about liposomes themselves. Liposomes are microscopic vesicles formed after the self-assembly of phospholipids in an aqueous media. They are typically created in a lab by disrupting phospholipids, so they form minuscule protective bubbles. Liposomes are considered one of the best carrier systems for pharmaceutical products.

The word liposome derives from a pair of Greek words; lipo (fat) and soma (body). Alec D Bangham first described them in 1961 in work published three years later. Along with R. W. Horne, Bangham was testing the Babraham Institute’s new electron microscope in Birmingham, England. The duo added negative stain to dry phospholipids.

Along with Malcolm Standish and Jeff Watkins, Bangham published a paper in 1965 that effectively launched the liposomes industry. Big Pharma has used liposomes to improve the bioavailability of its drugs for decades. Today, it is the turn of CBD liposomes to grab the spotlight.

Liposomal CBD is an exciting innovation. Liposomes safely administer ingredients through our GI tract into specific areas. Phospholipids contain a ‘head’ that loves water and a ‘tail’ that doesn’t. When you submerge them in water, the tails go inward, whereas the heads turn outward. The result is a bilayer that ‘shields’ ingredients and ensures they don’t get damaged.

Safety First

One of the reasons for the growth of the CBD liposomes industry is safety. Remember, liposomes consist of phospholipids. Therefore, they are biodegradable, biocompatible, and non-toxic. All research into liposomes to date suggests there are practically no adverse side effects. Moreover, there are no likely ill-effects when consumed in a drug or supplement.

Liposomal CBD oil ensures that the cannabidiol is transported past the intestinal membrane into specific areas. As long as the manufacturer prepares it correctly, the contents are fully protected. Liposomes are extremely popular in the dietary supplement industry for that reason.

CBD is an extremely suitable compound for liposomal delivery. The cannabinoid is non-intoxicating. The World Health Organization (WHO) has acknowledged the excellent safety profile of CBD. The adverse effects that do exist are usually of mild variety. When you use CBD liposomes, you should receive the optimal amount of the compound with every dose.

Aside from oral use, liposomal CBD is suitable for topical products. When consumed orally, CBD ensures accurate dosing. It is kept ‘safe’ and isn’t compromised when traveling to its target areas. When used in CBD creams, liposomes enable the cannabinoids to penetrate deep into the skin.

Liposomal CBD is ideal in edibles form. Unfortunately, the FDA recently announced that sellers should not add cannabidiol to food products or beverages. It is unlikely that law enforcement will begin raiding cafés and dispensaries! However, it remains a worry for vendors and is potentially a missed opportunity.

Boosting Bioavailability

There is little difference between THC and CBD molecules in terms of structure. When you consume either cannabinoids orally, the human GI system destroys most of it before absorption. There is a sublingual gland beneath the tongue. When you consume CBD oil, it is absorbed into your bloodstream via this vein. Vaporized CBD enters the lungs directly and allows for a higher absorption rate.

Here is a quick overview of general absorption rates depending on consumption method:

Oral Bioavailability

The likely absorption rate is between 10% and 20%. A few studies have found a bioavailability rate of just 6%, however. CBD goes through your digestive system before it reaches the bloodstream. The process can take up to two hours. During this timeframe, much of the CBD is filtered out by the liver and digestive tract. Examples of orally consumed CBD products include gummies, capsules, and edibles like chocolate.

Topical Bioavailability

When you use CBD topically, the cannabinoid engages with the endocannabinoid receptors in the peripheral nervous system. It is arguably the best method if you aim to treat a specific area on the body. The cannabinoid interacts with local receptors in your skin, so it doesn’t enter the bloodstream. As such, topically applied CBD is not a good option for more severe conditions. This is because these conditions require the cannabinoid to bind to CB receptors in the central nervous system and brain.

Researchers have yet to quantify the bioavailability of topical CBD products accurately. Some studies found that CBD suppositories have an absorption rate of approximately 13.5%. Products include creams and salves.

Sublingual Bioavailability

The probable absorption rate of sublingually consumed CBD is between 13% and 19%. Some research suggests it is as high as 35%, though most experts disagree. Holding CBD beneath the tongue ensures the sublingual gland absorbs it. It then enters the bloodstream and gets to work.

Most users claim to feel effects within 20 seconds. Make sure you keep the oil beneath the tongue for 30-60 seconds. Conventional sublingual products include CBD sprays, oils, and tinctures.

Intranasal Bioavailability

The process of inhaling CBD is the most effective on the list in absorption terms. Vaporization offers a bioavailability of between 34% and 46%. Some studies claim the rate is even higher at 56%. When you vape CBD, it enters the bloodstream directly. It binds to endocannabinoid receptors in the body very quickly. You may experience effects within minutes. You can use a vape pen in this instance.

CBD liposomes could take bioavailability to the next level, however.

Why Should I Try Liposomal CBD Oil?

Liposomal CBD is an excellent method of boosting bioavailability. Usually, the cannabinoid the digestive system filters it. By the time it reaches the bloodstream, little cannabidiol remains. You could consume 100mg of CBD via an oil. However, you only get the benefit of about 5-10mg.

Liposomes keep CBD molecules protected as they run the digestive system’s gauntlet. The molecules remain intact as they enter the bloodstream. Moreover, they don’t degrade on the lengthy journey.

A study by Morales P., published in Progress in the chemistry of organic natural products in 2017, looked at the molecular targets of phytocannabinoids. It found that CBD produces some of its effects by interacting with the ECS’ CB1 and CB2 receptors. It may also interface with vanilloid and serotonin receptors. CBD liposomes ensure that large amounts of the cannabinoid reach these areas.

You will also find liposomal CBD in topicals. They help cannabidiol to reach even deeper into the skin.

Liposomal CBD – The Studies

An early relevant study doesn’t look at liposomes. However, the research by Lodzki M., published in the Journal of Controlled Disease in December 2003, made an exciting discovery in the use of transdermal CBD. The team used ethosomes. These are delivery carriers with similarities to liposomes. They enable drugs to go deep into the skin’s layers.

The study involved administering CBD to mice with rheumatic diseases. They noticed a significant accumulation of CBD in the muscle and skin. A massive reduction in inflammation accompanied it. The conclusion was that CBD was an effective anti-inflammatory treatment when delivered via protective capsules.

Neo-Cure, in conjunction with the University of Nottingham in England, published the results of a fascinating study in 2019. It looked at the bioavailability of CBD in a liposomal formulation compared to ‘traditional’ oil solutions. The research suggested that CBD liposomes boosted bioavailability by almost 400%! It was a tiny sample size of just nine volunteers, however.


A review by Souto E.B. was published in the journal Molecules in December 2019. It looked at a list of studies into nanoparticle delivery systems in the treatment of diabetes complications. The team looked at research into liposomes and found a host of advantages. One study outlined that a particular extract’s solubility was greatly enhanced when loaded in liposomes.

At present, there isn’t much research into how CBD liposomes offer greater bioavailability. However, it is something that Big Pharma has known for a very long time.

Will CBD Liposomes Take Over?

There is a distinct possibility that you’ll see more liposomal CBD products on the shelves in the next few years. The fact is, up to 90-95% of the CBD oil you consume does not make it where it is supposed to go. Let’s say you need 50mg of CBD each day to feel a satisfactory ‘effect.’ If you use it orally, you may require up to 1,000mg of CBD oil!

If you try to buy CBD online, you’ll usually find that 1,000mg of CBD oil costs anywhere from $100-$150. It is interesting that Elixinol, for example, ‘only’ charges $130 for its 1,000mg bottle of liposomal CBD.

By all accounts, liposomal CBD oil is safe to use. What we’re not sure is the precise absorption rate. If the University of Nottingham’s research is correct, it could offer a bioavailability rate of 25-30%. At such a level, there is no question that CBD liposomes are a game-changer. On a ‘per dollar’ basis, you are saving a significant amount of money for a theoretically more effective product.

However, despite being ‘discovered’ 60 years ago, the level of in-depth research into liposomes is lacking. At present, we are still trying to learn more about cannabidiol and marijuana! Indeed, we expect liposomal CBD oil products to sell, but ‘traditional’ CBD oil is far from doomed.

Final Thoughts on CBD Liposomes

There is an immense amount of hype about cannabidiol in general. Yet the FDA refuses to approve it. The exception is a Big Pharma product containing CBD called Epidiolex. Pretty much any product that contains CBD is big business at present. Liposomal CBD oil potentially stands out because of its superior bioavailability.

Imagine a situation where you get up to five times more usable CBD! That is the reality with CBD liposomes. It uses a method of delivery popular in pharmaceutical products for decades. The liposomes keep the CBD molecules safe as they make their way through the digestive system.

By the time the CBD reaches the bloodstream, there is still plenty of it left to make an impression. Liposomal CBD oil also absorbs faster, so you should feel an impact in minutes. A combination of better bioavailability and improved value for money should give CBD liposomes an advantage. However, it is early days, and research into the efficacy of liposomes continues.

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