What is water soluble CBD?

by Tom Russell July 03, 2020

What is water soluble CBD

CBD is incredibly versatile and comes in many different forms. Despite their individual pros and cons, most CBD products only deliver a fraction of the active ingredient to your bloodstream.

Several brands are now claiming that their water soluble CBD is the answer to this problem and can increase the amount available for use in your body by up to ten times. Unfortunately, because it’s new, there is very little evidence publicly available to back up these claims.

What is water soluble CBD?

Drops on plant

Water soluble CBD is a recently developed method of mixing CBD extract into water. Cannabinoids are naturally fat-soluble, which means that the molecules dissolve easily into fatty substances like oils but don’t mix well with water.

That’s why the majority of CBD products are oil-based. The downside of oil-based CBD is that most fats are broken down by enzymes and take longer to pass through your gut into your bloodstream.

Now CBD companies have discovered that if you expose CBD to a certain type of sound wave, it can vibrate the CBD apart into tiny, microscopic nanoparticles. They can also achieve the same effect by adding emulsifying substances at high pressure or encapsulating the cannabinoids in other microscopic materials.

Once the CBD is in tiny pieces, water molecules can fit in between them, allowing them to mix into water-based liquids.

How does it work?

How does water soluble CBD work

If you swallow CBD oil, for it to be used your body tissues, it must first be broken down into smaller pieces. The processes that carry out this breakdown are known collectively as the first pass effect and are responsible for the low bioavailability of orally ingested CBD oil.

The first pass effect occurs in two stages; the first is in your gut and the second is in your liver. In the first stage, bile and pancreatic juices, enter your gut from your gall bladder and pancreas. They contain enzymes that break the fats and fat-soluble CBD into smaller pieces so they can pass through your gut wall and enter your blood. In the second stage, your blood takes the small pieces through your liver, where it breaks them down even more.

Water soluble CBD is designed to miss out the first stage of the first pass effect. Instead of having to be broken down in your gut, it’s able to pass straight into your blood. Once in the bloodstream, it then must pass through the liver where it is broken down, just like any other ingested particles.

Both CBD oil and water soluble CBD must be broken down by the liver but because water soluble products miss out the first ‘gut’ stage of the first pass effect, it’s likely that more of the active ingredient will remain intact after passing through the liver.

Does water soluble CBD absorb better under your tongue?

Sublingual CBD oil application

The main enzyme responsible for the breakdown of fats during the first pass effect is called lipase. It can be found in your gut, gall bladder and surprisingly in your mouth. If you hold CBD oil under your tongue, the presence of lingual lipase breaks it down so that it can pass into your sublingual blood vessels.

When you hold water soluble CBD under your tongue, it is already in a form that can cross the membrane into your blood. So, like in your gut, it doesn’t need to be broken down by the lipase. The bonus of letting water soluble CBD absorb under your tongue is that it won’t need to pass through your liver either and could result in a higher amount of cannabinoids reaching your cells.

Does water soluble CBD mean that more reaches your blood?

Water Soluble Cells

The claims of increasing bioavailability may come from a 2017 study conducted at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem where they tested the absorption of THC and CBD contained in nano-spheres. The research was conducted with rats and used carefully constructed packets of molecules to encase the cannabinoids and allowed them to dissolve in water.

The results showed an incredible increase of 600% in the amount that was available for use in cells. This shows the incredible potential of water soluble CBD, but unfortunately, it doesn’t guarantee that all water soluble CBD preparations will do the same. Although there are many types of water soluble and nano CBD available, they are all produced in different ways to different standards and produce different effects.


What this study also uncovered was that the nano-spheres succeeded because they kept the active ingredient encapsulated until after it had passed through the gut wall. After this point, they begin to break down and release their contents. If the CBD de-emulsifies or leaves its nano-sphere too early or too late, the results will be vastly different.

Consequently, water-soluble products are likely an effective way to increase the absorption of cannabinoids, but more investigation is needed to understand the processes involved fully. How effective it is depends on how the CBD is made to be water soluble and how soon it returns to its fat soluble form.

What are the advantages of water soluble CBD?

Water solubility provides a CBD product with numerous benefits. It can be added to water-based products meaning that brands can mix it into foods and drinks without also having to add oil.

It can also be used in sprays and pumps without creating large oily drops. Water soluble CBD is a lot easier to consume.


  • It absorbs quickly into your bloodstream
  • It’s likely that a higher percentage of CBD will reach your blood
  • It can be added to water-based foods and drinks
  • Water-soluble flavours can be added to it more easily
  • It can be used in a spray or pump bottle more effectively
  • It provides more options to consume it


  • Once the CBD is in your blood, it’s uncertain by how much the effect will be greater and if it is the case for everyone.
  • Not all water-soluble and nano preparations of CBD are the same. Some may be more effective than others.


Water soluble CBD is a fantastic step into the future for cannabinoids and other similar substances. Some products already make use of this technology enhance their potency and ease of use. However, it’s not yet known, which are the most effective methods to make these products and precisely how nano-particles behave once they’ve passed through the gut wall.

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Tom Russell
Tom Russell


Tom Russell writes extensively about CBD oil and other groundbreaking food supplements. He and his wife share their home with two daughters and a lifetime’s collection of books.

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