Twenty 4:20 #15 | Nano-emulsion Technology

“We’re increasing bioavailability in some times, tremendous ways. When it’s this major, it affects the efficacy of the product, it gets the attention of doctors and wellness professionals.”

— Curt Robbins

What if your cannabis medicine acted faster and went further? That’s what nano-emulsion enables. Tiny molecules of THC and other cannabinoids are coming to your endocannabinoid system, via a new wave of cannabis beverages, dissolvable strips, nasal sprays and other edibles and topicals.

Is it a fad? Marketing hype? No, says cannabis educator Curt Robbins — there’s real science and real benefits behind the nano-emulsion trend in cannabis products.

Listen and learn, then check out Curt’s breakdown of nan-emulsion technology at MJ News Network.

Transcript for Twenty 4:20, Segment 15, with Curt Robbins

Kannaboom 0:00

Welcome to Twenty 4:20, the bite-sized educational podcast from Kannaboom and Curt Robbins, author of more than 500 articles about the science of hemp and cannabis. We're giving 20 cannabis topics 20 minutes each to help you get smarter about terpenes, cannabinoids, cultivars and much, much more. And our show starts now. Hey everyone, it's Tom back with Curt Robbins in our Twenty 4:20 series of 20-minute bite-sized chunks of educational content. Hey, Curt, how are you?

Curt Robbins 0:30

Hey, Tom, how's San Diego man?

Kannaboom 0:31

It's overcast, but I can't complain.

Curt Robbins 0:34

It's got to be good this time of year, you know? Yeah, but you live there. So...

Kannaboom 0:38

We're starting to get outside, everyone's taking their masks off. Everyone's getting their vaccination. So we're glad that the light at the end of the tunnel is getting much closer.

Curt Robbins 0:47

It was like a bad George Orwell novel. Just Let's get the hell out of this.

Kannaboom 0:51

Yes, let's put that behind us. So we've been plowing through a lot of great topics. One of the things we talked about often is the ways in which you can consume cannabis. Now, humans have been consuming it for 1000s of years, probably smoking and eating and sometimes drinking. But we're going to talk today about a technology that is making a big difference in how those forms are going to be available in the future.

Curt Robbins 1:13

Right, and that's nano-emulsion technology. And it sounds complicated and quite honestly it is a little complicated. This is not something like BHO concentrate extraction, or you know, live resin that can be done at home. This is not one of those backyard barbecue, things where often these topics are that you and I discuss like edibles, right and, you know key for whatever these are things that people and patients can experiment with, but not in the case of nanotechnology. Because, well, let's talk about the basic challenge. Humans, modern consumers, love beverages. alcoholic, non alcoholic, healthy, not healthy, pure sugar, doesn't matter — we love our beverages, right? And so as legalization comes about in North America and around the world, we have the physical, the chemical biophysical challenge of taking these molecules that you and I have been talking about — cannabinoids and terpenes and flavonoids — and infusing them into water-based beverages, because there's a problem there. And I think we've talked about it a little on the past. But cannabinoids and terpenes and molecules like this are fat-loving, water-fearing, and they don't mix with water and there have actually been products on the market. Back in the early days of cannabis legalization, that, without using nano-emulsion technology, attempted to infuse THC and other cannabinoids like CBG and CBD, and a variety of terpenes into these water based beverages, and typically didn't work. It resulted in a skunky top layer where the oil separated from the water. And it went downhill from there.

Kannaboom 3:15

Oil and water just don't mix.

Curt Robbins 3:17

They truly do not. It's more than a Hallmark metaphor. So you know, human beings, especially the North Americans, were very innovative. And we have examined, as you say, multiple ways of consuming these fat-loving, water-fearing molecules called cannabinoids and terpenes. And it's really exciting. All these different options that we have, well, edibles traditionally have the downside, the biggest con in my humble opinion of an edible is that you're going to be waiting between two and three hours for onset. And if you're a pain patient, for example, or nausea patient, or you're having some sort of psychological episode and you need, regardless of the situation, if you need immediate relief, two to three hours for onset is not acceptable, right? But there are so many benefits to edibles that, boy you hate to leave those edibles, the benefits, at the curb, just because of that one negative of slow onset. Well, that's one thing that nano-emulsion takes care of. It gives an onset that's someplace between 10 and 20 minutes, depending on the exact characteristics of the product.

Kannaboom 4:35

So to be clear, nano-technology is not a marketing gimmick. It's a real thing.

Curt Robbins 4:40

It is a real thing. Now there are fly-by-night shady companies out there, they're all over the place. Just take a look at CBD right? A lot of shady companies in that space. Same thing with nanotech. There's companies talking out their ass quite honestly; they don't even know what they're talking about in their marketing brochures.

Kannaboom 4:56

We're talking about getting cannabinoids to bond with those fat molecules inside this product. What are we talking about?

Curt Robbins 5:03

Exactly. What we're able to do basically, is take these, these are fat-loving molecules, as we've said. So we basically encapsulate them in fat. OK. But how do we get that fat? That molecule or group of molecules, chemical compounds? How do we get that into the water? That's the problem that we've had. It's very basic chemistry. And what we found is that by going down to nano-scale sizes, which are extremely small, we'll talk about this here in a second, that we can then take at that nano-scale, we can take the fat molecule, and we can basically put it within water molecules, they can cohabitate because of the sizing scale, it turns out, there's actually, if you want to get all nerdy about it, three different types of nano encapsulation. We can put fat in water, we can put water in fat, and we can even have single emulsions that support both of those formats.

Kannaboom 6:04

So we're changing the structure a little bit at a molecular level in order to sort of integrate the cannabinoid with water.

Curt Robbins 6:12

Yes. And in fact, let's just talk about nano-scale for a second, regardless of nano-emulsion or nano-emulsion technology as it's being employed in the cannabis industry. A strand of human DNA is about two and a half nanometers in diameter. An inch, OK, this is something — I've never seen DNA. I've seen pictures, right, and National Geographic, but an inch is something everyone can relate to. There are 25,400,000 nanometers within an inch, or boy, it's very small, it's extremely frickin small. A gold atom is about 1/3 of a nano-meter. OK, so stack up three atoms of gold, and that's a nano-meter. OK? All right, so extremely small. Now, within this nano-meter range, you can go smaller droplets or larger droplets, it's actually a range, we don't really need to bore listeners with all those details. They're in the article. And you know, the links that I'll provide for your show notes. You know, they can get all nerdy on that if they want. But suffice it to say that the listener takeaway, the student takeaway here is that nanoscale is extremely small. And what it allows us to accomplish is, as we've said before, to take these fat-loving molecules and wrap them in fat, and then wrap that fat in water, and ta-da, we have a beverage.

Kannaboom 7:38

That's cool. It's not just beverages, right? There's other delivery methods.

Curt Robbins 7:42

That is correct. Yes. And thanks for pointing that out. Transdermal patches, sublingual, like we were talking about some of the strip products, like breath fresheners, but instead of delivering just fresh breath, they're given you some THC and some CBD right?

Kannaboom 8:01

As well as tinctures too?

Curt Robbins 8:02

Yes, well, yes. If it's — because tinctures are often alcohol-based, not water-based. So that's where nano-emulsion kind of changes the game, right, we now have capabilities that, you know, you and I have talked about how cannabis and hemp have been in use by humans for probably at least 10,000 years, right? Millennia, a long, long time. One thing humans have not had until very recently is nano-emulsion.

Kannaboom 8:30

So this opens the door to all kinds of things, right? I mean, when you're going to smoke a bud, you know that you're going to get some THC and you're going to inhale it, it's going to hit you immediately.

Curt Robbins 8:40

Within two-and-a-half minutes for smoking or vaping. Inhalation regardless of whether it's smoke or vapor reaches the CB one receptors in the brain. And approximately two and a half minutes. It's different for everybody. But that's the range.

Kannaboom 8:54

And so when you're dealing with a nano product, you're already in the lab. So you can probably mix up your own batch of terpenes and cannabinoids right? You have the ability to kind of dial in a precise recipe for what you want.

Curt Robbins 9:09

Exactly. And when you get really technical about that. There are pros and cons to smaller nano-emulsion droplet sizes, and relatively larger ones, even though they're still like we're saying extremely small, by human standards, right? We think in terms of miles and feet and inches. And now this is on a totally different scale. And that's one of the downsides of this for businesses. We, you know, in this podcast series talk not only to patients and lifestyle consumers and adult users, but also to the businesses that serve them. And for a business if you're a small, small-batch, small-scale producer, especially if you know of craft products, that's typically how that goes. You might not be able to afford nanoemulsion because it typically only becomes affordable at scale for like the larger players.

Kannaboom 10:02

So just huge batches of this stuff.

Curt Robbins 10:05

Yes, exactly. Because, well, it's expensive to have, you know, a professional laboratory with trained technicians. And this again, this is not a backyard barbecue. It's not something that people can kind of do for themselves. You have to have trained professionals who often have Ph.D.s in chemistry, right? They're, they're very specialized, and they do this kind of thing all the time. Nano-emulsion technology is being utilized in many other industries outside of cannabis, it's only cannabis is legal cannabis as a new kid on the block. And so, obviously, people are going to be innovative and entrepreneurial, and they're going to examine all of their options as both consumers, patients and businesses. One of those options is nano-emulsion.

Kannaboom 10:50

Well, from a consumer perspective, we often talk about dosing, and that it's often a test-and-learn thing. And we know we've said before the Maureen Dowd experience, The New York Times columnist, who, you know, went to Colorado and ate half a chocolate bar and crawled into the closet.

Curt Robbins 11:04

Don't want to take too much. It's not a fun day, right?

Kannaboom 11:06

Yeah. So I mean, with that rapid onset, are you more able to kind of titrate your dose intelligently?

Curt Robbins 11:13

That's an excellent question, Tom. From a consumer perspective, there are two primary benefits of nano-emulsion technology beyond just being you know, zingy tech that people love to talk about. And one is that faster onset, between 10 and 20 minutes that we discussed — a lot faster than two to three hours like with traditional non-nano emulsified edibles. But the other one is increased bioavailability and this is this is really the big takeaway for listeners and students quite honestly, Tom, is increased bioavailability. Because you talked about people are acclimated habituated to smoking, cannabis and hemp. Well, the bioavailability of inhalation, especially when smoked, not vaped, is fairly low. Under 50%. What is interesting is we try to stay research-based here. Some peer-reviewed research studies from you know, respectable scientist on organizations have shown that bioavailability of edibles in that we're just talking about edibles, right, there are all these other consumption avenues you and I have been discussing. But just in the case of edibles, bioavailability is sometimes pathetically low, we're talking under 10%, like 6%, this one study showed. OK, that's stuff, that's not nano-emulsified. OK, if we do nano-emulsify it, sometimes if that's not done properly, or, you know, depending on what the goals of that product are, you're gonna get different bioavailabilities. It's a range, listeners really need to understand that it's a range. But anyway, research has shown that the application of nano-emulsion technology to edible products sometimes results in bioavailability, as high as 90%. Well, again, these are separate studies. And you know, I don't want urban legend to result from what we're saying here. But it just means that one study showed that sometimes as low as 6%, when we do not use nanoemulsion, that doesn't mean that you can't get higher than that by doing it the right way. But you, obviously, yes, we're increasing bioavailability in some times, tremendous ways. It is really, when, when it's this major, it affects the efficacy of the product, it gets the attention of doctors and wellness professionals who can now, like you were saying with hydration, they can dose it differently. And that's sometimes saves, you know, cannabis products are fairly expensive. So if your product goes twice as far, lasting two weeks instead of one week, for example, you know, as a pain patient, then that's a big deal. Because now your medicine bill is 50% that month, right?

Kannaboom 14:03

Yeah, especially if you are taking it for pain, you do want to kind of keep your levels up. And this is a way to do that. And to be clear, you have that increased efficacy, that increased bioavailability, because it's not being filtered through the liver and kidneys in your whole digestive system.

Curt Robbins 14:21

Right, like in the case of sublingual tinctures, you're going straight into the bloodstream. And you know, a lot of consumers probably don't understand that. Whereas with traditional edibles that you eat, thus the name edible, right or medible, as they say, in Oregon, it's first got to go through the stomach, then it's got to go through the liver and there are certain metabolic enzymes and processes that occur there that basically change these molecules. Now they still have medicinal efficacy, and that's still a great way to go. But again, we've got that big disadvantage of that two to three hours for onset that just a large percentage of the patient population simply cannot tolerate that.

Kannaboom 15:02

So the nano-particles are in your mouth or they're going straight into your bloodstream. In the case of a sublingual?

Curt Robbins 15:10

Yes. Now there's also patches. And this gets tricky because patches, transdermal patches go on the skin, they go straight to the bloodstream to, whereas if it's a cream or a lotion that could be packaged somewhat as a patch, that's different, that's epidural layers only. And it's not going into the bloodstream, even though the application and the format of that product, you know, they might look very similar.

Kannaboom 15:34

Will this affect, say, nasal sprays? Is that a possibility with this technology?

Curt Robbins 15:39

Yeah, there are a lot of potential applications of the technology. And what I think is really cool is that industries outside of cannabis and hemp are already not just looking into this technology, but they're already using it, you know, they're billion dollar industries that are investing in this. So it's only going to get less expensive as it gets more common. And there's more vendors and more players in the game. But yeah, there are just a, that's why I'm so excited about nano-emulsion is because there's such a wide variety of products that can potentially benefit from it.

Kannaboom 16:16

You know, another aspect of it is the convenience, you don't have to worry about the aroma. You don't have to worry about people freaking out if you light up or something, you can discreetly put something under your tongue.

Curt Robbins 16:28

We're gonna get, we're a beverage-toting society, right? So it doesn't matter if you're at work, you can be in a board meeting, you know, you can be the CEO and reach out for your Coke, or, you know, whatever beverage, the beverage of your choice, or kombucha, or whatever. So that 's basically, this is a way of, in my opinion, of this technology that allows us to take cannabinoids and terpenes and infuse them into products that were already very habituated to using and we've shown a great affinity for as consumers.

Kannaboom 17:02

When you talk about beverages and habituation. A lot of people are accustomed to having a beer or a cocktail, or two or three. Right? Do you see that working in a similar fashion, a similar paradigm with a cannabis-infused beverage?

Curt Robbins 17:17

Absolutely. There's a lot of people who do the surf and turf or whatever the kids are calling it these days, you know, where they're consuming ethanol, you know, alcohol-based products like beer, seltzer, wine, cocktails, cocktails has its own culture right there. Yeah. And there's the ability to infuse those also one of the biggest roadblocks to that, quite honestly, it's not technical, but rather government oversight. There are a lot of jurisdictions in terms of states and provinces that say, 'No, we don't want you commingling alcohol and cannabis.' And so it's verboten.

Kannaboom 17:54

Right. I mean, are you going to have a cannabis drinking lounge? Or is it going to be in the existing infrastructure of bars and taverns? Or is it only going to be available in a dispensary? How are we going to work that out?

Curt Robbins 18:07

Yeah, it's gonna be real interesting to see how it shakes out, especially with all the talk of federal movement here in the states. How will something at the federal level dance with what's already occurring at the state level?

Kannaboom 18:23

Well, interesting. I mean, the products are already coming out, so the infrastructure will need to catch up. Fortunately, our political system runs like a top and we solve all these complex problems magically.

Curt Robbins 18:35

But I think some you know, smart, 20 somethings and 30 somethings, and probably in Silicon Valley, who knows where maybe Kansas City, I don't know, is is going to look at increased bioavailability and the opportunities of nano-emulsion technology, and they're going to become the next Steve Jobs, you know how they're going to make a billion dollars off of creatively using this technology for more than marketing hype and buzzwords, but to truly solve patient and lifestyle consumer issues.

Kannaboom 19:09

Curt, you kind of nailed it right at 20 minutes. But before I let you go...

Curt Robbins 19:13

I love it when we do that.

Kannaboom 19:15

And speaking of billion-dollar corporations, before we hang up on this one, I wanted to just get your opinion on the news that came out this week about Amazon taking the stand and saying 'Our employees don't need to be tested for cannabis.'

Curt Robbins 19:28

I think it's excellent.

Kannaboom 19:30

It's big news. And then a lot of people here you know, because they have a huge footprint right? Beyond that. Is it a signal that they are going to become a cannabis retailer down the road?

Curt Robbins 19:40

Wow. It's a lot of things right? I find it exciting personally, when I saw the news the other day, and we're sharing it with some friends and colleagues and we discussed that a bit and I said, you know this is a big deal because it's like if Rolling Stone magazine or a liberal-leaning company or publication says 'Hey, we're for weed legalization.' It's like 'No shit.' You know? Of course you are. But when, when a more neutral company, Jeff Bezos has even shown some potentially conservative leanings, he is a Texan after all. So this is a big deal because they're not known for liberal causes. Right?

Kannaboom 20:21

Right. They've led the way on a lot of changes in our lives and are very influential.

Curt Robbins 20:27

Whether we like it or not.

Kannaboom 20:28

Yeah. And I'm with you. I mean, I think it's a very positive development. Smaller businesses of governmental entities are going to need to look at this and say, 'OK, this employer, one of the biggest employers in the country, says it's OK, then it's probably OK.'

Curt Robbins 20:41

One of the really nice things about this is a large player like Amazon is not going to be interested unless they can have interstate commerce, full merchant banking. It's got a plug in to their existing infrastructure and the way consumers work, right, the way consumers hand over their money. And so it's exciting in the respect of Amazon has deep pockets, Bezos has deep pockets, if they start lobbying at the federal level, and having some serious golf outings with senators, who knows what might be accomplished. Right?

Kannaboom 21:14

Right. And in fast order things are changing fast.

Curt Robbins 21:17

Yea, that would be nice. I mean, some people have been waiting a few years for this, you know, the old-school hippies are like, you know, damn, we thought we'd have this by 75. And it's like, no.

Kannaboom 21:29

By the time we're 75, maybe, yeah, there you go. All right. Well, thanks, Curt. You did it again, filling us in on something that a lot of us don't know about. But we need to and look for the show notes, where we'll have links to Curt's I'll put on this which is excellent. And it goes probably into even more depth on all the science around it. So thank you very much, sir.

Curt Robbins 21:49

Thanks Tom.

Kannaboom 21:49

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