What is Nanotechnology?
Nanotechnology is a process by which atoms and molecules are converted into nanoparticles, which are generally 100 nanometers (nm) in size or smaller. A nanometer is one billionth of one meter.
For a better understanding of how small a nanometer is, let’s make a comparison:
- An atom = 0.1nm
- A strand of DNA (diameter) = 2.5 nm
- A single bacterium = 1000nm
- An oil pore (or hair follicle) = 30,000-50,000nm
- A strand of hair = 80,000-100,000nm
- An ant = 5,000,000nm
Where do we see Nanotechnology in Everyday Life?
Nanotechnology is widely used in biological, chemical, and mechanical engineering, medicine, and robotics. It’s used in common everyday items, such as solar panels, clothing, cosmetics, household cleaners; it’s even in being used by the food industry and in nutritional products, like dietary supplements and nutraceuticals, to increase their bioavailability. Now we’re seeing nanotechnology having a major impact on the cannabis and hemp industries by increasing the therapeutic value of cannabinoids, like CBD (cannabidiol), THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), and many other lesser known compounds found in cannabis and hemp.
How does Nanotechnology make Cannabinoids more Bioavailable?
For starters, cannabinoids are fat-soluble and typically have low absorption rates when inhaled, ingested orally or applied topically. Upwards of 90% of cannabinoid content is lost before it ever reaches the bloodstream due to delays during metabolism, exposure to flame, heat, and light, and other barriers that prevent assimilation and limit efficacy. This makes it difficult to measure the effectiveness of most cannabis and hemp CBD products on the market and to dose accordingly.
Traditional extraction and application methods can take several minutes to a few hours to take effect due to the large molecular structure of cannabinoids and their lipophilic nature. Nanotechnology converts CBD molecules into water-soluble nanoparticles as small as 25nm, which is 1200-2000 times smaller than oil pores or hair follicles. When applied topically, Nano-CBD penetrates deep layers of the skin resulting in transdermal absorption of cannabinoids into the bloodstream. The transdermal administration of CBD nanoparticles bypasses the digestive system and makes the therapeutic benefits instantly available.
Nanotechnology increases the bioavailability of cannabinoids in many delivery methods, including but not limited to:
- Topically—Lotions, balms, salves, bath bombs and soaks
- Edible Form—Infused foods, mints, candies, capsules
- Sublingual & Buccal—Tinctures, tablets, sprays, gum
- Transdermal—Patches, lotions, sprays, bath bombs and soaks
- Suppository—Rectal, vaginal, urethral; local & systemic effects
Where will Nanotechnology go from here?
The advancements of science—although quite behind with regard to the study of cannabis and hemp—will undoubtedly continue to reveal the truth about nanotechnology’s potential impact on cannabinoid therapy, resulting in more sophisticated and potent products, and increased cost-effectiveness for the end user.
**Note: While the information in this article refers primarily to CBD molecules for simplicity, it can also be applied more broadly to all cannabinoids.