While science continues to explore the health benefits of cannabidiol (CBD), oral bioavailability has been a constant issue due to CBD’s lipophilicity and extensive first-pass metabolism. To mitigate this issue, various carrier oils—including MCT oil, sesame oil, and olive oil—have been mixed with CBD in formulations designed to improve bioavailability, with some success.
To determine whether they could further improve CBD absorption, a team of German researchers developed a novel self-emulsifying drug delivery system (SEDDS) based on VESIsorb® formulation technology, which had previously been shown to increase oral bioavailability of coenzyme Q10. The results of their study were published in the journal Molecules.
The researchers recruited 16 healthy people (eight men and eight women) and randomized them into two groups. One group received a hemp extract (CBD) supplement formulated with the SEDDS, and the other received a hemp extract supplement formulated with MCT oil. The single oral CBD dose in both groups was standardized to 25 mg.
Additionally, this was a crossover study, meaning that subjects who first received the SEDDS formulation were also given the MCT formulation after a 14-day break, and vice versa.
At the conclusion of the study, analysis showed that subjects taking a single oral administration of the SEDDS CBD had 4.4 times more CBD in their blood plasma and showed 2.85 times better bioavailability than those taking the MCT formula. CBD absorption time was also significantly faster after taking SEDDS (one hour, as opposed to three hours for the MCT supplement). Additionally, women who took the MCT formula showed better availability than men, but this gender difference wasn’t seen with the SEDDS formulation.
Overall, the SEDDS CBD supplement showed a significant improvement in all measured parameters, and neither formula showed any safety concerns.
The SEDDS formulation “offers a novel, good, tolerable, and effective oral cannabinoid delivery system,” the researchers wrote in their conclusion. “CBD has a number of potential health benefits; however, our data demonstrated that unless the SEDDS formulation is used, there is relatively poor bioavailability of the standard CBD formulations (e.g., hemp-extract diluted with MCT oil) that could lead to diminished benefits (or no benefit) for this natural product.”