Nanotechnology for CBD: What is it and are there benefits?

Have you heard the newest CBD buzz? It’s about CBD in nanoparticles– what is THAT all about?
Written by 
Zora Degrandpre, MS, ND.
|Last Updated:
Nanotechnology for CBD

For those of you new to the CBD world, CBD or cannabidiol, is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid derived from hemp. It will not get you high. It has been used as an overall health-booster. CBD also has antioxidant properties and is being investigated as an anti-cancer agent.

What is Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology is the science of extremely small particles– the prefix “nano” means 1 billionth of some measurement so a nanogram is a billionth of a gram (or 0.000 000 001 gram). Nanoparticles refers to particles the size of a nanometer– or 1 billionth of a meter (0.000 000 001m) Most nanoparticles are from 1-100 nm in diameter and are shaped like tiny spheres that can be filled with drugs, vitamins, vaccines and other substances. The two recently approved vaccines for COVID-19 (Moderna and Pfizer) use nanoparticles to deliver the vaccine against the coronavirus.

What is a Nanoparticle Made of?

Most nanoparticles use lipids (fats) to make the nanoparticle sphere– we have all seen that oil forms droplets in water. In a similar way, lipids form droplets– it has to do with a property of lipids called hydrophobicity– literally meaning lipids don’t “like” water– and because they don’t like water, they form droplets to keep their most water-hating parts away from that water. The less water-hating parts are faced towards the water. The end-result is a sphere with a space inside– and that space can be filled with whatever needs delivery. [1]

Most lipids have long chains of carbon atoms with hydrogen atoms and other atoms bonded (attached) to them– these are the parts of the lipid that “hates” water the most. Physically, the reaction of these long chains of carbon atoms is to group themselves in such a way as to avoid water– and the simplest way to do that is to form spheres or droplets.

What are the Advantages of Nanoparticles?

The main advantages to the use of nanoparticles are:

  • Increased bioavailability of nanoparticle-delivered substance
  • Decreased degradation of nanoparticle-delivered substance (it lasts for a longer time in the body without being degraded– in other words, the CBD becomes more stable.
  • Can be specifically targeted by adding targeting substances to the surface of the nanoparticle. For example, the nanoparticles can be targeted to cancer cells by coating the surface with antibodies for that cancer cell.

Why Nanoparticles for CBD? The “Pros”

You all know that CBD comes as an oil in a tincture– and that means that, chemically speaking, CBD is hydrophobic– it doesn’t mix well in water. Because our bodies are largely based on water, that property of CBD decreases its bioavailability. Using nanoparticles, that bioavailability can be increased– and–at least in theory– you get more of the potency that you are paying for.

Another advantage is that CBD– like most substances– is degraded in the body. Providing CBD in a nanoparticle should decrease that break-down of CBD and should increase the length of time that CBD has an effect. When you take CBD by mouth and swallow, it has to go through what is known as “First Pass Metabolism”– meaning that it passes through the liver and some of it is degraded by the liver. Nanoparticles would still go through this First Pass Metabolism but more of the CBD would survive…but again, this is in theory– we have to wait for someone to do the experiments to be certain but the preliminary data seems promising.

So nanoparticles of CBD should provide greater delivery efficiency of CBD and with a longer-lasting effect.

Nanoparticles of CBD could be used as liquids (tinctures), in gummies or other edibles, or as gelcaps. The nanoparticles could also be used to improve the action of topicals, though these are already usually in a form that promotes skin absorption. The dosage you take might change because each dose could deliver more CBD, so you may not need to take the same amounts.

What are the Possible Downsides of CBD Nanoparticles: The “Cons”

The first main downside is that we don’t really know if nanoparticles of CBD work the way they are supposed to work in a person’s body– in other words, there really has been little to no testing of the concept. Nanoparticles have been shown to work in the delivery of vaccines, drugs and in cancer treatment, but there have been no clinical studies showing that the bioavailability of CBD has really been increased or that more of the CBD remains for longer periods of time.

One study recently published indicated that CBD in nanoparticles showed promise in the treatment of ovarian cancer, but these were not clinical studies– they were done in cancer cell cultures. The researchers did however, show that the nanoparticles were absorbed with increased efficiency and that the CBD remained active for longer. [3]

Another very interesting study delivered CBD-coated nanoparticles– using the CBD to essentially target brain cells. This was done both “in the test tube” and in mice. The study showed that the CBD-coated nanoparticles crossed into the brain effectively and that the smaller the particles, the more effective they were. [4]

Finally, a study in mice using nanoparticles containing CBD were used as a nasal spray to reduce pain in a mouse model of pain. One specific form of nanoparticles containing CBD were significantly effective in reducing pain in this model. [5]

Another potential downside is that the cost of these nanoparticles containing CBD is generally higher than other formulations of CBD.

In addition, there is some controversy around how long nanoparticles can remain in your body– in other words, not everyone agrees that the decreased degradation of CBD really means that in practice the CBD will stay in your body longer than another form of CBD such as the common tincture or a gummy. Until the actual experiments are performed, we simply don’t know.

To Sum Up…

Nanoparticles of CBD may turn out to be a very useful, efficient and effective approach for taking CBD, but we just don’t have the evidence for it at this point. And– just because it uses a different technology, that doesn’t mean you can ignore some of the basics of CBD buying– so, as always, make sure that any nano-CBD company provides 3rd party testing and has a solid reputation for honesty and integrity– and we at LeafReport will be here to help you do just that!


  1. Lingayat VJ, Zarekar NS, Shendge RS. Solid lipid nanoparticles: a review. Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Research. 2017 Apr;2:67-72.
  3. Ghasemiyeh P, Mohammadi-Samani S. Solid lipid nanoparticles and nanostructured lipid carriers as novel drug delivery systems: applications, advantages and disadvantages. Research in pharmaceutical sciences. 2018 Aug;13(4):288.
  5. Fraguas-Sánchez AI, Torres-Suárez AI, Cohen M, Delie F, Bastida-Ruiz D, Yart L, Martin-Sabroso C, Fernández-Carballido A. PLGA nanoparticles for the intraperitoneal administration of CBD in the treatment of ovarian cancer: In Vitro and In Ovo assessment. Pharmaceutics. 2020 May;12(5):439.
  7. Aparicio-Blanco J, Romero IA, Male DK, Slowing K, García-García L, Torres-Suárez AI. Cannabidiol enhances the passage of lipid nanocapsules across the blood–brain barrier both in vitro and in vivo. Molecular pharmaceutics. 2019 Mar 13;16(5):1999-2010.
  8. Matarazzo AP, Elisei LM, Carvalho FC, Bonfílio R, Ruela AL, Galdino G, Pereira GR. Mucoadhesive nanostructured lipid carriers as a cannabidiol nasal delivery system for the treatment of neuropathic pain. European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 2021 Apr 1;159:105698.
Dr. Zora DeGrandpre practices naturopathic medicine (home visits) in rural Washington and is a professional medical and scientific writer and editor, specializing in naturopathic, functional, botanical and integrative medicine. Dr. DeGrandpre has degrees in drug design, immunology and natural medicine and has extensive research experience in cancer and molecular immunology. In her practice, Dr DeGrandpre has found the use of CBD with elderly patients and others to be safe and clinically effective. She brings to all her writing a straightforward approach that is accurate, clear and authentic.

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