At GnuPharma we study plants and how they modulate the endocannabinoid system (ECS). In fact, we have patents (pending) around our abilities to predictably modulate the ECS with non-cannabis plants.
Non-cannabis plants store their “goodies=medicinal things” as flavonoids, alkaloids, turpenes, and other small plant molecules. For the most part these medicinal components are stored in lipid or fat sacks within the plant. These lipid sacks help with absorption of plant based medicinal components. Rupturing these lipid sacks (cooking/heating) leads to poorer absorption.
Plants like to offer their medicinal goodies naturally. In some cases that is as a water soluble material and in other cases that is a fat or oil based material. For most of our non-cannabis extractions at GnuPharma, we use an ethanol extraction method and stay water based. This is due to the fact that most of the plants that we work with want to offer their “goodies” as water soluble molecules.
So what about cannabis? We certainly get mixed messages here with isolates vs oils. It is almost a religious argument to some (like extraction methods!). So, what is the truth?
Lets look at water solubility first. This would be isolates. Here is an article that cites common arguments for the benefits of water soluble cannabis extracts. It argues that oil based extracts are not absorbed as well due to “first pass” metabolism and how our guts work: https://uncannywellness.com/blogs/blogs/water-soluble-vs-oil-soluble-cbd-what-you-need-to-know
A very compelling argument is presented regarding “first pass” metabolism, how oils do not do well in “first pass”, and thereby do better as water soluble or held longer under the tongue. A FANTASTIC argument! Just not true…
Cannabis is actually one of the few things that get ENHANCED during first pass metabolism. From wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_pass_effect
“Notable drugs that experience a significant first-pass effect are imipramine, morphine, propranolol, buprenorphine, diazepam, midazolam, pethidine, cannabis, cimetidine, lidocaine, and nitroglycerin. In contrast some drugs are enhanced in potency: for example, the effect of the most commonly considered active ingredient in cannabis, THC, is enhanced by transformation of a significant portion into 11-hydroxy-THC that more readily crosses the blood brain barrier and thus achieves greater potency than the original THC.”
So, it appears that cannabis, as an oil, is actually STRENGTHENED at “first pass” metabolism. Bottom line…plants like to give up their “goodies” in the natural state the plant offers them. For cannabis, this is clearly an oil. While isolates have their uses, in general, cannabis is better absorbed as an oil rather than water based.