Three Principles Food Companies Must Understand Related to Cannabis
First, consider the route of administration, or how the ingredient gets into the body.
This is the most important of the three because the bioavailability – the proportion of the compound that enters the bloodstream – and timing are quite different depending on the formulation. Let me provide an example. If I’m a food scientist and I am thinking about targeting the health/wellness market, I’m trying to decide what kind of product to develop for that segment. I need to know that bioavailability and timing will be very different in a granola bar, a tincture, a drink or a product that is smoked.
The second important principle is physiological distribution, or where the compound goes to produce its effects once ingested.
Once in the body, these compounds target our internal endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is involved in maintaining the homeostasis of some very important processes – appetite, pain sensation, mood, and memory for example.
One unique and remarkable capability of the endocannabinoid system is that it serves as the brakes to fine-tune and control activity in the brain and ultimately throughout the body. As I previously mentioned, this internal system is critically important in the maintenance and fine control of key physiological functions, many of which we as scientists are still trying to understand. As such, we lack a clear understanding of the potential long-term health and safety effects of cannabis-based edibles.
And third, companies need to know how cannabis edibles, specifically cannabinoids, are metabolized and excreted by the body.
Delivery of cannabis compounds through the gastrointestinal tract results in a great percentage (~75-90 percent) of these compounds being extensively metabolized – gotten rid of or broken down – in the liver before they exert their effects within the body.
What scientists are learning about the metabolism of these compounds is that several of the well-known cannabis and hemp plant extracts are processed by the same enzymatic-based system that processes about 60 percent of the drugs – over the counter or prescription – on the market right now. This information is vital to food, beverage and ingredient companies because it suggests that some of the extracts may prevent liver enzymes from metabolizing other medications.
As a result, pharmaceuticals might build up in the bloodstream over time and become toxic. The implications are clear, and from a product development and safety standpoint, this information can be used to inform label warnings and potential safety considerations for end-users.
Do you need to understand the challenges of CBD?
The issue of cannabis as a food ingredient and supplement is complicated. RTI Innovation Advisors can help you understand the science and the safety surrounding this compound.
For over 40 years, RTI International has been exploring the risks and benefits of cannabis and contributing to the national conversation.
- We have researched the increasing use of cannabis, the potential risks and benefits of cannabis edibles, and the changing perceptions of cannabis.
- We provide well-characterized chemicals and dosage formulations for preclinical testing and clinical trials.
Policymakers, health officials, and commercial clients have relied on our objective and multidisciplinary approach—one that integrates expertise across the political, regulatory, social, and laboratory sciences. Our expertise in cannabis-related research makes us an ideal partner for food companies that need to understand the challenges of the compound.