Study: Absorption rate of cannabis microcapsules proves promising for patients with neurological diseases

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Curtin University is leading a team of researchers to investigate new methods of enhancing oral medical cannabis absorption rate. 

Featured in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE, the study was funded by Zelira Therapeutics a global pioneer in cannabinoid-based pharmaceuticals.

The goal(s) of this research is to determine the efficacy of using cannabis as a treatment for widespread neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS) and traumatic brain injuries. 

Based on their findings, researchers from the Australian public university successfully managed to create miniscule cannabinoid-containing capsules that, once consumed orally, were quickly absorbed by the body. 

Moreover, cannabis compounds managed to penetrate the brain faster in rodent models with neurological diseases, as opposed to the cannabinoids being administered in liquid form.

The study’s lead researcher, Associate Professor Ryu Takechi from the Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute (CHIRI) and the School of Population Health at Curtin University, noted that the use of CBD (cannabidiol) is emerging as a popular choice to relieve the symptoms of widespread neurological diseases.

“Cannabidiol is found in medicinal cannabis and is a popular natural remedy for people living with neurological and metabolic diseases. Due to limitations in absorption, we aimed to design and test a new drug delivery method,” explained Takechi.

CBD in novel microcapsule form proved most effective for absorption

Upon experimenting with a new capsulated form of CBD, Associate Professor Takechi and his researchers succeeded in improving cannabinoid brain delivery by 40 times in animal models. Moreover, they were victorious in maximizing the overall shelf-life of CBD through protecting it from light degradation and oxidation.

“Our team was able to significantly improve the absorption and brain delivery of cannabidiol by administering it in a novel microcapsule form, in combination with a naturally occurring bile acid,” said Takechi, who noted that the findings could prove useful in backing the clinical use of medical cannabis for neurological disorders.

Takechi went on to say that the study, for the first time, demonstrated how a bile acid actually can bolster the uptake and retention of CBD within the brain. This shows that bile acids may be effective options for amplifying oral cannabinoid delivery. 

According to the United Nations, neurological disorders affect almost one billion people. That’s equivalent to one in six of the global population. Some of the most commonly diagnosed neurological disorders are Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.

More research required to understand efficacy of orally-absorbed cannabis microcapsules

Although more research is required to understand just how successful orally-absorbed cannabis capsules might be when used in human studies, the findings of this study are promising. This was reaffirmed by the CEO of Zelira, Dr. Oludare Odumosu, who said he was thrilled with the results of his company’s collaboration with Takechi and the team. 

“The new encapsulation technology appears to significantly improve the efficiency with which cannabinoid-based drugs can be delivered into the brain,” said Dr. Oludare Odumosu, adding that, *This could lead to improvements in the effectiveness of cannabinoid therapies to treat neurological disorders while reducing cost and enhancing safety.”

All of the findings outlined in this report on oral medical cannabis absorption rate would not have been possible without help from CHIRI researchers. The team joined forces with investigative analysts from the Curtin Medical School and the School of Population Health, the University Newcastle and the University of Otago.

The full paper titled, “Sodium alginate microencapsulation improves the short-term oral bioavailability of cannabidiol when administered with deoxycholic acid,” can be found online. Click here to view the research article.