What Is Liposomal CBD? Benefits, Uses, & Risks

illustration of liposomal on white background
Written by Livvy Ashton | Last updated: December 30, 2022

CBD’s versatility has made it one of the most sought-after health supplements these days. It can help with a wide range of health concerns, from anxiety to inflammation and pain to sleep deprivation, metabolic issues, autoimmune diseases, and more.

However, reaping these benefits can be difficult for the body due to CBD’s molecular structure, which is poorly absorbed by the body when swallowed — compared with other cannabinoids such as THC.

It’s no wonder that hemp companies have been trying to find a way to overcome the mechanisms that prevent CBD from developing its full potential.

Being one of the latest trends in the market, liposomal CBD improves the bioavailability of CBD by breaking it down into small particles that can be absorbed through the water. This way, the body is supposed to benefit from more CBD in the bloodstream after ingestion.

Today, we explore the benefits of liposomal CBD; we’ll cover the manufacturing process, potential benefits, risks, and how to get the most out of your liposomal product.

What Is Liposomal CBD?

Liposomes are extremely small molecules that surround a nutrient or medicine, improving its absorption into the body. According to the Greek etymology of liposomes, lipos means fat, and soma means body.

A liposome can be compared to a bubble that serves as the drug’s “packaging”. They’re typically made using ingredients known as phospholipids, which are the same type of molecules that make our bodies’ cell membranes. Phospholipids can sometimes improve the direct absorption of a drug or protect it from being broken down in the gastrointestinal tract.

Liposomes were first discovered in the 1960s and developed to improve the bioavailability of vital nutrients in the body (1). These compounds are both fat- and water-soluble, protecting the molecule inside the liposome against degradation. This way, the compound can safely arrive at its destination in significant amounts.

This delivery system has been studied for many decades as a way to improve the bioavailability of medications and control how much of the active ingredient gets into the bloodstream.

The liposomal technology has been carried over to CBD extracts. Similar to other compounds, it facilitates the transportation of CBD into the cells, tissues, and organ systems of the body, so that consumers can maximize the benefits of their supplementation.

What Is Bioavailability?

Bioavailability is a concept referring to the leftover amount of CBD that the body can use after metabolizing the compound in the digestive system. It helps a lot in understanding the benefits of liposomal delivery. Bioavailability is often presented as a percentage that measures the potential amount of a compound a living organism can use in relation to the total amount consumed.

Oral and sublingual formulations, such as CBD-infused oil and tincture, are very popular; however, their bioavailability ranges from 9% (oral products) to 35% (sublingual products). So, in the best-case scenario, you’re getting slightly above one-third of the ingested content (2).

Liposomal products are aimed at helping CBD bypass the digestive system, where the bioactive molecules of CBD are broken down or rejected by the body. According to a recent pilot study from the Americal Journal of Endocannabinoid Medicine, liposomal CBD was detected in the blood of all 15 patients who took it after an hour. In contrast, regular CBD was found only in 40% of the subject after the same time (3).

What Are the Benefits of Liposomal CBD?

The most obvious advantage of liposomal CBD is its higher bioavailability. Such products are usually intended for oral use, although some companies use this technology in topical products too. When the body has fuller access to the cannabinoid content of your product, its potential benefits are magnified.

To put it simply, you can achieve the same potential health benefits with lower doses of liposomal products than you would with a non-liposomal formulation. Liposomal CBD is more potent and lasts longer — the doses of liposomal CBD are more cost-effective than the doses of non-liposomal products.

Is Liposomal CBD Better Than Other Types of CBD?

Despite offering higher bioavailability compared with naked CBD oil — which was proven in clinical studies — liposomal CBD may not be necessarily better than other forms of CBD. It all boils down to your goals with this cannabinoid.

Liposomal CBD could be priced higher than regular CBD products. For example, 50 mg of regular CBD may be just as effective as 20 mg of liposomal CBD, but the liposomal version might be more expensive and thus not better.

In a 2020 study, dogs treated with 20 mg of liposomal CBD demonstrated the same results as dogs who took 50 mg of non-liposomal CBD (4). Therefore, if you only want to use a minimal amount of CBD for your situation, liposomal CBD can prove cost-effective. Otherwise, non-liposomal products have the upper hand unless liposomal formulations become more accessible.

The systems in which CBD is delivered are getting more sophisticated every year. Traditional products, such as oils, gummies, or capsules, are now being clashed with other technologies, such as CBD nanoemulsions.

Nanoemulsions are microscopic molecules that are even smaller than liposomes, theoretically translating into higher absorption because there’s a larger surface area engaging with the body’s tissues and enzymes,

Nano CBD products are manufactured to improve the bioavailability of lipophilic compounds such as Cannabidiol (CBD). While the market of nanoemulsions is still in its infancy, studies suggest that nano-emulsified CBD may be the best form when it comes to bioavailability.

Is Liposomal CBD Safe?

CBD itself is a safe and well-tolerated compound, even when consumed in doses such as 1,500 mg daily for several weeks. However, liposomal CBD involves very sophisticated chemistry and physics, which is best performed by trained medical chemists and pharmacists — not your average hemp manufacturer.

While the liposomal delivery system could be harmless in one product, it could be toxic in another situation. Any novel formula, including liposomal CBD, should be studied for safety and efficacy before it makes it to the stores’ shelves. The risk could be small, but it’s not a risk you’d be willing to take.

Here’s what you should watch out for when buying liposomal CBD.

Potential Risks of Liposomal CBD

With all that said, one would assume that liposomal CBD products are completely risk-free — but that isn’t the case. Here are the potential risks of consuming liposomal CBD.

Taking Whole-Plant Liposomal CBD

Even though liposomal CBD offers higher bioavailability than regular CBD, it will still need to bind its particles to a lipoprotein to be properly transferred to your bloodstream. This means that a large part of liposomal CBD will be broken down in the liver by CYP450 enzymes before it can start interacting with your endocannabinoid system.

Furthermore, consuming whole-plant liposomal CBD entails some major health risks, which is why liposomal and nano-emulsified CBD is banned in some places. When you consume a whole-plant extract at a nano level, any pesticides, heavy metals, or other toxins will also transform into nanoparticles, making it easier for the hazardous substances to enter the bloodstream. And you certainly don’t want such substances in your body.

Limitations of Pure Liposomal CBD

Of course, one would argue that you can avoid consuming pesticides and heavy metals by taking pure liposomal CBD instead of a whole-plant extract. However, the idea behind liposomal CBD is to leverage the entourage effect by using all beneficial compounds from hemp in a highly bioavailable form.

When you take CBD isolate, there are no other ingredients to support its therapeutic effects and mitigate potential side effects. CBD isolates are less predictable to dose when it comes to gauging specific effects; it’s also not as effective as full-spectrum CBD due to the lack of the aforementioned synergy between CBD, other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.

Not to mention that some countries, especially in Europe, consider CBD a novel food; therefore such products cannot enter the market without proper licenses — limiting the availability of liposomal CBD.

Does Adding Lecithin to Liposomal CBD Make Sense?

Recently, there’s been an increase in CBD oils being combined with lecithin. This substance is a natural emulsifier — it helps bind fats to water — and occurs in eggs, soy, and sunflower seeds. For that reason, people use lecithin to make mayonnaise and other sauces that would otherwise delaminate.

However, adding lecithin to CBD oils to improve their bioavailability makes little to no sense. First of all, the binding of CBD with lecithin is a complicated process. Moreover, the water solubility of lecithin at room temperature is insufficient to produce satisfying results. Besides, lecithin’s binding power is stronger than the one of the body’s own lipoprotein.

This means that lecithin ensures that fats are strongly bound, which is great for the natural reduction of cholesterol. Considering that cannabinoids are also stored in fats, lecithin helps remove ‘stored’ CBD from the body at a faster pace. So, if you use CBD to level your endocannabinoid deficiencies, using a product with lecithin means that you may be flushing the CBD out of your body instead of storing it for longer.

To put it in a simple manner — lecithin helps you piss away CBD. So adding lecithin to liposomal CBD doesn’t make sense.

Final Thoughts on Liposomal CBD

If you feel like you could get more from your current CBD oil, maybe it’s time to switch the delivery method from the traditional one to the liposomal system. Liposomal CBD improves the bioavailability of CBD by helping it bind to lipids more efficiently. As a result, a little can go a long way, especially if you don’t use hefty doses of CBD.

However, liposomal CBD products are more expensive than traditional formats, so they might not be as cost-effective as they seem to be in the long run. There are also many companies that make liposomal CBD but don’t have the right technology and qualified staff to conduct the extraction properly — leading to sub-par or downright dangerous products.

When it comes to liposomal CBD, purity is paramount if you want to get the most out of your supplementation. Just as CBD can be broken down into smaller particles and delivered more efficiently in its liposomal “shell,” the same goes for other compounds in your extracts, including pesticides and heavy metals that can be found in hemp that has been grown in contaminated soil and with synthetic additives.

Did you try liposomal CBD? Does it really work better than traditional CBD products? Let us know by leaving a comment!


  1. Wagner, A., & Vorauer-Uhl, K. (2011). Liposome technology for industrial purposes. Journal of drug delivery, 2011, 591325. [1]
  2. Cherniakov, Irina & Izgelov, Dvora & Domb, Abraham & Hoffman, Amnon. (2017). The effect of Pro NanoLipospheres (PNL) formulation containing natural absorption enhancers on the oral bioavailability of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) in a rat model. European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 109. 10.1016/j.ejps.2017.07.003. [2]
  3. Emek, B. (2020). Liposomal Cannabidiol Delivery: A Pilot Study. American Journal of Endocannabinoid Medicine, 2(1).
  4. Verrico, C. D., Wesson, S., Konduri, V., Hofferek, C. J., Vazquez-Perez, J., Blair, E., Dunner, K., Jr, Salimpour, P., Decker, W. K., & Halpert, M. M. (2020). A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of daily cannabidiol for the treatment of canine osteoarthritis pain. Pain, 161(9), 2191–2202. [3]

Livvy is a registered nurse (RN) and board-certified nurse midwife (CNM) in the state of New Jersey. After giving birth to her newborn daughter, Livvy stepped down from her full-time position at the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey. This gave her the opportunity to spend more time writing articles on all topics related to pregnancy and prenatal care.