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Cannabinoid polymers shown to have antioxidant activity

New research shows how CBD can be utilised as a bioplastic for medical implants and more.



Cannabinoid polymers shown to have antioxidant activity
Home » Health » Cannabinoid polymers shown to have antioxidant activity

A research team has developed CBD-based bioplastic material that could one day be used in medical implants, food wrappers and more.

The research, reported in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, suggests that CBD could function as a bioplastic.

In hemp plants bred to contain little-to-no THC, CBD can make up to 20 per cent of the plant’s weight. Growing hemp is now federally legal in the United States, meaning the price of CBD has dropped dramatically, opening up the possibility of using CBD in other applications.

Read more: Study hopes to show cannabis would be ‘cost-effective’ on NHS

In recent years, the bioplastic called poly(lactic acid), or PLA, has become a popular option for sustainable plastics because it’s made from corn and sugarcane instead of fossil fuels, and can be industrially composted. 

Many single-use consumer goods, such as utensils and soda bottles, as well as medical devices, such as facial fillers and implants, now contain PLA. 

Cannabinoid polymers

Just as lactic acid is a good building block for PLA, CBD’s chemical structure also has the right stuff to be repeated as a polymer. 

Gregory Sotzing, Lakshmi Nair and colleagues wanted to see whether CBD could be used to make a new bioplastic.

To create cannabinoid polymers, the researchers performed a condensation reaction with adipoyl chloride — also used to create nylon — and either CBD or the closely-related cannabigerol (CBG), producing a polyester. 

Polymeric CBD had a broad melting temperature range and stretchability, and to show its ability to function as a plastic, the researchers formed it into a hemp leaf shape with a mold. 

As bioplastics are often used in medical contexts, they also investigated the polymers’ bioactive properties. The term found that neither CBD nor CBG polyesters was cytotoxic. 

Unlike the conventional bioplastic PLA, the CBD polyester actually had an antioxidant activity. 

Although the polymer version of CBD didn’t confer the same therapeutic effects as it does in oil form, Sotzing says that future versions of the plastic could be engineered to have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.

The research was carried out with funding from the National Institutes of Health.

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Stephanie is the editor of Cannabis Wealth and Psychedelic Health, writing about science, research, policy and industry developments in cannabis, CBD and psychedelics. In 2013 Stephanie gained her BA in English and Media, focusing on journalism and propaganda, where her magazine 'Game Theory' focused on developments and disruptors over the coming decade including cannabis, psychedelics, blockchain/crypto and free speech. In 2015 Stephanie received her National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) diploma whilst working as a reporter in North Wales. After working for a number of years as a local journalist, Stephanie became the editor of two publications covering health and wellness, including psychedelics and global developments in cannabis, before joining the team at Aspect publishing. Stephanie has a specialism in Medical Cannabis: The Health Effects of THC and CBD through the University of Colorado, and a certificate from the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society on "Medical Cannabis Explained". Contact:


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