Discovering the untapped potential of rare cannabinoids through advanced biology

Roy Lipski
4 min readAug 27, 2021

Fermented cannabinoids are a prime example of a biology-based innovation that provides rare ingredients with potential health and wellness benefits at scale and more sustainably

As cannabinoids start gaining mainstream ingredient status, the importance of further education and raising awareness of their potential benefits is increasing. Cannabinoids are a complex subject more often driven by ‘word-of-mouth’ rather than healthcare providers. Educating both consumers and healthcare providers should be considered an important step to drive the message that pure and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-free cannabinoids have the potential to change lives due to their health and wellness properties.

Being a panel member for Creovate, Creo’s first annual conference on the potential of cannabinoids, offered me an opportunity to listen to the panel of experts in health and wellness discuss the importance and potential of cannabinoids. The world is changing as consumers and patients are becoming increasingly keen on improving their understanding of these ingredients: How are they sourced? What is the process that transforms them into products? Are there studies to demonstrate safety and efficacy? The evolving behavior of the consumers provides an opportunity to further educate them on the benefits of cannabinoids and also highlight that sourcing these ingredients through fermentation produces toxin-free ingredients and is better for the environment when compared with traditional plant extraction approaches.

A key driver of the growth of the cannabinoids market is that these ingredients are being used in several different applications, from cosmetics to nutraceuticals. Growing evidence highlights a myriad potential health and wellness benefits of rare cannabinoids, which can now be produced at scale using the sustainable process of fermentation.

Each cannabinoid has distinctly different properties

Nature is indeed a source of infinite creation, and fermentation is now allowing us to produce rare cannabinoid ingredients in larger quantities than has previously been possible, enabling us to deploy their potential in health and wellbeing products. Studies on cannabidiol (CBD) have been widely discussed, but with time, research is emerging on the effectiveness of other cannabinoids and it’s becoming evident that each ingredient is associated with specific properties. For example, the antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties of cannabigerol (CBG) makes it particularly valuable for use in skin care applications. Furthermore, cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), which is the acidic cannabinoid form of CBG, potentially demonstrates a better absorption rate than its neutral counterpart. Acidic cannabinoids are even rarer ingredients that are hard to extract from the plant as they are easily transformed into the non-acidic forms. CBGA has the potential to become the building block for producing other cannabinoids with a huge potential for use in cosmetics.

Fermentation gives us the opportunity to produce these acidic cannabinoids as well as their non-acidic forms at scale, consistently and free from toxins. Interestingly, the example of retinoic acid and retinol (retinoids) was highlighted by Dr. Liliana George at Creovate. Retinoids were studied to treat acne initially and their use in anti-aging treatments was pioneered in the 1980s. Since then, retinol has been revisited several times in skin rejuvenation formulations highlighting that continual research can uncover unexpected potential of natural ingredients. Retinoids, although known for a long time, are still considered a ‘star ingredient’ and I believe that CBGA also has the potential to become a star ingredient for skincare formulations.

Use of ‘domesticated microbes’

Microbial domestication is common in our daily lives, with products such as bread, cheese, beer, wine, and spirits being produced in this way. Advancements in biotechnology provide an opportunity to use domesticated microbes to produce pure, THC-free rare cannabinoid ingredients through fermentation. The final cannabinoid ingredients are free from contamination including any genetically modified organisms.

What are the next steps?

Creovate offered a unique opportunity to talk about ingredients that have a huge potential to positively impact health and wellness. The event allowed me to provide my insights on the potential and understanding of the cannabinoids market and to listen to the views of thought leaders in the industry. It was encouraging to hear that these experts are as excited as I am by the potential of a controlled sourcing platform to produce rare, THC-free cannabinoids which could change the landscape of skincare, and potentially have other health and wellness applications.

I firmly believe we are at the cusp of an innovation boom centered on cannabinoids. Functional and sustainable cannabinoid ingredients made widely available through fermentation and backed by a growing body of research, are set to change the consumer market and benefit every home across the globe.

As always, we should welcome questions and concerns to push the science to provide answers, but let’s not forget that cannabinoids are so popular already because people find they work for them and so pass this on by ‘word-of-mouth’. Further education on these ingredients will also help remove any remaining stigmatization resulting from association with marijuana.

Is this the century of biology? YES, and the adoption of cannabinoids produced by fermentation is a prime example of the benefits advanced biology can bring, not only to consumers everywhere but also to the environment.