Researchers Create CBD Plastic with Antioxidant Effects

Researchers Create CBD “Plastics” with Antioxidant Activities

Just when you thought all of CBD's medicinal properties have been discovered, a team of researchers have developed a CBD plastic that may further medical benefits in patients with specific health conditions.

Calvin Chan, Ph.D. January 25, 2023

Researchers from Purdue University and the University of Connecticut created a heat-moldable CBD-based bioplastic that could one day be used in medical implants, food wrappers, and more.

The study found that CBD-based bioplastics also provide antioxidant activities, unlike other conventional bioplastics such as PLLA which are made from corn and sugarcane. The research team believes this quality could make CBD bioplastics not only an environmentally sustainable option for medical materials but one that could offer patients additional health benefits.

The popularity of bioplastics due to their ability to be industrially composted has slowly led to the replacement of fossil fuel-based plastics in many single-use consumer goods, including utensils, bottles, and even medical devices such as facial fillers and implants.

“Demand for polymers derived from renewable resources has increased over the last few decades due to concerns over resource availability and an increased understanding of plastic pollution,” the study authors said.

Researchers Create CBD Plastic 2

Although the CBD-based bioplastic didn’t offer the same level of therapeutic value as other forms of CBD  – such as CBD oil – one of the study’s lead authors, Gregory Sotzing, says that future versions of the bioplastic could be engineered to provide more of CBD’s signature anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.


In creating the CBD-based bioplastic, the researchers reacted adipoyl chloride – a compound used to create nylon – with CBD. The resulting product could then be melted and stretched into various shapes as needed.


To assess safety, the team tried growing rabbit stem cells on plastic dishes created using the CBD-based product, PLLA, or a blend of both.

Regardless of the amount of CBD in the plastic, the researchers found no signs of toxicity and cells grown on either CBD or PLLA-based bioplastics showed similar metabolic activities.

But when antioxidant activity was compared, the CBD-based bioplastic performed statistically better than PLLA or the CBD- PLLA blend. A quality that the team believes could be further leveraged for medical use.

“Intrinsic antioxidant properties of the material make it specifically attractive for applications such as wound healing and tissue regeneration,” the study authors said.

However, the well-known anti-inflammatory properties of CBD seem to be lost in bioplastic form. When Sotzing’s team looked to see whether cells grown on the CBD-based plastic would produce less inflammatory proteins, they found no difference as compared to PLLA.

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The team suspects that it may be because the CBD molecules – when mixed into plastic – are not free to physically bind with receptors on the cell’s surface, a process that’s needed to stimulate an anti-inflammatory effect.

Sotzing says the goal of his new start-up company, Polycannabinoid Therapeutics Rx, is to continue engineering new versions of the plastic that would offer both the natural anti-oxidant activity of CBD along with anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.

As new improvements in CBD extraction and synthesis continually lower the production costs of pure CBD, the research team says, “the cost to produce [CBD-based plastics] at scale could soon rival that of PLLA.”

Meaning CBD-based bioplastics could soon begin to dominate the market. Especially as it can replace PLLA in a variety of biomedical materials, food storage items, and other products to provide an additional antioxidant activity without the use of additives.

Calvin Chan, Ph.D.

Calvin Chan is a researcher and medical writer from Edmonton, Canada. As a big science nerd, he loves reading and writing about everything science - from cannabis to dark matter and even alien life. Calvin has a PhD from the University of Alberta.