Lecithin is a food additive that comes from several sources, including sunflower seeds, eggs, soybeans, and avocados. It’s also a popular dietary supplement and has become somewhat of a buzzword in the cannabis edibles world lately.
The compound acts as a binding agent that ensures ingredients stay “glued” together and can, therefore, significantly improve the structure of your edibles. Additionally, it’s widely believed that lecithin can enhance the potency of edibles.
In this article, we will explain what lecithin is and what it does, which should give you insight into why it’s become so popular in the edibles space.
What Is Lecithin?
Lecithin is a phospholipid that is found in many plant and animal sources. It’s made up of fatty acids and is known to have several commercial and medicinal benefits. The substance has both water-soluble and oil-soluble parts, making it an excellent emulsifier. This means that it allows certain ingredients that would otherwise repel each other to bind and stick together.
Water and oil are two opposing ingredients that will never naturally combine without the use of an emulsifier.
Water and oil are two opposing ingredients that will never naturally combine without the use of an emulsifier. Over time, they will naturally separate, leaving a layer of water and a layer of oil. Lecithin helps counteract that effect and allows these two ingredients to bind, creating a well-formed cake, for example, instead of it crumbling all over the place. Basically, lecithin helps oil-based ingredients interact with and stabilize water-based ingredients.
As a result, lecithin is a common additive used in the food industry, especially for things like chocolate, ice cream, cakes, cooking oil, salad dressing, processed cheeses, and sweets.
Aside from the role it plays in cooking and food products, lecithin also holds a key role in the body and makes up parts of cell membranes. It provides elasticity to these cells and protects them from the destructive effects of free radicals. Lecithin supplements are sometimes used to help with liver and gallbladder disease, to aid digestion, lower cholesterol levels, relieve dry skin, and more.
Why Use Lecithin in Cannabis Edibles?
Lecithin is a commonly used binder when baking cannabis edibles. It can significantly enhance the structural integrity of your tasty treats and seems to help cannabinoids attach to fatty molecules.
Imagine opening up an edible only to have it crumble in your hands. That’s what would happen if an emulsifying agent like lecithin wasn’t used. The lecithin helps ensure that oil-soluble ingredients, like cannabutter, bind to water-soluble ingredients, like sugar and cacao. In other words, it helps all the ingredients stick together, ensuring that you end up with a consistent, smooth, well-formed, quality edible.
Another reason to use lecithin in cannabis edibles is that it could improve the shelf life and avoid degradation by eliminating the separation of waters and fats. Plus, the binding action may reduce the risk of mold forming.
Lastly, is what many would consider the most exciting attribute of lecithin – it could increase the bioavailability of edibles, therefore, making them feel more potent. However, while many sources claim that lecithin makes cannabis edibles more potent, this isn’t entirely true.
Lecithin increases the absorption of cannabinoids into your cell membranes, speeding up the absorption process when added to cannabis-infused ingredients, like cannabutter. Ultimately, it won’t make your cannabis more potent but may make it faster acting. For instance, a 50mg dose will still be a 50mg dose, but the effects will come on quicker and may feel stronger.
Additionally, research suggests that lecithin helps “smooth out” fatty compounds, therefore making it easier for our livers to process. Increased absorption means that less THC and CBD is wasted by the body because it’s easier to digest the bound ingredients. This may result in an enhanced experience and higher therapeutic efficacy.
How to Incorporate Lecithin into Cannabis Edibles
Now that you know what lecithin is and what it does, it’s time to get baking. Fortunately, adding lecithin to your favorite cannabis recipe is pretty straightforward and easy to do.
A good rule of thumb is to use one teaspoon of lecithin for every one cup of liquid, i.e., milk, butter, coconut oil, etc. Be sure to dissolve the lecithin into the liquid ingredients, and then continue to follow the recipe as instructed. It’s that easy.
If the consistency is not up to standard once baked, you know that you should increase your lecithin dosage in the next batch. On the flip side, if the sunflower taste is too intense, use less lecithin next time. There are no official guidelines on how much lecithin to use. However, it’s generally recommended not to use more than a tablespoon per cup of oil.
Now is also a good time to mention that lecithin is available in powder, granulated, and liquid forms. Lecithin powders and granules are a dry, processed version of the compound and have been removed from other ingredients, like soy and eggs. Liquid lecithin is less processed and typically comes from sunflower and soy versions.
In most cases, the best form of lecithin to use in cannabis recipes will come down to personal choice. But one main reason people choose powder over liquid is that it has a lower fat content. Powders and granules typically contain less than 10% fat, while liquids contain between 20% – 30% fat – which could make them a good option for high-fat content recipes.
Another reason to choose powder over liquid, though, is that it’s a lot less messy and much easier to clean up.
What Is the Best Source of Lecithin for Cannabis Edibles?
Eggs are widely considered to be the best all-natural source of lecithin, which is why they are often used to make batters and sauces. However, there are many other sources of lecithin, including vegan-friendly options.
Generally, all forms of lecithin function in very much the same way and can be used interchangeably, depending on the recipe.
Many people stay away from soy lecithin because it is often genetically modified and highly processed.
However, not all lecithin is created equal, and some types are best to avoid. Many people stay away from soy lecithin because it is often genetically modified and highly processed. Moreover, it’s often extracted using potentially dangerous solvents that can be a risk to your health.
In general, sunflower lecithin is viewed as the most superior form. It comes from a minimally processed source – cold-pressed seeds – and is available in a finely ground powder that is easy to work with. You can also get sunflower lecithin in granular and liquid form.
Final Thoughts on Lecithin in Cannabis Edibles
Lecithin is an excellent way to create consistent, well-formed edibles and is also a great way to enhance the overall effects. There are several sources of lecithin, and it’s all about choosing the type that works best for you and your specific recipe. Generally, sunflower lecithin is seen as the healthiest and best option. But, ultimately, the choice comes down to personal preference.