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CBD - The next aspirin and so much more!

Updated: Oct 1

"Nalu Bio is delivering on the promise of cannabinoids by design"

When you have a headache where do you turn? If you’re like 100 million people worldwide, you go to your medicine cabinet and grab a bottle of aspirin. But have you ever thought about the history behind those little white pills?


The evolution of aspirin: Aspirin is a plant-based substance originally sourced from the Willow Tree. Egyptian healers used willow bark for joint pain, then 10 centuries later, the Greek physician Hippocrates found that willow leaves cured pain throughout the body. In 1874, a chemist named Felix Hoffman produced an aspirin powder in the lab to ease his dad’s Rheumatoid Arthritis, and by 1915 Bayer was selling aspirin in those little white pills.


Sir John Vane, the Nobel Prize winning pharmacologist who helped us to understand how aspirin works said, “No other drug in the world has had such a fascinating and record-breaking history – a development that has not yet come to an end.”

What does Aspirin have to do with CBD? When people first started using aspirin, they knew it worked to ease their pain, but they didn't understand how the natural variations inherent to a plant-based source, as well as the proper dose and application, could impact the strength, safety and consistency of its therapeutic effects. Once pure and consistent aspirin was developed by Bayer, clinical studies could be conducted to understand its efficacy. Over time the clinical evidence for aspirin’s therapeutic benefit has grown, starting in pain and inflammation, and moving into stroke, heart attack, and more. The same is true of cannabinoids today - in fact, 1 in 7 US consumers are using plant-based CBD, principally as a pain reliever and to improve the quality of their sleep. This consumption takes many forms - they eat it, apply it to their skin, and even bathe in it. They give it to their families and even their pets. And while the anecdotal data is overwhelming to support CBD as a therapeutic for 100+ ailments - pain, inflammation, anxiety, depression, sleep, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, multiple sclerosis - a pure, consistent, scalable source doesn’t yet exist, and the scientific community is still looking for large clinical trials to validate its efficacy and safety in large numbers of people.

The perils of “all natural” therapeutics

Historically CBD has come from the hemp plant, but companies are also developing it from other living organisms. There are deterrents and challenges to both.

  • The plant approach: Aside from the problem that it takes 4-5 months, 20 lbs of CBD-yielding hemp, and 38,000 gallons of water per acre per day to produce just 1 kilogram of CBD, there is the tremendous problem of therapeutic inconsistency caused by variabilities in soil, seeds, and extraction process. If annual CBD usage becomes as prevalent as that of aspirin usage today, the plant approach would require 406,000,000 lbs of hemp grown on 580,000 acres, consuming 22,000,000,000 gallons of water per day to supply the market. So clearly plants don’t scale.

  • The living organism approach: Why not use fungi or bacteria? “Biosynthesis” enables the use of genetically modified (GMO) yeast and e-coli to produce CBD through fermentation. However, it does not resolve the issue of therapeutic inconsistency. The variability here is caused by these living organisms. It’s hard to control the fermentation process - how the organisms grow, extraction of CBD from the cells, eliminating the waste, and the amount of CBD these organisms produce from batch-to-batch. Plus the capital equipment costs to get a specialized fermentation facility up and running are significant. So clearly, biosynthesis is not the answer.

Nalu Bio is creating a new category of CBD through organic synthesis that will fuel an aspirin-like trajectory for CBD in the 21st Century: Nalu Bio’s proprietary organic synthesis methodology is a straightforward, lab-based approach that uses known chemistries and existing materials - like limonene that gives lemons their citrus aroma - to produce high-quality, low-cost, and therapeutically predictable cannabinoids each time, and every time. Manufacturing chemical products in the lab may not be new, but it’s new for cannabinoids, and will drive Nalu Bio’s development of a reliable synthetic source of CBD. This breakthrough will enable the clinical studies needed to unleash the full therapeutic potential of CBD.

Don’t miss next week’s article when we dive deeper into the comparisons of biosynthesis and organic synthesis.


Have questions or thoughts about this article? We’d love to hear from you, contact caitlyn@nalubio.com. If you’re interested in more articles like this one, join our newsletter.


Our commitment: Nalu Bio is taking CBD out of the realm of farmers and fermentors and into the laboratory, pursuing our commitment to develop safe, cost-effective, scalable CBD that’s backed by science.


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