When it comes to CBD carrier oils, there are several you’re likely to encounter on CBD oil product labels: MCT oil, coconut oil, hemp seed oil, avocado oil, and … CBD oils can be made with MCT, hemp seed, avocado, olive oil, and more. What’s the difference? Does the carrier oil matter? We explore this topic in-depth.
What’s the Best Carrier Oil for CBD?
CBD (or cannabidiol) is one of the two main cannabinoids found in the cannabis sativa plant. People use it to reduce anxiety, improve sleep, provide relief from pain due to inflammation, and more. In its pure form, it is a potent crystalline powder. And as a full spectrum product, CBD is four times as effective as CBD in its isolated form. This potency can make CBD difficult to accurately dose in its natural state. This is where carrier oils come in.
Keep reading for the most popular CBD carrier oils, and learn which one we feel is the best carrier oil for CBD.
What Is a Carrier Oil?
A carrier oil — sometimes referred to as a base oil — is a plant-derived fatty oil that’s used to carry an essential oil or cannabinoid extract (such as CBD) and deliver it to your body’s tissues. If you use essential oils, you may be familiar with carrier oils, which are used to make them less irritating to the skin and digestive tract.
As mentioned above, CBD in its pure isolate form is difficult to dose due to its high potency. However, infused evenly within a carrier oil, the CBD can be consistently measured and dosed sublingually. Carrier oils are typically mild in taste and weight, making them excellent additions to both essential oils and pure CBD.
What helps CBD oil absorb better?
Sublingual application and letting the CBD absorb under your tongue (rather than swallowing it right away) preserves more of the CBD, allowing you to feel its effects more quickly.
But not all carrier oils are created equal. There are several different options, and each has its own benefits and drawbacks. Below we’ll talk about some of the most widely used CBD carrier oils.
What Carrier Oil Is Used for CBD?
Most Common Types of CBD Carrier Oils
When it comes to CBD carrier oils, there are several you’re likely to encounter when reading the ingredient lists of CBD oils: MCT oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, and hemp seed oil.
MCT is an abbreviation for medium-chain triglycerides, a type of fat that is more easily digested than LCT (long-chain triglycerides) and more easily absorbed than SCT (short-chain triglycerides). While it can also be obtained from palm kernel oil, coconut oil is the most common source. It is sometimes marketed as liquid coconut oil because it holds a liquid state. MCT is often considered a superior carrier oil to coconut oil due to its higher concentration of these medium-chain triglycerides — 100% versus only 54% in coconut oil.
As far as plant oils go, coconut oil is highly praised and may have the longest list of known beneficial uses. It is relatively high in MCTs with a 54% concentration, making it useful for fat burning (though not as effectively as pure MCT). It is well known for its antimicrobial properties and is often used topically for improved skin health, as it is easily absorbed by the skin. Though it typically holds a solid state at room temperature, coconut oil will begin to melt at around 78° F.
Avocado oil is high in antioxidants and vitamins A, B, D, and E. It is quickly absorbed by the skin and less likely to clog pores compared to many other oils, making it beneficial as a carrier oil for topical CBD applications. Unfortunately, avocado oil is significantly more expensive and much thicker than a lot of other carrier oils, which may be unpleasant to some. It’s also more likely to cause an allergic reaction in those with certain allergies.
Olive oil is likely the carrier oil you’ve heard most about. It’s the most researched oil on our list and has become a staple in most kitchens, which is no surprise considering the long list of well-established health benefits olive oil boasts. High in antioxidants, iron, and vitamins E and K, olive oil is known to reduce inflammation and boost immunity. While the LCTs in olive oil are absorbed more slowly than MCT, it’s possible it may absorb more efficiently. However, olive oil has a lower solvency than most other carrier oils, meaning it won’t hold as much CBD.
Hemp Seed Oil
Hemp seed oil (HSO) is extracted from the seeds of the cannabis sativa plant, the same plant that produces hemp or marijuana. HSO is a healthy, plant-based fat, high in omegas 3 and 6 in the ideal ratio for human consumption. In addition to sublingual preparations, it’s useful for topical application as it absorbs well into the skin. Since it’s sourced from the same plant as CBD, using HSO as a carrier oil may encourage the “entourage effect” — which is to say, it may make the cannabinoids in the solution more effective than they would otherwise be on their own.
Additional Benefits of Hemp Seed Oil as a CBD Carrier Oil
- Quality hemp seed oil comes without the risk of heavy metal contamination, which is not always the case with fish oils.
- Did you know the saliva you produce when you consume cannabinoid oils is not just making it easier to swallow? It actually initiates sending messages to your body so it can prepare various receptors for the opportunity to react with and absorb the detected nutrients. When hemp seed oil (90%+ of the formulation) is carrying hemp extracts, there is no mistake that hemp is entering the system, allowing the body to properly prepare.
- While fat-burning properties are desired by many and may lead some to choose a product that uses a coconut or MCT oil carrier, it’s important to keep in mind the interaction between the body and cannabinoids. Cannabinoids (such as CBD) are fat-soluble phytonutrients and need to be combined with a fat to facilitate absorption. The body’s ability to retain fat will influence the longevity of the effects from each dosage. If the fat is being burned quickly, your cannabinoid dosage is as well.
- The Comedogenic Scale is used in cosmetics to rank ingredients based on their likelihood to clog pores. Hemp seed oil was ranked 0, indicating that it “won’t clog pores at all,” making it a wonderful topical application for all skin and skin types, and for the face and other sensitive areas.
- Beyond its special properties when used for cannabinoid consumption, hemp seed oil offers many other health benefits, including improved skin health, heart health, women’s health; reduction of internal and external inflammation; better mood and brain function; and more.
The NuLeaf Naturals Difference
Wherever possible, we choose hemp-based ingredients due to their higher quality and low risk for allergens, as well as the synergistic benefits that come from combining hemp-based products. They also allow for the most natural connection to the body’s endocannabinoid system. Our CBD oil consists of only two ingredients, full spectrum hemp extract and USDA certified organic virgin hemp seed oil.
Ready to try NuLeaf Naturals CBD oil? Shop our cannabinoid products now.
Do you have questions about our products, or are you wondering which one is right for you?
Our Expert Team is here to help via phone, email, or online chat:
Telephone: +1 (720) 372-4842
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Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us Monday through Friday between 9am and 5pm MT.
What’s in Your CBD Oil? Why Carrier Oil Matters
CBD oils can be made with MCT, hemp seed, avocado, olive oil, and more. What’s the difference? Does the carrier oil matter? We explore this topic in-depth.
If you look at the label of your CBD oil, you’ll see that it contains more than just hemp extract.
As the name suggests, CBD oils also include an oil — which is usually some form of vegetable oil or vegetable glycerine.
These oils serve an important purpose — to help deliver the active component — in our case, CBD — to the body.
There are many different carrier oils used in CBD products — coconut, MCT, palm, olive, avocado, hemp seed, sesame, and grape seed oil — each with their own set of positives and negatives.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about carrier oil selection. We cover MCT, olive, hemp seed, grape seed, and glycerine — including the pros and cons of each.
So let’s get started.
Table of Contents
- 1. Medium-Chain Triglyceride (MCT) Oil
- Pros & Cons of Hemp Seed Oil
- Pros & Cons of Grape Seed Oil
What is a Carrier Oil?
As the name implies, a “carrier oil” carries the CBD and other phytochemicals. It’s a simple solution. The carrier oil acts as a solvent to dissolve the compounds of the hemp plant to make them easier to use.
This concept isn’t unique to CBD products. The same concept applies when making Kool-aid by dissolving the flavored powder into water, or when making soapy water to wash the dishes.
The only difference here is that a fat is used instead of water. This is because cannabinoids are soluble in oils and fats instead of water.
What Are the Benefits of Adding Carrier Oils to CBD?
There are three main reasons carrier oils are used. Let’s cover each one in more detail.
1. Carrier Oils Enhance CBD Absorption
One of the main reasons CBD oil manufacturers dilute hemp extracts like CBD in a carrier oil is to improve absorption in the gut. This works because CBD is a fat-soluble substance.
This is important because the body has two separate pathways for absorbing compounds into the body — a water-soluble pathway and a fat-soluble pathway. This all happens at the working unit of the intestinal tract known as the microvilli (pictured below).
Water-soluble compounds like most amino acids, sugars, and minerals can travel directly through the gut lining into the water-based blood. From here, they’re transported around the body. In the diagram above, water-soluble substances enter the red portion under the surface (the blood).
Fat-soluble substances on the other hand — like CBD — can’t go directly into the bloodstream. They first need to get packaged up into tiny droplets called micelles. These micelles then enter the fatty lymph tissue — a network of fat-based compounds and immune cells. They then travel up the body through the lymph, eventually entering the bloodstream directly above the heart. In the diagram above, the lymph is the green tubes (called lacteals). These lacteals carry the CBD (and other cannabinoids) to the lymphatic system.
Absorbing fats in this way requires a series of enzymes in the digestive tract to prepare the fat molecules for absorption by breaking them down and turning them into micelles. When we eat fats, taste receptors in our mouth send signals to the digestive tract to get these enzymes ready.
When we take CBD alongside other fats, it helps prime the body for this effect — signaling the rest of the body to prepare for fat absorption — which effectively increases the amount of CBD the body can absorb.
2. Carrier Oils Make Measuring Doses Easier
The difference between 5 mg and 50 mg of pure CBD crystals is minuscule — 50 mg of this highly-refined source of CBD is about the size of a match head.
Getting precise doses like 7.5 mg requires a precision scale and can’t be done accurately with the naked eye. We need special equipment for this, which simply isn’t realistic for most CBD users.
The solution is to first dilute the CBD crystals into a carrier oil at a predictable amount — such as 100 mg, 300 mg, 600 mg, or 1000 mg CBD per bottle like you’ll find listed on most CBD oils.
From here, the larger volume of the oil with CBD dissolved is much easier to measure. The same 50 mg dose can be measured by counting the drops of oil or measuring the fluid in a measuring spoon. It makes dosing CBD significantly more accurate and consistent.