CBD & Carrier Oils: Which to choose?Knowing what goes into the blend is a pretty good start when deciding on your preferred CBD oil. Not only are there many sub-par CBD oils on the market, the way your body processes CBD has a lot to do with the ingredients. So what is a carrier oil, and how does it influence your CBD usage? Read on to find out.
What is a CBD Carrier Oil?
Carrier oils or "Base oils" have been around for a long time. You may have heard of them from aromatherapy or massage botanicals (where the oil "carries" the essential oil to your skin). The method with CBD is relatively similar - the choice of carrier oil delivers the compound to your body. Only here, it applies to topical creams and the other absorption methods (buccal, sublingual, and digestion - more on those here).
Why do we need CBD carrier oils?
After extraction from the cannabis plant, the CBD compound is distilled into isolate, broad, or full-spectrum (depending on the level of filtration). In both instances, this compound needs to be diluted by a carrier oil for five main reasons.
1. Ease of Delivery
A carrier oil assists the body in processing the CBD you take. As CBD is lipophilic (science-speak for "loves fat"), it binds easily with fat molecules, which helps strengthen the substance's absorption by the body, and therefore increasing bioavailability (what's that? check out our article here).
2. Maintaining Freshness
Carrier oils are needed to ensure your CBD remains stable and potent for longer. For example, some vegetable oils quickly deteriorate, and the potency of the product is lost. However, as olive oil, coconut oil, and hemp seed oil all oxidise at a slower rate, they retain the freshness of the compounds within and increase the CBD's shelf life.
3. Diluting CBD
Following extraction, the CBD concentrate is exceptionally high. Still, your body doesn't require large amounts of CBD to see a result (in fact, higher concentrations can lead to adverse side effects!) In addition, diluting the compound makes it much easier to create a consistent dosage, helping you adjust to find a level that's right for you.
4. Providing taste
Once the CBD has been isolated from the plant, you're left with a rather bland product with no distinctive taste or smell. In the same way that we use specific cooking oils in the kitchen for particular tastes, carrier oils create more exciting flavour combinations. We go one step further and add additional mouth watering flavours!
5. Carrier oil nutritional Benefits - don't believe the hype?
Some types of oil may have nutritional health benefits; olive oil has gotten a lot of attention for its mood-improving, heart-happy health bonuses. That being said, it's pretty questionable whether three drops of CBD oil per day is enough to see any actual benefit on your health. Plus, olive oil isn't the best carrier for CBD, but more on this below.
What types of CBD carrier oil are there and what's best for me?
We know it might seem like quite a granular question, but it's one we get asked about regularly. Your decision should be down to how you use the product and your personal preferences. The essential thing is making informed choices about what you put in and on your body.
MCT Coconut oil: a great all-rounder.
Coconut oil is made by pressing the copra, or the kernel of coconuts. This oil is then processed in a method known as "fractionating", where larger fat molecules are removed, leaving smaller ones known as MCTs (or medium-chain triglycerides). These molecules are processed and absorbed by your body more quickly than larger fats, which boosts bioavailability.
Furthermore, the environmental impact of coconut oil is pretty low. Growing coconuts doesn't require pesticides or herbicides, and coconuts are harvested by hand instead of machines.
Hemp seed oil: not so bioavailable.
Hemp seed oil is often confused with CBD oil made from hemp leaves or flowers. However, there are no terpenes or cannabinoids in hemp seed oils.
Now, you might expect hemp seed oil to be the perfect carrier oil for CBD - it's found on the same plant, after all. Again, however, it comes back to the question of bioavailability. Because MCT oil has more saturated fat than hemp seed oil, it can carry more CBD molecules, thus delivering more cannabidiol to our body's cells for absorption.
Olive oil: Great for health, bad for bioavailability.
Olive oil is one of the earliest human cultivated fruits, and the health benefits of this "liquid gold" have been widely celebrated since the Romans. But, we're sad to say, olive oil isn't a great carrier for CBD.
Olive oil contains a high number of large monounsaturated fats and additional molecules. These are great for nutrition, but they slow the process of absorption and reduce the CBD's bioavailability. While olive oil is noted for its antioxidants, the viscous liquid can make it difficult to dose correctly.
Palm oil: Good for CBD, bad for the Environment.
Palm Oil is a vegetable oil that comes from the fruit of oil palm trees. Two types of oil can be produced; crude palm oil is made by pressing the fleshy fruit, and palm kernel oil comes from mashing the stone in the middle of the fruit. Just like coconut oil, palm oil can be fractionated to create an MCT oil.
You've probably heard of the bad reputation palm oil has for its environmental effects - namely, that acres of rainforest are being cut down to keep up with the massive demand for palm oil (palm oil is used in everything from pizza to toothpicks!). This contributes to the loss of habitats for vulnerable animals and accelerates climate change due to palm trees' valuable role in absorbing carbon dioxide.