Shopping for CBD oil?
You’d be forgiven for thinking the product you’re looking at is entirely derived from hemp, but that’s usually not true.
CBD is dissolved in so-called carrier oils, which help to deliver the cannabidiol to your body. Not all CBD consumers prioritise understanding the different carrier oils in CBD oil, but the differences become especially important if you suffer from food allergies or have specific dietary restrictions for medical reasons.
This guide explains what carrier oils are, and why they’re present in CBD oil. We’ll also look at the most common carrier oils in CBD products and arm you with shopping tips.
What Is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of over 120 different cannabinoids — extracts found in the Cannabis sativa plant. CBD is usually extracted from industrial hemp plants. These plants are naturally low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component in marijuana responsible for creating a high.
Authorised CBD products with a THC content of 0.02 per cent or less are legally available over the counter in the UK, and they have been exploding in popularity in recent years.
Three distinct types of CBD exist:
- Full-spectrum CBD products include a wide range of cannabinoids, including flavonoids, essential oils, and terpenes. They have a maximum THC content of 0.02 per cent.
- Broad-spectrum CBD products are refined further. They only have trace amounts of THC but include terpenes and flavonoids.
- CBD isolate products contain no cannabinoids other than CBD and are the purest form of cannabidiol.
Each of these types of CBD can be incorporated into exciting products like CBD gummies, capsules, or vape liquids — which feature numerous other ingredients. However, even CBD oils (which remain a popular staple) necessarily include carrier oils.
What Are Carrier Oils?
Holland & Barrett aptly describes carrier oils, which are also found in essential oils, as “the oil world’s delivery guy”. Active and potent components are dissolved in carrier oils for several reasons:
- Carrier oils can increase bioavailability — the speed at which a substance takes effect and the percentage of the original dose that makes it to the bloodstream.
- Carrier oils make easier dosing possible. CBD would be hard to handle in its pure form. Carrier oils allow for predictable dosing with a dropper.
- Carrier oils may have health benefits. Plant-based oils contain vitamins and other nutrients.
The carrier oils used in CBD oil are all widely-used oils known to be generally safe. People who are in good health and don’t have any food allergies or insensitivities are unlikely to have any problems with these carrier oils. However, CBD consumers who suffer from food allergies or have dietary restrictions should pay extra attention to the carrier oils used in CBD products.
A Look at the Most Common Carrier Oils in CBD Oil
Some CBD oil products contain just one carrier oil, while others include multiple different ones. Each CBD carrier oil has unique benefits and disadvantages.
1. MCT Oil
Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil is typically made from extra-virgin coconut oil. MCT oil is one of the most common carrier oils in CBD oil products because it is very shelf-stable, flavourless, and easy to work with. In addition, MCT oil aids absorption partly because of its saturated fat content.
It’s best not to use MCT oil in large doses, as it can cause diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and vomiting in this case. In small doses, this oil is safe for most people.
2. Hemp Seed Oil
Hemp seed oil is (as the name suggests) also derived from hemp, making it an obvious carrier oil choice for CBD products. Hemp seed oil is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are an important part of a healthy diet and offers plenty of antioxidants, too.
The main downside? CBD oil products that use hemp seed oil as a carrier oil tend to be more expensive.
3. Olive Oil
CBD oil may also incorporate olive oil as its carrier oil. Olive oil is packed full of nutrients and antioxidants and is an essential part of a Mediterranean diet — associated with excellent heart health. It is also absorbed quickly.
4. Avocado Oil
Avocado oil is a fat-soluble oil that’s especially rich in vitamins and antioxidants. While it’s an expensive choice, many people also think avocado oil has a wonderful flavour.
5. Canola Oil
Canola oil is another popular choice. Present in many food products, it has a low saturated fat content and contains omega-3 fatty acids. However, some health concerns have been raised about heating canola oil to high temperatures. That’s not particularly relevant to CBD oil. You can cook with CBD oil, but should not heat it anyway.
What Do You Need to Know About CBD Carrier Oils Before You Buy?
CBD consumers who are in good health and don’t have any food allergies may want to consider the carrier oil used in their chosen CBD oil primarily for flavour and cost reasons. However, if you suffer from any food allergies or have specific health conditions, it is always important to consult your GP before you make major dietary changes.
MCT oil is a popular carrier oil for CBD products because it aids in bioavailability. MCT oil has also been shown to be exceptionally stable — research suggests that there is no sign of free radical formation even after the oil is heated or aged. This may mean that CBD oil products where MCT oil is used as a carrier have a longer shelf life. (Despite that, it’s always a good idea to keep your CBD oil in a cool and dark space to keep it in good condition!)
CBD Oil and Carrier Oils: A Final Word
You don’t just buy CBD when you choose a CBD oil — carrier oils are used to dissolve cannabidiol and deliver it to your system.
MCT, hemp seed oil, olive oil, avocado oil, and canola oil are the most common carrier oils. Each has its own set of pros and cons. Those include taste, price, and distinct nutritional profiles. Carrier oils also help to deliver the CBD you take to its destination.
People with food allergies or specific medical conditions should always consult their GP before making major dietary changes.