FAQ Series: What is the Best Carrier Oil for CBD?
Welcome to another edition of the FAQ Series where we expand on commonly asked CBD-related questions from our growing community. Right for the beginning we have been asked ‘What is the Best Carrier Oil for CBD?’.
A typical CBD oil is composed of two components. The CBD in question, which usually comes in one of three forms, isolate, broad-spectrum or full spectrum which is mixed with the second component, a carrier oil. As CBD is a fat-soluble molecule, rich oils are the ideal way to ‘carry’ CBD from the bottle and ultimately into your blood stream. There are a number of carrier oils available and, in theory, any consumable oil could be used as a carrier.
In reality, there are four primary oils that you can find in the CBD market allowing you to choose one which is right for you. At Dr. Ed® we exclusively use MCT oil (medium chain triglycerides) which we have discussed before. Although MCT produces objectively superior CBD absorption rates to other carrier oils, there are some situations where it is not the best choice i.e. if you are allergic to coconut (our MCT is coconut derived).
What is a Carrier Oil?
Carrier oils are also sometimes referred to as base oils and they are all naturally derived oil extracts coming from things like nuts, fruits and certain plants. While the growing CBD market has helped to popularise the term and demand for ‘carrier oils’, these oils have been used for decades in the aromatherapy industry where they are used to dilute and soften essential fragrance oils.
When it comes to CBD products, carrier oils do just as their name suggests – they ‘carry’ CBD. More specifically, they dilute CBD concentrates which are fat soluble and thus help to increase CBD absorption into the body. In other words, the increased the efficacy of the CBD which they carry. With tinctures or droppers, carrier oils can also be used to alter the taste or colour of the final product as these carriers make up the bulk of the total volume. If you have a 5% CBD oil, then 95% of the solution is a carrier oil. Some carrier oils are almost completely tasteless and clear, like MCT, others are darker and have their own distinct flavour profile like Hemp Seed Oil.
Why Do We Use Carrier Oils with CBD Products?
There are two main reasons carrier oils are necessary to use when creating CBD products and those are bioavailability and dosing.
As mentioned previously, CBD is a fat-soluble compound, meaning it ‘dissolves’ into fats and it more readily absorbed at biological surfaces when it is surround by fat. Thus, using a carrier oil increases the amount of CBD that is absorbed by your body, increasing the amount that reaches your blood stream thus increasing the efficacy of the product. You can consume as much CBD as you like but if your method has very low bioavailability, then it is practically worthless from a therapeutic standpoint.
The other main reason we use carrier oils is to dilute oils to make the volume larger which helps increase dosing accuracy. CBD isolate for example is a fine powder whereas distillates are thicker oils; both of which are not ideal for dosing calculations. By diluting CBD into a fixed volume of carrier oil at a fixed percentage it is easier to use and keep track of your CBD dosing.
The most popular carrier oils for CBD
The product label of your CBD oil will (and should) tell you the carrier oil that was used. Odds are the carrier is one of the four listed below although in theory any natural and edible oil can be used:
- Hemp seed Oil
- Avocado Oil
- MCT Oil
- Olive Oil
Each of these oils come with their own list of relative negatives and positives but all can be used appropriately as carrier oils for CBD products. Some like MCT are ideal as they interfere minimally with flavour and appearance whereas others like Hemp Seed Oil and Avocado Oil are used precisely because they change the flavour and appearance. Hemp Seed Oil, for example has a distinct nutty flavour which some people enjoy.
Hemp Seed Oil
Hemp Seed Oil is the oil pressed or extracted from hemp seeds. Aside from use as a carrier oil, hemp seed oil is used in some cosmetic/skin care products and is a popular salad dressing. Hemp Seed Oil contains absolutely no CBD yet is often sold on Amazon and eBay as a scam CBD oil which has led to great consumer confusion regarding Hemp Seed Oil.
Hemp Seed Oil comes from the same plant as CBD, hemp, which can lead people to wrongly believe they are similar. In reality, Hemp Seed Oil contains a range of healthy fats and antioxidants but no cannabinoids like CBD.
Refined Hemp Seed Oil has a golden hue so is often used by companies that want this end colour in the product. Due to the distinct flavouring, Hemp Seed Oil is not a great choice if you do not like nuts or are looking for a CBD oil with a specific flavouring added on top which will become masked.
Avocado Oil can be used as a carrier oil but it is fairly rare and mainly seen in the American market. This partly due to its high expense when compare to other carriers.
No ‘big name’ brands in the UK rely heavily on Avocado Oil in their oral CBD products but it remains a viable choice as it is high in fat, oleic acid, antioxidants and contains a wealth of vitamins. Due to this makeup and its higher viscosity, Avocado Oil is very popular in skin care products and CBD topical products.
MCT (Medium Chain Triglyceride) Oil
MCT Oil is one of the most popular choices for CBD product manufacturers in the UK and USA. MCT is almost entirely flavourless, has very high fat content and can be organically sourced from coconuts. This lack of flavour is particularly useful if a company intends to add floral components or other natural sources of flavouring as MCT will not interfere. MCTs are already well regarded in the health and wellness space as a stand-alone supplement and due to their small molecular size, can lead to superior CBD absorption rates in comparison to other carrier oils.
All of these incredible positives have led Dr. Ed® to only use MCT in our oral products. Although naturally sourced, the higher level of processing for MCT can also substantially increase the shelf life of your CBD oil.
World renowned for being one of the healthiest cooking and food oils around, olive oil has been studied extensively for possible contributions to good heart health and cholesterol, especially in Mediterranean populations where olive oil consumption is the highest in the world. Olive oil is rich in antioxidants and vitamins which may contribute to lower incidence of certain diseases in these populations including Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and Alzheimer’s.
While a fantastic oil in many respects, the larger fat molecules that comprise olive oil may ultimately reduce the amount of CBD that is absorbed in comparison to carrier oils like MCT.
What is the Best Carrier Oil?
There isn’t a single carrier oil that is considered to be the “best” for everyone much like CBD products themselves. Each different type of carrier oil has its own advantages, disadvantages as well as various health benefits of their own. If you are confused in anyway about carrier oils or are product you have seen online then please speak to us! This is a confusing market and we are here to help.
Reach out to us on web chat, social media or over email if you have any questions about our products, carrier oils or CBD in general.