What is MCT oil?
We are frequently asked what MCT is and why we use so have put together a quick read to clarify everything.
MCT stands for Medium Chain Triglyceride; triglycerides are a group of lipid (fat) molecules with two or three fatty acids. As can be guessed by their name, they have more fatty acid components than Short Chain Triglycerides and less than Long Chain Triglycerides. The term ‘triglyceride’ is just a scientific word for fats. They have two primary uses in our bodies; fuel and energy storage.
Aside from Cannabidiol itself, MCT is the most abundant ingredient in our CBD oils and acts as a carrier liquid for all the cannabinoids and terpenes in our products. You can see a typical example of an MCT below, depicting 3 fatty acids attached to a glycerol molecule.
MCTs can be extracted from the palm oil plant but we derive ours exclusively from coconuts due to the seriously damaging ecological effects of palm oil farming. There are 4 major forms of MCTs increasing in size:
- C6: Caproic acid or hexanoic acid
- C8: Caprylic acid or octanoic acid
- C10: Capric acid or decanoic acid
- C12: Lauric acid or dodecanoic acid
Why we use MCT
Arguably the most important reason we use MCT as a carrier liquid in all our oils. MCT is currently the best carrier liquid for CBD absorption and promotes better CBD absorption in the body in comparison to other fairly common carrier liquids like alcohol and other lipids including olive and sunflower oil. From a technical perspective, it’s very important that we maximise how much CBD you absorb so that waste is minimised as much as possible. Further innovation may identify a superior carrier liquid for oral cannabinoids but for now, MCT, remains the king which is why we use it in every one of our products.
First pass-metabolism is the process by which most pharmaceutical compounds as well as CBD are broken down in the liver. Much of the CBD you ingest can ultimately get broken down into waste products before it can have a beneficial effect. This is where MCT oil makes a difference. MCT oil increases absorption through the gut a greatly reducing the loss occurring through first pass-metabolism. In a nutshell, MCT oil helps you absorb more CBD, reducing waste and providing better therapeutic benefit.
This is a quick point but interesting none the less. MCTs are bland and don’t really taste of much so don’t give an unusual after taste. This is good in itself, but it also allows the natural citrus flavours of our terpenes to shine through in our oils.
Because of the shorter chain length of the fatty acids, MCTs are rapidly broken down and absorbed into the body and unlike longer-chain fatty acids, MCTs go straight to the liver where they can act as a more immediate fuel source. As the energy contained within MCTs is more readily usable compared to other forms of fat, MCTs are less likely to be stored as fat in the body.
On top of this, the liver can also rapidly break down MCTs into ketones which can cross the blood brain barrier to be sued as a fuel source by the brain. This is important as the brain is an incredibly glucose-hungry organ and prefers sugar over everything else BUT in times of low blood sugar can utilise ketones from MCT breakdown to survive.
There is some evidence that MCT, despite being a fat, may even protect against obesity and has been shown to increase circulating levels of two important hormones which induce satiety (the feeling of ‘fullness’), Peptide YY and Leptin. It is thought that increasing MCTs in the diet may increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation thus leading to gradual weight loss. Although we don’t use MCTs for these specific health benefits, they are worth bearing in mind and future research may more definitively answer if increased MCT in the diet is an effective means for weight loss.
As always be wary of claims from weak publications on the internet promoting MCT as a ‘wonder-fat’. MCT has been touted as a treatment for everything from Autism, Alzheimer’s and Epilepsy to Diabetes and Heart Disease. Now, these claims aren’t entirely made up but most of these conclusions are drawn or exaggerated from incredibly small, early trials in rodents or tiny human cohorts – most aren’t controlled properly and/or double blinded; things you should always look for in quality clinical trials.
The take home message is that MCTs are healthy fats that are the best carrier liquid for CBD.