With the amount of CBD products out on the market today, it can make it pretty difficult to choose a quality CBD oil. Even more confusion arises when you start to read the ingredients.
Coconut oil, hemp seed oil, sunflower, grape seed, and MCT oil are all common carrier oils you’ll see in these products… but what is the best carrier oil for CBD? Does it matter?
The answer might surprise you.
One thing we hear a lot of is that CBD oil should have only 2-3 ingredients, and nothing more. If there is anything else added, it is considered “junk” and full of “fillers”, and that any carrier oil besides hemp seed oil dilutes the final product, and is inferior.
Frustrating for more than a few reasons.
A carrier oil is exactly what the name implies. It is a fatty oil that “carries” another substance. CBD in the state after it has just been extracted wouldn’t be the ideal way to use it.
Dosing would be more difficult, and the carrier oils also help the CBD be more readily absorbed by your body. CBD is highly fat-soluble, and by placing it in a carrier oil with a high-fat content it increases the bioavailability rate. This is the rate that your body absorbs and utilizes the CBD you are ingesting.
The oils that are chosen most often for CBD are chosen for a reason. Each one contains different benefits, some being more effective than others. What it all comes down to is fat content. The higher the fat concentration of the oil, the better and more efficiently the CBD will dissolve.
What you are looking for in a CBD carrier oil is for it to be high in saturated fat, not monounsaturated fat.
Here is a list of some of the most common carrier oils for CBD, and the pros and cons of each.
Hemp Seed Oil
Hemp seed oil has a lot of really great things going for it. It is loaded with vitamins and nutrients, some of which are essential for good health. Considered a superfood, it contains fatty acids and is obtained by cold pressing the seeds of the hemp plant.
Hemp seed oil does not contain any CBD whatsoever.
Make sure to read the ingredients and labels very carefully when scouting out different CBD products, there are lots of companies out there trying to pass off hemp seed oil as CBD. Here are the differences between the two.
Cold-pressed, unrefined hemp seed oil can range from dark to clear light green. Generally, the darker the oil, the stronger the taste will be. Refined hemp seed oil is clear and colorless, and won’t have a lot of taste to it.
Some additional benefits to choosing a CBD oil with hemp seed oil as the carrier:
- Rich in Omega 3 and 6
- Reduces inflammation
- Reduces risk of heart disease
- MAY provide more of an “Entourage Effect” ***Note – This has not been proven***
- Anti-bacterial and antioxidant properties
Cons of using hemp seed oil as a carrier for CBD
- Saturated fat content of only 9-11%, pretty low in contrast with some of the other carrier oils available.
- Shorter shelf life than other oils
Overall, hemp seed oil is considered an average carrier oil for CBD. It is often mixed with another oil such as MCT to increase the bioavailability of the CBD.
Here’s another oil that is widely considered one of the most suitable carrier oils for CBD, yet for some reason, it got a bad name in the industry for awhile there.
MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides. These are medium length “chains” of fats(triglycerides) that are more easily absorbed due to their shorter length. The smaller the particle, the easier time it has entering the system, and the difference between MCTs and LCTs (large chain triglycerides) is huge.
The majority of MCT is obtained from coconuts, being that more than 50% of the fat in them comes from MCT’s. Another source of MCT is palm oil, though the sourcing of this is very destructive to the environment. If you choose to go with palm oil as your source of MCT, make sure it is ethically sourced.
MCT’s ability to be quickly absorbed is one of it’s biggest bonuses when it comes to taking CBD. Without a high absorption rate, the CBD you are ingesting is going to take a pass right on through your digestive system, without ever really entering your system at all.
How does this work?
MCT oil does not need stomach acid or bile salts to be broken down by the body, and instead fast tracks to the liver, where it is then processed like a carbohydrate and not a fat. This puts the MCT to use immediately, and when it comes to CBD, this is definitely something you want.
Traditionally when you take any supplement it travels through your stomach and intestines before reaching the liver, and all throughout that process, the active ingredient is being broken down.
This doesn’t happen with MCT.
MCT has been shown to be absorbed much more quickly than other fats and oils and some users report feeling the effects of CBD with an MCT carrier oil much faster than other carrier oils as a result of the higher absorption rate, though more research in this area is definitely needed. It also has a very long shelf life.
There are a number of other really awesome benefits to choosing CBD oil with MCT at the heart of it:
- MCT oil is around 80% saturated fat, making it ideal for carrying CBD
- Can aid with weight loss
- Supports healthy brain function
- Reduces bacterial growth
- Great energy source
The only real con to MCT oil is more of a nuisance than anything.
- May cause digestion issues such as diarrhea or upset stomach when you first start taking it. This generally subsides quickly as your body gets used to it, but it can be uncomfortable for the duration.
MCT oil is one of the best carrier oils for CBD, hands down.
Olive oil has a fairly light, fruity, unobtrusive taste to it. It is used in a wide variety of applications, mainly for cooking and salad dressings, marinades, stuff like that.
Olive oil is also generally thicker than other oil types and may become even more so at colder temperatures. It is also widely considered one of the healthiest fats you can consume, and comes with more than a few benefits to consuming it:
- Rich in antioxidants
- Helps protect against heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s
Cons of using olive oil as a carrier for CBD:
- The fat in olive oil is primarily from monounsaturated fat, in the form of oleic acid, and due to the larger molecules within has a more difficult time being absorbed by the body.
While olive oil can be considered for a CBD carrier oil, there are better options out there, but it does come with many additional benefits to consider.
Grape Seed Oil
Grape seed oil is made by pressing or crushing the seeds of grapes and has a stronger wine flavor to it. It is one of the least oily carriers on this list, which doesn’t make it the greatest carrier for oral CBD usage but is instead used in a lot of hair and skin products.
Some benefits of grape seed oil:
- High in omega 6 fatty acids
- Very high in vitamin E
Cons of using grape seed oil as a carrier for CBD:
- Aside from the omega-6 and vitamin E, grape seed oil offers little in the way of vitamins and nutrients
- Very low in saturated fat
Overall, grape seed oil does not make a good carrier oil for CBD, UNLESS it is being used in hair or skin products.
Avocado oil is made by pressing the fruit of the avocado, not the pit. It has a nutty flavor to it, is quite thick, and has a very slow drying time to it, making it very suitable for skin products. Due to its high smoke point, avocado oil is great for cooking or frying with.
Similar to olive oil, it is high in monounsaturated fats from oleic acid, and is absorbed in the same manner by the body. Some benefits of avocado oil:
- Can help lower cholesterol
- High in lutein, which can only be obtained through diet
- High in vitamins A, D, and E
Cons of avocado as a carrier:
- Saturated fat content of only around 12%
- More expensive than other oils
Avocado as a carrier oil is similar to olive oil, comes with some extra added benefits, but is more difficult for your body to absorb, leading to a lower bioavailability rate for the CBD.
Sunflower oil is pressed from the seeds of the sunflower plant and is primarily used in cooking applications and as an emollient. Light amber in color, it has a very mild flavor to it.
Sunflower oil comes with some pretty good benefits overall:
- Great for skin, containing vitamins E, A, C, and D
Cons to using it as a carrier for CBD is the low saturated fat content, 11%. While it may be good for topical applications, oral use of CBD needs a carrier with a higher fat content to be more effective.
So What Is The Best Carrier Oil For CBD?
MCT oil is the clear winner here, for the high saturated fat content, and the way the body absorbs it. Make sure you are reading the ingredients list carefully when you are choosing a CBD oil, and that you are getting one that gives your body the best chance at absorbing and retaining the CBD you are ingesting.
Closely following MCT oil would be hemp seed oil. This oil is highly regarded for the number of beneficial vitamins and nutrients it contains, but keep in mind that to be most effective as a carrier it should be mixed with another oil with a higher fat content, ideally MCT, to increase the bioavailability rate.
Many companies are doing just this and offering oils that contain both of these to give you the best of both worlds.