A CBD oil or tincture is one of the most popular products for delivering CBD into the body. At GreenBox, we get loads of questions about which oil is the best one to buy and why. We have compiled a list of CBD oil pros and cons to help you decide.
We need to start with the basics of a CBD tincture formulation. CBD is a fat-loving molecule, so this means it is not what is called water-soluble. Think of the classic example of mixing vegetable oil with water. The two fluids will not mix. Why is this a problem for CBD? Water-soluble molecules are absorbed much easier by the body and hence increase what is called the bioavailability of the molecule. This means much more of the molecule ends up in the body’s bloodstream, and for a super-hero molecule like CBD, the more the better.
Why a carrier oil?
So why a carrier oil? The oil acts as a solvent to dissolve compounds of the hemp plant (i.e., CBD) to make them easier to use. For CBD, it is standard for companies to use a Long-Chain Triglyceride (LCT) oil like olive oil or a Medium-Chain Triglyceride (MCT) like coconut oil. The carrier oil type has a major influence on the bioavailability of poor water-soluble molecules. The highest for oral administration is obtained by LCT, because the length of long-chain free fatty acids is much longer than in MCT, allowing for higher absorption by the body.
Are you still with us? Olive oil (LCT) is thought to be a tolerable carrier oil, as most people regularly ingest olive oil as part of their diet anyways. It has the added benefit of additional nutrients. However, there is a downside to using a nutrient rich carrier oil like olive oil. The large number of compounds in the oil leaves less room to dissolve CBD or other cannabinoids. It is why you will not see very high strength CBD tinctures using olive oil as a carrier oil.
The preferred carrier oil for high-end formulation is Hemp Seed Oil. On its own, the oil is already a popular health food supplement as is rich in Omega-3’s and Omega-6’s. It is more expensive than an MCT or LCT carrier option, which is why it only appears in premium oils.
Now that we have some of the formulation basics out of the way, let’s move onto the CBD oil pros and cons.
CBD Oil Pros and Cons
The Pros of using CBD oil
#1: It’s easy to integrate CBD oil into your lifestyle
We are big advocates of adding CBD into any health and wellness regime. The tincture format is designed to be taken daily and can go right into the medicine cabinet next to your favourite vial of Berocca. It can take 3-6 months of consistent CBD dosing to start seeing the positive benefits of CBD. A standard 600mg per 30ml of CBD oil should last half a month. This means you can give a few a try before deciding on which product or brand works best for you.
#2: CBD oil offers good value
You tend to get the most bang for your buck on CBD dosing with oils, as there are much higher strength options available. The highest strength oil we stock at GreenBox is 6,000mg per 30ml while the lowest is 600mg per 30ml. We often point out to customers, if you plan on making CBD a part of your regime, the higher strength products offer the better value. For example, if you were going to dose 50 mg per day, the 3,000mg format works out to ~£1.70 per dose and will last 60 doses (60 days). While the 250mg format works out to ~£3.40 dose and will last just five days!
#3: Broad-spectrum is an option
We have written extensively on the different types of CBD (broad vs. isolate). One of the paradoxes of CBD is the oil which looks the most yucky and earthy (full/broad spectrum) is the best for you due to all the extra plant-based goodies like terpenes, flavonoids etc. We recommend this as the best way to consume CBD, but some customers are understandably thrown off by the appearance, and taste. CBD isolates are completely clear and while absent the other plant-based constituents may help with people who have food intolerances. The best part about CBD oils is you can choose what you think works best for you.
Now for the Cons
#1 It’s not naturally water soluble
CBD is not water-soluble. So, this means even with adding a LCT carrier oil like olive oil, the bioavailability of CBD might be only 6-8% of the listed CBD. This seems like a big waste. The good news is there are technologies to make CBD water-soluble, and can increase the bioavailability up to 9x. Currently, there are not many products on the market but they are coming. Watch this space.
#2 Dosing can be tricky
Every oil comes with a dosing pipette and offers advice on the best number of drops under the tongue to achieve the required dosage. The problem is trying to count out nine drops under the tongue on a consistent basis is harder than you think. Plus, even measuring out accurate amounts in the pipette is problematic.
Additionally, if a CBD oil is only 6% bioavailable, how much should you dose? The UK Food Standards Agency recommends no more than 70mg per day, but the language around delivery method is murky. For example, if you take 20mg of CBD a day via oil, this will assume a dose of only ~1.2mg based on absorption rates. We much prefer the functional gummy method of delivery, which allows for an accurate dose every time, along with other important nutrients such as Zinc and your daily vitamins.
#3 Shelf Life can be short
CBD oils do degrade over time, so it is important to check the best before date on any CBD oil you purchase. It is also important to finish the product off in a relatively short period of time (i.e. a few months) once it is opened.
#4 Oils can get messy
This is an issue for broad spectrum oils, which can stain. We find the oil method of delivery can be a bit hit or miss depending on the pipette. An alternative is a capsule or gummies.
There are many ways for an individual to customize their CBD oil experience. Above are just some of the CBD oil pros and cons to help inform your decision. Please reach out to us if you have any questions at [email protected]. Here are our top three recommends for CBD oils across our portfolio.
Probably the #1 CBD brand in the UK, Love Hemp is a trust source of CBD products. They produce their products using Coconut Oil (MCT) as the main carrier of the CBD. In addition, Love Hemp also produce their CBD in convenient capsule format. That means no hempy aftertaste but also no carrier oil at all. You can buy Love Hemp in as high a strength as 6000mg, too.
This higher strength format headlines our value segment. Other ingredients added to the formulation help promote other wellness benefits. Vitality use Coconut Oil (MCT) as its carrier oil, and they use CBD isolate to keep the price point down, The MCT oil also helps support this high strength formulation.
This lower strength formulation uses Olive Oil (LCT) as its main carrier oil, which packs this formulation with additional plant-powered nutrients. Olive Oil digests easily and is appropriate for lower strength CBD formulations. It also tastes good!