Why is CBD oil made with coconut oil? Well, there are a few reasons. Here we explain why coconut oil is (usually) better than hemp seed oil. We formulate our tinctures with Kosher and organic vegetable glycerin from pygmy palm fruit, rather than coconut oil. Here are some of the reasons why.
CBD Carrier Oils: Coconut Oil vs. Hemp Seed Oil
If you’ve got a curious mind, as we do, you’ve likely wondered why we take CBD oil rather than just plain CBD by itself. If CBD is the only active therapeutic compound in a CBD product, why can’t we just swallow a spoonful of it and be done with it?
Well, the body doesn’t really work that way, unfortunately. In order to digest things properly and absorb minerals/nutrients for use, compounds must be broken down and absorbed through the intestinal wall.
While we can absorb CBD by itself, it is much more efficient (up to three times more efficient, in fact) when we ingest it along with a carrier oil. Since cannabinoids from the cannabis plant (like CBD and THC) are fat-soluble (meaning they dissolve in oil rather than water), infusing them in a saturated fat enhances their bioavailability drastically.
But why is CBD oil often made with coconut oil? We all know that hemp (where many CBD oils come from) produces a natural oil from its seeds, so why don’t we just use hemp seed oil instead? The answer comes down to lipids and how the human body absorbs them.
CBD + Coconut Oil = The Perfect Combination
Coconut oil is pretty much the perfect carrier oil for CBD because of its saturated fat content. The way that cannabinoids work molecularly is that the higher the lipid content of the oil they are in, the better and more efficiently they can absorb. Conveniently, coconut oil contains up to 90% saturated fat, as opposed to olive oil and hemp seed oil which only contain around 14% and 11% fat content, respectively.
These lipids come in forms of either medium-chained or long-chained triglycerides and the body transports each type differently through biochemical transporters. Medium-chain triglycerides absorb and break down quickly whereas long-chained triglycerides require certain enzymes to help absorption and breakdown.
Since the saturated fat content of coconut oil largely comprises medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) instead of long-chain triglycerides (LGTs), you don’t need to be concerned about it clogging up your arteries.
In fact, coconut oil is one of the only natural oils that has a high content of MCTs. While these serve as an excellent energy source that is much easier to metabolize than complex carbohydrates or LCTs, they also act as an advantageous carrier for CBD.
Ultimately, the reason why most of the best CBD oils are made with coconut oil as opposed to hemp seed oil is because coconut oil has more saturated fat. Therefore, it can break down and carry more CBD molecules, and ultimately deliver more cannabidiol to our cells for absorption.
Without coconut oil, a large percentage of CBD molecules simply end up making their way to the liver, at which point they’d be treated as waste and simply excreted through urine. This is why you want to select a CBD tincture that uses coconut oil over olive oil or some other type of oil.
The Science Behind Coconut Oil and CBD
A few studies exist on why coconut oil acts as the molecular carrier of choice for CBD. While a lot of the scientific language can be pretty complex and confusing, what the research basically says is that when you ingest CBD in a high-fat oil (like coconut or pure MCT oil), you’re getting the maximum possible absorption.
Here’s how it works: lipids (the scientific word for fats) stick to the walls of whatever internal transport system they’re traveling through. Think about our blood vessels, for instance: you’ve heard of clogged arteries and plaque buildup that causes heart disease. Well, this is due in part to high amounts of bad fat in the system. These lipids stick to the artery walls and do not break down easily (metabolize), so they just sit there and accumulate.
Good saturated fats, on the other hand, actually absorb very quickly and easily directly through the intestinal wall. One type of good fat is medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), like those that occur naturally in coconut oil.
Since lipids can absorb directly through the intestinal walls instead of passing through the entire digestive system, a fat-containing substance like coconut oil can maximize the bioavailability of CBD. Scientifically, this is referred to as intestinal lymphatic transport.
Lymphatic transport is crucial when taking certain medications (CBD included). It means these medications avoid the liver breaking them down. If CBD enters the liver, it metabolizes it into smaller components. At this point, it becomes less efficacious in terms of its therapeutic or pain-relieving potential.
On a side note, this is also why liposomal transport is used to deliver certain medications. It allows them to pass directly into cells through the gut lining. Some companies are already experimenting with CBD liposome capsules for maximum absorption.
Final Thoughts on Why CBD Is Made with Coconut Oil
To be clear, not all CBD oils are made with coconut oil. There are plenty out there that are infused in olive oils or natural hemp seed oils, and they do indeed work just fine – depending on how their manufacturers extract and process them.
All fat-containing oils, like coconut oil, provide for the maximum absorption rate of CBD into the body’s cells, by allowing it to pass directly through the intestinal wall instead of entering into the liver.
As you’ll find if you end up using CBD frequently, many of the best CBD oils and tinctures are infused in a quality coconut oil or MCT oil. However, just like with anything else related to your health and body, we encourage you to work with a cannabis-knowledgeable physician or PCP before trying any type of cannabis or CBD product.
We Don’t Use MCT Oils Like Coconut Oil in Our Tinctures. Here’s One of the Reasons Why…
Our Tinctures are made with Organic Vegetable Glycerin and our organically-grown, Hemp-derived Full Spectrum CBD oil. And nothing Else!
I’ve written several journal articles on Imbue Botanicals’ Tinctures, and why we think they are so superior to other tinctures on the market. From the Glycerin Advantage to the fact we homogenize our tinctures, ours are formulated for maximum absorption and efficacy. And they work. That’s not just our opinion, but the opinion of you, our wonderful customers as well.
As you may recall, we formulate our tinctures with Kosher, organic vegetable glycerin from pygmy palm fruit. It tastes good and eliminates the need for added flavors, fillers or stabilizers. But more important, it enhances the performance. But it isn’t easy to do!
In fact, virtually all other companies use an MCT (medium chain triglycerides) oil like COCONUT OIL when formulating their tinctures. Why…because it’s easy to mix an oil with an oil! But it tastes pretty bad and requires all those other things like sweeteners, flavors, stabilizers and even fillers.
But that’s not the only reason we shy away from coconut oil. Frankly, I’ve never been convinced of the “health claims” made around the product, and now others are calling that into question as well. The article below is directly from CNN. And with all the questions it raises about Coconut oil, why would anyone want it in a CBD tincture that supposed to better your health.
Frankly, I have no idea. Happy Reading!
(CNN) — Cyanide is a poison. Rattlesnake venom is a poison. Certain household products can be a poison. But coconut oil? One professor seems to think so, colliding head-on with consumers who believe it’s good for them.
In her lecture at the University of Freiburg — entirely in German and posted in July — professor Karin Michels, of the university’s Institute for Prevention and Tumor Epidemiology, calls the health claims surrounding coconut oil “absolute nonsense” and says it’s “pure poison” for its saturated fat content and its threat to cardiovascular health. The video of her lecture has amassed close to a million views and counting. “Coconut oil is one of the worst things you can eat,” Michels said.
While others have taken a more measured view, they hardly buy into the ballyhoo. A 2016 survey in the New York Times suggested that 72% of Americans think coconut oil is healthy, versus only 37% of nutritionists polled.
“There are many claims being made about coconut oil being wonderful for lots of different things, but we really don’t have any evidence of long-term health benefits,” said Dr. Walter C. Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where Michels is also an adjunct professor.
“Coconut oil is somewhere in the middle of the spectrum in terms of types of fats. It’s probably better than partially hydrogenated oils, [which are] high in trans fats, but not as good as the more unsaturated plant oils that have proven health benefits, like olive and canola oil,” Willett previously told CNN.
Health organizations tend to discourage the use of coconut oil, which is more than 80% saturated fat. The American Heart Association says it’s better on your skin than in your food, and it recommends that no more than 5% or 6% of your daily calories come from saturated fats — about 13 grams per day. The association also advocates replacing coconut oil with “healthy fats” such as polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats, like those found in canola and olive oils, avocados and fatty fish.
Coconut oil is “probably not quite as ‘bad’ as butter but not as good as extra virgin olive oil,” Kevin Klatt, a molecular nutrition researcher at Cornell University who is studying the metabolic effects of coconut oil, previously told CNN.
Klatt cautions that we should not develop too strong of an opinion of it without more data. “But at the same time, you have to be evidence-based . and [currently], the evidence reflects benefits for olive oil, fish, nuts and seeds — so that should be the focus in the diet.”
Coconut oil is extracted from the meat of the fruit. It contains mostly saturated fat, which is also found in large quantities in butter and red meat. Like other saturated fats, coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol, commonly known as “bad” cholesterol, which has been associated with increased risk of heart disease.
But coconut oil also raises HDL, the “good” cholesterol, especially when replacing carbohydrates in the diet. This may be due to its high content of a fatty acid known as lauric acid. (This is also noted in Michel’s statement summarizing her talk.)
“Coconut oil is half lauric acid, which is a little bit unique,” Klatt said, as the acid seems to raise HDL more than other saturated fats and is rarely found in such high amounts in foods.
Still, though the increase in HDL seen with consumption of coconut oil may offset some of the disease risk, it’s still not as good as consuming unsaturated oils, which not only raise HDL but lower LDL, according to Willett.
Complicating matters is the fact that we still don’t know for sure what exactly a high HDL translates to in terms of health risk. “There’s been debate about the role of HDL,” Willett cautioned. “Partly because there are many forms of HDL which have different health consequences . which has made the water murky.”
For example, there are different forms of HDL that do different things. One role is to help take LDL cholesterol out of the bloodstream. “But some forms of HDL don’t do that,” Willett said, “so we don’t know for sure that higher HDL is better.”
While an elevated LDL level is used as a marker for predicting cardiovascular risk and doesn’t always translate to heart attacks, experts say it’s still cause for concern.
Research has found a mixed bag when it comes to saturated fats, and coconut oil in particular. A 2015 Cochrane review found that cutting back on saturated fats also lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease by 17% — but it didn’t change the risk of dying, and there was no benefit to replacing these fats with protein or starchy foods.
Other research specifically on coconut oil has explored its effects on metabolism, appetite and cognitive function — but “you can’t infer from . studies what coconut oil will and will not do. We need better controlled trials,” Klatt said. “Right now, the internet is jumping the gun and going way beyond the evidence.”
Like other oils, coconut oil is calorie-dense, which means consuming large amounts without reducing other calorie sources can lead to weight gain. Just one tablespoon has 120 calories, about the same as a large apple or four cups of air-popped popcorn.
“Oil is a really easy way to increase the energy density of a food. Things like almonds have a lot of fat, but it’s easier to overeat pure oil than overeat pure almonds,” Klatt said.
In small amounts, however, coconut oil can have a place in one’s diet. But for day-to-day use, experts recommend vegetable oils such as olive, canola or soybean oil, along with nuts and seeds, as a primary source of fats in the diet.
“It’s not that you have to absolutely avoid coconut oil, but rather limit coconut oil to where you really need that special flavor, like for Thai food or for baking a special dessert,” Willett said. Klatt agreed, saying that coconut oil “is certainly fine to consume occasionally, when a recipe calls for it.”
CNN’s Susan Scutti, Atika Shubert and Claudia Otto and nutritionist Lisa Drayer contributed to this report.