There is no doubt that CBD has quickly become one of the most talked about sectors of a burgeoning health and wellness industry. There is a multitude of reasons as to why this is the case, as we will look to cover in this article.
This sharp rise in interest has inevitably led to a rampant innovation amongst CBD manufacturers across the globe. This has led to a proliferation of many different delivery methods that include CBD patches, sublingual dissolvable CBD wafers and CBD vape oils.
This article however will compare the two most traditional and popular delivery methods – CBD capsules and CBD oil. First, let us reaffirm exactly what CBD is.
What is CBD?
The cannabis plant has an extremely complex molecular composition. We still know very little about the 100+ cannabinoids that make this up, but there are two in particular that we know more about than others. These are THC and CBD.
THC is the dominant psychoactive compound of cannabis. This is responsible for the ‘high’ often associated with smoking the plant in popular culture. CBD on the other hand, is a non-psychoactive compound. This means that it will not get the user high, but also retains many of the useful health benefits possessed by the cannabis plant. There are three main types of CBD.
- CBD Isolate – CBD Isolate is the purest form of CBD available. It contains no other terpenes, flavonoids or cannabinoids.
- Broad Spectrum CBD – Broad spectrum CBD contains a wide range of terpenes, flavonoids and cannabinoids that each contain their own health benefits. Crucially, broad spectrum does not contain THC.
- Full Spectrum CBD – Full spectrum also contains the same range of terpenes, flavonoids and cannabinoids as broad spectrum CBD but also contains trace elements of THC. The legal limit for THC is 0.2% in the UK and 0.3% in the US.
What is CBD Oil?
CBD oil is the original form of CBD. This is how CBD was first extracted in 1940 by American chemist Roger Adams. It is also by far and away the most popular CBD product available. A brief look at the number of searches per month on Google for various CBD search terms highlights this. 199,000 people search for ‘CBD oil’ in the UK every month, whereas the next most popular CBD search term is ‘CBD vape’ which is searched 12,000 times a month.
Typically, CBD oil is sold in a small glass bottle with a dropper attached to the lid. The dropper allows one to withdraw oil from the bottle and drop underneath the tongue. CBD is formulated with a carrier oil such as hemp seed oil or coconut oil. This serves to increase the bioavailability of the final product as well as improving the taste somewhat.
What are the benefits of CBD Oil?
There are a number of reasons as to why CBD oil is the most popular choice of CBD delivery method.
- High Sublingual Bioavailability – While our digestive system breaks down a great deal of CBD consumed, the area beneath the tongue is rich in capillaries. By holding the CBD oil under your tongue for 60-90 seconds it absorbs directly into your bloodstream, rather than through your digestive system.
- Product Variation – CBD oil comes in a wide range of flavours and strengths which means that it is easy for the user to find the correct product for them. Furthermore, you can often find varying formulations of CBD oil that use particular terpenes or cannabinoids (provided it is broad spectrum or full spectrum) to promote a particular feeling. For example, some CBD oils are formulated specifically for pain relief, or for promoting a healthy night of sleep.
- Versatile Consumption – Due to the presence of carrier oils, CBD oil is a versatile product. It can be added to drinks or food with ease, which can significantly improve the consumption experience.
- Agile dosing – While CBD capsules are produced using standardised dosing (for example, 10mg, 25mg, 50mg capsules), each drop of CBD oil is a far smaller amount. Dosing on an incremental level like this allows you to fine tune your dosing to the perfect amount for your needs.
- Vegan friendly – CBD oil is manufactured without animal products, making it a great choice for vegans.
What are the drawbacks of CBD oil?
As stated above, there are a range of advantages to choosing CBD oil as your desired delivery method. That said, no CBD product is perfect! We must now delve into the drawbacks associated with CBD oil.
- Dosing Difficulties – It can be hard to keep track of how much CBD you are actually taking when it comes to CBD oil. The user must be diligent in recording not only the percentage of CBD in the bottle, but also the number of drops they take and how much CBD is contained within each drop. Furthermore, the user must take CBD oil 3-4 times a day which can be inconvenient.
- Difficult Delivery – While over time the process becomes far easier, it can be a somewhat tricky skill for many first-time users to master. You will have to transfer the oil from the bottle to under your tongue in front of a mirror, in order to accurately gauge the number of drops.
- Lack of Discretion – Many people are still completely uneducated when it comes to CBD and too often associate it with the stereotypes portrayed in stoner films of years gone by. Consequently, users may seek discretion when taking CBD. It is safe to say that the act of consuming CBD oil is not the most discreet option.
- Can Make a Mess – Anyone who has spilled a bottle of CBD oil before will know that it creates an almighty mess which can be excruciating to clean. Those who live life on the go and regularly travel may want to avoid CBD oil for these reasons.
- Unpleasant Taste – Many CBD oils can have a particularly unpleasant, bitter taste to them. This often puts first-time users off. However, a workaround here is to just drop the oil into your food or drink and consume that way.
What are CBD Capsules?
CBD capsules are just like any other tablet you may consume for various health reasons. There are two main types of CBD capsules – a hard CBD tablet, or soft gel CBD capsules. Hard CBD tablets tend to use CBD isolate, which comes in a powder form and is then compressed. Soft gel CBD capsules on the other hand are formulated with a carrier oil such as hemp seed oil or MCT oil. Not only does this improve digestion, but it also adds volume to the capsule itself.
What are the benefits of CBD Capsules?
While CBD capsules are largely popular due to their convenience, there are a number of other reasons as to why they sell so well.
- Absence of Taste – As mentioned above, the taste of CBD is not a particularly pleasant one and is often cited as a reason for people ceasing CBD use. There are none of these problems with CBD capsules however, as you just place one in your mouth and swallow with water.
- Standardised Dosing – The dosing of CBD capsules could not be any more different than that of CBD oil. CBD capsules typically come in 10mg, 25mg and 50mg doses, meaning that it is incredibly easy to keep track of your consumption.
- Discreet Consumption – Unlike CBD oil, CBD capsules mean that you could be taking any form of health supplement and you are unlikely to receive any misguided inquisition from your peers.
- Safe for Travel – CBD capsules will come in a small tub, making them ideal for anyone who travels regularly. There are none of the spillage risks associated with CBD oil here!
What are the drawbacks of CBD Capsules?
While the advantages above are largely centred around the consumption and convenience of the product, the drawbacks tend to be related to how they work once in your body.
- Low Bioavailability – CBD capsules, or any ingestible CBD product for that matter, have a fairly low bioavailability as our digestive system breaks down 80-90% of CBD before it can reach our bloodstream.
- Difficult to Adjust Dose – While the standardised dosing provides a convenient and simple method through which to consume CBD, it can be difficult to alter. For example, if you had bought 60 50mg CBD capsules and you wanted to increase this slightly to 60mg, you would likely have to buy another pack of 10mg capsules in order to facilitate this.
- Often not Vegan-friendly – CBD capsules often have a shell surrounding them which is usually manufactured from gelatine. This makes them an unsuitable choice for vegans. That said, more and more vegan CBD capsules are cropping up in the CBD market, so there is always an option.
As identified in this article, there are many reasons for choosing either product and the choice is likely dependent on your lifestyle.
Those looking for a convenient, quick and easy method of consumption which is easy to trace and suitable for travelling will likely opt for CBD capsules. Those with a little more time on their hands and a keener interest in dosing, are more likely to go for CBD oil.
It is important to note that there is no ‘best’ CBD product on the market. Each option has its pros and cons and it’s about experimenting to find the best solution for you and your lifestyle.