When it comes to how you use CBD and incorporate it into your daily routine, there are a few things that can make a big difference. The way you want to take it, whether you have an aversion to certain kinds of flavours or product types as well as the spectrum of CBD you’re taking are all worth considering.
MCT vs Hemp
If you’re using tinctures or sprays, generally speaking they’ll either come in a hemp or MCT oil suspension. CBD is a fat soluble molecule, meaning your body can’t easily absorb it if you were to take in water for example. Oils are fats so act as a carrier to help you get the most from your tincture. There are a few differences between them:
- Hemp oil is derived from the hemp plant so has a naturally herbaceous and slightly “green” flavour. Depending on how it’s been refined, it can be quite strong for some people.
- MCT (“medium chain triglyceride”) on the other hand is a form of coconut oil that’s essentially flavourless. Like hemp oil, it’s still a fat so helps your body get the most CBD possible out of your dose. MCT tinctures can be a better option for those looking for a neutral flavour to make it easier to take their daily serving of CBD.
- The good part about hemp oil is it contains naturally occurring hemp terpenes, which have been attributed to contributing to the entourage effect⁽¹⁾. This means your CBD may be more effective in doing its job and work more effectively in supporting your cannabinoid system.
If you’ve tried a CBD tincture before and found the flavour too offputting, there are now plenty of alternatives for you. Aside from coming in an MCT oil base, brands like Love Hemp and Somnio now make flavoured CBD tinctures and sprays. Flavours range from orange to mint chocolate meaning there’s an option for even the pickiest palates.
Full spectrum, broad spectrum or isolate
Depending on where you are in the world, you’ll have two to three options when it comes to CBD products too. They refer to the variance of cannabinoids in your chosen product. The options are full spectrum, broad spectrum and isolate. Generally the first two of these options are only found in the tincture and edible categories.
- Full spectrum. Typically you’ll only find full spectrum tinctures in the United States as in some cases they can contain more than the legal amount of THC. These will contain all of the original cannabinoids and terpenes found in the hemp plant. They’re incredibly comprehensive and allow all the cannabinoids to work in conjunction with each other. Some people find full spectrum tinctures more effective when it comes to supporting normal body function to regulate things like stress levels, inflammation and pain.
- Broad spectrum. Very similar to full spectrum, broad spectrum will likely contain some THC but will be under the legal limit of 0.2% if sold in the UK. They’ll also contain all the other terpenes and cannabinoids like CBN and CBG which can boost the efficacy of your endocannabinoid system.
- CBD isolate. Isolate is more broadly available for a few reasons. It contains only the CBD cannabinoid, meaning it’s a clearer solution with a neutral flavour. This lends it well to being used in things like CBD vape liquids too. Generally speaking, tinctures made from MCT will often be paired with isolate over a broad spectrum base.
Vegan or not
With more people opting for a plant based diet, it’s becoming increasingly common for products to cater to this lifestyle and CBD is no exception. While you’ll need to check for things like beeswax in topicals and gelatin in capsules, there are vegan friendly options in every CBD product category these days. If you’re unsure of where to start, we’ve got an entire post dedicated to vegan CBD options.
Bioavailability differs across different product types
Depending on how strong a dose you’re taking, you may benefit from adjusting the type of product you use. With some products being more readily absorbed and in higher quantities, they can end up being more cost effective in the long run too. Regardless of how much you’ll get from your dose, you need to choose an option that’ll be easy, convenient and as enjoyable as possible for you. With CBD, consistency in taking is key, so pick one that you’ll be able to fit into your lifestyle with as little hassle as possible.
- Tinctures and drops, administered under the tongue. These methods are one of the most popular given their ease of use. With sublingual administration, you’ll absorb around 40% of your dose and it’ll spread through your bloodstream in around 20 minutes. If you took a 20mg dose, you’d essentially absorb approximately 8mg of it. Tinctures have the added bonus of coming in broad spectrum or isolate formulations too.
- Vaping CBD e-liquids, absorbed through your respiratory system. In the same way oxygen spreads through your body rapidly, CBD can follow the same path when you inhale it using a vape with CBD e-liquid. It’s the most effective way of taking CBD with up to 70% of your dose being utilised and will spread in as little as 30 seconds. In this instance, a 20mg dose would yield around 14mg. Generally speaking, CBD e-liquids will be made with isolate only though some may contain terpenes as well.
- Edibles like gummies, mints and capsules. These products are popular amongst people wanting a slower, more sustained dose as well as those who don’t want to vape or have the flavour of a tincture in their mouths. They’ll take up to an hour or two to be broken down by your body as they need to pass through your digestive system and you’ll absorb between 4% and 20% of the stated dose. So, for a 20mg dose you’ll absorb between 0.08 and 4mg. This is why you’ll often find that capsules typically come with a higher dose per serving (50mg for example). Mints and gummies are also commonly used for microdosing to sustain CBD levels in the body throughout the day and can be used in conjunction with other products.
Sources:Terpenes in Cannabis sativa – From plant genome to humans - sciencedirect.com
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