If you’ve been looking into the huge range of CBD products out there, you may be wondering if there’s any difference between oils and capsules, or a pill vs. capsule. Sure, most of us are used to taking supplements in capsule form—but how do CBD capsules differ from oils? Is one better than the other?
Let’s discuss CBD oil vs capsules so that you can decide which suits you best.
CBD: what it is and how it works
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the main compounds present in the cannabis sativa plant. It’s a safe, non-addictive substance and its therapeutic benefits have been confirmed by scientists around the world.
CBD comprises more than a hundred “phytocannabinoids,” which are similar to the cannabinoids our own bodies produce. The CBD compound works by interacting with our endocannabinoid system (ECS), behaving like our own cannabinoids and encouraging our body to provide relief from pain, inflammation, anxiety, stress, and other complications. Our ECS plays an important role in regulating many of the processes that keep the body functioning every day: blood pressure, mood, energy production, immune function, glucose metabolism, appetite, pain management, and more.
Like most supplements in capsule form, CBD capsules are made using an extract from the hemp plant. This extract is then suspended in a gel capsule. The result looks like any other capsule you might take.
Benefits of CBD capsules
- Easy to take. Capsules are quick and easy to swallow. You’ve probably taken loads of different capsules or pills in your lifetime, and taking CBD capsules is no different!
- Measured dosages. Dosing with capsules is super easy. The product will contain all the information you need about the capsule contents, potency, and when to take it. Everything is measured out for you, which means no guesswork!
- Portable. If you travel a lot or you need a dose of CBD on the run, capsules are ideal. They’re easy to carry around and there’s no chance of spills or leakages.
- Discreet. Capsules are inconspicuous and odor-free. You can take them at work or in public and nobody will be able to tell the contents.
- Tasteless. Not everyone likes the taste of CBD oil, and CBD capsules are totally taste-free.
Drawbacks of CBD capsules
- Harder to source. Capsules aren’t as popular as oils, so they’re not as widely available. It can be difficult to find the right product.
- Lower potency. CBD capsules have a lower bioavailability than oils, and the dose is less potent. When CBD is swallowed, it has to pass through the digestive system and then be processed by the liver before being absorbed into the bloodstream. The enzymes in the liver reduce the concentration of the CBD compounds, so the absorption is much less efficient than sublingual methods.
- Longer to feel effects. Ingesting CBD via capsules or in food means it’ll take around 45 minutes to two hours to feel the effects.
CBD oil—also known as CBD tincture—is an extract of the hemp plant suspended in an inert carrier oil, such as coconut oil, MCT oil, or hemp seed oil. The oil is then bottled. CBD oils are available in a range of concentrations, depending on the quantity of extract used.
Benefits of CBD oil
- Easy to take. Most CBD oils are in a bottle with a dropper attached. You simply draw oil into the dropped, place a few drops beneath your tongue, and hold it there for 1–2 minutes.
- Versatile dosing. You can also add the oil to food or beverages. Keep in mind that this will affect the bioavailability of the oil as it will then have to bypass your digestive tract.
- High bioavailability. The cannabinoids are quickly absorbed into your bloodstream and you’ll begin to feel the effects within about 15 minutes. This is a much higher bioavailability than with CBD capsules.
Drawbacks of CBD oil
- Taste. CBD has a strong, distinctive taste that doesn’t appeal to everyone. It’s generally described as raw and grassy. Flavoring can be added, but flavored oils may be more difficult to source.
- Not so portable. A bottle of CBD oil isn’t so convenient to carry in your handbag or keep on your desk at work. There’s always the risk of leakages or spills!
- Less convenient dosing. Taking a dose of oil during the day is less discreet than popping a capsule. Waiting 1–2 minutes for it to absorb may also seem tiresome. You’ll also have to calculate the quantity of the dosage each time.
CBD capsules vs oil: which is best for you?
Both capsules and oil deliver the benefits of CBD effectively, just in different ways. CBD oil provides the fastest relief, so it may be best for managing acute pain conditions that you need to treat quickly. Using the dropper also means you can serve yourself the potency you need.
Those who have a busy lifestyle and just need to maintain a level of calm throughout the day may prefer capsules. Capsules are easy to keep on hand and will provide a slower, more gradual effect. If you’re on the move a lot, a liquid option probably won’t suit. Capsules are also more discreet, so you’ll be able to take multiple servings throughout the day without catching unwanted attention.
Determining the right product for you ultimately comes down to personal preference and the reasons you’re taking CBD in the first place. Are you treating chronic pain or inflammation? Anxiety? Depression? Or do you just need to maintain a healthy mood throughout the day? Think about how fast you need relief for your particular condition or ailment.
Also, think about what you’re comfortable with. If you really dislike the taste of CBD oil, you might dread taking it. In this case, capsules may be your best option.
The best way to figure out which suits you best is to experiment! Try both capsules and oil (separately, of course) and get a feel for which works for you.
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