CBD comes in many forms. The most familiar is as an oil. However, you can also buy all sorts of CBD products, including capsules, gummies and more. But are these new ways of taking CBD as effective as simply taking the oil?
Because the oil is administered under the tongue, it enters the bloodstream very quickly. Ingested oil takes longer to go through the digestive system. This means it takes longer to feel the effects of CBD when swallowed as a capsule. It’s also unclear whether CBD is broken down when in the stomach or gut, which would make it less effective.
Below, we explain the major differences between CBD capsules and drops, and why drops are generally more effective. We’ll also touch on why you should consider taking CBD capsules, even if they don’t contain as much pure CBD.
The cannabidiol present in CBD capsules is the same kind that’s present in drops, too. You can find capsules that contain CBD oil, just like cod liver oil supplements. Or, you can even find capsules that contain pure ground hemp bud, like the ones we sell in our online store.
But why is CBD oil considered more effective than capsules? And if oil really is better, why should you ever consider buying capsules at all? Let’s find out.
The major difference between oil and capsules is how your body absorbs them. You should take CBD oil sublingually, i.e. under the tongue. Here, the CBD in the oil is taken into the body through the thin mucous membrane under your tongue. From here, it travels straight into your bloodstream and around your body.
It’s from your bloodstream that any supplement has its effect. From here, a vitamin or mineral will be transported anywhere that it’s needed: vitamin A, for example, is needed in your eyes, or biotin in your nails. The fact that CBD taken this way enters your bloodstream immediately, therefore, means that its effects are immediate and more noticeable, too.
Capsules are a different story entirely. They are swallowed, of course, and enter your stomach. Some is likely absorbed through the wall of the stomach, but most absorption occurs in the gut. It takes time for this process to fully complete, so the effect of the CBD takes longer to occur too.
It’s also possible that some of the CBD is broken down when in the stomach and the gut. The point of the digestive system is to take complex carbohydrates and proteins and break them down into simple sugars and amino acids. The stomach accomplishes this with stomach acid, which may have an effect on CBD too—nobody knows for sure.
These two reasons mean that CBD oil has definite advantages over capsules.
Aside from that, you have a problem that’s common with other food supplements, vitamins and the like. The body finds it much easier to absorb things if they’re taken with food. That’s because, in the stomach, the added nutrients get all mixed up with the food you ate, which is then processed as a whole.
Aside from supplements, a great example of this occurring is with fluids. If you’re dehydrated, you can drink gallons of water without food—but it’s flushed straight through your system. But if you have lots of water with your meal, it’s much better absorbed. The same applies to food supplements, including CBD.
Let’s say you take your CBD capsule with a glass of water. Well, it might sit in your stomach for a while, mixing in with the water you drank. But your body might then excrete the water quickly, and the CBD with it. The last thing you want to be doing with a supplement like this is flush it away!
Taking CBD in oil form is much more effective because it goes straight to the bloodstream. There’s no need to take it with water, food, or anything else.
Another major issue with CBD capsules is that the dose you take each time can’t be changed.
This isn’t normally a problem with food supplements. Something like a vitamin has clearly defined amounts that your body needs. These have been determined by scientific study, and are even printed on the packet or plastic container your vitamins come in.
For CBD, the amount you need isn’t clear. Scientists haven’t even fully determined how it affects your body in the first place. So, while it’s clear that you experience certain effects when you take CBD, it’s not clear how exactly it works or how much you need.
That’s why most manufacturers recommend the uptitration method of dosage. This is where you gradually take more and more each day until you feel that you’re experiencing the maximum possible effect. You can determine this by continuing to up your dose—if there’s a point at which you don’t feel any additional effect, then that’s your optimal dosage.
Of course, you can do this with oil by simply taking more oil. But with capsules, you don’t have any choice: you can either take one, two, or more at a time. As such, you may end up taking more than you need to, which is wasteful.
Given that CBD oil is more readily absorbed, then, you may feel that it’s unclear why you should even consider buying capsules instead. But there are actually good reasons why manufacturers offer capsules, too.
When taken in capsule form, CBD is absorbed through the gut. Digestion time varies between individuals, but the majority of the process takes place over six to eight hours. This begins with eating and swallowing, before the food is stored in the stomach and broken down. It then passes through the small intestine during this time.
For food to travel through the large intestine, i.e. the colon, takes even longer. It is over this entire period that the body will absorb the CBD from your capsule. This ensures that you don’t get an intense hit, all at once, like you do with oil.
Instead, you experience CBD’s effects gradually throughout the whole day. Many people prefer this over taking the oil sublingually.
The sublingual method isn’t unusual. Many common drugs, prescription and otherwise, are designed to be administered this way.
However, you may not have encountered it before. Where the oil is held under the tongue, you may find this uncomfortable. The issue is that you shouldn’t swallow straight away, as you need to allow the CBD to enter through the mucous membrane under your tongue. As it’s a feeling you’re unfamiliar with, you may not enjoy it, even if it is the quicker way to experience the effects of CBD.
By contrast, taking a capsule is something we’re all familiar with. You may already have several capsules that you take every morning—vitamins and minerals, cod liver oil, or medications. Taking a CBD capsule at the same time won’t be inconvenient or uncomfortable for you.
Another advantage of taking CBD capsules is that there are a few different kinds. Some contain CBD oil, just like a regular CBD oil bottle does. The only difference is that the oil is measured out into a dose for you already.
But it’s also possible to get CBD capsules that are made from pure ground hemp bud. CBD is oil is extracted from hemp, but it is possible to take the raw ingredients as they are rather than only take the end product of the CBD oil-making process.
There are important distinctions between raw hemp bud and processed CBD oil. The first is that in oil, the CBD may have been isolated so that it’s the only cannabinoid present in more than trace amounts. With ground hemp bud, you get every cannabinoid present in hemp, because you are, essentially, taking raw hemp supplements.
The second is that there won’t be as much CBD present as there would be in the same amount of oil. That’s because ground hemp contains lots of other cannabinoids, but also plant material which is filtered from pure oil. This additional plant content may have added beneficial effects—although more research is needed to say for sure.
Finally, variety is a good thing in and of itself. With CBD becoming increasingly popular, manufacturers are scrambling to offer CBD in more and more ways: from spring water to CBD infused clothes and even pillowcases. No doubt some of this is excessive, and the result of manufacturers trying to take advantage of a growing market. But some variety is doubtless a good thing.
CBD capsules are a great example. They offer the benefits of CBD, but in an easy-to-take and familiar form. So while they may not contain as much CBD per weight, you should definitely still consider them!