A carrier oil, also known as base oil or vegetable oil, is used to dilute plant extracts before being taken internally or applied to the skin in massage and aromatherapy. The carrier oil by volume is almost always the bulk of the product you are purchasing. You can also think of it as an oil base that helps carry the essential oil onto the skin. Particular to CBD, carrier oils will assist by spreading cannabidiol concentrate onto the skin and into your bloodstream. From topicals and balms to edibles and vapes, carrier oils are essential in effectively activating the healing properties of cannabis.
There is a variety of diverse carrier oils, each with unique properties and therapeutic effects. Accordingly, you may find specific carrier oils are more remedial than others, depending on the particular health ailment you seek to treat. Also, there’s a possibility some individuals will experience food allergy symptoms. Nonetheless, some of the best carrier oils for CBD and hemp products include coconut oil, MCT oil, hemp seed oil, and macadamia nut oil.
While carrier oils play an immense role in flavor, fragrance, and aromatherapy, the same is true for CBD and holistic cannabis treatments. Aside from acting as a transporter and facilitating easier dosage, carrier oils also enhance CBD absorption, known as bioavailability. Not to mention, carrier oils also come with health benefits of their own.
So, what does bioavailability mean? Bioavailability refers to the extent a substance — in our case, CBD — becomes susceptible to its intended biological destination (i.e., skin, bloodstream, then gut). It’s worth understanding the level of bioavailability of the CBD product because it will steer you to proper dosage, ultimately feeling the desired therapeutic effects.
More notable, the bioavailability of CBD mainly depends on the administration method one uses to consume the substance. To put it simply, the way you consume CBD, from gummies and edibles to vapes and topical products, will have different bioavailability ranges.
There are a variety of different carrier oils you can use with CBD and hemp products. Yet, is there one that is better than the other? Not necessarily. However, it is typical for consumers to prefer one carrier oil to another, depending on personal considerations and the specific health ailment one is treating. Read below to find out the best carrier oil for CBD and hemp products for your unique set of conditions.
Coconut oil is an excellent carrier oil option acknowledging its high levels of saturated fat content. Compounds in cannabis are fat-soluble, meaning they chemically breakdown considerably better in fat rather than water. Thus, coconut oil’s high saturated fat content provides ample binding opportunities for cannabinoids within our endocannabinoid system (ECS). Coconut oil contains skin-nourishing fatty acids and polyphenols, characterizing it as a great carrier oil for lotions, topicals, and balms.
Nearly 90% of coconut oil is made of saturated fat, making it the most cost-effective carrier oil out there. Further, scientists and cannabis consumers alike recognize coconut oil for its antibacterial (vitamin E) and anti-fungal properties; it may also help increase levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
Another standard CBD carrier oil is medium-chain triglyceride or MCT oil. MCT oil naturally derives from coconut or palm oil. As a result, MCT oil will similarly contain high amounts of triglycerides made of medium-chain fatty acids. Remember, coconut oil contains virtually 90% of saturated fat content. Internal products, topicals, and balms often contain MCT oil as a foundation.
The number of carbon atoms determines the length of fatty acid chains. Medium-chain fatty acids aren’t too small nor too big; they are just right. Experts believe medium-chain fatty acids interact the best with CBD oils because their shorter structure enables them to be absorbed instantaneously by the digestive tract. Because our digestive tract would have to break down long-chain fatty acids into smaller parts, the absorption time will be quite a bit longer.
MCT oil is best used for sublingual CBD products because of its chemical structure of carbon atoms. Sublingual administration of CBD, or holding drops beneath the tongue, has a bioavailability of 13% to 19%. Some studies put it as high as 35%. Holding the CBD under your tongue allows your sublingual gland to absorb the substance quickly. Once absorbed by the sublingual gland, the CBD molecules will make their way into your bloodstream, thankfully bypassing the lengthy digestive process. However, if MCT were made up of long-chain fatty acids, the absorption time would be quite different.
Have you ever heard of Macadamia nut carrier oil? While chocolate-covered macadamia nuts are a popular holiday gift, macadamia nuts also make a fantastic carrier oil.
Considered by many as a superfood, macadamia nuts originated in Australia and were transplanted to Hawaii in the 19th century. As a staple in Hawaii, it is a natural inclusion for topical and internal products with the plethora of benefits it provides and the enjoyable mild flavor.
A stable source of monounsaturated fats and, in particular, omega fatty acid 7, macadamia nut oil supports a healthy metabolic response and acts as an anti-inflammatory in the body. Macadamia nuts contain a significant amount of tocotrienols, which are chemicals in the Vitamin E family, and help support healthy brain function. Vitamin E is also a powerful antioxidant, acting against free radical damage in the body, making it an excellent choice for inside and out.
The carrier oil’s extraction method is through the nuts’ cold expression to substantially retain the oil’s essential nutrients. Compressed macadamia nut oil has a sweet and nutty aroma and blends well with nearly any essential oil. The chemical structure of macadamia nut oil closely resembles the human sebum or the natural oil our bodies produce. Therefore, macadamia nut oil is ideal for any skin type.
Under certain circumstances, though, some individuals should refrain from using macadamia nut carrier oil. Avoid using this type of carrier oil if you have allergies to nuts or have had it in the past.
Hemp seed oil — most recognizable as “hemp oil” and originally known as “cannabis Sativa seed oil” — is a concentrated oil obtained by cold-pressing hemp seeds. Note, however, that this is not the same thing as CBD oil. Hemp seed oil is often unrefined; its coloration is transparent green, has a slightly nutty scent, and doesn’t contain CBD or THC.
Hemp seed oil is among some common carrier oils because it has copious amounts of omega fatty acids and proteins. As mentioned earlier, compounds in cannabis are fat-soluble, meaning they chemically breakdown considerably better in higher fat levels. Specifically, hemp seed oil contains high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as linoleic acid, and essential acids, such as omega-6 and omega-3; these fatty acids contain incredible health benefits on the brain, joints, skin, and immune tissues.
Regularly used in cosmetic and topical products, hemp seed oil provides an extensive list of benefits. Topically, hemp seed oil is known to refresh, revive, and strengthen the skin, even out the complexion, enhance its texture and appearance, maintain its suppleness and softness, and repair dryness as well as damage. In addition, (phytocannabinoid-rich organic hemp oil) is one of the oldest forms of plant extract, providing a high concentration of bioavailable compounds and extended shelf life, perfect for CBD sublingual.
Hemp seed oil also has its drawbacks.
One of the most significant drawbacks of hemp seed oil is the need of refrigeration. Although it can have an extended shelf life, this is generally only when it is kept at lower temperatures. This restricts the convenience of hemp seed oil as a carrier oil.
The proper ratio of CBD oil to carrier oil varies from person to person. Depending on the severity and type of health ailment you are tending, some may require higher doses of CBD to fully feel the therapeutic effects. While some CBD oils contain different potency levels, it can be challenging to calculate the CBD oil ratio to carrier oil.
Dilution ratios range so be sure to read product labels to fully understand how much CBD you are taking. A ratio of 1:1 means a volume of 20 ml of CBD equals the same 20 ml of carrier oil. A common ratio on the market is 1:5 or 20 ml of CBD for 80 ml of carrier oil.