Please remember this is not medical advice and you should
always reach out to a medical professional.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a compound found in the cannabis plant that is widely used for its potential health benefits. Whether it’s eating CBD gummies to reduce anxiety or rubbing CBD-infused cream on sore joints to ease pain, CBD has become increasingly popular in recent years. In fact, it’s estimated that around 26% of people in the United States use CBD in 2022.
According to Forbes research, Americans are estimated to spend over $15 million on CBD products in the next year. For products such as tinctures, creams, gummies, coffee, or tea, the array of choices continues to be diverse—and it’s difficult to say which one is best.
So, how do you decide which form is best for you? The best form of CBD likely depends on your individual preferences. For example, your daily lifestyle, level of convenience, dosage, and bioavailability (or the amount of drug that enters the circulation and has an effect on your body).
CBD oil and capsules are two of the most popular forms of consumption. While both have their benefits, there are also some drawbacks to consider. Below, we’ll define capsules and oils and explore the pros and cons of each.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
CBD oils are a type of cannabinoid derived from cannabis. CBD oils are typically sold in tinctures and are ingested sublingually, or via a dropper directly into your mouth. Typically, the only ingredients in CBD oil are CBD extract and carrier oil. Today, there are Full and Broad-Spectrum Oils. Common carrier oils are often olive oil, coconut oil, or hemp seed oil.
Capsules are gel capsules containing CBD extract and carrier oil. As with the oils, capsules are also provided in Full and Braod-Spectrum. These are more convenient ways to take CBD orally. Typical CBD capsules are a single cannabinoid, but there are also capsules labeled full- or broad-spectrum that contain several different cannabinoids.
Here’s a brief table to use as a quick reference between oils and capsules.
Despite having similarities, capsules, and oils do have their individual pros and cons. Reviewing these may help you decide which form of CBD product is best suited to your needs.
PROS OF CAPSULES
Capsules are the easiest and most convenient way to take CBD. They are a quality choice for those with sensitive palates or who do not need or want to customize their dosage. Here are some reasons why people prefer capsules over oils and other methods.
CBD capsules are typically in a soft gel capsule that is easy to digest. You can take them just like any other pill medication or vitamin.
These premade capsules also come with a pre-fixed guaranteed dosage. This means you don’t have to measure how much oil to give yourself per dose, as you do when taking CBD oils directly. This can be helpful for those who are new to CBD and want to start with a lower or more controlled dose.
If you are someone who travels or is always on the go, CBD capsules are useful. They’re discrete and easy to take if you’re in public.
They also, as enclosed capsules, don’t leak in a bag and aren’t subject to any airline restrictions when traveling.
One of the biggest advantages of CBD capsules is that they don’t have the strong, earthy taste that many people associate with CBD oil. If you have a sensitive palate, CBD capsules are typically tasteless and odorless. They are a way to get all the benefits without any flavor of hemp or carrier oils.
CONS OF CAPSULES
While capsules work as well as oils, there are a few reasons why people prefer oils.
Longer Onset for Less Impact
CBD capsules need to be broken down in the digestive system before they can be absorbed into the bloodstream. This means that it can take longer for the effects to be felt compared to CBD oils.
Capsules have to pass through the liver before reaching the bloodstream whereas oils do not. On the positive side, this will allow your liver to gradually release the CBD over about a 10-hour period—they just take longer to start working.
Due to entering through the digestive system, capsules have less bioavailability than oils. Populum found that “researchers note that taking CBD with a high-fat meal can increase its bioavailability four-fold instead of taking it on an empty stomach.” If you do choose CBD capsules, they may benefit you more if taken with certain food.
In capsule form, you have a smaller selection of products to choose from than when buying oil. CBD capsules come in pre-measured doses, so if you need a specific dose that’s not available in a capsule, you’ll need to take multiple capsules to get the desired amount.
PROS OF OILS
CBD oils are a favorite amongst consumers because of these key advantages.
When using CBD oils, you can choose from a wide range of potencies, sizes, formulations, and flavors to adjust the experience to your expectations—much more than what is typically available in capsule form.
More Bioavailability and Instant Relief
Oils are absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the sublingual gland under the tongue. Since CBD oils bypass the digestive system, they have a higher percentage of bioavailability and work faster than capsules.
CONS OF OILS
The following are typical reasons why consumers would choose CBD capsules over CBD oils.
Where you can take capsules with you on the go, bottles of oils can leak and cause a mess in your pocket or bag. When using CBD oils, you use a dropper to place the oil under your tongue. This method is less discrete than simply taking a pill.
CBD oil droppers can be difficult to measure precisely, which can lead to inconsistent dosing. This can be a disadvantage for those who need to take a specific amount on a regular schedule.
In capsule form, all the ingredients are enclosed in a tasteless shell. CBD oils are mixed with carrier oils, which result in a strong flavor regardless of the type you use. The taste of CBD oil can be strong and off-putting to those with sensitive palates. Some oils come in flavors like orange, strawberry, and mint, making the taste of taking oils more tolerable.
The primary difference between capsules and oils is the way in which CBD is delivered to your system and its potency. While both options have their pros and cons, the best option will depend on your individual needs and preferences.
If you’re new to CBD and want a convenient, pre-fixed option, CBD capsules may be the way to go. If you want more versatility in your dosing and a faster onset of effects, CBD oil may be the better choice. Ultimately, it’s important to remember to always consult with a healthcare professional to determine the best option for your individual needs.