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CBD oil products are never pure CBD. Every tincture you buy uses a carrier oil to preserve its potency and enhance its effectiveness and bioavailability.
Carrier Oil: The Highlights
- Carrier oils preserve and dilute essential oils and herbs so that they can be used safely and effectively.
- Carrier oils preserve the potency of CBD and improve its bioavailability in the body and allow it to be used effectively.
- MCT oil, fractionated coconut oil, and palm oil are some of the frequently used carrier oils.
- Avocado oil and olive oil are the best carrier oils for dry skin and hair.
- Hemp seed oil, frankincense oil, and grapeseed oil are the best carrier oils for oily and acne-prone skin types.
What Is A Carrier Oil?
A carrier oil is an oil that is used to preserve and in some cases dilute herbs and essential oils so that they can be used safely. Unlike essential oil, the CBD isn’t necessarily diluted by the carrier oil. Rather, the potency is preserved.
Carrier oil helps the CBD to keep longer instead of going rancid. Fats in general, particularly saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids take a long time to oxidize, about a year, sometimes more if stored properly in a cool and dark place.
Oxidation is what causes food to go rotten or in the case of oils, to go rancid. Although high heat and direct light also affect the shelf life and freshness of oils.
Why Is A Carrier Oil Necessary?
In the case of CBD oil, carrier oil is necessary for a few reasons. The first is that it increases the bioavailability meaning that it helps the body to absorb the CBD and get it to all the cannabinoid receptors (CB receptors) around the body.
CBD is lipophilic or fat soluble. It needs fat to be able to be absorbed and used by the body.
This is also important for topical products like lotions and ointments so that it can be absorbed by the skin. It also makes it easier to take and measure out specific doses. If it’s in a carrier oil, it’s easy to use a dropper to get an exact dose.
What Makes Some Oils Better Than Others?
Cold pressed and unrefined oil is almost always better. When heat is applied to fatty acids, it denatures them and can cause them to become harmful instead of helpful as seen in a 2011 study conducted by the University of Oslo.
Carrier oils are prized for their anti-aging benefits, anti-inflammatory properties, vitamin content, flavors, scents, and different levels of viscosity (how thick or thin they are). Although some oils are similar, each oil has its own characteristics.
This can all affect what purposes the oils are better suited to both health wise, practically in terms of the method of delivery, and oils with stronger smells or flavors are not something that everyone will enjoy.
For example, jojoba oil, rosehip oil, and argan oil are all amazing ingredients to use for skin care and hair care purposes.
Castor oil, which is high in ricinoleic acid, is a common ingredient in soap. Aloe vera isn’t an oil but can also be used to dilute essential oils and allow CBD to be used topically as it’s full of vitamins, antioxidants and fatty acids, including essential fatty acids.
Flaxseed oil, borage seed oil, emu oil, black seed oil, and evening primrose oil are great options for use in edibles because of their cholesterol-lowering, inflammation lowering, anti-oxidant properties.
Best Carrier Oils For CBD And THC Tinctures
The above-mentioned carrier oils are just a few of those that you might see in CBD products. It can all get a little confusing, so here are some of the most commonly used carrier oils for CBD products and what makes them the best:
MCT stands for medium chain triglycerides or medium chain fatty acids. MCT oil is saturated fat making it very effective for improving the bioavailability of CBD oil.
Most other types of saturated fat are made up of long-chain triglycerides. But unlike long chain fatty acids, MCT oil doesn’t have the same negative impact on cholesterol levels and is easier on the digestive system.
The difference is that MCT oil skips a few of the usual digestion processes when its digested. It doesn’t need bile or even stomach acid to be broken down and absorbed.
This makes it a good option for those on the ketogenic diet who need energy fats or those who struggle to digest fats. For example, people who’ve had their gallbladder removed.
It’s usually derived from fractionated coconut oil or palm oil which both contain a lot of saturated fat and some of which are MCTs. Although saturated fat tends to be solid at room temperature, MCT oil and even fractionated coconut oil tend to be thinner making them good for CBD tinctures.
Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats, is thicker, and has a stronger flavor and smell (slightly fruity) but it’s full of health benefits.
It can help to lower high cholesterol levels and lower inflammation. Because it’s a heavier oil, it’s best suited to dry skin types. It’s also great for healing sun-damaged skin.
Look out for extra virgin olive oil. Refined olive oil is low in antioxidants due to the way it’s processed.
Avocado oil is high in monounsaturated fatty acids, particularly oleic acid (omega 9) and contains some heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats too.
Palmitoleic acid (omega 7) is one of them and it’s been shown to lower inflammation so much so that it may be helpful in treating ulcerative colitis. It contains vitamins A, C, D, and E in addition to being full of antioxidants.
It’s quite thick which makes it better for CBD products to be used on the skin and hair. It’s not a good option for oily skin, it should rather be used for dry, chapped skin.
Hemp Seed Oil
Hemp seed oil isn’t the best carrier oil for CBD in terms of increasing bioavailability despite coming from the same plant.
That’s because it’s low in saturated fat. On the other hand, it’s high in alpha-linolenic acid, the plant form of omega 3. In fact, the omega 6 to omega 3 ratio in hemp seed oil is 3:1 which is ideal.
Hemp seed oil is great for use topically and especially for acne-prone and oily skin. This is because it lowers inflammation, can help to balance oil production, and it combats the bacteria that causes acne.
Just don’t get duped.
Look on the label for the CBD content of the product. Hemp seeds have some great health benefits but they are very low in CBD. So in the case of the oil, make sure that it’s CBD hemp oil and not just regular hemp seed oil.
Palm oil is rich in palmitic acid which a saturated fat which and is also high in monounsaturated fat. It contains vitamins A and E and has anti-inflammatory properties. In moderation, palm oil doesn’t raise cholesterol levels.
The problem with palm oil, however, is that it’s unsustainably sourced which isn’t good for the environment or people in the long run.
It’s a big part of the reason for deforestation and animal cruelty. If you do prefer to use products that contain palm oil, make sure that it was sustainably sourced.
Frankincense oil, which is derived from the Boswellia tree, has anti-inflammatory properties, is antiseptic, and may help with anxiety and pain.
It’s best used topically although frankincense extract can be used internally. CBD products from reputable companies will indicate whether their products can be taken orally or whether they’re for external use only.
Finding The Right Carrier Oil
Finding the right carrier oil can take some trial and error.
Most carrier oils have natural anti-inflammatory purposes and their antimicrobial properties make them good for skin conditions, joint pain, and calming inflammatory conditions when taken internally, used as a massage oil, or applied to the skin.
Don’t be afraid to experiment a bit.
As long as you aren’t sensitive or allergic to the carrier oil or any other ingredients in the products, using CBD tincture, edibles, vape, or the lotions and ointments as directed should could you with the benefits you’re seeking.
- Research References
- The ameliorative effect of hemp seed hexane extracts on the Propionibacterium acnes-induced inflammation and lipogenesis in sebocytes
- Effect of Cis-palmitoleic acid supplementation on inflammation and expression of HNF4γ, HNF4α and IL6 in patients with ulcerative colitis.
- Potential Health Benefits of Olive Oil and Plant Polyphenols
- Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils
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