CBD Oil vs. CBD Capsules: Which One Should You Use?

CBD is available all over the place these days.
Whether you’re buying it as a food supplement or to try and treat whatever kind of personal malady you’re suffering from, there is more choice than ever before.
However, an unfortunate consequence of having lots of different options is the difficulty in choosing between them.
One of the most frequent indecisions when considering CBD products is having to choose between CBD oil and CBD capsules.
So, what’s better? Which is the right one to choose?

What is CBD?

For starters, we need to understand what CBD is to truly understand the differences between the two methods of consumption.
CBD, known formally as cannabidiol, is one of the principle cannabinoids within cannabis. It is perhaps the lesser known major cannabinoid, after its more fun-loving cousin THC.

When you ingest CBD, it interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a health system that exists throughout the human body, and influences a great deal of different bodily functions.
It does this by interacting with the two primary receptors, called the CB1 and CB2. These receptors are located in different parts of the body and are thus able to influence different things.

For example, the CB1 receptor is located primarily in the brain and central nervous system, so its effects are tied to cognitive function and the release of positive neurochemicals such as serotonin and melatonin. Additionally, the CB1 receptor can help mitigate the sensation of pain.
The CB2 receptors, meanwhile, are able to influence the body’s inflammation response, as well as generally aid in cellular regeneration throughout the body thanks to their readily dispersed nature in comparison to the CB1.

These receptors are triggered by all cannabinoids, but CBD interacts with them in a unique way which makes them much better at providing medicinal benefits than the likes of THC.
When you ingest THC, the substance binds itself to your receptors and over-stimulates them, causing the trademark psychoactive effect. With CBD, however, this cannabinoid interacts with the receptors indirectly and engages them at a much slower pace.
This allows them to provide the medicinal benefit over a longer period of time, as well as more gently and without any adverse effects.
The effects of CBD on the human body are the same regardless of what method you choose to consume your CBD with, but there are some key differences between CBD oil and CBD capsules that can help you choose between them.

What are the Differences Between CBD Oil & CBD Capsules?

The primary difference between CBD oil and CBD capsules is the manner in which the CBD is suspended within them.
As with any sort of drug, you need to find a way to allow the drug to easily be inserted into the human body without side effects or inconvenience. In days gone by, this method would commonly be through a suppository, which is… well, look it up and find out.

With CBD, though, it’s a lot easier.

In the case of CBD oil, the CBD is suspended in an inert oil, usually something with a flavor component that can help mask the profound flavor of CBD. This tends to be something like coconut oil, or hempseed oil, but it can also be things like olive oil, which makes it easier to cook with.
When you put CBD oil in your mouth or in your food, what you’re doing is allowing it to be digested and for your body to access the CBD within the oil through your stomach.

One other thing to consider is the fact that the taste of the CBD will carry through a lot more, which is sometimes quite distinct and unpleasant. Additionally, not everyone enjoys the sensation of oiliness in their mouth that comes with taking CBD oil droplets.

On the other hand, CBD capsules are a little different. Instead of having to suspend the CBD in oil, CBD capsules are made by essentially wrapping the CBD in a digestible, inert gel that dissolves in the stomach. Think of them as similar to normal pills you’d get from your doctor, only instead of a hard sugar outer shell, it’s actually a soft and malleable gel.

You take CBD capsules orally, so they appear to be pretty similar to CBD oil with regard to their method of intake, but there are a few important differences.

First of all, CBD capsules are a lot easier to take while away from home or on the move thanks to the fact that it’s just a simple capsule you pop in your mouth and swallow.
CBD oil, however, requires you to either drop a small amount under your tongue or drip it onto your food. This makes it pretty obvious what you’re doing, leading to unnecessary and intrusive questions from observers or passers-by; no one wants that.

However, there is actually another difference that is less understood, and it’s all to do with something called Cytochrome P-450.

Cytochrome P-450 & The Process of CBD Consumption

That heading sounds extremely scientific and complicated, doesn’t it? Well, it’s actually a lot simpler than you’d think.
When we ingest drugs of any kind (pharmaceuticals like Paracetamol or antibiotics are still drugs, by the way) our bodies need a way to break down the drugs into substances that we can use. This process is called metabolization, and is primarily carried out in the liver by an enzyme called Cytochrome P-450.

This enzyme, more easily called CYP450, is what turns whatever drugs you’ve consumed into useable material for your body to use in order to help treat whatever condition you have.
However, this enzyme isn’t particularly good at breaking things down; it tends to waste some material. One study conducted for the Journal of Biomedical Environmental Science found that, despite dosage amounts, the rate of bioavailability of CBD was pretty much locked at 6%.
This is because CYP450 isn’t super efficient and also needs to break some of the drug away as waste material.
Due to this limited bioavailability, it’s imperative that, when you imbibe CBD in any form, you need to make sure as much of it as possible gets into your liver and is able to be properly metabolized.

When you take CBD capsules, the CBD is digested just like anything else taken orally. It is dissolved in the stomach and the CBD is carried through the intestines until the bloodstream that runs alongside the intestinal walls can carry the CBD directly towards the liver.
Unfortunately, due to the way in which the digestive system works, there is a certain level of inefficiency to this.
So, when you take CBD capsules, some of the CBD is sadly passing through the digestive system and turning into waste, never to actually see the inside of your liver.Sounds bad, right? Well, is CBD oil any better?

CBD Oil & Intestinal Lymphatic Drug Delivery

CBD oil has the potential to actually win out over CBD capsules thanks to something called Intestinal Lymphatic Drug Delivery.
This occurs primarily due to the oil that CBD oil is made from.
When CBD oil is made using oil that is high in saturated fats, such as coconut oil, the body has a bit of difficulty in trying to properly digest it. What can happen is that the coconut oil becomes stuck in the nooks and crannies of the large intestine.
When this happens, it can sit there for a little bit before being finally pushed along and continuing to be digested.
This sounds gross, but how does it affect CBD intake?
Well, the longer the CBD oil is sitting in the intestinal lining, the more time the bloodstream has to remove the CBD from the coconut oil and carry it to the liver. This means that you can potentially metabolize more of the CBD you’ve consumed actually and put it to good use.
In a study by Ahn and Park for the Journal of Biomaterials Research, researchers found that this method increased the amount of CBD that was able to be utilized by the body. Though the bioavailability is still locked at 6%, more CBD is able to make its way to your liver, which means there is more CBD that can be used.

Researchers are now looking at additional ways in which Intestinal Lymphatic Drug Delivery can be used for getting other drugs into people’s systems with increased efficiency.
Until then, however, CBD oil has a definite advantage over CBD capsules with regard to making sure you get more CBD per dose.

So Which One Should You Use?

Despite the apparent immediate benefits of CBD oil, the actual choice of whether to use either CBD oil or CBD capsules needs to be up to you.

While CBD oil does have a tiny bit more efficacy thanks to Intestinal Lymphatic Drug Delivery (try saying that five times quickly), CBD capsules also have advantages with regard to discreteness.
Thanks to the recent trend in which CBD and cannabis products in general are becoming more acceptable to use, not everyone might feel comfortable taking out a CBD oil bottle and applying two drops under the tongue while at work or on the train.
If you’re one of those people, CBD capsules have a clear advantage in their discretion, as well as the ease with which you can take your medicine.
CBD oil may be better on paper, but it’s the actual reality of taking the medicine that needs to be considered.
The choice is yours.