CBD oil is a common medicine these days, sold in a variety of smoke shops and health food stores and typically labeled in the same, boring way: “CBD oil.”
It’s not very well known (or advertised on the label), but quality CBD oils are almost always combined with coconut oil. But why? Why do we use coconut oil for our CBD instead of other essential oils? Wouldn’t it make sense to use something more “theme appropriate,” like hemp oil? Is there a reason that CBD oil and coconut oil are so often paired together?
| “Why do we use coconut oil for our CBD instead of other essential oils — like hemp seed oil?”
Well, it turns out that CBD and coconut oil are anabsolutelye perfect match for each other – it’s almost as if they were made for being combined together. Thanks to their chemical makeup, their nutritional content, and a few other scientific principles, the combination is actually extremely potent. Let’s find out why.
Why Do We Take CBD Oil?
CBD oil is of course an extract of cannabidiol, which is derived from the cannabis plant. Despite the immediate assumption when thinking about anything made from cannabis, CBD is actually entirely non-psychoactive.
CBD was first discovered as a useful medicine back in the 1940’s, but the specifics of why and how it works so well in the human body are more recent discoveries. When you consume CBD, it interacts with the endocannabinoid system, or ECS, which is an extensive cell receptor network that runs throughout the human body. The ECS is triggered by the presence of cannabinoids, both natural ones produced by the human body and ones that are found in cannabis.
| “The ECS is triggered by the presence of cannabinoids, both natural ones produced by the human body and ones that are found in cannabis.”
When the ECS is triggered by cannabinoids, it reacts in a very interesting way, as it is dependent on which receptors are triggered. CB1 receptors are located primarily within the brain and central nervous system, whereas the CB2 receptors are spread throughout the body, allowing for different effects depending on the receptors.
The CB1 receptors can help modulate the release of brain chemicals, in addition of affecting the sensation of pain. CB2 receptors, however, are believed to help control things like inflammatory response, as well as regulate cellular regeneration throughout the body.
What’s especially interesting is that CBD triggers these receptors in a very unique way compared to other cannabinoids like THC.
In the case of THC, the receptors are overstimulated, thanks to the compound directly attaching itself to the receptors. CBD, on the other hand, triggers the receptors slowly and more indirectly, allowing for the health benefits to come about more naturally.
But what about coconut oil – where does it come in? And why is it so important?
Coconut Oil: What You Should Know
Coconut oil is the health food craze of the decade it seems, as more and more products contain it in some quantity.
It is of course made from extracted and separated oils from coconut flesh, and is rich in saturated fats (like MCT, otherwise known as medium-chain triglycerides), as well as a variety of nutrients and minerals that are useful to the human body.
Most important with regard to CBD, however, is its effectiveness as a suspension liquid.
Why Do CBD Oil and Coconut Oil Work Well Together?
CBD and coconut oil seem to work so well together that you’d think the two plants co-conspired to produce their naturally therapeutic effects.
One of the reasons we use CBD and coconut oil is because coconut oil is very, very slow to oxidize, which allows anything suspended in it – like CBD – to remain safe and unspoiled for a long time. When we extract CBD, it needs to be suspended in an inert solution so as to allow it to be easy to administer.
| “Coconut oil is slow to oxidize, which allows the CBD to remain safe and unspoiled for long periods of time.”
Additionally, the taste of coconut oil makes the act of actually ingesting CBD oil a lot easier. CBD has a distinctive taste that many people find undesirable, so this is a great way of getting the cannabinoid without any of the unpleasant flavor.
Alongside these reasons, there is a chemical benefit as well: Cannabinoids more easily dissolve in lipids rather than water. This means that the higher fat content within the chosen oil, the better the suspension of the extract. And thanks to coconut oil’s high saturated fat content (up to 90%!), coconut oil is far superior to other oils like hemp seed oil or sunflower oil at dissolving and preserving CBD.
| “Thanks to coconut oil’s high saturated fat content – up to 90% – it is far superior to other oils in terms of dissolving CBD and making the compound available to cells.”
There is another reason why CBD oil is used, but it’s got less to do with the fact that it’s coconut oil, and more to do with its fat content. To understand this, we need to understand how CBD enters the body.
The Problem with Ingesting CBD
When we ingest CBD oil, we are essentially putting the CBD into our stomach and encouraging it to be broken down by the digestive system. To do this, the body dissolves the substance in the stomach and enters it into the digestive tract, where it eventually ends up in the intestines for extraction of vital nutrients.
However, there’s one big problem with this – lipids. Most of the time when we eat or drink, the substances we’re eating are water-based. Our bodies are designed to take in nutrients from water-based molecules, thanks to millennia of evolution.
Thus, when our body encounters lipids – commonly known as fats – it has a bit of trouble. This is primarily because lipids are molecularly different from water molecules. Water molecules possess both positive and negative charges, allowing them to easily pair up together and exchange nutrients.
Lipid molecules, on the other hand, lack any kind of electrical charge, which makes it difficult for the digestion system to extract nutrients. This is one of the major drawbacks of using oils for CBD intake, as the body simply struggles to properly digest and process lipids efficiently.
In a study conducted by Welty et al., researchers found that CBD, when taken with normal oils, has a bioavailability of just 6%. This is obviously a serious problem for those wanting to get the maximum dosage possible, and ensure they are best utilizing their medicine.
So what can we do to combat this? How does CBD oil that uses coconut oil get around this problem of bioavailability?
How Coconut Oil and MCT Solves The Problem of CBD Bioavailability
Coconut oil is a bit different from other oils commonly used to hold extracts in suspension in the sense that it is extremely high in saturated fats. These saturated fats are usually decried as incredibly unhealthy for you, and should generally be avoided in your diet.
However, the amount you intake for administering CBD oil is incredibly small, so you don’t have to worry about your heart health – or your waistline. (And on a side note, healthy saturated fats like those found in margarine and coconut oil are not nearly as dangerous as trans-saturated fats, which are found in things like potato chips and sweets).
The reason saturated fats are actually a good thing for CBD intake is due to something called Intestinal Lymphatic Drug Delivery, or ILDD. Basically, when you eat foods with a high saturated fat content, your body isn’t the best at processing them because of issues with electron incompatibility, making it difficult to retrieve nutrients from oils. This means that coconut oil is not actually great at being processed.
| “The reason saturated fats are actually a good thing for CBD intake, is due to something called Intestinal Lymphatic Drug Delivery, or ILDD.”
However, because saturated fats have a tendency to become stuck in the digestive tract, clumping together to form fat pockets in the small intestine, CBD intake by the body’s cells is actually vastly improved. The reason for this is that the intestinal walls are lined with blood vessels, designed to help remove vital nutrients that can be carried in the bloodstream to the rest of the body.
When CBD oil gets caught in these pockets in the intestinal tract, the CBD is absorbed through the intestinal wall, rather than processed in the liver. If it were to enter the liver, the CBD would be broken down and rendered almost useless thanks to the process of metabolization.
During a study conducted Hyeji Ahn and Ji-Ho Park for the academic journal Biomaterials Research, scientists discovered that coconut oil increased bioavailability dramatically for CBD, thanks to its saturated fats.
| “In a recent academic publication, scientists discovered that the high saturated fat content of coconut oil increased bioavailability dramatically for CBD.”
By allowing the CBD to be absorbed through the intestines rather than the liver, coconut oil allows for more bioavailability in the body, letting you get the maximum CBD out of your dosage. Research is still being conducted into the merits of Intestinal Lymphatic Drug Delivery, as scientists believe it could have a number of excellent benefits for a variety of different medications and conditions.
However, though the research is still young, we know that when looking at CBD oil using coconut oil, it makes it a lot easier to get your full dose.
Final Thoughts: Coconut Oil, CBD Oil, and the Match Made in Heaven
Though it might seem more “aesthetically” appropriate to use hemp seed oil when making CBD oil (an extract of cannabis preserved in the oil from the same plant species makes sense, right?), coconut oil is usually chosen because of its unique cellular properties. Not only does coconut oil allow for the best efficiency at preserving and dissolving CBD, but it also tastes great and has a huge number of nutrients to help your diet.
| “Not only does coconut oil allow for the best efficiency at preserving and dissolving CBD, but it also tastes great and has a huge number of nutrients to help your diet.”
And, most importantly of all, thanks to the high saturated fat content of coconut oil, CBD oil is able to be absorbed through the intestinal tract and allows the body more access to the extract, rather than letting it break down unused in the liver. It might seem strange that there are so many reasons to use coconut oil over other oils, but sometimes nature is just like that. Nature is weird, and coconut oil is weirder — but as we’ve seen, it is extremely useful when used in CBD oil.
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