This is a common question among those new to the CBD world. It’s legitimate too, as there are so many viable options available today that it can get a bit overwhelming for first time users. The most important thing is to relax. There really is no right or wrong way to take CBD as long as you follow a few simple rules. This article will just focus on providing the pros and cons of each method to hopefully assist you in making the best informed decision. “Life should not be that hard” is our motto here.
For now, we will focus on just oils and capsules. For those coming into CBD from the THC-side or are already acquainted with vaporization, you are already familiar with the aspect of vapor and its pros and cons. Most folks coming to CBD will not jump straight to vapor and will probably start with either CBD oils (tinctures) or CBD capsules (softgels).
The fundamental truth above all else
Before we get started, let’s put this caveat right out there. The MOST important aspect of any effective CBD program will be in the underlying quality of the product you use. Whether you go with CBD oils or capsules, if you are not using a product that incorporates premium CBD oil as its base, your chances for success are limited.
Research the products you intend to use and do your homework. Navigating the unregulated CBD landscape can be like walking in a minefield sometimes. Make sure that all third party independent testing is readily available from your distributor. Familiarize yourself with how to read these reports. It’s important that test results go beyond just potency testing and include microbial, pesticide, and heavy metals testing as well. Testing of our product is at the center of what we do here at Soul Blossom.
A word about bioavailability
Another important aspect affecting decisions around choice is the concept of bioavailability. We go into the whole concept of bioavailability here, but in short, any delivery system you choose, be it oils, capsules, or even vapor (inhalation) will have its own bioavailability. That is to say, just how much CBD will need to be taken to be effective for the user is all part of your choice
Getting down to business
What are your goals for CBD and your overall wellness program? What kind of lifestyle do you live? Are you always on the go? This is not a quiz, and there are no right or wrong answers, but having a realistic understanding of where you are at and what your expectations will be is the key to selecting the right choice for you.
CBD oils generally come in the form of a tincture, which involves putting an amount of oil in a dropper and placing it under the tongue for a prescribed period of time (usually 60 seconds) before swallowing it. The CBD is suspended in the carrier oil that is placed under the tongue. Most tinctures (including ours) come in a handy bottle with a calibrated dropper for easy dosing.
Technically, the delivery system for tinctures is known as sublingual dosing. CBD is absorbed directly into the bloodstream via the sublingual glands in the mouth. This offers modest bioavailability in the range of 20% to 35% and is relatively fast acting.
- Choice: CBD tinctures come in many different strengths and varieties to fit just about any need range out there. Whether you need a lot of CBD or just a little, you will likely be able to find a formulation at your price point.
- Dosing flexibility: As discussed in other blog posts, the proper CBD dosing is not a “one size fits all” proposition. With the dropper system, you can use a few drops, one quarter, one half, or even a full dropper, based on your own personal needs.
- Rapid absorption: Sublingual dosing provides fairly quick absorption for fast, dependable relief.
- Routine: While it may take a bit of time to get used to the concept of using a tincture for some, it easily fits into most morning and evening routines.
- Taste: There are many folks out there who just do not like the subtle taste or texture of hemp found in tinctures. Flavorings can help, and for most people it’s not an issue. If you are sensitive to the taste though, this may not be something you want to experience once or twice a day, every day.
- Potability: Tinctures are oils that are generally contained in glass bottles. They are not the most convenient option if you are out and about and need a bit of CBD to get you through.
- Discretion: Tinctures are not the most discreet method available. Taking out a bottle and squeezing a dropper full of oil under your tongue will not go unnoticed in a public settling.
CBD capsules are exactly that: gelatin capsules (like a pill) that are filled with CBD oil. The delivery system is technically known as ingestion dosing. Capsules have become a very popular option as it’s something almost everyone is familiar with. The concept of popping a pill or tablet in the mouth and washing it down with a glass of water or other beverage is pretty common.
- Ease: As stated, capsules are extraordinarily easy to use. In fact, most of us already are used to the concept of taking oral supplements every day, and adding other capsules to our daily regiment couldn’t be easier.
- Precise dosing: Each capsule contains a specific amount of CBD, and there is very little guesswork required to know how much to take.
- Very potable: Quality capsules will not leak and are extraordinarily easy to carry around town or to transport while traveling.
- Discretion: Taking a capsules and washing it down with a liquid is extraordinarily discreet, and chances are that it would go completely unnoticed in any public setting at any time.
- Taste: Since it’s encapsulated, there is no hemp taste or smell if you are sensitive to that.
- Other additives: Some products (like ours at Soul Blossom) contain other proven agents, such as melatonin or curcumin to enhance and support other wellness aspects.
- Low bioavailability: Ingestion has the lowest overall bioavailability in its natural form. Unless products have been enhanced with some new technology, such as nanoemulsion, they typically are less effective and require much higher dosages to be effective.
- Selection: Until recently, due to lower bioavailability, there wasn’t a huge market for capsules, and the selections available are still somewhat limited.
Prior to the advent of new technologies, the low bioavailability wiped away almost all of the pros in this category. This is changing.
What is nanoemulsion, and why is it important?
In the past, CBD capsules have been hampered by very low bioavailability on the order of anywhere from 3% to 18%. This is due to several factors. First off, CBD is what is known as a hydrophobic (water-hating) molecule. It’s also rather large in the molecular world at between 1000-4500 nanometers. Being that humans are made up of mostly water, the term hydrophobic is not typically a good thing.
In addition, because capsules are swallowed, they have to enter the bloodstream via the digestive system. This means they will have to pass through the liver before making their way to the bloodstream. This is known as first pass metabolism, and it essentially blocks a large percentage of CBD from actually reaching the bloodstream where it needs to get to in order to be effective.
This is not just true of CBD, but of many other compounds as well. One process developed to aid in this is nanoemulsification. Just as it sounds, nano means very small. Using this sophisticated process, a large (up to ~4500 nanometer) CBD molecule can be reduced or broken down into very small 25 to 40 nanometer molecules and encapsulated within emulsifiers. This greatly increases the surface area of each molecule and allows them through the first pass phase to reach the bloodstream unadulterated. While not technically changing completely to a water-soluble molecule, the process makes CBD much friendlier to water. You may hear the phrase “water-soluble CBD” thrown around, and it’s essentially a marketing term, but this is the process being referred to.
Nanoemulsification is a game changer for ingested CBD products. Bioavailability is increased by a magnitude above traditional ingestion products and by more than 200% over oil based products. Nanoemulsified CBD products are as close to 100% bioavailable as any other CBD delivery system. Here at Soul Blossom, our softgel capsules all contain nanoemulsified CBD. We strongly recommend anyone considering using capsules as a delivery system to ensure that the products have this feature. Otherwise, many dollars of CBD will be wasted through the biological first pass system.
Nanoemulsification technology is more costly up front, but the overall savings of bioavailable milligrams more than offsets the initial price, in our opinion.
Cost considerations and conclusions:
As with everything, there is the matter of affordability. When it comes right down to it, the costs between CBD oils and CBD capsules is pretty much a wash in our opinion. Our products, which contain the highest broad spectrum, THC-free CBD oil available on the market, run from $0.07 – $0.10 per CBD milligram and our softgels run between $0.10 – $0.13 per CBD milligram. Given the higher bioavailability of the softgels, it basically comes out even in the end.
Your lifestyle and your goals are what matter most. CBD should not be, and is not that hard. Trust in your distributor is paramount. Quality, third party tested products designed to deliver CBD to where it needs to be is the key. How you enjoy it is really a matter of personal choice.