CBD Oil Ingredients: What You Need to Know

Find out what's inside...
Nicole Richter Nicole Richter / Updated on June 18, 2019

CBD Oil Ingredients: Breaking it All Down

Have you ever stopped to wonder what’s actually in that CBD oil you’re taking every day? I mean, hopefully the ingredients should be listed on the label, but let’s face it, do you really know what they all mean? Do you know what MCT oil is, for example? Or terpenoids? What about flavonoids or phytonutrients?

In this article, we break it all down for you part-by-part: everything you need to know with regard to the ingredients label on the back of your favorite CBD oil bottle, in one easy guide. (And hint hint: if there are more than two or three things on that label, you may want to start looking for a “new” favorite CBD oil…)

CBD Oil Ingredients: It’s All About the Oil, Baby!

Here’s the thing about cannabidiol (that’s the “scientific” name for CBD): it doesn’t work all that well as a pure isolate.

In fact, when 100% pure CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant and dried out, it actually looks a little bit like table salt – a bland, white/clearish crystalline solid that might easily be mistaken for another, far more sinister type of drug.

The reason why pure CBD doesn’t work so great as an isolate all by itself is because it needs to be infused into an oil so the human body can absorb and metabolize it efficiently. If you were to eat a spoonful of 100% pure CBD extract, you would absorb a little bit of it, sure, but the majority of the active compound would simply be passed through the renal system and excreted as waste.

When CBD is consumed as an infused oil, though, things are totally different; because the actual cannabidiol molecule is fat soluble rather than water soluble, it has a high affinity for the lipid content that’s found in essential oils like coconut oil and olive oil. Basically, this means that the crystalline solid will readily dissolve and attach itself to the molecular compounds in the oil, at which point they can be absorbed – and eventually utilized – by the body.

This is why (other than the actual CBD, of course), a high-quality essential carrier oil is the most crucial ingredient to any oral cannabidiol tincture. However, as you’ll soon learn, not all oils are created the same.

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What Are the Best Oils to Use for CBD?

The majority of CBD products, in case you didn’t know, are sourced from raw hemp plant material. Hemp is classified under the same species of plant as marijuana (they both belong to the family Cannabis), but the major exception is that hemp is the non-flowering male version of the herb, while marijuana is the flowering, THC-producing female “version.”

In any regard, it’s worth pointing out that the hemp plant actually produces a super high-quality essential oil from its seeds, that, in addition to being filled with therapeutic CBD, is chock-full of other beneficial health supplements like phytonutrients, phytocannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.

So you might be wondering, then, why do some manufacturers use coconut oil or olive oil as the CBD “carrier,” if the hemp plant itself produces a good oil?

Well, that’s actually a very good question, and is one that we’ve asked ourselves (and several CBD manufacturers) many times in the past. If you are going to be using a full-spectrum hemp extract, then why not just use the actual hemp seed oil itself as a carrier for the CBD?

Well, as it turns out coconut oil has some specific properties that many doctors and scientists believe aids in overall absorption and metabolism. This fractionated oil is called MCT oil.

Is MCT Oil in Hemp Oil Good for You?

There’s a lot of misunderstanding about MCT oil, so we’ll try and be as clear as possible here when describing why it’s used in CBD oil.

“MCT” itself is actually a natural extract from raw coconut oil, and it stands for medium chain triglycerides. Coconut oil has both “medium chain” and “long chain” triglycerides as part of its natural molecular componentry, but as we just mentioned there have been numerous studies that show MCT to be superior in terms of the efficiency of digestion. As such, a lot of health supplements (medicinal CBD tinctures included) have started infusing their products in MCT oils to try and market them as having “improved absorption,” or something of a similar sort.

But here’s the catch; separating the “MCT’s” from the “LCT’S” is not an easy process. In fact, it’s a very, very , very difficult process that involves highly technical instruments and a massive degree of chemical expertise. It’s assumed, in fact, that a decent majority of products labeled “MCT oil” are simply fractionated coconut oils. This doesn’t necessarily imply a good or a “bad” thing, it just simply just means that you may not be getting exactly what you think you’re getting when you see a label marked “MCT.”

In any regard, the primary reason all of use CBD oil anyway is for the healing effects of the cannabidiol compound — NOT for the enhanced digestive properties of the coconut oil extract. The bottom line, then, is whether your favorite CBD oil is infused in MCT oil, coconut oil, olive oil, hemp seed oil, or some other type of oil carrier, it probably doesn’t make a great deal of difference. The main thing is that you’re using a quality-grade product that’s been extracted using supercritical CO2 methods, and contains no added chemicals, thinning agents, heavy metals, pesticides, or fertilizers.

Why Does My CBD Oil Say “Hemp Extract” on the CBD Ingredients?

Another thing you’ve likely noticed on your CBD oil ingredients label is something that says “Hemp Extract,” or “Cannabis Extract.” Essentially what this means is that the oil is a full-spectrum blend, and contains active hemp compounds in addition to the therapeutic CBD.

A full-spectrum “hemp extract” CBD oil will contain all the natural hemp compounds like aromatic terpenes (which are highly beneficial in their right), flavonoids, omega acids, phytonutrients, and other phytocannabinoids like CBDG and CBC.

The reason manufacturers put “hemp extract” on the ingredients label rather than listing each and every individual component is because, in all honesty, they probably don’t know exactly how much of each specific compound is in that exact hemp strain. As long as they label it “hemp extract,” their bases are essentially covered and you as the consumer know that you’re getting more than just your isolated CBD component.

However, it’s worth noting that oils containing “hemp extract” are actually a really good thing; several high profile studies have shown that CBD works much more efficiently in the presence of the “whole” cannabis plant, rather than by itself as an isolate, so it is actually advised to look for a full-spectrum blend rather than something that’s labeled, for instance, “99.9% Pure CBD isolate.”

Final Thoughts on CBD Oil Ingredients

Well, hopefully this article has helped in some way to better understand that confusing ingredients label on the back of your CBD oil or CBD vape juice. Basically, you can expect the best CBD oils to be made with one of three or four things: coconut oil (this is probably the #1 preferred carrier oil), MCT oil (this is just a natural fractionated version of coconut oil), olive oil, or raw hemp seed oil. If the product that you’re using has anything else in the ingredients other than these things (and possibly some natural flavoring if you’re using a flavored oil tincture), then it’s advised you shop around for something else, because it’s probably not a truly “pure” cannabis product.

If you have any questions at all about what’s in your CBD oil, or would like us to recommend some high-quality CBD tinctures, then feel free to give us a shout either in the comments or on our Facebook page. Happy CBD’ing, and health and happiness to all!

Article Sources

  1. Sheri Everett
    It is useful

    I really get confused by reading such articles about science and chemistry. I am a law practitioner, and use CBD for my Crohn’s disease. It is helping me that is all I know. Really not worried about what it has or hasn’t. I am using the 1000mg from PremiumJane and it is really effective in relieving me from some of the symptoms.

  2. Ron Davis
    In the mix

    Tincture….. my question Is there a high potency in that form ? Asking because I wanted to create my own brand purchasing bulk… While I grow my own plants….Can you mix different extract to enhance the flavor without deminishing cbd?

  3. Susan Brown
    Saponin extract in CBD oil??

    What is saponin extract & why would it be in full spectrum water soluble CBD oil?

    A friend sells HempWorx. Ive used both 0 THC & Full spectrum & think both are very effective. A friend is using American Shaman water soluble. Is water soluble CBD more effective? What do you feel about these brands?

  4. noel
    go with companies that do more

    so many companies so much to choose from. i personally like enjoy remedies. enjoyremedies.com because they donate to people, my grandma and grandpa have gotten theres for freezys.

  5. Sheila Dunn

    I am allergic to coconut. I have been using a hemp oil CBD and was told that they only flavor the CBD that it is in the coconut oil. Is that true or is there any flavored oils that use olive oil?

  6. Greg
    Are these ingredients good in Pure CBD Oil?

    Ingredients: Pure Hemp extract (99% CBD), * Cocos Nucifera (Coconut Oil), * Coconut Medium-Chain-Triglyceride (MCT) oil, * Glycerin, ^ Propanediol (naturally derived preservative), * Vanilla Planifolia (vanilla) extract and Citric Acid (food grade preservative).

    I look forward to any information.

    1. Yolanda Kelly
      Please Look at the Ingredients

      Your cbd should have no more than 3 ingredients. CBD, the carrier oil and flavor. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Feel free to email me ylkelly1@gmail.com

  7. Chris Cavallo

    Does Full Spectrum CBD Need to have 9 ingredients in it for it to be Full Spectrum. I am being told that if the CBD oil is comprised of 90% CBD th this would make it FULL SPECTRUM. Is this True if not what are the ingredients that must be ina CBD Product whether its a Patch,Oil or Gummys let’s say ! Thank you

  8. Debra

    I use pure, full-spectrum hemp derived CBD oil, 500mg. I love the fact it has two ingredients: hemp seed oil and whole plant phytocannabinoid rich hemp extract. Not all CBDs are created equal.

  9. rammy

    Which is best MCT or terpene

  10. MadiraICT

    Just to clarify because I was given a tincture, how is the actual CBD listed in the ingredients? The ingredients on this bottle are: purified water by reverse osmosis, natural and artificial flavoring, 100% organic and terpene rich concentrated full spectrum hemp oil, saponin extract, ascorbic acid. Aside from the name of the company nothing says CBD. I’m in Kansas so the legality of CBD is unclear.

    1. Rod

      I would probably say your tincture has no CBD. Even though hemp is legal Federally, CBD is illegal from The FDA perspective, Why? CBD is an active ingredient and is classified as a drug. GW pharmaceuticals Patented EPIXDIOLEX through extensive clinical trials Beginning Sept 18, 2003 and gained approval June 25, 2018, therefore excluding CBD as a supplement. Basically, hemp infused products are legal but cannot contain CBD, but all other beneficial nutrients from hemp are legal. Because of the clinical studies CBD infusions for consumption will unfortunately be subject to years of clinical trials. What makes this so complex is the technology for delivery and how the body metabolizes nutrients. NOTE: These so-called water soluble technologies and carrier oils are nothing more then manipulating delivery to the body for digestion. Anyway, check out Infusion Bioscience and Sproutly of Canada water soluble extraction and infusion technology and you will discover the difference.

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