Why Are CBD Oils Made with Coconut Oil Instead of Hemp Seed Oil?

Don Ballou / Updated on 2019-08-06

If you’ve got a curious mind as we do, you’ve likely before wondered why we take CBD oil rather than just plain CBD by itself. If CBD is the only active therapeutic compound in a CBD product, why can’t we just jam a spoonful of it down our throat and be done with it?

Well, the body doesn’t really work that way, unfortunately. In order for things to be digested properly and the minerals/nutrients to be thoroughly absorbed for use, compounds must be broken down and absorbed through the intestinal wall.

While CBD by itself can be absorbed, it is done so much more efficiently (up to three times more efficiently, in fact) when it is ingested along with a carrier oil. Since cannabinoids (like CBD and THC) from the cannabis plant are fat-soluble (meaning they dissolve in oil rather than water), infusing them in a saturated fat enhances their bioavailability drastically.

But why is CBD oil made with coconut oil? We all know that hemp itself (where many CBD oils come from) produces a wonderfully nutritious natural oil from its seeds, so why don’t we just use hemp seed oil instead? You’re going to discover that what it comes down to is fat


CBD + Coconut Oil = The Perfect Combination

As it turns out, coconut oil is pretty much the perfect carrier oil for CBD because of its saturated fat content. The way that cannabinoids work molecularly is, the higher the lipid content of the oil they are in, the better and more efficiently they can dissolve. Conveniently, coconut oil is made up of up to 90% saturated fat, as opposed to olive oil and hemp seed oil which are only made of around 14% and 11% fat content, respectively.

But don’t worry; since the saturated fat content of coconut oil is composed largely of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) instead of long-chain triglycerides (LGTs), you don’t need to be concerned about it clogging up your arteries.

As it goes, in fact, coconut oil is one of the only natural oils that has a high content of MCTs. While this serves as an excellent energy source that is much more easily metabolized than complex carbohydrates or LCTs, it also acts as the perfect carrier for CBD.

So ultimately, this is the reason why most of the best CBD oils are made with coconut oil as opposed to hemp seed oil; since coconut oil has more saturated fat, it can break down and carry more CBD molecules, and ultimately deliver more cannabidiol to our cells for absorption.

Without coconut oil, a large percentage of CBD molecules simply end up making their way to the liver, at which point they’d be treated as waste and simply excreted through urine. This is why you always want to select a CBD tincture that uses coconut oil over olive oil or some other kind of oil.


The Science Behind Coconut Oil and CBD

There have been a few studies conducted on why coconut oil acts as the perfect molecular carrier for CBD. While a lot of the scientific language can be pretty complex and confusing, what the research basically says, is that when you ingest CBD that’s dissolved in a high saturated fat oil (like coconut or pure MCT oil), you’re getting the maximum possible absorption.

Here’s how it works: lipids (basically the scientific word for fats) are known to stick to the walls of whatever internal transport system they’re traveling through. So think about our blood vessels, for instance: you’ve heard of clogged arteries and plaque buildup that causes heart disease of course. Well, this is due in part to high amounts of bad saturated fat content in the system. These lipids stick to the walls of the arteries and are not easily broken down (metabolized), so they just sit there and accumulate.

The same goes for the digestive system: when we eat high-fat foods, they tend to stick to the walls of our intestinal gut rather than passing straight down into the acid bath of the stomach. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the type of fat involved.

If it’s bad saturated fat (like those found in french fries or bacon), then it becomes very hard for the body to metabolize, so instead, these unhealthy lipids accumulate in certain fatty areas of the body – i.e. the stomach, thighs, etc.

If it’s good saturated fat, on the other hand, these are actually absorbed very quickly and easily, directly through the intestinal wall. Good saturated fats mostly include MCTs like those that are found naturally in coconut oil.

Since lipid content can be absorbed directly through the intestinal walls rather than passing through the entire digestive system, the bioavailability of CBD is maximized when taken with coconut oil. Scientifically, this is referred to as intestinal lymphatic transport.

Lymphatic transport is crucial when taking certain medications (CBD included), as it means these avoid being broken down by the liver. If CBD were to enter the liver (as much of it does when taken with olive oil), it is metabolized into smaller components at which point it becomes virtually useless in terms of its therapeutic or pain-relieving potential.

And on a side note, this is also why liposomal transport is used to deliver certain medications – it allows them to be passed directly into the cells through the gut lining. Some companies are already experimenting with CBD liposome capsules for maximum absorption.


Final Thoughts on Why CBD Is Made with Coconut Oil

To be clear, not all CBD oils are made with coconut oil. There are plenty out there that are infused in olive oils or natural hemp seed oils, and they do indeed work just fine – depending on how they are extracted and processed.

From a scientific and molecular perspective, however, the high saturated fat (MCT) content of coconut oil provides for the maximum absorption rate of CBD into the body’s cells, by allowing it to pass directly through the intestinal wall instead of entering into the liver.

As you’ll find if you end up using CBD frequently, the vast majority of the best CBD oils and tinctures are infused in a quality coconut oil or MCT oil.

View Comments

  • If your concerned about absorption, there are some excellent water soluble CBD (full spectrum Hemp) products out there that utilize liposome or nano technology. This way you can absorb 80 to 90% of the cannabinoids VS maybe 20% to 30% at best of an oil based product.

  • I think coconut is good, but if by chance you do not like it, olive oil is also equally good with CBD, when it is compatibility we are talking about. Many companies are producing CBD with coconut or olive or both, so see what suits you the best.

  • I wish coconut oil had been in larger print on my bottle. I'm allergic to tree nuts. I took half a mL, hoping it would help with my asthma and NOPE. Quite the opposite. Thanks, tiny print, for making my asthma worse tonight.

  • I am still of the choice to go with CBD made with Hemp. Although very tough to obtain this, I am getting it from my local dealer, and do not know of any other source for this other than him, but I found this much better than the regular coconut oil CBD I purchased from a departmental store. DO not remember the brand, but it was not as good as this one. The price is almost the same.

  • Please keep in mind that coconut oil kills Candida so anyone using CBD oil with coconut oil feel could feel worse from die off of candida fungal which is not good for patient or product.

  • I have developed an allergy to coconut oil after being on the keto diet. Coconut oil now causes inflammation and I break out in little blisters. Does anyone make CBD using different oil rather than coconut? I have Fibromyalgia and chronic migraines. I need my CBD oil.

    • Anne.... I have a wonderful CBD that does not use coconut oil. I have so many allergic to coconut oil. I searched and found the best.

      you can find me on FB under Reiki EnergetiX Many happy healing vibes to youl

    • An Oregon company, Modern Medicinals, has a CBD OIL in organic fractionated coconut oil. The allergen is removed from raw coconut oil in the fractionating process. CBD bioavailablity is compromised or eliminated when using hemp, olive and avocado oil due to how these oils are handled in the liver.

  • I am curious or may have missed it somewhere in the article, I am curious if organic coconut oil is solid until in reaches 75 degrees how would that work as drops for the CBD? Could you just take coconut oil along side the CBD?

    • MCT oil is not the same as food grade oil.. It is a liquid, not a solid. MCT is the best partnership with CBD Oil for many reasons.

  • Here are my two remaining questions: I know for certain about the benefits of using coconut oil for ANY cannabis extraction - Would the end result suffer in bioavailability if the original extraction is used with coconut oil, in high concentration - the diluted by another oil, like olive oil, avocado oil or grapeseed oil, and keep its high utilization?

    Also, does it matter to use extra virgin cold pressed coconut oil or will lower grades of coconut oil be just as effective?

    Thanks to any feedback!