If you’re just getting started with CBD, choosing between all the different types of products can be pretty overwhelming.
So you don’t spend more time comparing products than you do enoying the benefits of hemp, we’re going to give you a in-depth, yet concise comparison of two of the most common CBD products: CBD capsules and CBD oil.
We’ll also give you some tips to help you find a quality CBD product, regardless of what you end up choosing.
What are CBD Capsules?
A CBD capsule is simply CBD oil that’s been enclosed in a capsule. Some varieties of capsules are made with a digestible gel casing (these are also called “softgels”), while others are in the traditional capsule form. However, there aren’t many differences between these capsules in terms of how they work.
Capsules offer a quick and convenient way to take a fixed dose of CBD, making them popular among those trying to incorporate CBD into their existing wellness routine.
What is CBD Oil?
CBD oil is a product made by combining hemp extract (the cannabinoids) with a carrier oil, the purpose of which is to improve how your body absorbs CBD. Commonly used oils include hempseed oil and coconut oil.
Many CBD oils also terpenes added. Terpenes are naturally occurring compounds in the hemp plant that have therapeutic benefits. Terpenes are primarily responsible for how CBD oil tastes.
CBD Capsules vs. Oil: Key Differences
Both capsules and oil are great vehicles through which to experience the benefits of CBD – but they differ in several key ways:
Absorption Method & Bioavailability
Before comparing the absorption method and bioavailability of CBD capsules and CBD oil, let’s discuss why this even matters. In simple terms, bioavailability is the percentage of a substance you consume that your body can use.
Bioavailability matters because it determines how beneficial a product will be in relation to the amount of CBD it contains.
Whenever you consume something, be it food or cannabinoids, your body will discard and process away some portion of it.
This process is practical – your body has to get rid of the stuff you don’t need – but certain methods of consuming CBD may eliminate some of these bodily “inefficiencies,” thereby increasing the amount of benefits you get from a certain dose of cannabinoids.
CBD capsules pass through the digestive tract and then reach the bloodstream. Capsules and other digestible products have a bioavailability of 10-20%.
CBD oils are taken under the tongue and absorbed through the blood vessels in your mouth, which allow the cannabinoids to bypass your digestive system and go straight to your bloodstream. CBD oil has a bioavailability of 20-30%.
Onset Delay & Duration
As CBD capsules have to be digested before they can begin working, you’ll need to wait 45 minutes to 1 hour to begin feeling the effects from them. CBD capsules typically render benefits for 6-8 hours after you take them.
CBD oil’s direct absorption method allows it to begin working in just 10-15 minutes. The effects of CBD oil will last 4-6 hours.
Note that the duration of the effects from both products may vary slightly depending on how much you take and how much you weigh.
CBD oils typically have few ingredients – most products will just contain hemp extract and a carrier oil.
The ingredients in CBD capsules vary, depending on whether they’re dry capsules or softgel capsules.
For the sake of example, softgel capsules are usually comprised of CBD oil (which is carrier oil and hemp extract) that’s been contained in a gelatin or vegetable glycerin capsule.
Pros and Cons of CBD Capsules
CBD capsules are a great product, but they may not be right for everyone. Here’s what you need to consider:
- Easy to take — CBD capsules are a quick and easy consumption method. Since each piece has the same cannabinoid content, they’re ideal if you plan to take the same dose on a regular basis.
- Fits into wellness routines — If you already take multiple vitamins or other supplements, CBD capsules make a seamless addition to your routine.
- Longer-lasting than CBD oil — The effects of CBD capsules last between 6 and 8 hours, as compared to CBD oil, which renders benefits for 4-6.
- Don’t allow very small doses — Unlike CBD oil, which allows you to measure your dose down to the drop, with CBD capsules, you might have trouble finding a product that contains a very small amount of CBD in each piece.
- Slower onset than CBD oil — CBD capsules take 45 minutes to 1 hour to begin working, while CBD oil works in just 10-15 minutes.
- Lower bioavailability than CBD oil — As CBD capsules have to pass through the digestive system, they have a bioavailability of just 10-20%, compared to CBD oil’s 20-30%.
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Pros and Cons of CBD Oil
CBD oil, too, has pros and cons that need to be considered:
- Allows for very precise dosing — Most CBD oil products come with a metered dropper, which allows you to (literally) measure your dosage down to the drop. This makes CBD oil a great option if you’re planning on making frequent adjustments to your dose.
- Higher bioavailability — Since CBD oil goes straight to the bloodstream via its sublingual absorption method, it is 20-30% bioavailable, as compared to 10-20% for capsules.
- Faster onset — Also as a result of sublingual absorption, CBD oil begins working in just 10-15 minutes, as compared to 45 minutes to 1 hour for capsules and other digestible products.
- Not as convenient or easy to use as CBD capsules — Since CBD oil has to be dosed with a dropper and held under the tongue for a minute to allow it to absorb, it isn’t as easy or quick to use as CBD capsules, especially when traveling or on the go.
- Taste — Most CBD oil products contain terpenes, which give them an earthy, slightly bitter flavor. You might or might not enjoy the taste of CBD oil.
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Tips for Choosing CBD Capsules & Oil
All in all, both CBD capsules and CBD oil have their upsides and downsides, and neither product is necessarily better than the other. But no matter which you choose, here are three key CBD buying tips to help you find the best product possible:
When in Doubt, Opt for Full-Spectrum CBD
Unlike CBD isolate, full-spectrum CBD contains other cannabinoids (such as CBG, CBN, and THC) and terpenes in addition to CBD. This amplifies the therapeutic benefits you’ll receive from the CBD.
Make Sure It’s Actually CBD
If a product just says hempseed oil or cannabis sativa oil, it doesn’t contain CBD; it needs to say cannabidiol.
Check 3rd-party Lab Reports to Verify Quality
Companies can say anything about their products, but the proof is in the lab results. Check the lab reports for any product you’re going to buy to ensure that the cannabinoid amounts stated on the label are really present.
Conclusion: Which Product Should You Choose?
When it comes to ease of use and routine building, CBD capsules are, by far, the better product. However, due to the way CBD oils are taken, they are the better product in terms of efficacy — they are more bioavailable and faster-acting than most other CBD products, capsules included.
Ultimately, it all comes down to your lifestyle and personal preferences. Whichever product you end up choosing, you can rest easy knowing you’ll get the transformative therapeutic benefits of hemp.
Want to explore your options further? Check out our other product comparison guides:
CBD Capsules vs. Oil: Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some questions our customers frequently ask us about choosing between CBD capsules and oil.
Is CBD better in oil or capsules?
In terms of bioavailability and onset time, CBD oils are the most effective product. They are 20-30% bioavailable and will begin working in just 5-10 minutes. However, CBD oils have some downsides: they aren’t as convenient as capsules, and their taste may not appeal to some people.
What is the best form of taking CBD?
CBD vapes and other inhalables are the most bioavailable CBD products, CBD gummies and capsules are the quickest and easiest to use, and CBD oils allow for the most precise dosing. Ultimately, the product you choose will come down to your needs and preferences — no product is the best.
Do CBD capsules last longer than gummies?
CBD capsules and CBD gummies have comparable onset durations. Both products render effects for 6-8 hours after you take them.