If you are trying CBD for the first time and want to know if CBD Gummies or CBD Capsules would be better. Read More Now Dr Sarah Brewer explains how different types of CBD affect how it is absorbed in the body, and the difference this can make.
CBD Gummies vs CBD Capsules
There are all kinds of ways to get your CBD dose these days, and while CBD oil tinctures remain the most commonly used form of CBD, let’s admit it: it’s not the most convenient. On the other hand, CBD gummies and CBD capsules are garnering attention as ways to take your CBD on the go with ease.
Not only do both CBD gummies and CBD capsules take out the need for a dropper, which usually measures inaccurately, anyway, but it also does away with the sharp, grassy smell and flavor associated with hemp.
But between CBD gummies and CBD capsules, what’s the difference?
CBD vapes are fast-acting and portable, and while it may appear complicated, it’s a snap to learn!
First, let’s talk about what makes CBD so great in the first place.
JOSE J. ORTIZ
Reviewed: October 19, 2020
Benefits of CBD
While CBD’s research still has a long way to go, there is evidence that it may help with ailments including anxiety, pain, inflammation, and improve sleep.
This is because when CBD’s introduced to the human body, it provokes certain functions in the body leading to a unique synergy that’s still not fully understood, but the research we have so far is enough to give us a strong idea.
From current research, we’ve learned that CBD interacts with the central nervous system, specifically in the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which helps regulate balance in the body with the help of CB1 and CB2 receptors. Our body naturally stimulates these receptors through cannabinoids, and it’s been found that CBD, which is a plant-based cannabinoid (phytocannabinoid), does a very similar job.
But don’t worry: unlike THC, CBD does not produce the same intoxicating effect.
CBD for Inflammatory Pain
The bulk of CBD’s research is found surrounding its analgesic properties. For instance, a 2010 study published by Future Medicinal Chemistry concluded that CBD has the ability to suppress inflammatory pain, while further research has found that CBD may be a viable treatment for several chronic pain conditions, such as multiple sclerosis (MS).
And this finding is especially exciting because inflammation is not only associated with specific chronic conditions, but plays a role in general everyday discomfort. In other words, CBD may be ideal for a broad range of unpleasant symptoms!
CBD for Better Focus
Additionally, consuming CBD may also help support focus and clarity by interacting with the receptors in the body known for creating the neurotransmitter known as dopamine. Dopamine is key in regulating several facets of our behavior, including memory, motivation, mood, and focus.
CBD for Promoting a Sense of Calm
CBD may also help promote a sense of calm by helping to manage stress. A growing number of studies have indicated that CBD may be effective in combating PTSD, general anxiety, and social anxiety to name a few. And in a recent literature review, Neurotherapeutics compared 32 different animal-based studies, and 31 of the 32 found CBD to have a potentially positive effect on stress.
CBD for Sleep
CBD may also help with managing sleep. According to the American Sleep Association, CBD may help restore and rebalance your sleep schedule not only by alleviating stress and anxiety, but also by manipulating parts of the ECS responsible for managing sleep and melatonin production.
But what’s the difference between gummies and capsules? Which is the better way to get your CBD?
CBD Gummies: Pros and Cons
CBD gummies have garnered attention as the fun way to get your CBD.
CBD gummies combine CBD with a tasty, chewy, sweet experience that you can enjoy anywhere with discretion and delight. And when CBD gummy jars are labeled with their clear dosage per gummy, it’s easy to get the CBD strength you want without a dropper. Plus, you don’t have to down it with a glass of water!
CBD gummies are also great for those who don’t enjoy the sharp, bitter taste that often comes with hemp, and they’ll get the added bonus of novelty, as many CBD brands are introducing their CBD treats in a wide variety of flavors and shapes. And if you don’t want to spike your blood sugar, sugar-free options are available.
That being said, it should be noted that current research surrounding CBD is focused on CBD oil, not CBD gummies. On top of that, the FSA has yet to set forth proper regulations, so the strength and purity of CBD gummies on the market are inconsistent.
Because of this, it’s always strongly advised that you only purchase from reputable brands that clearly label their CBD gummies for sale, and that they come with a certificate of analysis from a third-party lab.
- Taste great
- Easy to measure
- Convenient & discrete
- Not a lot of research
- Some brands make them inconsistently
CBD Capsules: Pros and Cons
CBD capsules are easily among the most popular forms of CBD, and this probably has to do with its vast convenience.
CBD capsules come in a variety of forms with a few variations.
One of these variations has to do with their CBD and THC range. And like CBD gummies, you can find CBD capsules containing pure, THC-free CBD isolate, or capsules containing broad to full-spectrum cannabinoids for the entourage effect. Whatever you pick, you can rest assured that your CBD capsules won’t contain enough THC to get you high or groggy.
Another main variation is that generally, CBD capsules are available as either hard-shelled capsules or soft gels. The chief difference is between their coating. Both are safe to orally ingest, but gelatinous soft gels tend to absorb faster.
Of all the ways to take CBD, swallowing a simple pill might be the most convenient, and you can easily incorporate it into your vitamin regimen. Plus, you’re avoiding the extra calories and sugar that come with CBD gummies, and because CBD capsules are essentially pills containing slowly-released CBD oil, their bioavailability may be a bit more consistent and reliable, whereas, with CBD gummies, a good portion of of the CBD may be digested before it even reaches your bloodstream.
And of course, CBD capsules are completely tasteless and odorless, so if you’re someone who’s especially sensitive to the taste of CBD, capsules may be the better choice.
Another added benefit you get with CBD capsules is the more precise dosage. Again, you don’t’ need a dropper here, but with CBD capsules, you know exactly how much CBD you’re consuming: if you use CBD capsules containing 50 mg of CBD each, you know you’re getting 50 mg with each capsule. With gummies, on the other hand, you might not have as consistent a strength with the varying shapes and sizes. And knowing your exact current CBD dosage is crucial to determining the best strength you need.
Like most pills and capsules, however, you’ll probably have better results when you take your CBD with a meal, and then wash it down with water, so there is a bit more prep time with CBD capsules than with CBD gummies, and admittedly not as much fun. Find out which is more effective CBD oil vs capsules.
Absorption: the benefits of CBD oil, capsules, gummies, balm
From drops to sprays to capsules to balm, the type of CBD you choose will affect how it works. When choosing how you want to take your CBD, consider how you want it to act, as well as which format is the most convenient for you.
There are many CBD oil products on the market, from drops, sprays, capsules and gummies through to vapes, infused drinks and food and topical balms.
How is CBD made?
CBD (cannabidiol) is extracted from industrial hemp plants and, in its natural state, dissolves in fat rather than water. Therefore, it is usually combined with a quality oil, such as olive oil or hemp seed oil, to create CBD oil supplements.
If taking CBD by mouth (via drops or capsules), then it’s a good idea to take it with a high-fat meal, as this boosts absorption into the bloodstream by as much as fives times compared with taking it on an empty stomach. By contrast, taking CBD with a low-fat meal increases absorption 2.7 times more than taking it without any food at all. 1
CBD oil droppers or spray
When taking CBD oil as drops or a spray, you can boost absorption by holding the liquid under your tongue for a couple of minutes. This allows oil-based CBD to pass across the mucous membrane lining of the mouth directly into the bloodstream.
As a result, two or three times more will reach the bloodstream quickly compared with swallowing the whole dose immediately, and you may notice a relaxing effect within a few minutes.
When you swallow the rest of the CBD oil, a small amount is broken down by stomach acid, but nine per cent of the remaining dose will pass down into the small intestines.
As it is not water-soluble, CBD oil tends to break up into fatty globules. Most oil-based CBD is absorbed via the wall of the small intestines, along with dietary fats, directly into the lymphatic system.
When CBD is in the lymphatic system, it has direct access to cells (e.g. lymphocytes) that circulate within the lymph vessels and lymph nodes. From here, the CBD is delivered into the bloodstream, which avoids initial breakdown in the liver.
This is why taking CBD with a fatty meal can increase blood levels by three to five times, as the dietary fats help the CBD enter the lymphatic system directly. The overall result of swallowing CBD drops is a delay of 30 to 90 minutes before you may notice an effect, compared with absorbing CBD under your tongue.
Please note: One drawback of taking higher doses of CBD oil from droppers is that some people develop reflux or nausea.
CBD oil capsules
Many people prefer CBD oil capsules to droppers, as they don’t really taste of anything (although filter-clear CBD oil tastes a lot less ‘grassy’ than other types). They also provide an exact dose (as long as they are made to GMP standards), so you know how much CBD you are taking rather than the guesswork of using a dropper and counting drops.
A gel capsule must dissolve in order to start the absorption process. Most capsules (e.g. Healthspan’s CBD Oil Capsules 384mg) dissolve in the stomach, and the released CBD oil is then absorbed in the same way as for drops.
A few capsules (e.g. Healthspan’s CBD Oil Capsules 450mg) have a ‘delayed release’ mechanism that is designed to dissolve in the small intestines, directly where absorption occurs, to avoid any reflux or nausea.
As with swallowing CBD oil, you may notice an effect within 30 to 90 minutes after swallowing a CBD capsule. The maximum effect usually occurs two to three hours after swallowing CBD and typically lasts for three to five hours, and up to 12 hours with higher doses. 2
Normal CBD oil is not water-soluble, so molecules will clump together in the digestive tract, creating a small surface area and making them harder for the body to absorb.
Fortunately, technology now exists to make CBD water-soluble through advanced liquid micellar technology. This wraps tiny amounts of CBD oil inside water-soluble spheres, meaning that they can be dispersed as tiny globules (liquid micelles) across a larger surface area, for better absorption.
This makes the optimised CBD highly absorbable and more bioavailable; ‘bioavailability’ describes the relative ease with which a substance is absorbed into the blood stream and remains free to produce an active effect.
In studies, Opti-CBD was absorbed 16 times more quickly during the first hour compared with standard CBD, so you notice a faster effect.
See the micellation process in action.
As CBD is oil-soluble, very few CBD products are formulated as tablets, although some capsules are filled with crystalline powder extracts from hemp oil – especially when these are combined with other plant ingredients that have complementary effects.
Tablets, if available, would contain additional ingredients (known as excipients), such as flowing agents (to prevent them caking during processing) and binders (to prevent tablets crumbling back into powder).
The rate at which the resulting tablet would break down in the intestines would affect how much CBD is absorbed, and this would generally be slower than when CBD is taken in liquid form.
CBD gummies are increasingly popular as they can taste delicious – so much so that you may need good self-control not to exceed the recommended dose. To produce gummies, a CBD extract is combined with fruit juice, a gelling agent such as pectin or gelatin, and sweeteners plus natural flavourings to produce a flavoured, edible pastille or chew.
Some gummies have no added sugar and are sweetened with agents such as Stevia or sorbitol, while others are sweetened with sugar, glucose or cane syrup. Sucking or chewing the gummy will allow some CBD to be absorbed within the mouth lining, so you may notice a more rapid effect than when swallowing a capsule.
CBD is readily absorbed through the skin (transdermal delivery) via patches, salves, lotions, creams or balms. The CBD in these products interacts with local receptors in skin cells, skin nerve fibres and skin glands. 3 4 5
Some CBD is also absorbed into the circulation to produce more widespread effects. Rubbing in a CBD Balm can complement the effects of a CBD supplement taken by mouth.
Dr Brewer is the author of CBD: The Essential Guide to Health and Wellness (Simon & Schuster).
Dr Sarah Brewer is Healthspan’s Medical Director and holds degrees in Natural Sciences, Surgery and Medicine from the University of Cambridge. Having worked as a GP and hospital doctor, Dr Sarah now holds an MSc in Nutritional Medicine from the University of Surrey and specialises in nutrition. She is also an award-winning writer and author.
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Nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet to provide all the nutrients we need. But when this isn’t possible, supplements can help. This article isn’t intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying supplements or herbal medicines.