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Learn the difference and similarities between CBD capsules vs. oils to choose the best option for you and your wellness plan. This article helps explain the use of CBD, why you might consider it, and the difference between CBD oil vs capsule form. Can’t decide whether you should choose CBD oil or capsules? Here we break down the differences between these two forms of CBD to help you make a well-thought-out decision.

CBD Capsules vs. Oil: Which One Is Right for You?

It’s estimated that 1 in 7 Americans use CBD products. From gummies, tea, and coffee to rubs, capsules, tinctures, and beyond, there are now dozens of different ways to use CBD. As you first try CBD, it can be challenging figuring out the best type for your lifestyle.

While we won’t be tackling all the ways you can take CBD in this article (you can peruse our blog for that), we’ll explore CBD capsules and how they compare to CBD oils and tinctures.

Use this guide to learn all about CBD capsules, their potential benefits, how to shop for them, and what makes them different from CBD oils. You’ll feel confident knowing the difference between CBD capsules vs. oils so you can choose the best option for you and your wellness plan.

What Are CBD Capsules?

CBD capsules are exactly what they sound like — small capsules filled with CBD oil. They’re a fantastic way of getting the benefits of CBD in capsule form.

Full spectrum CBD oil comes from the hemp plant, including the flowers and leaves. Once hemp plants are harvested and processed, they’re ready for the extraction process, which can be accomplished in a few different ways. Ethanol, oil, and CO2 extraction are all ways to extract CBD from hemp plants.

You might see CBD capsules labeled a few different ways. For instance, if you find CBD isolate capsules, you’re getting a single cannabinoid — namely, CBD. On the flip side, capsules labeled as “full spectrum” or “broad-spectrum” include several different cannabinoids such as CBN or CBG. (We’ll talk more about full spectrum blends in a moment.)

CBD capsules are typically packaged as a soft gel made with gelatin, not unlike typical vitamins or supplements you have sitting in your bathroom or kitchen cabinet. Keep your eyes open for capsules made without gelatin if that’s important to you. (Hint: Populum’s 25mg serving of CBD capsules are vegan!)

Just as with CBD oil, your CBD capsules usually include a carrier oil. A carrier oil can enhance bioavailability and absorption. Don’t be surprised if you see any of these carrier oils on the ingredient list: olive oil, coconut oil, or hemp seed oil.

In particular, hemp seed oil comes with a host of potential health benefits, so you’re getting a nutrient-rich bonus when you see this oil in your CBD capsules or tinctures.

CBD Capsules vs. CBD Oils

CBD oil and CBD capsules are different forms and methods of taking CBD. Although they may look very different, they both share many of the same benefits.

Both CBD soft gels and CBD oil tinctures include CBD (cannabidiol), which interacts with your endocannabinoid system. Researchers are still learning more about the endocannabinoid system and how it works in our bodies. But we do know it’s a complex system that plays a role in regulating sleep, mood, memory, appetite, and more.

Per the 2018 Farm Bill, all CBD products must contain less than 0.3% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which means you can experience CBD’s benefits without any psychoactive effects.

The main difference between CBD capsules and oils is the delivery system and absorption. Many people enjoy capsules because they’re convenient and simple to take. It’s easy tucking a few capsules in your pocket for later if you’re on the go rather than fussing with a dropper of CBD oil in a rush.

When you weigh the option of CBD capsules vs. oil, remember that they do absorb differently in the body. CBD capsules enter your digestive system, which means you could be waiting a little longer to feel the effects than you would with CBD tinctures.

Researchers note that taking CBD with a high-fat meal can increase its bioavailability four-fold instead of taking it on an empty stomach. It’s something to keep mind if you’d like to maximize the absorption of your CBD capsules.

Tinctures, on the other hand, can be taken sublingually (under your tongue). Taking a vitamin or supplement under your tongue allows it to enter your bloodstream and bypass the digestive system. In short, CBD tinctures can help your body find balance a little sooner than capsule form.

CBD tinctures are also far more versatile than CBD capsules. Do you look forward to your morning mug of coffee or count the minutes until you can wind down your day with a hot cup of tea? If so, a full spectrum CBD tincture may be a better fit for you. It’s easy to add a full dropper to any beverage and use it in your cooking. Try adding it to a cozy spice cake or cocktail.

Lastly, flavor matters more for CBD oil than it does for capsules. Populum’s CBD tincture features an award-winning orange flavor, but we understand you might prefer an unflavored way of getting your CBD.

With full spectrum CBD capsules, you can get all the benefits of CBD without the flavor of hemp. They’re a perfect, tasteless option that gives you a high concentration of CBD when you need it.

Tips for Choosing CBD Capsules

If you decide CBD capsules are right for you, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind as you shop:

Choose Full Spectrum CBD Products: We suggest looking for a full spectrum blend over a CBD isolate. There are over 100 cannabinoids found in hemp plants, and CBD is just one of many.

Harness the Power of Terpenes: Full spectrum blends include terpenes, which are what give plants their scent and coloring. Terpenes and cannabinoids work together to create what’s known as the entourage effect. This theory proposes that cannabinoids and terpenes enhance each other and benefit the body more than isolated cannabinoids.

Verify Quality With Lab Results: Always look for high-quality CBD products and choose companies that value transparency. Every Populum product comes with third-party lab results. These lab results verify the amount of CBD in your tincture, rub, or capsules since you can’t always be sure what’s on the label and in your product match up. You’ll also get cannabinoid and terpene profiles and a guarantee that your pure CBD is precisely that — free from mycotoxins, microbes, and solvents.

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Populum’s Full Spectrum Hemp CBD Capsules are made from hemp grown right here in the United States. They also come in two different concentrations, making it easier for you to customize the amount of CBD you take and find your ideal dosage.

These gel capsules don’t have any flavoring and are easy to take with a glass of water. Even better, Populum’s CBD capsules use full spectrum hemp extract and MCT oil derived from coconuts. Studies have shown MCT oil comes with its own benefits, like improving cognitive performance.

Be mindful of dosage and start low and slow. Side effects are rare, but it’s a good idea to give your body time to adjust before changing your dosage.

Determine Whether CBD Capsules Are Right For You

Choosing CBD capsules vs. oils comes down to personal preference. They both have their advantages, and it’s up to you to decide whether the benefits of CBD capsules outweigh those of oils for your lifestyle. CBD taken in any form can help you experience a sense of mental and physical balance.

CBD capsules are easy to incorporate into your daily vitamin or supplement routine. Unlike CBD tinctures you have to hold under your tongue, you can take CBD capsules with a glass of water, which means no waiting if you’re in a hurry.

But you really don’t have to choose between the two. Consider keeping a tincture or oil at home while taking capsules on the go so you’ll have CBD whenever you need it. Topical rubs, CBD honey, capsules, and tinctures can all have a place in your wellness routine.

CBD Oil vs CBD Capsules: Which is Best for Your Needs?

Even if you aren’t new to CBD use, you might be a bit confused as to the many products available that contain CBD and how it can be used. You might even wonder what is best for you and your reasons for considering the supplement. Short of buying up a plethora of products, which can get quite pricey, you can always discuss your options with a healthcare provider or begin a bit of research on your own.

This article helps explain the use of CBD, why you might consider it, and the difference between CBD oil vs capsule form. Although the effects are not different, how you take the supplement can be interchangeable based on certain preferences.

Comparison Chart

  • immediate effect overall
  • Can easily be added to drinks and food
  • Benefits from secondary ingredients
  • Breaks down in the digestive tract
  • Not as available for use compared to an oil

What is CBD?

CBD is short for cannabinoid and is an active ingredient in the cannabis family. Found in high amounts in both marijuana and hemp, CBD is a non-psychoactive chemical, and thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill- is legal in all 50 United States. CBD is different than its THC chemical cousin which creates the psychoactive ‘high’ and altered state of mind that is still federally illegal.

Despite the fact that both chemicals are used for medicinal purposes, CBD is a very active ingredient on its own and is used to treat a wide variety of ailments ranging from severe epileptic disorders to anxiety and insomnia. Found in a wide variety of products, it can be used topically, internally, or even inhaled – and is sold as a supplement. Care should be taken, however, to buy quality products that are the third party checked to ensure the label matches the product.

Why Take CBD Supplements?

As mentioned, CBD can work as a supplemental aid for a wide variety of needs. The benefits it provides are still growing as further studies continue to take place, but its most popular use surrounds pain and sleeps support, with anxiety, stress, and depression-related issues a common use as well.

These aren’t the only reasons to begin using it on a regular basis though, especially since it has anti-inflammatory and soothing properties. Studies into improved focus and concentration are also being reflected upon, as is the support of asthma relief.

CBD Oil

CBD oil is the extracted oil from the hemp and marijuana plants. It is separated from THC when taken from a marijuana plant to make it a legal, consumable substance. This oil is then suspended in a carrier oil, such as fractionated coconut or hempseed oil, and sometimes blended with essential oil for both taste and added benefits. Most oils are sold in a dropper or as a spray.

Bioavailability

Bioavailability is defined as the active portion of the product that is available for circulation into the bloodstream of the body. How you use CBD determines how much of it you may be getting. Although you can mix oils with foodstuffs, it is suggested that you take it under your tongue in order to take advantage of the sublingual gland.

This gland is located on the floor of your mouth and quickly absorbs into the bloodstream the available ingredients it comes into contact with. This allows you to immediately get a decent percentage of the oil into your system for quicker results, with the rest made available through the digestive process.

Taste

CBD has an earthy flavor and the oil is a bit ‘slick’ overall. This may be an issue for some people who are not used to taking oil directly into their mouths, especially if they are holding it for the required 30 to 60 seconds that is suggested for maximum body absorption.

Since it is mixed with coconut oil, and often essential oils, this flavor can be masked somewhat due to the strong scents and subtle flavors of the EO’s being used. Popular flavors include orange, peppermint, and lime. Some companies flavor the oil more strongly and may add a sweetener to make the experience more pleasant.

You may want to read: Top CBD Oil Companies

Conveniences

Taking oil is very convenient. Since they are often sold as a spray or in a dropper bottle it only takes seconds to administer. Of course, you should hold it for 30 to 60 seconds, but that is not considered problematic for too many people.

Downside

If you have a sensitive gag reflex or find you cannot handle the taste of the oil blend, this might not be the best option for you. Of course, you also can easily mix it into foodstuffs as well, but you won’t get as much into your bloodstream initially without holding it against the sublingual glands.

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Oil can also spill, which might not make it the best option for travel, or if you like to carry it around with you in a purse or bag. It also isn’t incredibly discreet if you are in public and want to administer a dose.

CBD Capsules

Just like the CBD oil products described above, the capsule is the CBD extract suspended in a capsule, usually in gel form. The only true obvious difference between the two is what they look like and how you take them. There are some more important differences to consider that you cannot see, however, as explained below.

Bioavailability

Just like oil, you take a capsule orally, but the difference in your body response is a bit more specific. With the oil, you are taking advantage of the sublingual gland that allows your body to more quickly process the CBD into your bloodstream.

With the capsule, it has to make its way through your digestive system to be broken down before it can make its way into your bloodstream. This process also makes it not quite as available overall. The potency of the oil is reflected in both the gland and digestive system processes, whereas the capsule only has the chance to release through digestion. This makes an oil a favorable choice when you want to take advantage of as much of the CBD benefits as possible.

Taste

Obviously, there is no flavor to a capsule that you swallow. For anyone who struggles with taking oil directly, this is a great option to consider.

Conveniences

A capsule is very easy to travel with, you don’t have to worry about spilling and waste, plus it is very discreet overall. They also are very specific with their dosage, and you don’t have to measure out a dropper to ensure you are getting the proper amount.

Downside

The biggest downside of a capsule is simply the fact that you may not be taking advantage of its full potential due to any loss that might occur through the digestive system. It also does not enter into your bloodstream as quickly as oil, making it less readily available.

You may want to read: Best CBD Oils

Conclusion

Obviously, how you choose to ingest your CBD is entirely personal and dependent upon your own preferences. CBD oil is more readily available, enters into your bloodstream more quickly, and does allow your body to uptake more of its full potency than a capsule. However, it may have a flavor or texture that is not preferred by the consumer, making the capsule a better option.

CBD Capsules vs Oil: Which Is Better?

There’s a debate over the superiority of particular forms of CBD over others. People are wondering which type is better — CBD oil or CBD capsules?

Both forms of CBD have been around with us for a while, and both are used for different purposes.

To be honest, the best form of CBD depends on your individual preferences, such as your lifestyle, convenience, bioavailability, dosage, etc.

In this article, we’ll break down the differences between CBD oil vs CBD capsules to help you make a well-informed decision.

CBD Capsules vs Oil: A Brief Comparison

CBD Capsules CBD Oil
Ingredients CBD extract, carrier oil, softgel covering CBD extract, carrier oil
Form of administration Oral Sublingual (beneath the tongue)
Bioavailability Up to 20% Around 35%
Onset 30-120 minutes 15-30 minutes
Lasting time 4-6 hours 8-12 hours

CBD oil is usually made from a CBD extract (full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate), a carrier oil, and flavorings (optional). They may also feature additional ingredients that produce complementary effects or enhance the health benefits of CBD.

CBD capsules contain the same hemp extract and carrier oil, but unlike CBD oil, this form is odorless and flavorless. Capsules are covered in a soft gel shell that makes them easier to swallow.

And, since CBD capsules are swallowed, they come with a delayed onset compared to CBD oil. The effects of CBD capsules are noticeable usually within 30-120 minutes, while CBD oil can start working after 15–30 minutes. It also offers higher bioavailability, reaching 35% in studies.

Meanwhile, the maximum bioavailability of CBD capsules has been measured at 20% due to the first-pass metabolism in the liver. But, since CBD is released gradually into the bloodstream, the duration of effects is also extended — up to 12 hours.

Now that you know the basic differences between CBD capsules vs CBD oil, let’s take a look at the health benefits of CBD supplements.

Why People Are Turning to CBD Supplements

From A-list celebrities to professional athletes and regular folks who are conscious about their health — everyone is jumping on the bandwagon.

It’s no wonder why people are turning to CBD for relieving a wide range of symptoms, like CBD oil for sleep. CBD supports the functioning of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is our master regulatory network controlling processes like memory, mood, sensory perception, fertility, sleep cycles, attention, and more.

A healthy endocannabinoid system (ECS) ensures homeostasis throughout the body, which is a fancy term for the biological balance between all systems and organs.

By supporting the ECS, CBD may help in regulating the aforementioned processes in a natural and biologically appropriate way.

Research has found CBD to be potentially effective at fighting pain, inflammation, sleep deprivation, infections, epileptic seizures, neurodegeneration, and autoimmune conditions.

However, CBD extracts aren’t cheap, so you want to make sure that you’re maximizing the benefits of your product.

So, which one should you choose: CBD capsules or CBD oil?

CBD Capsules vs Oil: A Detailed Breakdown

Before choosing between CBD capsules vs oil, take your time to outline your goals and priorities.

You need to think about why you want to use CBD in the first place. If you’re looking for a product for general supplementation, both capsules and oil are a good pick.

So, what’s the point of choosing between CBD capsules and oils if they come with the same features?

This is where we need to dive into more specific differences between these two forms of cannabidiol.

CBD Capsules

Similar to most health supplements, the best CBD comes in capsule form.

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CBD capsules are made with the same ingredient as oils — CBD — but they’re more stable than CBD oil. Once pulled from the plant matter, the extract is covered by a softgel shell. CBD capsules are similar to any other pill that can be swallowed down with a glass of water, making them more popular among users who prefer convenience in their supplementation routine.

The Pros of CBD Capsules
  • Capsules are easy to take. If you already take encapsulated supplements, it’s easy to add them to your daily plan.
  • Dosing CBD capsules is simple because each capsule contains a fixed dose of CBD.
  • Capsules are the traveler’s best friend. They won’t leak in a bag and aren’t subject to volume restrictions for hand luggage.
  • Capsules are discrete. You won’t be noticed for taking them in public.
  • Capsules are odorless and flavorless, making them a good alternative for people who dislike the taste of CBD Oil.
The Cons of CBD Capsules
  • CBD capsules are less bioavailable than oils, and they lose some of their strength on their way to the bloodstream.
  • Capsules aren’t as popular as CBD oils, so the product choice is limited in terms of different formulations.
  • The fixed-dose per serving can be problematic for those using less obvious dosages in their routine.

CBD Oil

Also known as CBD drops, high-quality CBD oil contains a cannabis extract that has been infused into a carrier oil for higher bioavailability.

Taking CBD oil is easy. The product usually comes in 30-mL bottles that have glass droppers attached to them. All you need to do is squeeze the desired amount of CBD into the dropper, place it under your tongue, and hold it there for around 60 seconds. You can also swish your tongue around the gums to increase the surface area for absorption.

This way, CBD with other cannabinoids and terpenes will get absorbed through the tiny capillaries in your mouth right into the bloodstream. Then you just swallow the remaining amount.

Natural full-spectrum CBD oils have an earthy and nutty taste that can also leave a harsh feeling on the throat. If you dislike the natural taste of CBD oil, you can look for flavored options or mix them into food and drinks. However, consuming CBD in food will also deprive you of the benefits associated with more efficient absorption through sublingual use.

The Pros of CBD Oil
  • CBD oil is the most common form of CBD supplementation. You can choose from a wide range of potencies, sizes, formulations, and flavors to adjust the experience to your expectations. It’s generally best to start with low-strength CBD oil and gradually increase the potency until you find the sweet spot.
  • The dropper attached to CBD oil can help you accurately measure out your dose.
  • CBD oil offers higher bioavailability than capsules, allowing more CBD to enter your system.
  • Taking CBD is relatively easy, even for people who have never used a tincture of any kind.
The Cons of CBD Oil
  • CBD oil has a strong earthy flavor and thick texture. Unless you use flavorings or add them to the food to mask the taste, you may not like the way it feels on the palate.
  • CBD oil may leak in your bag, making it a difficult product to travel with. Capsules are definitely more convenient
  • It’s not a discrete method of applying CBD. Having to use a dropper to place the oil under your tongue might turn some heads in public.

4 Questions You Should Ask Yourself When Choosing Between CBD Capsules vs Oil

Before you click that “add to cart” button, ask yourself the following questions about CBD capsules and oil:

  1. What are your goals with CBD? If you’re aiming at regular supplementation and don’t mind waiting at least 30 minutes for the effects, capsules are a better option. However, if you’re looking for faster relief from your symptoms, then CBD oil has the upper hand.
  2. What is your dosage? Do you take doses like 10, 25, or 50 mg? Or do you use less obvious amounts, such as 15 mg or 35 mg? If you’re closer to the latter, you may want to consider buying CBD oil instead of capsules.
  3. How long do you want the effects to stay with you? Capsules are processed in a slower manner than CBD oil, but at the same time, the duration of their effects is longer. Capsules usually kick in within 30 minutes to 2 hours and their effects last up to 12 hours. CBD oil needs around 15-30 minutes to show its effects, but it last shorter than capsules (6 hours at best).
  4. How do you perceive the taste of CBD oil? Of course, you can grit your teeth and take CBD oil even if you dislike the taste, but if this is too much for you, then capsules should change the game. However, you’ll need to sacrifice some of the bioavailability in favor of the lack of odor and flavor.

Key Takeaways on CBD Capsules and Oils

The bottom line is that choosing between CBD capsules and oils breaks down to knowing your priorities and lifestyle preferences. Bioavailability is the most important factor here, although convenience, ease of use, dosage precision, and the duration of effects also matter.

CBD capsules might be better if you’re looking for an easy way to take your daily dose of CBD. You can add them to your pillbox and take them alongside other supplements without having to measure out a thick oily substance.

That being said, CBD oil might win if you’re looking for higher bioavailability and accurate dosing. While less discrete and obvious than capsules, CBD oils are the closest you can get to nature when it comes to taking hemo supplements.

Let us know in the comments if you’ve tried both forms of CBD — and which one is your daily driver.

Nina Julia

Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.

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