Cannabis sativa is a versatile plant that growers use to manufacture the numerous CBD products you find on shelves of your local health stores and dispensaries. Among these items are CBD tablets and CBD oil — products that have gained popularity for their potential health benefits.
Both CBD tablets and CBD oil are commonly used as dietary supplements and are believed to interact with the endocannabinoid system in the body, which plays a role in regulating various physiological processes to help maintain homeostasis — or balance — within the body.
All that said, what’s the difference between CBD capsules vs oil? Let’s find out.
What Is CBD?
First thing’s first: let’s define CBD. CBD is an acronym for cannabidiol, an active ingredient within the Cannabis plant and a type of cannabinoid. Cannabinoids, like THC, are naturally occurring compounds in the hemp plant that can mimic the naturally occurring endocannabinoids in our bodies.
As a result, different types of CBD can largely influence the body’s endocannabinoid system when ingested. Picture the endocannabinoid system like train tracks running through the body — more specifically, through the immune system, nervous system and various organs (like the kidneys, skin and brain).
This vast network of chemical signals and cellular receptors are controlled by endocannabinoids, which interact with cannabinoid receptor to regulate physical sensations, mood, sleep and immune function. There are two types of cannabinoid receptors:
- CB1 – These receptors are primarily found in the central nervous system (CNS), which includes the brain and spinal cord. CB1 receptors actually outnumber many of the other receptors found in the brain to affect neurotransmitters, which adjust things like hunger, internal temperature and alertness.
- CB2 – These receptors exist mainly within immune tissues and play a critical role in immune function as well as inflammatory responses within the digestive system.
When you ingest CBD softgel capsule or CBD oil, the CBD molecules interact with the two types of receptors to modulate various physiological processes in the body, such as the aforementioned immune and brain function. How they do this, however, depends on the type of product you’re using.
What to Know About CBD Capsules
CBD capsules are a convenient and discreet way to consume CBD. They offer the advantage of precise dosing, allowing you to control the amount of CBD you're taking, which can be especially important for people with specific health requirements using CBD.
When taking CBD edibles like capsules, you’ll ingest them orally and swallow them whole. Then, the CBD must pass through the digestive system before it’s absorbed into the bloodstream. As a result, the bioavailability — the amount of CBD your body can use — is relatively low when taken orally. It’s believed that only five to 10 percent of orally ingested CBD is absorbed into the body.
That said, further studies conducted by the Colorado State University’s Department of Health and Exercise Science found that higher amounts of water-soluble CBD (such as the softgel capsule) are absorbed when consumed with food, specifically a source of fat, such as:
- Fatty fish
That said, CBD edibles like capsules may be more beneficial to people who prefer consistent dosing or delayed effects. For example, a CBD capsule may be a good option when fighting flight nervousness. You can consume a CBD capsule 45 minutes to two hours before you board to experience the potentially calming effects when in flight.
Additionally, it's important to note that the effects of CBD from capsules tend to last longer due to the gradual release into the bloodstream. So, if you are wondering after your workout if using CBD for pain relief is possible, yes it is. This prolonged effect can be advantageous for individuals who are looking for sustained relief over an extended period of time.
What’s the Difference Between CBD Capsules vs CBD Tablets?
While CBD capsules must be swallowed whole and digested before entering the bloodstream, CBD tablets are chewable and dissolve in your mouth. As such, they allow for sublingual absorption.
This means that the CBD in the tablets can be absorbed directly through the mucous membranes under the tongue and in the cheeks, bypassing the digestive system and the liver's first-pass metabolism. Sublingual absorption tends to result in faster onset of effects compared to traditional oral ingestion, as the CBD enters the bloodstream more directly.
When tablets are taken sublingually, the bioavailability increases to 80 percent.
What to Know About CBD Oil
CBD oil is extracted from the flowers, leaves and stalks of the hemp plant through one of four methods:
- CO2 extraction – Through a process called CO2 extraction, pressurized carbon dioxide separates the CBD from the rest of the compounds. It’s then mixed with a carrier oil, such as MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) oil, hemp seed oil or olive oil, to create CBD oil that is suitable for consumption.
- Steam distillation– Although less effective than CO2 extraction, steam distillation uses steam to separate the CBD oil from the cannabis plant material.
- Solvent extraction – This method uses a solvent to pull out the CBD oil. Although, some solvent residue can remain, which may prove dangerous to your health.
- Lipid extraction – Lipids, or fatty acids, are used to separate the CBD oil without using potential toxins such as solvents. As such, it’s believed that this type of CBD oil also has a more dense nutrient profile, including antioxidants, healthy fats, vitamins and protein.
These extraction methods are used to create three distinct types of CBD oil:
- Full spectrum CBD oil – Full-spectrum CBD oils contain the entire profile of cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids. As such, these products do contain trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive compound that’s prevalent in marijuana. The amount does not surpass the legal limit of 0.3%, however, meaning it’s unlikely that you will feel “high” or test positive on the drug test after taking full spectrum CBD oil. The full profile of Cannabis sativa compounds is believed to produce what’s referred to as “the entourage effect,” a theory that each compound elevates the effects of the other to produce a more potent product.
- Broad spectrum CBD oil – Broad spectrum CBD oils contain the same compounds as full spectrum CBD — everything except for THC. Consequently, they may be a good option for people looking for an entirely THC-free CBD product.
- CBD isolate– CBD isolate is CBD in its most pure form. It’s extremely potent and does not contain additional cannabinoids, nor terpenes or flavonoids.
When taking CBD oil, you can ingest it one of two ways: sublingually or orally. When ingesting the CBD sublingually, you would apply a few drops of the oil under your tongue and hold it there for about 30 to 60 seconds before swallowing. This method allows the CBD to be absorbed directly into the bloodstream for faster effects.
If you prefer to ingest CBD oil orally, you would simply swallow the oil directly or mix it with food or beverages before consumption. When taken orally, the CBD must pass through the digestive tract, where it's absorbed and metabolized before entering the bloodstream, like CBD capsules.
CBD oils may be more convenient for people who have a hard time swallowing capsules or those who are looking for a faster-acting CBD product. You can also mix CBD oils in various meals or treats, such as:
That said, since CBD oils don’t come with measured dosage, like CBD capsules, it’s critical to determine the right dosage for you before ingesting the product — although, this can be difficult.
CBD products are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), meaning there is no standardized recommended dosage for CBD. Determining the appropriate dosage involves considering various factors, including your body weight, your health status, your individual sensitivity to CBD and the concentration of the CBD oil.
That said, most studies have used dosages that range from 20 to 1,500 milligrams.
To determine the correct dosage for you, speak with your healthcare provider. It’s generally advised to start at a lower amount, such as 20 to 40 milligrams and increasing the dosage over a course of a few weeks based on how your body reacts.
Potential Side Effects of CBD Capsules and CBD Oil
While high doses of CBD are generally tolerated by humans, it may negatively affect some individuals, particularly when first starting. Whether you’re swallowing a CBD capsule, chewing a CBD tablet or dropping CBD oil under your tongue, side effects are the same across the board.
CBD side effects may include:
- Fatigue and drowsiness
- Dry mouth
- Changes in appetite
- Weight fluctuations
Additionally, if you’re taking certain medications, such as blood thinners, it’s advised to steer clear of CBD products since the combination of the two products can adversely impact your health.
Since CBD is not regulated by the FDA, purity is also of significance. Some products may contain lower amounts of CBD than stated on their label. Others may contain significant amounts of THC or other contaminants and toxins.
To avoid relying on an untrustworthy batch of CBD, do your research before purchasing CBD capsules, tablets or oils. You’ll want to explore the company’s website and find the product’s Certificate of Analysis, which indicates that the product has been tested by a third-party lab. It’s also helpful to understand the product’s:
- Cannabinoid content
- Terpene profile
- Contaminant testing results
- Batch number
Zebra CBD: Find The Products That Work For You
CBD capsules and CBD oil are both reliable ways to add helpful cannabinoids to your wellness routine — when tested by a third party. That said, CBD capsules generally take longer to take effect, but are convenient options for on-the-go CBD. CBD oil, on the other hand, can be ingested sublingually, meaning you’ll likely experience the potential effects of CBD faster.
Looking for effective CBD online? For the best of both worlds, Zebra CBD offers CBD chewable tablets. Unlike traditional CBD capsules that take longer to produce effects, our CBD products like chewable tablets or hemp pills dissolve in your mouth, allowing for sublingual absorption. And they’re convenient, too, pre-dosed and ready to ingest whenever and wherever life takes you.
- Harvard Health Publishing. Cannabidiol (CBD): What we know and what we don't. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cannabidiol-cbd-what-we-know-and-what-we-dont-2018082414476
- Harvard Health Publishing. The endocannabinoid system: Essential and mysterious. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-endocannabinoid-system-essential-and-mysterious-202108112569
- Forbes. Is Orally Ingested CBD Actually Absorbed By The Body? https://www.forbes.com/health/body/cbd-absorption/
- Healthline. CBD Isolate vs. Full-Spectrum CBD: Which One Is Right for You?. https://www.healthline.com/health/cbd-isolate-vs-full-spectrum
- Medical News Today. Full-Spectrum vs. Broad-Spectrum CBD: What is the Difference? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/full-spectrum-cbd-vs-broad-spectrum-cbd
- Healthline. CBD Dosage: Figuring Out How Much to Take. https://www.healthline.com/health/cbd-dosage