Weed enthusiasts everywhere are making their own homemade cannabis products. Cannabutter, cannasugar, and cannabis oils are being cooked up in kitchens around the world. While it is possible to buy many of these products ready-made, people like to know what really goes into them, and making them at home is one way to ensure the ingredients are all good.
One of the most popular cannabis products to make at home is cannabis oil. Infused oil can be used in cooking, but it can also be taken in drops, or made into capsules. The essential part of making cannabis oil is the oil you choose to infuse. This is where the debate begins: what type of oil is best to use?
What Is A Carrier Oil?
The carrier oil delivers cannabinoids like THC and CBD in marijuana to the body when ingested. As cannabis consumers know, the non-intoxicating CBD has potential to soothe inflammation and anxiety and treat a variety of conditions, while THC, the cannabinoid responsible for the euphoric "high," also has many benefits other than just getting you stoned.
The carrier oil acts as a vehicle for cannabis compounds, which are not water-soluble. A fat like oil or butter is required for the body to process the cannabinoids.
Different Types Of Oil Can Be Used
When it comes to which type of oil is the best, different people prefer different things. Something that's important to keep in mind is what you're going to use your cannabis oil for. Will it be used as a medicine that you take by drops, or will you want to cook with it? Will you use it as a topical skin treatment? Two of the most popular oils that are used to infuse with cannabis are MCT and coconut oil. But which one has the most versatility and health benefits?
What Is MCT?
MCT is a man-made, highly concentrated source of medium-chain-triglycerides using a process called fractionation. The process extracts and isolates MCTs from palm kernel oil and coconut oil. MCT oil is usually composed of 100% capric acid (C10), 100% caprylic acid (C8), or a combination of both.
A triglyceride is made up of three fatty acids and a glycerol molecule. These fatty acids are comprised of carbon atoms that are linked together in chains that can vary in the size of their links. The majority of fatty acids in dietary triglycerides are long-chain, which means they have more than 12 carbon atoms.
In comparison, the fatty acids in MCTs have a medium-length that contains 6-12 carbon atoms. The chain length of the fatty acids is what makes MCTs unique. Most dietary sources of fat like avocados, fish, seeds, nuts, and olive oil are made up of long-chain triglycerides (LCTs). The medium-chain-length of MCTs do not require the bile acids or enzymes for absorption the way that LCTs require.
This allows MCTs to go directly to the liver, where they're rapidly digested and absorbed. They are used immediately for energy or turned into ketones. Ketones are compounds that are produced when the liver breaks down a lot of fat. The body can use them for energy instead of glucose or sugar. MCTs are less likely to be stored as fat. This means they are more likely to promote weight loss than other fatty acids.
Here are four types of MCTs listed in order of their fatty acid chain length:
caproic acid – 6 carbon atoms
caprylic acid – 8 carbon atoms
capric acid – 10 carbon atoms
lauric acid – 12 carbon atoms
Lauric acid is often classified as an LCT, because it is digested and absorbed slower than other MCTs. Some experts define MCT fatty acids as those that have a length of 6-10 carbons instead of 12.
MCTs can be found in a variety of organic foods, including coconut. These acids help the body absorb THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids found in cannabis. MCT oil is an excellent carrier oil for cannabis.
You can use MCT oil in cannabis capsules, cannabis drops, when cooking and baking, or to add to beverages.
Pros and Cons of Coconut Oil As A Carrier Oil
Coconut oil is made from copra, which is the kernel or the meat of a coconut. To begin with, coconut oil is not composed of 100% MCTs. This means that it is not 100% absorbable in the digestive system. The fats need to be digested before the fatty acids which cannabinoids cling to.
Coconut oil contains roughly 60% MCTs as follows:
caproic acid – 6%
caprylic acid – 7%
lauric acid - 45%
Even though coconut oil is easier to digest when compared to other fats, not everyone's body can efficiently break down fat, no matter what type it is. To break down fat, the body needs a healthy liver and gall bladder. When these organs are healthy, they produce healthy bile. The bile helps to digest fat and promotes the secretion of pancreatic enzymes that will further help to break down fat. Fat digestion actually begins in the mouth with the aid of an enzyme called lingual lipase. It is then broken down even further in the small intestine with the aid of bile and enzymes.
The reasons why some people can not break down fat easily can include things like chewing or eating too fast and eating while stressed out can be a problem. Of course, living a toxic lifestyle that affects the gall bladder and liver is also a major issue. Any of these problems can result in poor digestion of fat.
This is not to say that all aspects of using coconut oil as a carrier oil for cannabis are bad ideas. It's actually quite the contrary. Many people that have no problem breaking down fat really like the idea of using coconut oil because it has so many beneficial health properties of its own. Even though coconut oil has not been shown consistently to give the same ketogenic or weight loss advantages as pure MCT oil, there are advantages.
Cannabis coconut oil is great for cooking, especially when it comes to pan-frying and stir-frying. It has a higher smoke point than MCT oil does. The smoke point is the temperature at which fat begins to oxidize. When this happens it can negatively affect the taste of the oil and its nutritional content. MCT oil has a smoke point of 302°F (150°C) compared to Coconut oil which has a smoke point of 350°F (177°C). This means that coconut oil can be used at higher temperatures before the taste and nutritional value is affected in a bad way.
Coconut oil has become very popular among most people, not just those that use it to infuse with cannabis. It's used in many things today. Because coconut oil has a high percentage of lauric acid, it makes it ideal for skincare and beauty treatments. Lauric acid has been shown to have strong antibacterial properties. Many people are using it to help treat acne.
Researchers have found that cannabis can help manage pain. Cannabis coconut oil is great to rub into the skin to help relieve things like arthritis and muscle strains. Coconut oil seems to be a wonder product similar to aspirin. It's good for so many things — and it's even better when infused with cannabis.