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Before bringing home a CBD product or ordering some in your morning coffee, it’s important to know that each CBD product type behaves differently. 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. There's so many ways to take CBD oil. We compare CBD capsules vs. CBD oil so you understand the pros and cons as you're shopping for yourself.

CBD Capsules vs. Oil: What are the Main Differences?

It seems like CBD is infused into everything now, from cocktails to face serums. But before bringing home a CBD product or ordering some in your morning coffee, it’s important to know that each CBD product type behaves differently once it makes its way through your skin or into your stomach.

Selecting a CBD product is an individualized decision based on your overall wellness goals. Part of the decision-making process involves understanding how each CBD product type works before applying that process to your intended purpose for using CBD. Here, we’ll break down the difference between CBD oil tinctures and CBD capsules, two popular products taken orally but which work very differently once ingested.

What are CBD capsules?

Capsules insert the CBD we’ve come to know well into an easy-to-swallow pill similar to a vitamin, so you don’t need to guess how much to take when measuring from a dropper as you might do with a CBD tincture. Typically, the capsule itself is gelatin-based, but there are vegetarian options available. Some brands, including ours, are vegan.

Some oil-based capsules contain phytocannabinoid hemp extract (which includes CBD) and others use CBD isolate, with some brands adding in ingredients designed to complement and amplify CBD’s effects. At Prima, our “The Daily” CBD capsule contains 15mg of CBD from broad spectrum hemp extract, enhanced by curcumin oil and clove bud oil and enhanced with a Bio-Terpene complex. This blend is designed to help improve CBD absorption and optimize its full body and mind benefits.

What is CBD oil?

The term “CBD oil” and “tincture” are often used interchangeably, as most CBD oils are in a tincture format. However, CBD oil can also be placed into a capsule or softgel as well. A CBD oil tincture is a blend of hemp extract and a carrier oil (though some brands use isolate). Common carrier oils include olive oil, medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) from coconut, and hemp seed oil. These tinctures come in small dropper bottles, used to measure the CBD and then place it under your tongue. These bottles are small, typically containing 1 ounce of tincture.

The main differences between CBD oil tinctures and CBD capsules

  • Each method has varying bioavailability
    The percentage of CBD your body absorbs is called bioavailability, a process impacted by the digestive system and the first pass effect. Ingredients that are water soluble have much better bioavailability than oils – our bodies are made up primarily of water and ingredients with water compatibility are most easily absorbed into our system. When CBD, terpenes, fatty acids, and other cannabinoids are extracted from hemp, the resulting material is an oil. That oil-based extract by itself is not easily absorbed by the body.

Beyond being incompatible with water, oil molecules (in their natural state) are rather large and difficult for your body to absorb. To support maximum bioavailability, Prima uses an innovative and proprietary microencapsulation technology that allows the hemp extract with CBD to be water soluble and optimized for rapid absorption.

First, we micronize our hemp extract, significantly decreasing the size of the particles so they are smaller and have more surface area. Then, we encapsulate it in a water soluble (i.e. water-loving) layer so the body absorbs it like water instead of an oil.
Picture it like making salad dressing (i.e. mixing water and oil). When first poured into a bottle, the two liquids are completely separate with the oil floating on top of the water. Shake it up and the oil turns into droplets dispersed through the water. Then, if you add an emulsifier, it will stay well mixed.

Unless the CBD has been optimized for bioavailability in this way, CBD oils won’t be easily absorbed by the body and all the benefits may not be felt.

It’s harder to measure CBD oil
Let’s face it, oils are a little messy, and measuring out a precise amount from such a small bottle is not an easy task. The droppers are difficult to fill fully and accurately and if you’re not careful, it’s easy to take too little or too much. Plus, tinctures can be leak-prone when not closed all the way or if the cap malfunctions. Last, people often think the oil is meant to be added to a food or beverage, which won’t be absorbed well by the body. Capsules, on the other hand, leave nothing to chance when it comes to precise measurements, they won’t leak, are easier for travel and on-the-go living, and if they are developed with the right ingredient technology, can be more easily absorbed by the body.

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How to choose between a CBD oil tincture and CBD capsules

First, begin by assessing why you want to take CBD. Why are you interested in incorporating CBD into your lifestyle? If you’re aiming to incorporate CBD for the long haul in a way that doesn’t require second-guessing or precise measuring or need something portable, a capsule may be an excellent route.

Next, it’s important to decide which type of CBD extract you want. There are three main categories of CBD extracts: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and CBD isolate. Full-spectrum hemp extract is unaltered directly from the plant, so it includes all the minor cannabinoids, terpenes, lipids, and other plant materials, including trace amounts of THC. Broad-spectrum is the same extract with the THC content further removed. CBD isolate is 99 percent pure CBD, with no other plant materials included. Our products at Prima are made with broad-spectrum phytocannabinoid- hemp extract.

Full-spectrum and broad-spectrum formulations support what has been described as “the entourage effect,” which means that all plant compounds work synergistically for the best outcome. While this process is still being researched by scientists, you may wish to investigate how terpenes and minor cannabinoids may enhance your current wellness routine.

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CBD oil vs. CBD capsules: the choice is yours

The smallest difference between CBD products can make a world of difference in your daily routine. Oil tinctures and capsules — as well as other products like face serums, lotions, drink mixes, and even bath products — all take different pathways through the body, determining how long they last and how much CBD your body absorbs. That being said, one product type isn’t necessarily better than the other. What’s best is wholly dependent on your personal goals.

Whether you’re trying to focus*, get some rest*, or just want some peace and relaxation*, our line of hemp CBD wellness products has you covered*. At Prima, our products contain bio-optimized CBD strategically paired complementary herbal extracts, scientifically-proven to improve your state of being*. Each formulation is produced under meticulous quality standards, and tested and verfied over 5 times – after harvest, after extraction, during production, and in the final product using 3rd party ISO/IEC-accredited labs. No matter which of our products you choose, all that matters is that your favorite product supports your own unique wellness journey.

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.

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.

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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.

CBD Capsules vs. CBD Oil: What’s the Difference?

Since the federal legalization of industrial hemp in late 2018, the cannabidiol (CBD) industry is seeing explosive growth. CBD is now used by millions of Americans to help relieve a number of ailments, including inflammation, chronic pain, anxiety, insomnia, depression, and more — and demand appears to be increasing every year. In fact, a recent Forbes Health survey of 2,000 U.S. adults found that 60 percent of respondents have tried a CBD product. While there are many types of CBD supplements available today — from vapes to gummies to lotions — the two most popular are oil preparations and gel capsules . So, which is best for you? Let’s find out by taking a closer look at CBD capsules vs. oil.

CBD Capsules vs. Oil

What Is CBD Oil?

CBD oils are arguably the most common and recognizable product on the market today. CBD oil can be extracted from either marijuana or hemp as both are subspecies of cannabis sativa. However, hemp contains much higher levels of CBD compared to marijuana, as well as much lower levels of THC (0.3 percent or less), making it the most likely source.

There are different methods used to extract CBD from the plant — including the golden standard, CO 2 extraction , a “cold” method that doesn’t use harsh chemicals or solvents and avoids the degradation of the extract that can occur with high temperature extraction methods. The result is a thick substance that is full of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other phytonutrients.

Here are several types of CBD oils available on the market:

    is a CBD preparation that contains the majority of cannabis plant compounds, including some THC. The extract is combined with a carrier oil such as MCT, coconut, avocado, olive, or hemp seed oil. Due to the synergistic influence of other cannabis plant compounds, full-spectrum oil carries greater potential for physical or psychological benefits, a phenomenon known as the “entourage effect.”
  • Whole plant CBD oil is less refined than full spectrum CBD oil. It contains (you guessed it) an extract from the whole cannabis plant, including fats, waxes, and other fibrous plant material in a carrier oil. (Note: It can be bitter and thus less pleasant in taste compared to full spectrum CBD.)
  • Broad spectrum CBD oil is very similar to its full spectrum cousin, with the primary difference being its THC content. It still includes a range of cannabinoids in a carrier oil, but no THC at all.
  • CBD isolate is CBD that has been refined to a powder. It contains no other cannabinoids or phytonutrients. It is pure CBD and sometimes added to a carrier oil to make CBD isolate oil. (Note: Because there are no other cannabis compounds present, the entourage effect won’t come into play with the use of CBD isolates alone.)
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Pros of CBD Oil

The key advantages to using CBD oil are more controlled dosing and its quick absorption into the body.

  • Taking one dose under the tongue (sublingually) ensures a fast delivery of cannabinoids to the bloodstream via the small blood vessels in the mouth. Typically consumers feel the effects within about 20–30 minutes.
  • After swallowing the CBD, the remaining cannabinoids pass through the digestive tract (a slower path to the bloodstream), causing a second wave of benefits within two hours.
  • CBD oil droppers allow you to decide how much you want to take with each dose. This is especially useful when you’re beginning your CBD regimen, as you can tweak your dose based on the effects you experience, ultimately finding the amount that’s right for you.
  • CBD oils are the most versatile as they can be taken sublingually (as suggested), added to food or drinks, or even applied topically.
  • Effects should last between 4 and 6 hours.

Cons of CBD Oil

  • It may come with a “wood-like” or “earthy” taste, which isn’t appealing to some people. This can make it difficult for them to maintain a daily regimen.
  • While the effects of CBD oil will be felt sooner than CBD capsules, they won’t last as long.
  • Since it’s an oil preparation, there’s a risk of spills during travel, but this can be avoided if the bottle is packed properly.

CBD Capsules

What Are CBD Capsules?

CBD capsules were created to make taking CBD oil a convenient and flavorless experience. You may be wondering, “Do CBD capsules contain oil?” Actually, yes. They contain the same oil preparation found in CBD oil supplements, only it’s portioned out in softgel capsules. These can be made from a variety of ingredients, but are often composed of animal bi-products — such as gelatin. For those enjoying a plant based lifestyle, NuLeaf Naturals offers a uniquely plant based softgel made with three simple ingredients: cassava root, vegetable glycerine, and water.

Pros of CBD Capsules

CBD capsules are a great option for those with sensitive palates or who are not quite ready to fully customize their dosing experience.

  • Each capsule contains a precise dose of CBD, which can easily be swallowed without any unpleasant flavors or textures.
  • Capsules easily fit into a daily vitamin or medicine routine, making it a simple addition to your wellness regimen.
  • They are easy to travel with as a bottle of capsules won’t leak like a bottle of oil might.
  • When swallowed, the CBD is partially metabolized by the liver before entering the bloodstream (more on that in the cons section). On the pro side, however, the liver will continue to gradually release CBD into your system, allowing effects to continue for up to 10 hours.

So, do CBD pills work as well as oil? Yes, CBD capsules contain the same CBD found in oil preparations. However, they don’t work as quickly because they have to pass through the stomach and liver before reaching the bloodstream.

Cons of CBD Capsules

  • CBD capsules take longer to go into effect as they must first pass through the digestive tract before entering the bloodstream.
  • The liver metabolizes a portion of the CBD compounds, reducing its concentration and bioavailability (how much of a substance is able to enter circulation and reach the target site).
  • It may take as little as 20 to 30 minutes for you to start feeling effects (albeit, weaker effects), and it will likely take as long as one to two hours to really experience the full benefits.

CBD Oil or Capsules: Which Is Best?

You see, when pitting CBD capsules against CBD oil, the key differences are simple:

  • Palatability
  • Bioavailability
  • How quickly effects are felt and for how long.

The best option is always going to be the one that allows you to keep a consistent and effective supplement regimen so that you can experience the full benefits CBD has to offer. In some cases, that might mean using both CBD capsules and oil (depending on your travel schedule and needs). Just be sure to maintain a consistent dose between the two.

Find the Best CBD Capsules and CBD Oil

Since 2014, NuLeaf Naturals has been committed to creating the world’s highest-quality cannabinoid products. We offer full spectrum CBD capsules and oils with no additives. The only ingredients are organic hemp extract (via CO 2 extraction) and organic hemp seed oil — resulting in the purest and most effective products on the market. Visit the NuLeaf Naturals site now to shop CBD oil and CBD capsules .

Do you have questions about our products, or are wondering which one is right for you?

Our Expert Team is here to help via phone, email, or online chat:

Telephone: +1 (720) 372-4842

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us between 9am and 5pm MT, Monday – Friday.

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