What is MCT – And Why is it Used in CBD Oil?
When you’re heading to your local dispensary to buy CBD oil, you might find yourself glancing at the ingredient label while waiting in line. Next to the obvious ingredients like (hopefully) CBD, you might notice something called MCT included as well.
What on earth is MCT? Is this something dangerous, some horrible chemical added to make the process cheaper for the manufacturers, or does it cause horrendous side effects?!
Well, fear not, MCT isn’t anything to worry about; to help convince you, let’s take a look at what MCT actually is and why it’s found so frequently in CBD oil.
What is MCT & Why is Everything Written in Three Letter Acronyms?!
Despite its somewhat frightening, clinical name, MCT is nothing scary; it stands for Medium Chain Triglyceride. This essentially just refers to any fat compounds that that posses an aliphatic tail of between 6 and 12 carbon atoms.
Is this article scientific enough for you yet?
Aliphatic tails are basically just the long chain of carbon atoms that follow behind the fat compounds. Different lengths of fat compounds create different types of fats – for example, during a study conducted by Breckenridge and Kuksis for the Journal of Lipid Research, researchers found that within milk fats of cow, sheep and goats, roughly 10-20% of the total fatty acids within them were classified as MCTs.
This means that the rest of the fatty acids were primarily made from Long-Chain Fatty Acids, which have between 13 and 18 carbons long aliphatic tails. This is the same in most fats or oils; the fat content of oils isn’t as simple as you might have first believed.
Instead of your CBD oil being just oil, it’s actually quite a complex mix of different types of fatty acids. Certain oils, such as palm kernel oil and coconut oil, are naturally rich in MCTs, which is actually one of the reasons why those two oils (especially coconut oil) are so often chosen to be made into CBD oil.
However, why does it specifically list MCT as an ingredient? It doesn’t list the Long Chain Triglycerides, so why list the MCTs?
Well, that’s because the MCT is most likely added in as a synthetic.
That’s right, MCT oil is almost always added in as synthetic oil that has been created in a laboratory for the specific purpose of adding it into the final product.
It is usually derived from the aforementioned palm kernel and coconut oil, simply due to the ease with which it can be extracted from them. Scientists separate out the MCTs and add them in to their manufactured product, in this case CBD oil, so as to improve the item’s quality.
So, why do manufacturers do this? What is it that makes MCT so important?
Why MCT is So Useful
MCT is quite unique as a fatty acid because it is demonstrates an increased rate of absorption in the body. This simply means that the MCTs within fats are absorbed more easily than other parts of the fats, leading to faster absorption for the compound suspended within the oil.
With CBD oil, this is doubly important. When you consume CBD oil, the oil is trying to make its way to your liver to be broken down and metabolized, so as to make it useable by your body thanks to your endocannabinoid system.
However, before it can get to your liver, it first has to be digested in the stomach.
CBD oil is, as you likely know, pure CBD extract suspended within inert oil. This oil, commonly coconut oil, is broken apart and digested in your stomach, pushed through your digestive system and eventually winds up in the intestines.
Once in the large intestine, the body’s circulatory system is able to remove the CBD extract from the oil and carry it to the liver, finally finishing the process of metabolization.
However, there is an element of efficacy lost when you digest CBD oil simply due to the fact that your digestive system is never 100% efficient. It can push food through your system too quickly, accidentally miss useful pieces of digestible matter, or just generally not utilize it properly.
This is especially a problem with CBD, because CBD has been demonstrated to only have a bioavailability of 6% within the liver, as discovered in a study conducted by Welty et al., due to the effectiveness of the primary enzyme in the liver that metabolizes CBD.
The presence of MCT actually helps improve this due to a little known thing called Intestinal Lymphatic Drug Delivery.
Intestinal Lymphatic Drug Delivery
Intestinal Lymphatic Drug Delivery might sound, once again, overly scientific and confusing, but it actually describes an extremely simple and easy to understand process and it all has to do with the presence of MCTs.
MCTs posses shorter chains of carbon atoms; this quality means that the body is able to help process and digest them first, above other fatty acid chains with longer carbon chains.
This means that MCT is remarkably good at being absorbed by the body, simply due to having fewer carbon atoms. This means that the body is able to get access to whatever is within the fat that much quicker.
Additionally, MCTs have been linked with increased health benefits such as a reduced chance of developing diabetes, and it is also used for treatment of food absorption disorders like Celiac disease or general liver diseases. This is because the body is almost excited to try and digest them, allowing it to more readily utilize them as fuel.
This means that the body strives not to waste any of them, instead utilizing them to the fullest extent possible and ensuring you get all the nutrients possible
Though there is as of yet very little research about their full medical benefits, some researchers have postulated that they can also be useful for helping balance hormones, as well as generally as a diabetes preventative aid.
Its use for absorbing medicine, however, is far more understood.
When you ingest CBD oil with additional MCT put into it, your body is eager to digest the oil as quickly as possible and use it as much as possible.
This means that the CBD oil ends up in your lymphatic intestinal tract that much faster, leading to even more, faster, rates of CBD absorption.
More importantly, this allows coconut oil to exhibit its extremely remarkable ability for Intestinal Lymphatic Drug Delivery.
This happens because coconut oil is extremely dense, as well as containing a large quantity of these wonderful MCTs. This can cause the coconut oil to become stuck within the intestinal system. While this might immediately sound like a terrible thing to happen, it’s actually extremely beneficial.
By remaining stuck within the intestines, your body has even more time to remove the CBD extract from the oil before it is pushed further along the digestive tract and eventually expelled from the body. The longer it sits there, the longer the circulatory system will keep brushing against it, delivering CBD oil to your liver.
The short carbon chains of MCT oils within CBD oil primarily help this, both because it ensures that the CBD oil is digested as quickly as possible and because this very quality and the resultant eagerness of the body to digest them means that it’s more likely to become stuck.
Are There Any Risks?
As with any dietary supplement or substance you put in your body, it’s important to consider if there are any risks or side effects.
Well, one of the major problems with MCT oils is that, because they are almost all synthetic and produced in a laboratory, the oils they come from are basically a mystery.
Due to the relatively broad category of oils that can be used to extract MCTs, companies do not actually need to list what oil their MCT oil comes from – in fact, most of the time all the MCT extracted from different oils is mixed together and sent out to CBD oil manufacturers in bulk. This means that you don’t really have any idea what you’re actually getting.
While this doesn’t pose an immediate, seriously dangerous risk or anything, it’s still troubling to know that the CBD oil you’re taking contains a substance within it that you don’t know anything about.
It’s not impossible (though there have been no reported incidents) for the presence of MCT oil derived from a fat substance that you’re allergic to to trigger an allergic reaction.
With more research and legislation, the control and enforcement of these kind of substance additions will become better managed by the government, but until that point you’re going to have to do your own research.
If you want to know about the MCT oil’s origin, consider speaking directly to the manufacturer or, if you’re really concerned, only buy CBD oil that doesn’t contain additional MCTs.
As they are incredibly useful, MCT oils are found in essentially all CBD oils.
As long as you pick one with a high natural presence of MCT fatty acids, such as coconut oil, you’ll still get the medicinal benefits and enjoy an even high quality of CBD oil and treatment.