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What is MCT oil?

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Cannabis oil isn’t a one-size-fits-all product. Like each unique strain, cannabis oils come in a range of formats – from traditional bottles with droppers, to sublingual sprays, to gel caps and more. The best format for you will depend on individual preferences, including your preferred method of consumption. Licensed producers use many different carrier oils when making cannabis oil, including grapeseed, olive, and sunflower oil. But one that has become increasingly popular for commercial cannabis oil production is the enigmatically named MCT oil.

What is MCT oil?

MCT stands for Medium-chain Triglyceride. As the name indicates, MCT oil is made up of medium-length chains of fats (also known as triglycerides), somewhere between 6 and 12 carbons long. Because of their shorter length – compared to long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) found in soybean or safflower oil, which have anywhere between 13 and 21 carbon molecules in each chain – MCTs are almost immediately broken down. Our body processes these fats with relatively high efficiency via the liver, and whatever doesn’t get broken down there is readily absorbed in the intestine.1

The most common source of MCTs is coconut oil; however, you can find them in products throughout the grocery store – from palm oil to dairy products like whole milk and butter.

What are the benefits of MCT oil?

Some of MCT Oil’s benefits

You might be wondering why so many LPs are opting for MCT as their carrier oil, especially considering there are so many options available. One reason MCT oil is so popular is that since the fat is so easily absorbed by the liver, the onset of effects tends to be quicker.

Another advantage of MCT oil is that it evenly absorbs cannabis compounds, allowing for accurate dosing in each drop. Not only that, but researchers noticed in rats the “enhancing effect of medium-chain triglycerides on intestinal absorption of [various compounds]”.2 This means there’s reason to believe MCT oil helps to increase the bioavailability of the compounds within it; namely, cannabinoids such as THC and CBD.

Finally, many consumers enjoy MCT as a carrier oil because of its flavourless taste and neutral aroma. For that reason, it can be easily added to your cooking as an alternative to other cooking oils, and is a good base for those who want to infuse their own cannabis oil for the purpose of cooking or baking with it.

What does MCT oil do to your body?  

How does MCT oil affect your body

A recent study highlighted the “potential beneficial effects of a medium chain triglyceride diet in obese individuals” and made the conclusion that “dietary medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), previously found to promote lipid catabolism, energy expenditure and weight loss, can ameliorate metabolic health via their capacity to improve both intestinal ecosystem and permeability.” The study found that “MCT-enriched diets could […] be used to manage metabolic diseases through modification of gut microbiota.”3

In addition to the above study, recent findings reveal that “medium chain triglyceride oil consumption as part of a weight loss diet does not lead to an adverse metabolic profile when compared to olive oil.” The results of the study found that MCT oil “can be incorporated into a weight loss program without fear of adversely affecting metabolic risk factors. Distinction should be made regarding chain length when it comes to discussing the effects of saturated fats on metabolic risk factors.”4 These findings suggest that the length of the fat chain is relevant to weight loss, and that MCTs may be advantageous to this effect compared to LCTs.

Another study found that “short-term ingestion of food containing a small amount of MCT suppresses the increase in blood lactate concentration […] during moderate-intensity exercise and extends the duration of subsequent high-intensity exercise, at levels higher than those achieved by ingestion of LCT-containing food.”5 MCT oil appears to help with lactic acid buildup following exercise, although more studies will need to be conducted to study the exact relationship between the two.

MCT oil could be right for you

Clearly, cannabis oil offers many advantages for those who are unable (medically or otherwise) to consume cannabis via inhalation. More precise dosing and longer lasting effects are just two examples of advantages to using cannabis oil versus other methods of consumption. And since MCT oil is one of the most popular choices among licensed producers (including Zenabis), you’re likely to come across it as you experiment with different methods of consumption.

As always, when trying new methods of consumption remember to “start low and go slow”, since cannabis oils take longer to take effect and these effects tend to last longer. If you’re looking to use cannabis and/or MCT oil for a medical condition, please consult your healthcare practitioner for guidance.

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References

  1. Rial S, Karelis A, Bergeron K-F, Mounier C. Gut Microbiota and Metabolic Health: The Potential Beneficial Effects of a Medium Chain Triglyceride Diet in Obese Individuals. Nutrients. 2016Dec;8(5):281.
  2. Fukui E, Kurohara H, Kageyu A, Kurosaki Y, Nakayama T, Kimura T. Enhancing effect of medium-chain triglycerides on intestinal absorption of d-.ALPHA.-tocopherol acetate from lecithin-dispersed preparations in the rat. Journal of Pharmacobio-Dynamics. 1989;12(2):80–6.
  3. Rial S, Karelis A, Bergeron K-F, Mounier C. Gut Microbiota and Metabolic Health: The Potential Beneficial Effects of a Medium Chain Triglyceride Diet in Obese Individuals. Nutrients. 2016Dec;8(5):281.
  4. St-Onge M-P, Bosarge A, Goree LLT, Darnell B. Medium Chain Triglyceride Oil Consumption as Part of a Weight Loss Diet Does Not Lead to an Adverse Metabolic Profile When Compared to Olive Oil. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2008;27(5):547–52.
  5. Nosaka N, Suzuki Y, Nagatoishi A, Kasai M, Wu J, Taguchi M. Effect of Ingestion of Medium-Chain Triacylglycerols on Moderate- and High-Intensity Exercise in Recreational Athletes. Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology. 2009;55(2):120–5.

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