Cannabis capsules are marijuana in pill form. They can contain many forms of cannabis, including oil and decarboxylated flower. They can contain single cannabinoids or the full spectrum of compounds the source cannabis plant has to offer. Typically, cannabis capsules are labeled by their cannabinoid contents, such as THC capsules and CBD capsules, for example. Compared to other cannabis products and consumption methods like vaping or smoking cannabis, capsules are easy to dose and consume. Medical marijuana patients sometimes opt for pills because they can provide a potent dose with long-lasting effects.More recently, easy-to-take products like CBD pills and capsules have been growing in popularity. These offer a simple way to supplement your wellness plan with CBD.
How capsules interact with your body
Immediate-release capsules work identically to edibles. Cannabinoids enter your body through your mouth and get absorbed by your stomach. In the case of THC pills, your liver then metabolizes THC into a compound called 11-hydroxy-THC, which can last longer and have a more sedating effect than THC.
Time-release capsules follow the same route of digestion and metabolization, but the effects may be delayed or drawn out. Capsule shells engineered with liposomes and drug-polymer conjugates — like hydrogels — allow for the timed release of their contents. These protective and inert ingredients neutralize stomach acid for slower release of THC or CBD into the bloodstream.
How to take CBD and THC pills
If you’ve tried cannabis edibles, then you already have a solid understanding of the experience you can expect from THC pills. If you’re new to both of these cannabis products, know that every individual’s liver metabolizes compounds differently, which is why edibles and THC pills can produce different effects in different people. The effects of THC pills can range from sleep-inducing and pain-relieving to focused and euphoric, depending on the capsule’s ingredients. The entire experience can last anywhere from 45 minutes to several hours, depending on the individual and the potency of the THC pills.
Meanwhile, CBD pills may cause only the slightest shift in consciousness or a wave of pain relief, depending on the dose and other ingredients. Finding the right dose and cannabinoid profile for you takes some trial and error, so start with 5 milligrams (mg) of THC or less and wait at least two hours before taking more. If you’re trying CBD capsules for the first time, start with 25mg of CBD or less.
Types of CBD and THC pills
There are many types of marijuana capsules to choose from. Here are the common terms you’ll find on capsule packaging and what they mean:
Ground, decarboxylated flower. Decarboxylation is the process of heating cannabis flower to activate certain cannabinoids. Cannabis flower requires decarboxylation to turn non-intoxicating THCA into intoxicating THC or inactive CBDA into active CBD. Ingesting decarboxylated weed in capsule form allows you to experience the entourage effect without having to smoke weed.
Crystalline. Crystalline is a powdered substance that resembles table salt or sugar. Crystalline capsules contain nearly 100% pure powdered cannabinoids, often in THCA or CBDA-only formulas that allow medical patients to ingest weed without the intoxicating effects associated with THC. The extraction process used to create crystalline essentially strips cannabis of terpenes, minor cannabinoids, and plant matter, leaving behind only the desired molecule.
CBD pills vs. CBD oil
First, let’s discuss the main difference between using CBD pills versus using a CBD oil tincture. Just as CBD oil is non-psychotropic, CBD capsules also won’t get you “high” because they are derived from industrial hemp plants. As such, both products contain little to no THC (depending on what product you are using).
The differences actually aren’t that pronounced. CBD pills and CBD oil have the same potential benefits, but pills are more convenient. Not only is it easier to manage pills and capsules, but they also make consistent dosing easier. Oil drops can lead to imprecise dosing.
One drawback to ingestible pills is that they don’t always work as fast as a CBD tincture. This is thanks to the digestive system, which allows for a slower absorption of CBD into the bloodstream as it breaks down the CBD pill over time.
It should also be said that a dropper of hemp oil has an earthy taste, which isn’t to everyone’s liking. A CBD tablet or softgel allows you to avoid this bitter flavor with one quick and easy swallow.
Are CBD capsules any good?
The efficacy of CBD oil capsules and softgels vary from one product to the next, depending on the quality. Here are a few factors to keep in mind:
- The type of hemp extract used: When shopping for CBD products, it’s important to understand the difference between the three types of hemp extract: CBD isolate, broad-spectrum CBD, and full-spectrum CBD. Isolate is made with pure CBD and no other plant compounds, while broad-spectrum extracts contain a few additional plant parts but are still THC-free. Full-spectrum CBD extracts encompass a wide range of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other hemp plant parts, including trace levels of THC. Each of these extracts has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and the choice is merely up to your preference.
- Lab test results: Any time you’re looking into CBD products, it’s important to verify that the products have been independently tested for their purity, quality, and safety. Look for products that give you access to third-party lab results, also known as a Certificate of Analysis, or COA.
- Extraction method: Various CBD brands extract oil from the cannabis plant differently. Lipid-based extraction, alcohol extraction, and CO2 extraction are common processes. There are advantages to each type of extraction process, but transparency is most important. A brand should tell you how they go about making a quality full spectrum hemp extract.
- Hemp sourcing: It’s generally safest to look for a hemp supplement sourced in the U.S., as crops grown in foreign countries lack direct oversight that domestic farming processes have, which leads to less transparent sourcing info. Colorado, Kentucky, and North Carolina are great hemp states.
Best CBD capsules and pills
With all of the above factors in mind, here are eight CBD capsules selected based on customer reviews, price, and source of the hemp. Each product has also been reviewed by a third-party laboratory for label accuracy and potential contaminants, including heavy metals, residual solvents, and pesticides.