CBD and essential oils seem like a match made in self care heaven, but mixing the two isn’t as simple as it may seem. It’s not impossible, though, and when done correctly, it can help you get the most out of both.
‘Essential oil‘ is a broad term that refers to oils which have been extracted from plants and are believed to exhibit medicinal properties. These could include the ability to fight inflammation, reduce pain, soothe anxiety, or enhance the skin and hair. By this definition, CBD oil itself could technically be considered an essential oil (though it’s different than cannabis essential oil), and while it hasn’t been around as long — or studied in the same depth — as some others, it’s quickly becoming one of the most popular.
Many of us already have a basic understanding of the most common oils, and have tried using them in one way or another. One of the most popular methods is sprinkling lavender oil on your pillow for a better night’s sleep. Another is applying tea tree oil to stubborn pimples, or adding a few drops of evening primrose oil to your bath for pain relief from menstrual cramps.
But more experienced alternative medicine enthusiasts create their own complex cocktails of oils to achieve specific effects — and a growing number of them are adding CBD to the mix.
To understand how these concoctions are made, it’s important to understand the role of carrier oils. Sometimes called base oils, these are an important component of any oil infusion. They help the others to mix and combine fully while also diluting them. But why would you want to dilute your oils?
There are two main reasons: it makes essential oils easier to digest and absorb if you’re ingesting them, and it makes them less irritating to the skin if you’re applying them topically.
When you ingest an oil, it has to be broken down and passed through the intestinal wall to be fully absorbed. Carrier oils like coconut oil help dissolve the essential oil and convert it into a form the body can process. Carriers with higher fat contents are more effective at this, which is why some popular “healthy oils” (like olive or hemp seed oils) aren’t as well suited for the task.
In terms of topicals, most essential oils are made with a technique known as cold pressing. This makes them concentrated enough to cause irritation, even if you don’t have particularly sensitive skin or a diagnosed skin condition. Diluting them with a carrier oil lessens the intensity of their effects and makes them gentle enough to apply to the skin.
That’s how essential and carrier oils work together, but what happens when CBD oil is added as well?
It’s too early to say for certain, but studies indicate that “cocktails” of these oils could be far more effective than individual isolates. Known as “the entourage effect” or “cannabis synergy,” researchers have discovered that the compounds in cannabis plants work best in conjunction with each other — and essential oils are believed to function in much the same way. For example, the sleep-promoting benefits of lavender essential oil are accentuated by the presence of CBD, while the anti-anxiety effects of the latter are boosted by contact with the former.
Choose the Right Carrier
Coconut oil is an excellent one as its high lipid content (around 90 percent, compared to butter’s 64 percent) makes it easy for the oils to dissolve. Despite this, the molecular structure of the oil means it won’t lead to high cholesterol or other heart problems. It’s also known for its pleasing smell, agreeable taste, and widespread availability.
Get the Ratio Right
There is some debate about what the ratio of carrier oil to essential oil (including CBD oil) should be, but the generally accepted rule of thumb is to have 30 ml of carrier oil for every 12 drops of essential oils. This rule should be followed when you’re adding oil infusions to food, drinks, applying directly to your skin, or adding to bath water.
Research the Oils You Use
There are over 90 different kinds of essential oils on the market — like jojoba oil, avocado oil, citrus oil, sweet almond oil, or grapeseed oil, to name a few — and many of them have overlapping effects. Doing a little reading online or (if you’re serious about becoming a student of alternative medicine) buying some well-reviewed books could go a long way towards ensuring that you choose the best possible oils for your needs.
The same can be said for CBD oil, which varies significantly according to the extent to which it has been processed. In most cases a full spectrum CBD oil will deliver the best results, as it’s richer in cannabinoids, essential fatty acids, and terpenes (all of which have their own health benefits) than pure CBD isolate.