What Is MCT Oil: Benefits, Side Effects & How It Works

In this article, we will examine MCT oil- what it is, why it is beneficial to your overall health, and why many of the best producers of high-quality CBD tinctures use MCT oil as a medium for their product. We will also look into what kinds of MCT oil are healthiest and easiest to use, and why.

What is MCT oil?

Right off the bat here, we're going to get somewhat technical. You won't need a degree in organic chemistry to understand this article, but we feel it is important to lay out the basic chemical science involved in MCT oil in order to best present the information we have to offer.

MCT is an abbreviation for Medium-chain Triglyceride. Essentially, it is composed of medium-chain fatty acids. On a molecular level, a fatty acid consists of a chain of carbon and hydrogen atoms. These chains can be generally qualified as being long, short, or medium. This is determined by the number of carbon atoms in the chain. Chains containing less than 6 carbon molecules are classified as short, whereas a chain containing more than 13 carbon molecules would be considered long.

Medium-chain triglycerides contain between six and twelve of these carbon molecules. There are three fatty acids that fall under the umbrella of medium-chain triglycerides: Caproic or hecanoic acid, caprylic or octanoic acid, and capric or decanoic acid.

Medium-chain triglycerides are metabolized differently than other fats, and are most easily absorbed by the body, as they typically bypass the liver, so that they are either rapidly processed as a ready source of caloric energy, or are turned into ketones, depending on your body's level of physical activity at the time of metabolization. Ketones will likely be a subject of a future article themselves, as they have many powerful beneficial effects on the brain, and are currently being studies as a treatment option for epilepsy, Alzheimer's disease, and other health concerns.

Where can we find MCTs?

The healthiest ingestible source of medium-chain triglycerides is generally considered to be coconut oil. It is also present to some degree in dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and butter, and can also be found in palm kernel oil. These sources typically contain less than ten percent MCT, whereas coconut oil can contain as much as fifteen percent, making it an ideal source of the acid.

Of course, coconut  oil itself is often referred to as a “super-food”, as it has many health benefits, some of which include increased metabolism (helping with weight loss and management), reduced rates of heart disease, protection from harmful bacteria, reduced hunger, possible reduction in seizures, an increase in HDL cholesterol (the “good cholesterol”) in the body, as well as cosmetic benefits for the skin, teeth and hair.

Already, we can see that MCT is an excellent choice as a medium for CBD delivery. Paired with the benefits of CBD, medium-chain triglycerides can offer a plethora of health benefits.

Which MCT oils should I be using?

As with any other product touting health benefits, it is important to know as much as you can about what you are putting into your body. Because there are many methods of extracting medium-chain triglycerides from coconut oil, different products will be of different qualities. Some sources will have been produced by solvent extraction. As we discussed in our article about CBD extraction, solvent extraction methods use harsh chemical solvents such as hexane, butane, ethanol an isorophyl alcohol. These are dangerous chemicals that you should always avoid ingesting, and unfortunately some producers will use quick, easy and cheap solvent extraction methods that will leave traces of the solvents behind in the finished product. The solvents can have many negative health effects, but the most commonly noticed will likely be stomach upset. If you are using CBD to help with digestive inflammation, this obviously would defeat your entire purpose. Therefore, for your health it is important to avoid cheap sources of MCT oil.

One method of extraction that seem to have minimal health concerns is the expeller-pressed method. In this technique, dried coconut meat is put into a large press, and then the resulting oil is refined and “bleached” (not sure why they use this term, as thankfully no actual bleach or other harsh chemical is used) to produce what is known as RBD oil. RBD stands for “refined, bleached and deodorized”. This is an ideal product as it typically has no harsh taste or smell, and contains no traces of solvents.

Based on the above, if possible you should try to stick to expeller-pressed MCT oil in your products. Other factors can be taken into account, such as whether or not the oil is sourced from organic coconuts, and whether or not the coconuts themselves come from fare-trade farms. These are mostly personal preferences, however.

Using MCT oil as a base for a CBD product offers the best possible health benefits currently available with these products. Make sure you do your own research, so that you can make an educated decision and choose the best product for what you need.