MCT for Cannabis: It’s Much More Than a Carrier

Philip Ghezelbash September 26, 2019 1 comment

Studies suggest carrier oils containing medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) may help with a variety of bodily functions and issues.

When it comes to CBD extracts, you may think they only contain CBD. However, many CBD products are actually mixed with other carrier ingredients. One main carrier ingredient used for cannabis (commonly in CBD oil), for example, is MCT. So what exactly is MCT, and what are the benefits of using MCT for cannabis products?

Medium-chain triglycerides, otherwise known as MCTs, are a type of fat that is smaller in size than longer-chain triglyceride counterparts. MCTs are also considered to be a healthier energy source due to how we metabolize these fats.

Why MCT are Better Than LCTs For Cannabis Consumers

The length of time it takes for fats to absorb depends on their length. So, long-chain fatty acids, like canola and olive oil, take longer to digest. This longer digestion means that long-chain fatty acids gradually release their energy. This means there’s no need for the liver or fat tissue in the body to burn fat. Medium-chain fatty acids on the other hand supply energy faster. Much like carbohydrates these fats are more rapidly digested and absorbed in the intestine. This means MCTs are less likely to end up as fat in our bodies.

Medium-chain fatty acid molecules instead end up into the liver via portal blood. Once in the liver, MCTs undergo a transformation into ketones, which act as an alternative energy source. Ketones can also lower ghrelin levels, a hormone involved in the onset of hunger. It is because of this that MCTs may play a key role in reducing hunger levels.

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MCTs Might Help With Weight Loss 

Studies suggest that MCTs may help you lose weight and burn calories. One meta-analysis — published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic (2015) — looked into the effect of MCTs on weight loss and body composition. The analysis involved studies where participants consumed MCTs and LCTs for longer than three weeks at a time and then had their weight, measurements, and blood fat levels recorded.

The results of thirteen trials found that MCTs were able to contribute to a decrease in total body weight. This included body fat percentage, subcutaneous fat (fat under the skin), visceral fat (fat between organs) and reduced body part measurements when compared to the results from the LCT treatment. No significant change occurred to blood fat levels and so MCT consumption demonstrated ability over long-chain triglycerides to reduce body weight and measurements without affecting lipid profiles.

Another study, published in the Journal of Lipid Research (2016) from Germany’s Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology also found that medium-chain triglycerides help to modulate the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats by inhibiting glycolysis and stimulating lipogenesis and gluconeogenesis. MCTs also modulate mitochondrial energy by acting on two methods of production, reducing respiratory chain equivalents and decreasing oxidative ATP synthesis effectiveness.

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MCTs and Cognition 

Potential weight loss isn’t the only thing that will get you excited about MCTs in your CBD oil. It turns out that medium-chain triglycerides may also be able to improve cognition. A 2016 study from the Nestle Institute of Health Sciences investigated the effects of eight weeks of MCT treatment on rats. The study found that treatment with MCT significantly improved memory recognition compared to controls. It also revealed that all MCT supplements used increased social recognition when compared to control groups. MCT diets also increased expression of the protein-coding gene Ube3a, which controls synaptic stability and therefore improves overall cognitive functioning. This study suggests that MCT supplements can improve cognition and memory function.

So do You Want MCTs in Your CBD Oil?

While you may not want anything other than CBD in your cannabinoid products, carrier oils are often necessary. And as far as MCT goes, they could even improve your health. By helping with digestion, metabolism, and reducing the amount of fat deposits in the body, the MCTs in your CBD oil may be able to help you lose weight and improve your metabolism. And by stabilizing synaptic action, these healthier fats may also be able to improve your cognitive functioning.

MCTs also provide an instant energy source thanks to their small structure and quick metabolism.

Adverse effects from MCT use are also thought to be mild. Clinical trial data from 2014 shows that only mild side effects arose from MCT use, including diarrhea, flatulence, and gastrointestinal problems. Although there can be a higher risk for individuals with a sensitivity to dietary cholesterol when consuming MCTs. Saturated fats can increase levels of LDL cholesterol, which is a marker of heart disease.

Where to Find MCT for Cannabis 

So now we know that the presence of MCTs in your CBD oil is nothing to fear. So where do you get some? And how do you know what fats are medium-chain triglycerides and which are long-chain?

Common natural sources of MCTs include dairy products such as milk, butter, and especially coconut and palm oil.

Coconut-oil is often touted as a medium-chain triglyceride, however, there is research from 2019 that suggests that the main fatty acid in coconut oil could contain both medium and long-chain triglycerides.

The MCT oil you see in your CBD oil is likely to be man-made through fractionation. This is a process that isolates the MCTs from natural sources like palm kernel oil. This ensures what you are consuming is only MCTs.

With all the potential health benefits MCTs could bring, it’s okay to view these fats in a positive light. And why not since MCTs may even help bolster the therapeutic benefits from your CBD oil while possibly aiding your metabolism.

Author avatar

Philip Ghezelbash
Philip Ghezelbash is an ex-personal trainer with a science background who currently operates New Zealand's only health specialized writing studio. He is passionate about presenting complex science in an easy to digest manner and is a firm believer that cannabis has substantial potential to be used as a medicine for degenerative disease.

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1 comment

  1. MCT is a byproduct of lauric acid production.coconut oil has the lauric acid removed ( which is sold as a supplement) and the waste is called MCT oil. I would prefer to use organic coconut oil that hasn’t been tampered with, the same with cannabis FECO is far superior to isolates or CBD because of the Entourage Effect.
    Research and clinical trials show that THC is needed along with CBD to be effective in the long term