The type of oil that is used to extract and carry the medicinally active ingredients (cannabinoids and terpenes) in cannabis oil products may not be given much thought by the user. But the oil of choice could be important to the efficacy and stability of a product.
This begs the question: which is the best oil for manufacturers to use? A new study by Italian researchers set about to investigate the issue and their results have been recently published in the journal Molecules.
The researchers looked at olive oil and medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oils, which are the two oils most regularly used as the extraction and carrier substances in cannabis oil products of European origin. (In the US, cannabis actives are more likely to be extracted with the use of carbon dioxide or using ethanol as a solvent).
The researchers found that while the extraction and stability of cannabinoids were no different between olive oil and MCT oil, the MCT oil did lead to the extraction of more terpenes, and that these then stayed stable for longer during the product’s shelflife.
To add a little more detail, the cannibinoids tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) were equally stable in both types of oil for the first 60 days, after which the concentration of both began to decrease. There was also a significant reduction in terpene concentrations during storage when either oil was used. However, use of MCT oil resulted in more terpenes being extracted in the first place than with olive oil, and the degradation being less significant over time.
This is important, as terpenes are thought to have significant synergistic and complementary health effects alongside cannabinoids—a phenomenon that is known as the “entourage” effect. As the authors conclude: “MCT oil could be considered a more suitable lipid source compared to olive oil involved in the extraction of medical cannabis.”