The truth about cannabis-infused coconut oil
Why is it so popular and are claims about its health benefits really true?
Fats like fats, allowing coconut oil and MCT oil to naturally dissolve into one another Photo by Anna-Ok / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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Remember the Great Coconut Oil Craze of recent years, when everyone wanted to eat/drink/lather/live in the stuff? Sure, its popularity has since died down, but it’s still to be found in many a kitchen cupboard or bathroom cabinet. Now, however, the natural ingredient is getting another boost thanks to cannabis.
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The truth about cannabis-infused coconut oil Back to video
An all-natural alternative
Coconut oil infused with weed is most commonly used as a tincture or as an ingredient in cooking. It’s all-natural, which can be a big draw for consumers who take note of the chemicals or additives they could be ingesting.
“A lot of the strong emulsifiers that are available now are not natural, so for those worried about synthetic products, or who are looking for that organic option to match with their cannabinoids, coconut oil is a great choice,” suggests Jay Denniston, an analytical chemist, food scientist and director of science at Dixie Brands, an edibles company in the U.S.
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Coconut oil and cannabis seem to go hand-in-hand
Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) is the fat in oils that have been processed. They’ve been found to have a number of health benefits, including helping with weight loss and weight maintenance. And since the MCT in coconut oil is tasteless and odourless, it’s a good match for infusing with marijuana.
“Cannabis oil is extremely soluble, and when you extract MCT from coconut oil, you get a similar fatty matrix to that of cannabis oil. Fats like fats, allowing coconut oil and MCT oil to naturally dissolve into one another,” explains Denniston. “Coconut oil also has low amounts of unsaturated fats, so this extracted MCT oil is a really great option to boost overall nutrition,” he adds.
Some websites have claimed that it’s the high concentration of saturated fats in coconut oil (80 percent versus 20 percent in olive oil) that makes it a good binding agent for cannabis, but Denniston dismisses this. It’s more about preservation and overall good health than it is about binding, he maintains.
“The choice to use MCT oil is more determined by shelf stability and its nutritional health benefits (brain, cardiovascular, immune, bone, nervous system) rather than its ability to carry cannabis oil,” says Denniston.
Other oils that are high in unsaturated fats can also bind to cannabis, but it’s the unsaturated fat content that is important to watch. “Unsaturated fat has a higher potential for rancidity, and in addition to health concerns, the low unsaturated fat content of MCT oil reduces the possibility of oxidation that will lead to rancidity,” he explains.
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Another exciting place where cannabis and coconut oil team up is in the anti inflammatory realm. Cannabis has been used against inflammation for millennia, with arthritis being an important example . Coconut oil, unsurprisingly, also has anti inflammatory properties. Plus, when used topically it can reduce the slight swelling and irritation of minor injuries.
The antioxidant properties of coconut oil create a synergy with cannabis when it comes to boosting cognition. Cannabis is known for elevating cognition and is even known to combat Alzheimer’s Disease. So the combination of the two is very brain healthy. People are able to make connections they were missing before and with continued use, the combo can bring much hope.
How to make cannabis-infused coconut oil at home
Making a weed-infused coconut oil at home is relatively straightforward. Michelle Latinsky, director of education at Aphria Inc., a Canadian cannabis company headquartered in Leamington, Ont., offers her take on how to make your own cannabis-infused coconut oil at home.
“In a medium saucepan, heat coconut oil over low heat until thoroughly warmed. Add dried cannabis and let it continue to cook over low heat for approximately three hours, while stirring occasionally,” she says.
“Next, line a fine mesh strainer with cheesecloth and place it over a large, heat-safe bowl. Carefully pour the coconut oil through the cheesecloth, allowing any excess oil to strain through. Allow the oil to cool completely and then transfer to an airtight container.”
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A few of Latinsky’s summer favourites that use cannabis-infused coconut oil include a beet and grapefruit salad with avocado cream and lemon tarts topped with blueberries.
Health Canada reports that edibles can take between 30 minutes to two hours to kick in and as long as four hours to reach their full effect / Creative-Family / iStock / Getty Images Plus Photo by Creative-Family / iStock / Getty Images Plus
A friendly reminder on ingesting cannabis-infused coconut oil
If a person is going to eat foods prepared with cannabis-infused coconut oil, it’s important to remember to wait to fully feel the effects, so take it slow; it’s not the same as smoking or vaping.
Information from the Government of Canada notes that edibles can take between 30 minutes to two hours to kick in and as long as four hours to reach their full effect. That means it may be necessary to not have anything important to do the following day, especially if new to this type of cannabis consumption, as effects have been known to linger for 12 to upwards of 24 hours following ingestion.
One thing everyone needs to avoid with cannabis-infused coconut oil
One thing needs to be crystal clear: Don’t ever vaporizer cannabis-infused coconut oil. “There are some people who think that cannabis-infused coconut oil is a good carrier for the vaporizer platform, but it is not,” Denniston emphasizes. “Inhalation of this oil can be extremely hazardous. There is evidence that the combustion products of MCT can lead to carcinogenic toxins,” he says.
So, if looking to give cannabis-infused coconut oil a go, use it sparingly in cooking or try by putting it under the tongue, and don’t try and vape it.
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Find out why cannabis-infused coconut oil is so popular and if its health benefits are really true.