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Natural or Nasty – How does CBD oil taste?
By Anastasia Myronenko

Anastasiia Myronenko

Anastasiia Myronenko is a Medical Physicist actively practicing in one of the leading cancer centers in Kyiv, Ukraine. She received her master’s degree in Medical Physics at Karazin Kharkiv National University and completed Biological Physics internship at GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research, Germany. Anastasiia Myronenko specializes in radiation therapy and is a fellow of Ukrainian Association of Medical Physicists.

Natural or Nasty – How does CBD oil taste?

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There are a variety of different medicinal cannabis products that exist on the market today, but the most prevalent and popular ones typically content CBD to some extent. CBD is an abbreviation of cannabidiol, which is a molecule known as a cannabinoid that can be found within cannabis and hemp plants. There are over 120 different cannabinoids that can be found within these plants, but CBD is perhaps the most clinically significant. It has applications in managing conditions such as pain, inflammation, anxiety, insomnia and epilepsy, amongst others.

Another reason CBD is becoming increasingly popular is due to the variety of CBD products that are currently available on the market. As CBD has such a wide range of uses and benefits, there are many different ways in which it can be consumed or utilised. This diversity in products and methods of consumption are a major benefit for consumers, as they are able to find the right product for their needs. How you consume CBD is ultimately down to personal preference as well as how effective that selected product is in treating your condition.

Of these products, CBD oil is easily the most popular and the most versatile. CBD oil is a liquid extract of cannabis or hemp plants that is typically contained within a small bottle that has a dropper built into the lid. There are two different methods for consuming CBD oil that comes in this form: oral consumption and sublingual consumption.

When CBD oil is consumed orally, the drops are simply placed into the mouth or on the tongue and swallowed. The CBD will then enter the bloodstream after first passing through the digestive system and the liver. Sublingual consumption refers to placing drops of CBD oil under the tongue and holding them there for at least one minute. The vast network of capillaries that are located under the tongue will absorb this CBD quickly into the bloodstream. Sublingual administration is a much faster and more efficient method of consumption than oral administration.

CBD oil can also be contained within softgel capsules. The onset of the capsule’s effects will take longer than if the CBD oil was ingested directly, but they will also have a longer duration. Similarly, CBD oil can also be found within a wide range of edibles, such as CBD gummies and chocolates. As an alternative option, consumers can even infuse their own CBD oil into their favourite foods or beverages. As you can see, CBD oil not only has multiple health benefits, it is also extremely versatile, meaning that consumers should encounter too many difficulties trying to incorporate it into their daily routine.

What does CBD oil taste like?

One of the most common questions asked by consumers interested in trying CBD is what does CBD oil taste like? Now, we’re not going to lie to you, but it’s safe to say that the flavour isn’t for everyone. Although a majority of consumers will find the taste of CBD oil tolerable, not many would describe it as delicious or willingly choose to consume it if not for CBD’s benefits.

Even with this being the case, there may be a minority of consumers that do enjoy the taste of CBD oil. Whether you enjoy the taste of natural and highly concentrated CBD is a matter of preference, but if you enjoy earthy flavours, then you probably won’t have much of a problem with CBD oil. If you don’t, then the taste of CBD oil could take a while to become accustomed to.

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Most consumers describe CBD oil as having a leafy and grassy flavour to them. This should come as no surprise given the source materials of CBD extracts – cannabis and hemp plants. The ‘earthiness’ can also be attributed to the medium (typically soil) that most of these plants are grown in. Overall CBD has a very natural and organic flavour, but despite this, many people find it to be intolerable.

Not all CBD oil is the same, though, as there are many factors that can affect the final taste of the product, such as how it was processed and what additives it contains. Some of these factors include what kind of CBD extract it is (full-spectrum, broad-spectrum or isolate), whether it was filtered or purified and which type of carrier oil was included (e.g. olive oil, hemp seed oil, etc.).

Full-spectrum CBD has a more plant-like taste compared to CBD isolate. The reason behind this is that full-spectrum extracts are not just an isolated cannabinoid, but they also contain additional compounds extracted from cannabis and hemp plants, such as terpenes, flavonoids and other cannabinoids. High-quality CBD oils should be filtered thoroughly and should not contain undesirable plant matter, such as waxes or chlorophyll.

Once filtered, these CBD extracts are then mixed with a carrier oil, which largely influences their final flavour. In terms of consistency, CBD oil that has a golden colour is indicative of a product that has been adequately filtered of excessive plant matter. Any CBD oil that is dark brown or black in colour is most likely unprocessed. This means they contain all sorts of plant matter and unwelcome ingredients that could result in an unsavoury flavour. Be sure to stay away from these oils if you find the taste of conventional CBD oils unbearable.

Carrier oils

To make CBD oil, the cannabinoid extract is normally diluted with a carrier oil to improve the absorption of CBD by the gut. The main reason this works is that the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) has two separate pathways for absorption: a water-soluble pathway and a fat-soluble pathway.

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Compounds that are water-soluble can easily traverse the lining of the gut, whereas fat-soluble compounds such as CBD cannot. Instead, these fat-soluble compounds are packaged into micelles that travel through the lymphatic system before entering the bloodstream. If CBD is ingested with fatty substances, such as carrier oils, the body is primed for fat absorption, and this will ultimately increase the amount of CBD your body can absorb.

Some of the other reasons that carrier oils are often included in CBD oil are that they make dosing CBD more accurate and consistent, as well as providing a whole range of additional health benefits. Because the carrier oil that CBD is combined with is food-grade, they will often contribute to the overall flavour of the CBD oil. The most popular among them are MCT oil, coconut oil hemp seed oil, olive oil and vegetable glycerine.

MCT oil is the most common carrier incorporated into CBD oil products. It is both flavourless and odourless, and as such, it doesn’t affect the natural flavours of CBD. This is a characteristic it shares in common with refined coconut oil. Whether this is a positive or a negative depends on the preferences of the individual consumer. Olive oil contributes more earthy flavours that contain grassy and nutty notes. This can be overwhelming and unpleasant for some consumers, especially when incorporated into lower concentration CBD tinctures.

Hemp seed oil has a nutty flavour that is described as being akin to walnuts or sunflower seeds. This flavour can be enjoyable, especially when infusing CBD oil into your food, but it is less enjoyable for those who prefer sweeter or more subtle flavours. Lastly, vegetable glycerine is an uncommon choice of carrier oil, but it is inexpensive and has a pleasant, sweet flavour, which some consumers find appealing.

Terpenes & essential oil flavourings

Terpenes are another compound that can be found in some CBD oils that will affect the way they taste. They are phytochemicals that can be found in a wide variety of plants and are not just exclusive to cannabis and hemp plants. They’re known best for providing these plants with their aromas and flavours.

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The reason for their inclusion isn’t just because of the way that they can influence flavours and aromas though. While cannabinoids such as CBD are often viewed as the main therapeutic compounds found within cannabis and hemp plants, terpenes have also displayed a wide variety of health benefits. There is research that suggests that certain terpenes have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-oxidant, antidepressant and sedative properties, to name only a few.

As most research has been directed towards investigating cannabinoids and their therapeutic potential, further research is required to fully understand the extent of the remedial effects that terpenes can provide. In saying this, terpenes have a long history of medicinal use by certain cultures and it is believed that they contribute heavily towards the “Entourage Effect”. This effect describes the way in which most of the compounds found within cannabis or hemp work together synergistically to provide a wide range of effects.

This is the major reason that terpenes are often included in CBD oils and is also the reason why full-spectrum CBD products are viewed as providing more health benefits than solely using CBD isolate. Sometimes cannabis and hemp plants do not contain a high enough concentration of terpenes to produce any therapeutic benefits, so manufacturers can supplement their extracts with additional terpenes. The most common terpenes found within cannabis plants and CBD products are myrcene, caryophyllene, limonene, pinene, humulene, terpinolene, ocimene and linalool.

Going back to how terpenes influence the taste of plants and extracts, including them into your CBD oil can be a way of creating a more agreeable flavour. The main way this is achieved is by mixing your CBD oil with an essential oil. Terpenes are the primary components of essential oils, which are normally utilised either via ingestion or aromatherapy. CBD oil itself is often considered an essential oil, as it comes from a plant and is used for its medicinal benefits.

Changing the flavour of your CBD oil is a fairly easy process. Simply add drops of your chosen food-grade (important) essential oil into your CBD oil until the taste is to your liking. Some of the most popular essential oils that consumers choose to mix into their CBD oil include anis, bergamot, ginger, grapefruit, lemon and spearmint. Furthermore, many retailers that stock CBD products also have pre-mixed and flavoured CBD oils. The most common flavours you’ll find are mint, citrus and chocolate varieties.

Masking the taste of CBD oil

If you’re not interested in adding additional terpenes and you still don’t like the taste of your CBD oil, then there are other ways to make it more palatable and appealing. One way is to always keep a glass of water handy to wash the taste of the oil away after you have consumed it. If applying CBD oil sublingually, keep the oil under your tongue for at least a minute to ensure that most of it has been properly absorbed before washing it down.

If you’re still finding the taste unpleasant, try using a drink with a stronger flavour as a chaser. Some examples include orange juice and coffee. Other fruit juices and soft drinks also help in this regard due to their sweetness. Similarly, eating a spoonful of honey after consuming CBD should help mask any unpleasant tastes because of the overwhelming sweetness. Alternatively, chewing a mint either before or after CBD consumption can mitigate the oil’s natural flavour. This is because the strong taste of mint can overwhelm your taste buds, which will minimise or completely negate the flavour of the oil.

Because of this, brushing your teeth either before or after consuming CBD oil can also help. If you’re wondering why you should brush your teeth beforehand, the answer is simple. Have you ever brushed your teeth before consuming orange juice or eating citrus fruits? If so, you will probably have encountered one of the most unpleasant flavour experiences of your life.

This is due to toothpaste and its strong minty flavour completely nullifying your tongue’s ability to taste certain flavours so that when you eat something, it can taste totally different. If you brush your teeth beforehand, the CBD oil may still have a bitter taste, but its flavour won’t be as noticeable as before. As for brushing your teeth afterwards, not only will this protect them from stains, it will also replace the grassy taste in your mouth with minty freshness.

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Infusing CBD oil into food and drinks

Still not a fan of the taste despite these tips? Not to worry, there is also the option of infusing some food and beverages with CBD oil so that you won’t taste it all. Keep in mind, though, that while mixing CBD oil into food and drinks can make it more palatable, it can also impact the absorption of CBD and lessen its effectiveness. If you choose to go down this route, minimise the amount of food or drink that you’re mixing the CBD oil into unless you’re infusing high concentrations of CBD.

The easiest way to infuse CBD oil into food or drinks is by putting it into dairy products such as yoghurt or smoothies. Not only do these products completely mask the taste of CBD oil, some even have a high-fat content, which will improve the absorption of CBD as an added bonus. Other healthy high-fat foods that can increase the absorption of CBD include coconut oil (which is often used as a carrier oil), avocados, olives, almonds, oily fish (e.g. tuna, salmon, sardines, etc.) and eggs.

Another popular way to infuse CBD oil into food is baking with it. By doing this, you can make all sorts of CBD-infused edible goods, such as cookies, brownies and cakes. If baking with CBD oil, keep in mind that high temperatures can adversely affect the CBD oil and make it lose some of its potency. When baking with CBD oil, it is recommended that you choose a temperature that is less than 175°C and never let it get higher than 200°C.

CBD oil can also be added to some of your favourite drinks. While this won’t mask the taste as easily as foods will, it will help to wash any unpleasant tastes out of your mouth. Choosing sweeter drinks is the most effective method of mitigating the oil’s flavour. It is important to remember that CBD isn’t water-soluble, so you may have a hard time mixing CBD oil into these drinks. If a total infusion is your goal, then you will need to mix your CBD oil into drinks with some type of fat content, such as smoothies or milkshakes.

Alternatives to CBD oil

Lastly, if you really can’t handle the taste of CBD oil but still want all the benefits that CBD can provide, there is a whole range of alternative CBD products that you can explore. If oral consumption is your preferred route of administration, then your best options are CBD capsules and edibles.

CBD capsules are a great way to experience all the additional therapeutic benefits that full-spectrum extracts can provide without having to face the taste of CBD oil. CBD capsules provide consumers with a safe and accurate dose of CBD that is enclosed within a soluble container and dissolves in the stomach. When swallowing these capsules, none of its contents touch the taste buds on the tongue as they are contained within a softgel sheath.

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The major drawback of this delivery method is that CBD that is administered orally is less bioavailable than CBD that is administered sublingually. This affects the absorption of CBD by the body, making an oral dose less potent. The reason behind this is because of the route that CBD takes to enter the bloodstream.

When CBD is taken sublingually, the network of capillaries located underneath the tongue quickly absorbs the compound and delivers it swiftly into the bloodstream.

By contrast, oral CBD travels through the digestive system and is processed by the GIT and liver before reaching the bloodstream. In the gut and the liver, CBD is metabolised by various enzymes in a process known as “first-pass metabolism” which greatly affects the amount of CBD available in the blood. It is recommended that when consuming CBD capsules to do so on an empty stomach, which can improve their effectiveness.

CBD edibles are another way of consuming an oral dose without encountering any unpleasant flavours. The most popular products on the market in this category are CBD gummies. They incorporate CBD into a gummy candy to make CBD consumption a tasty and convenient experience, and they also come in a whole range of sweet flavours. The best part is that they are typically low in calories, so you don’t have to feel guilty if you are in need of a higher dose and need to consume more than a few gummies at any one time. The only real drawback of CBD gummies is that they also undergo first-pass metabolism in the gut and liver.

Consuming CBD isolate is also a viable option as an alternative to CBD oil. As its name suggests, CBD isolate is the pure and isolated form of cannabidiol. It typically comes in powder or crystal form and contains no additional ingredients. This powder is odourless, flavourless and consumed via direct ingestion or as a food and drink additive. It can also be consumed sublingually for a fast and efficient method of absorption.

CBD isolate is a good choice for consumers wanting the benefits of CBD without having the taste of CBD oil in their mouth. However, the major distinction between the two products is that CBD isolate is not full-spectrum. It does not contain any of the additional molecules or compounds that can be found within some CBD oils. As such, it only provides the health benefits directly related to CBD itself and not the wide range of therapeutic benefits that the additional compounds in full-spectrum extracts can provide.

Bottom line on the flavour of CBD

CBD oil is an incredibly versatile medicinal cannabis product that has a wide range of therapeutic benefits and can be used in a variety of different ways. As CBD oil is a plant extract, it has a natural and earthy flavour which some consumers can find unappealing and off-putting. As CBD oil is often taken daily, its taste can be a real sticking point for some people.

Luckily, many manufacturers stock flavoured CBD oils for consumers who find the natural flavour of CBD oil intolerable. In addition to this, there are many different ways to flavour CBD oil to your liking, mask its natural flavour or incorporate it into your favourite foods and drinks. If you find yourself struggling with the taste or finding these extra steps too laborious, then don’t be afraid to try alternative CBD products until you find the one that’s exactly right for your needs!


Verified by a health professional

Anastasiia Myronenko

Anastasiia Myronenko is a Medical Physicist actively practicing in one of the leading cancer centers in Kyiv, Ukraine. She received her master’s degree in Medical Physics at Karazin Kharkiv National University and completed Biological Physics internship at GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research, Germany. Anastasiia Myronenko specializes in radiation therapy and is a fellow of Ukrainian Association of Medical Physicists.

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