Cannabidiol (CBD) is a hemp-derived compound that shows promise for relieving pain, inflammation, and anxiety. Compared with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is non-impairing, meaning it won’t get you “high.”
CBD oil is one of the most common types of CBD products, but it isn’t the only one. You can also take CBD in a pill or capsule. Pills and capsules are easy to use and can provide more consistent dosing than oils, as each dose is premeasured.
However, unlike CBD oils, CBD capsules and pills are subject to additional breakdown in your digestive tract via the first pass effectTrusted Source, which may decrease the potency.
Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t guarantee the safety, effectiveness, or quality of over-the-counter (OTC) CBD products. However, in order to protect public health, they can take actionTrusted Source against CBD companies that make unfounded health claims.
Since the FDA doesn’t regulate CBD products in the same way they regulate drugs or dietary supplements, companies sometimes mislabel or misrepresent their products. That means it’s especially important to do your own research and find a quality product.
We’re here to help with our top seven picks of some of the best CBD pills and capsules on the market today. We’ll also go over how to choose a product, as well as cover safety and side effect information.
Where available, we’ve included special discount codes for our readers.
- Cannabinoids: Cannabis-derived compound, such as THC and CBD.
- Terpenes: Aromatic compounds produced by plants. The terpenes in cannabis are partially responsible for its distinct effects.
- Full-spectrum: Contains all compounds (i.e., cannabinoids and terpenes) found in cannabis.
- Broad-spectrum: Contains all compounds found in cannabis except for THC.
- CBD isolate: Pure CBD, with no other cannabinoids or terpenes.
How we picked these products
We chose these products based on criteria we think are good indicators of safety, quality, and transparency. Each product in this article:
- is made by a company that provides proof of third-party testing
- is made with U.S.-grown hemp
- contains no more than 0.3 percent THC, according to the certificate of analysis (COA)
- passes tests for pesticides, heavy metals, and molds, according to the COA
As a part of our selection process, we also considered:
- certifications and manufacturing processes
- whether the ingredients are certified organic
- indicators of user trust and brand reputation, such as:
- customer reviews
- whether the company has been subject to an FDA warning letterTrusted Source
- whether the company makes any unsupported health claims
Additionally, most of the products on this list contain full-spectrum CBD. Full-spectrum CBD, also known as whole plant extract, has some advantages over isolate — namely, the entourage effect, a theory that states cannabinoids work better together than they do alone.
How capsules interact with your body
Immediate-release capsules work identically to edibles. Cannabinoids enter your body through your mouth and get absorbed by your stomach. In the case of THC pills, your liver then metabolizes THC into a compound called 11-hydroxy-THC, which can last longer and have a more sedating effect than THC.
Time-release capsules follow the same route of digestion and metabolization, but the effects may be delayed or drawn out. Capsule shells engineered with liposomes and drug-polymer conjugates — like hydrogels — allow for the timed release of their contents. These protective and inert ingredients neutralize stomach acid for slower release of THC or CBD into the bloodstream.
How to take CBD and THC pills
If you’ve tried cannabis edibles, then you already have a solid understanding of the experience you can expect from THC pills. If you’re new to both of these cannabis products, know that every individual’s liver metabolizes compounds differently, which is why edibles and THC pills can produce different effects in different people. The effects of THC pills can range from sleep-inducing and pain-relieving to focused and euphoric, depending on the capsule’s ingredients. The entire experience can last anywhere from 45 minutes to several hours, depending on the individual and the potency of the THC pills.
Meanwhile, CBD pills may cause only the slightest shift in consciousness or a wave of pain relief, depending on the dose and other ingredients. Finding the right dose and cannabinoid profile for you takes some trial and error, so start with 5 milligrams (mg) of THC or less and wait at least two hours before taking more. If you’re trying CBD capsules for the first time, start with 25mg of CBD or less.
Types of CBD and THC pills
There are many types of marijuana capsules to choose from. Here are the common terms you’ll find on capsule packaging and what they mean:
Ground, decarboxylated flower. Decarboxylation is the process of heating cannabis flower to activate certain cannabinoids. Cannabis flower requires decarboxylation to turn non-intoxicating THCA into intoxicating THC or inactive CBDA into active CBD. Ingesting decarboxylated weed in capsule form allows you to experience the entourage effect without having to smoke weed.
Distillate. Distillate is a runny liquid that is similar to crystalline in that a distillation process is used to produce it. Its purity can run anywhere from 85% to 95% of one cannabinoid — typically CBD or THC — and the cannabis plant’s terpenes are sometimes reintroduced into the final product. Distillate’s cannabinoids are decarboxylated and capable of providing consumers with some of the intoxicating effects associated with inhaling weed smoke or ingesting edibles containing THC. THC pills made with distillate typically contain just that — THC and no other compounds or terpenes.
CBD:THC. Capsules containing ratios of THC and CBD work to enhance potential medicinal effects and modulate intoxicating effects to meet patients’ individual needs. CBD-infused capsules can potentially deliver relief while mitigating THC’s potentially adverse side effects, making the medication more tolerable to new or sensitive patients.
Full-spectrum. Cannabis capsules labeled as full-spectrum include all of the cannabis plant’s available molecules — terpenes, cannabinoids, and everything in between. Full-spectrum cannabis capsules can contain decarboxylated flower or infused oil bases, and allow patients to feel the effects of weed without any additives.
Broad-spectrum. Similar to full-spectrum, broad-spectrum products have retained most, if not all, the beneficial compounds from the source plants. The key difference is that broad-spectrum products typically refer to CBD products that have been refined to remove all traces of THC.
How to make cannabis capsules
Homemade CBD or THC pills start with infused cannabis oil or decarboxylated cannabis flower. Those with sensitive stomachs should stick to oil.