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Why Choose MCT over PG VG as your Vape Juice Carrier

MCT vs PGVG - health advantages
Written by Dr. Leah Zachar

Is there a healthier way to make CBD E-Liquid? What are the main advantages of using MCT instead of PGVG in your CBD vape juice? What is the part of Terpenes in the formula.

How do vape pens work?

Before discussing the advantages of using MCT, let’s look into vaping. Vapes work through a battery-operated heating system.  The vape juice is heated up to a temperature just below combustion.  At this temperature, the vape juice – which is a liquid at room temperature, becomes a vapor, similar to the steam that rises when water is boiling,  The vapor is then inhaled.

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What are vape cartridges?

Vape cartridges hold the CBD, the carrier, and the terpenes.

Why vape instead of using another delivery route?

Vaping works faster than any other delivery system – you begin to feel the effects in less than a minute.  The CBD is also much more efficiently used and there is superior bioavailability.

What is Bio-availability?

Bioavailability is the proportion of the CBD that is immediately active after it is taken, whether it be as a vape, cream, spray, sublingual, or tablet.  It is defined as a percentage.  For example, when CBD is taken orally, about 15% is active because the rest of the CBD is metabolized by the liver.  When CBD is vaped, about 60% is active.

Vaping is the most effective way of using CBD
Vaping is the most effective way of using CBD

The reason why so much more CBD is active when it is vaped is because vaped CBD is absorbed through the alveoli in the lungs directly into the bloodstream, bypassing the liver.  Put in another way, taking 25 mg of CBD orally, will have a similar effect to vaping 6 mg of CBD.  You get “more for your money” when you vape CBD as opposed to when you take CBD orally.

Why use CBD?

Because CBD gives you not only the health benefits, some of which THC cannot offer, but also none of the psychoactive benefits of THC.  Plus, CBD treats the addiction to opioids, nicotine, heroine, and alcohol.

What are terpenes?

Terpenes are volatile and pharmacologically active molecules.  They impart fragrance to the vape but more importantly, they have healing powers.   About 200 terpenes have been found in the cannabis plant.  Terpenes not only enhance the ability of CBD to exert its benefits, but terpenes also have their own benefits.

For example:
…Linalool is a mood enhancer and an anxiolytic.
…Limonene elevates the mood and provides stress relief.
…Alpha-Pinene helps you stay alert and focused, improves memory, and counteracts the side effects of THC.
…Myrcene helps you to relax.
…Beta-Caryophyllene promotes stress relief.

What is a “carrier”?

A carrier is what the CBD dissolves in so that is can be vaped.  For example, if you put a tablespoon of salt in a pot of boiling water, then the water is the carrier as it allows the salt to dissolve.  When CBD is vaped, it requires a carrier because CBD needs to dissolve before it can be inhaled as a water vaper.

The carriers used for CBD vapes are PG (propylene glycol), VG (vegetable glycerin), and MCT (medium chain triglycerides).  Below I will discuss each one – and why medium chain triglycerides are preferred.

PG (Propylene glycol)

 PG is a substance used in many asthma inhalers, toothpastes, food colorings, and vanilla extracts.  However, people with multiple allergies should avoid propylene glycol because it is allergenic.

VG (Vegetable glycerin)   

VG is a vegetable-based sweet thickener. It is present in cough syrup and used in chewing gum to keep the gum from becoming too hard.

MCT (Medium chain triglycerides)

Hemplucid MCT CBD Oil - Soon all carrier oils will use MCT
Hemplucid MCT CBD Oil – Soon all carrier oils will use MCT

MCT is colorless and odorless and are made from coconut oil or palm oil. MCT’s are considered so safe and healthy for you that they are sold in health food stores as a supplement.

So why are MCT’s the best choice?

MCT carriers do much more than just work as a carrier for the CBD in the vape juice.
…MCT’s  improve glucose levels in non-insulin dependent diabetics (Type II Diabetes).
…MCT’s help to control your appetite and aid in those who want to lose weight.
…MCT’s are used as an immediate source of energy rather than get stored as fat, in contrast to LCT (long chain triglycerides) – which are the most common type of fat ingested.

Take home point:

Vapes are the most efficient delivery system.  Terpenes not only enhance the entourage effect, but they also have their own health benefits. The best carrier system by far are MCT’s because not only do they convert the CBD to a form that can be vaped, but they also have nutraceutical and medicinal benefits – something that no other carrier has.


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Impact of medium and long chain triglycerides consumption on appetite and food intake in overweight men.” Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014 Oct; 68(10): 1134–1140.

“Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs)   Beneficial effects on Energy, Atherosclerosis and Aging.”   April 22, 2013

“Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects.” Br J Pharmacol. 2011 Aug; 163(7): 1344–1364.

“Fragrance compounds and essential oils with sedative effects upon inhalation.” J Pharm Sci. 1993 Jun; 82(6):660-4.

Effects of citrus fragrance on immune function & depressive states.” Neuroimmunomodulation.   1995 May-Jun; 2(3):174-80.

“Anxiolytic and sedative effects of extracts and essential oil from Citrus.” Biol Pharm Bull. 2002 Dec; 25(12):1629-33.

“Effect of flavor components in lemon essential oil on physical or psychological stress.”  Stress Health. 2008;24:3–12.

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“Effect of variable power levels on the yield of total aerosol mass and formation of aldehydes in e-cigarette aerosols.” Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology. Volume 75, March 2016, Pages 58-65

  • Update: As we are learning about more and more people hospitalized after using fake e-liquids / vapes we need to send a clear warning from using unverified CBD products.

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  • As a Dr., how can you suggest people vape a lipid such as MCT and then speak about the health benefits on top of that of ingesting MCTs when assuredly you know that inhaling the MCTs is not the same as ingesting them and the only thing your doing to your health is hurting and increasing the risk of lipid pneumonia?

  • Nice article here, but you use the referencing of studies which have investigated the toxicity of MCT oils via the oral/gastrointestinal pathway. You recommend MCT oil as a Carrier for Vaping CBD yet you have not provided any referencing to substantiate whether or not Medium Chain Triglycerides are irritative/easily metabolised in Human Lung tissues. I think that is would be a little nieve to suggest a relatively unexplored chemical in terms of inhalation toxicity in humans over VG and PG which have been quite extensively tested for inhalation routes of delivery.

  • Being sold as a supplement is not a scientific declaration of how healthy something is, quite the opposite.

  • Let me preface this by saying I’m a big fan of CBD. So this article came from a good place, but the reasoning is all wrong… The amount of MCT you’re taking in from vaping is so minuscule (like what? 200 microliters in a day of vaping tops?) there aren’t and CANNOT be “added health benefits” of using that carrier over the others (also side note, ketone bodies are not our brain’s preferred energy source, they are a secondary adaptive survival mechanism). What IS good about using MCT as a solvent for your cannabinoids is that there are no -OH moieties to oxidize into aldehydes; one of particular concern being formaldehyde that forms from heating other solvents like PEG/PG.

  • Interesting and informative,however, educationally I had to search elsewhere for the search adverse effects created by the inhalation of MCT’s. Something that DEFINITELY NEEDS Attention here. ie. Optimal vaping temperatures vs negative vaping temps!!

About the author

Dr. Leah Zachar

Dr. Leah Zachar, M.D. is a physician who worked for nearly thirty years in Internal Medicine.
She currently is a scientific adviser to CBD Testers. Dr. Zachar believes that there is much that medical cannabis, and cannabidiol in particular can offer to traditional medicine.