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Cannabidiol (CBD) capsules are oral capsules that deliver CBD through the digestive system. The best CBD capsules contain natural ingredients and few allergens and are easy to swallow.

Is CBD legal?The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This made some hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC federally legal. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3% THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them federally illegal but legal under some state laws. Be sure to check state laws, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved nonprescription CBD products, and some products may be inaccurately labeled.

Medical News Today’s methodology

Medical News Today chooses products that meet the following criteria:

  • Ingredients: MNT chooses products containing safe and high quality, clearly labeled ingredients. They should also confirm they are free from pesticides, heavy metals, and mold.
  • Dosage: MNT chooses products that must clearly state the CBD dosage and THC content.
  • Serving size: MNT selects products in which manufacturers recommend a dosage and how to take it.
  • Third-party labs: MNT chooses products that must undergo third-party testing for contaminants by an ISO 17025-compliant laboratory.
  • Available certificate of analysis (COA): MNT chooses companies that demonstrate transparency and share a product’s COA after receiving its third-party lab results.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

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Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

The following table compares the softgels and capsules in this article on price, dosage, and more.

PriceCBD typeCBD doseCount
Charlotte’s Webfrom $79.99full-spectrum25 mg per capsule• 30
• 60
Bluebird Botanicalsfrom $29.95full-spectrum15 mg per softgel• 30
• 60
• 120
Medterra$49.99isolate25 mg per capsule,
50 mg per capsule,
100 mg per capsule
30
Sunsoil$30full-spectrum20 mg per capsule30
Social CBD$79.99broad-spectrum50 mg per capsule30
NuLeaffrom $19full-spectrum30 mg per serving• 20
• 60
• 120
Lazarus Naturalsfrom $10full-spectrum100 mg per softgel• 10
• 40
• 200
CBDfxfrom $89.99full spectrum50 mg per softgel capsule• 30
• 60
• 120

Capsules and softgels are pills that people take in supplement or medication form. Capsules can contain either dry or liquid ingredients, while softgels only contain liquid.

Capsules can be vegetarian or non-vegetarian. Some softgels may be vegetarian or vegan, but most contain animal gelatin.

Softgels are more flexible than capsules, which may make them easier for some people to swallow.

CBD capsules and oils have their benefits and drawbacks, so which one someone chooses depends on their preferences and priorities.

CBD capsules can provide a more precise dose of CBD. They are also more convenient for use on the go.

However, taking CBD in this form means it will pass through the digestive tract. This will lengthen the time it takes a person to feel the effects of CBD, and it may dilute its potency.

People place CBD oil under the tongue or add it to food and drink. Placing the oil underneath the tongue may result in a more rapid and less diluted dose of CBD.

However, some find it difficult to get an accurate dose of CBD with this method, while others do not like the taste of CBD oil.

Many people use CBD products for various conditions, including stress and anxiety, physical pain, and inflammation.

People can consume CBD in many ways, including:

Some methods, such as placing a tincture under the tongue, may deliver CBD to the brain more rapidly than CBD pills. However, the amount of CBD an individual consumes can vary using all methods.

Some people may find CBD capsules more convenient to use than other methods. However, there is no particular advantage to using CBD pills over CBD in other forms.

Before purchasing CBD capsules, a person may wish to consider their reason for using CBD, the types of CBD, such as full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD, or CBD isolate, and the amount of CBD the capsules contain.

The majority of CBD products do not undergo regulation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means companies could make false claims about their goods. As such, third-party testing is a high priority to help inform and protect people in choosing CBD products. However, the FDA does regulate Epidiolex, an oral prescription CBD product for rare and severe forms of epilepsy.

To ensure that CBD products contain the amount of CBD the manufacturers claim they do, a person can look for a COA.

A COA should:

  • come from an independent, accredited lab
  • detail the amount of CBD and other cannabinoids the product contains
  • reveal the product’s levels of pesticides or microbes
  • list any chemicals and heavy metals the product may contain

Learn more about buying CBD.

The following table defines the most common CBD terms.

TermMeaning
CBDA compound within the C. sativa plant that does not create the high sensation individuals commonly associate with cannabis use.
THCA compound in the C. sativa plant. It is the psychoactive compound that creates the high sensation from cannabis use.
Full-spectrumA full-spectrum product will contain all of the natural compounds in the cannabis plant, including THC. However, THC levels must be no more than 0.3% to comply with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation on full-spectrum CBD products.
Broad-spectrumBroad-spectrum products contain natural compounds of the cannabis plant. However, while manufacturers remove all or most of the THC in broad-spectrum CBD, it may still be present in trace amounts.
CBD isolateThis is the purest form of CBD and should contain 0% THC.
CannabinoidsThe compounds within the cannabis plant, of which there are over 120. CBD is the second richest compound in the plant after THC.
TerpenesAnother compound of the C. sativa plant, terpenes typically give plants their specific aromas. Some terpenes, such as limonene, may have specific health benefits.
Certificate of analysis (COA)Reputable manufacturers of CBD products should ensure a COA is available for inspection. A COA provides information on the third-party testing that independent labs conduct on a particular product. Sometimes, products have a scannable smartphone code directing people to the COA online.

Read more about terminology and other important CBD information here.

CBD resources

Visit our dedicated hub for more research-backed information and in-depth resources on CBD.

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CBD may be unsuitable for some people. It is important to know the risks before using any CBD products.

Side effects

Side effects may occur with CBD use, particularly in higher doses. They include:

These side effects may vary in people and may resolve with continued use. Those sensitive to these effects should not drive or operate machinery when taking CBD.

Interactions

CBD may also interact with some drugs or medications. Anyone who wishes to take these products needs to speak with a doctor or healthcare professional first about drug interactions.

Drug testing

Other potential ingredients in CBD products, such as THC, may show up in drug tests. While a pure CBD isolate should not contain THC, full-spectrum products may contain enough to register in a drug screening.

Learn more about CBD and drug testing.

Contamination

Because the FDA does not regulate CBD products, there is a risk they may contain contaminants, such as heavy metals, pesticides, or other compounds. A certified independent lab test can help ensure the product is pure and safe to use.

All CBD products in this article have undergone third-party tests and a strict vetting process.

Research into helping people get the most out of their CBD capsules is ongoing.

It is important to note that CBD dosages can differ depending on which manufacturer and products a person chooses. Some manufacturers sell capsules containing 25–50 mg of CBD each, while others sell capsules containing 100–200 mg each.

One 2020 study found that taking CBD with food significantly increased its bioavailability — the body’s ability to absorb and use nutrients — compared with taking CBD on an empty stomach. The researchers concluded that further research into taking CBD with food is necessary.

People need to contact a doctor before purchasing and using CBD products. There is a risk of drug interactions with CBD and some medications. To avoid adverse effects, individuals need to speak with a healthcare professional before using any products containing CBD.

Additionally, CBD is not a proper substitute for medical care. A person needs to contact a doctor for advice on whether CBD is the right product for them to use.

Below are some of the most common questions and answers about CBD capsules.

CBD gummies and capsules may suit different people. Those who do not like swallowing pills whole may prefer a chewable gummy. However, it may be more difficult to absorb all of the CBD in gummies. This is because companies sometimes infuse the inside of the gummy with CBD, and other times, they will put CBD on the outside. If a person chews or swallows the gummy too quickly, they may not get the full effects of the CBD.

Capsules, on the other hand, always contain CBD on the inside. Swallowing the capsules whole ensures a person gets the full CBD dose. That said, capsules are often unsuitable for vegans and contain ingredients unsuitable for people with a tree nut allergy.

A person takes CBD oil sublingually, or under the tongue, while they swallow capsules. CBD oil enters the bloodstream faster than capsules, so people may find that oil provides quicker results. However, those who do not have difficulty swallowing tablets may find capsules more convenient to take. Additionally, it may be more difficult to measure the CBD dose accurately with oils.

While there are a lot of CBD capsules available to buy online, people should only consider ones with a current and easily accessible Certificate of Analysis from an independent third party to verify that the labeling is accurate.

Then, people should consider whether full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or CBD isolate is best for their needs. Full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD have other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, whereas CBD isolate is pure CBD.

Finally, people should always start with the lowest possible dose of CBD. It is best to start low and build up doses gradually than to start with one that is too high.

There is not yet a consensus about which form of CBD is most effective. CBD, which includes other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, may contribute to the “entourage effect,” a theory where the compounds in the cannabis plant interact with the body for greater efficacy.

While there are many anecdotal accounts and manufacturer estimates of how long CBD capsules take to work, there is limited scientific data to support these claims.

That said, researchers have found CBD in a person’s bloodstream roughly 1–2 hours after oral administration.

Capsules offer a simple and convenient way to take CBD. However, there are a few things to consider before a person chooses a product, such as dosage, any additional ingredients, and the reason for use.

It is important to choose quality CBD products, as not all manufacturers follow best practices.

Anyone who wishes to use CBD can consult a doctor or healthcare professional to check for any possible drug interactions and adverse effects.