It is easy to get confused with the terms "hemp oil" and "CBD oil" when talking about cannabidiol supplements. Both terms can refer to CBD as they come from the same cannabis plant. However, there are important differences between hemp seed oil and CBD oil that every consumer must be aware of.
You have probably come across terms such as hemp oil, CBD oil, hemp seed oil, cannabis oil, or marijuana oil when searching for CBD products. We are here to help you identify each product so you know how to distinguish one from the others.
What is hemp oil?
Hemp oil refers to oil that is extracted from different parts of the hemp plant which belongs to the Cannabis Sativa species.
Important to note:
- Hemp oil that comes from hemp seeds do not contain CBD
- Hemp oil that comes from hemp stalks, leaves and flowers contain CBD
Some vendors simply call their product hemp oil which adds to the confusion.
Unlike Cannabis Indica, the industrial hemp variety of Cannabis Sativa has a much stronger fiber that makes it ideal for applications such as rope, blankets and paper. Peeled or unpeeled industrial hemp seeds are cold pressed to create hemp oil. This method of extraction is similar to how olive oil and coconut oil are produced.
Industrial hemp does not contain THC. This is because industrial hemp is not cultivated to produce buds. THC is formed in the resin glands of the buds and flowers of the female cannabis plant.
Since hemp seeds do not contain THC, the oil extract does not contain any THC as well. Trace amounts may potentially still be present because of how plant matter adheres to the seeds during processing. Modern technology, however, makes it possible to decontaminate seeds by 99.99%.
Hemp seed oil is known for its nutty taste and high levels of unsaturated fats, including Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.
What is cannabis oil?
Cannabis oil comes from the resin of the female cannabis plant. This oil is extracted using a solvent. Once the resin is dissolved in the solvent, it evaporates and leaves behind a concentrated extract that contains THC and/or CBD. Cannabis oil can be blended with hemp seed oil, olive oil, or other types of carrier oils to make it palatable.
What is CBD oil?
CBD is short for cannabidiol – a chemical compound naturally found in cannabis and industrial hemp. CBD oil is extracted from the flowers, leaves and stalks of the hemp plant and not from its seeds. CBD oil from hemp has become very popular in the medical cannabis industry because it can be helpful in the treatment of various conditions without the psychoactive effects of the THC in marijuana.
When extracted from hemp, CBD oil contains a high concentration of cannabidiol with only trace amounts of THC.
CBD-rich oil is often taken as drops under the tongue or added to food and drink. CBD also comes in extracts that can be inhaled or rubbed on the skin.
The difference between CBD oil and hemp oil: plant of origin
It is easy to confuse CBD oil with hemp seed oil because they both come from the same plant genus: Cannabis. Within the cannabis genus are three cannabis species: Indica, Sativa, and Ruderalis.
Most cannabis products available at your local dispensary come from strains of Cannabis Indica, Cannabis Sativa, or a hybrid of the two.
Hemp oil and CBD oil both come from the Cannabis Sativa species, although some research shows that hemp is more genetically similar to Cannabis Indica. The difference lies in the particular strain of origin.
Hemp oil and CBD oil come from different strains of Cannabis Sativa. Growers can breed cannabis plants in order to manipulate their various traits such as color, aroma, flavor, and amount of THC and CBD.
Hemp oil comes from a strain of Cannabis Sativa that has a very low cannabinoid count. CBD oil comes from a strain of Cannabis Sativa with high cannabinoid count.
Think of it as comparing different types of roses. Go to any flower market and you'll find different varieties of roses in unique shapes, sizes, and colors. Even though they look different, they are all roses that come from the original rose plant. The hemp plant is related to the marijuana plant much like yellow, white and red roses are related to each other.
The third cannabis species – Cannabis Ruderalis – is considered feral which means it grows in environments that are not affected by natural disturbances. It's like the weed of the weed family.
While Cannabis Ruderalis contains low levels of cannabinoids, its true value lies in its ability to adapt to different climates. Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Sativa are dependent on the amount of light they receive but Cannabis Ruderalis produces flowers regardless of the light cycle.
If breeders can create a hybrid of Cannabis Ruderalis and Cannabis Indica or Sativa, they would be able to produce a strain with a higher cannabinoid count without having to wait for the natural growing season.
The difference between CBD oil and hemp oil: where the oil is extracted from
Hemp seed oil and CBD oil are extracted from different parts of their respective plants.
Like olive oil, coconut oil, and almond oil, hemp seed oil is extracted from the seeds of the plant.
CBD oil, on the other hand, is extracted from the flowers, leaves, buds and stalks of the Cannabis Sativa plant.
The difference between CBD oil and hemp oil: production method
Hemp seed oil is extracted by pressing the seeds of the hemp plant. The pressing method is similar to extraction processes applied to other oils such as olive oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, and peanut oil.
CBD oil is extracted through a process that applies a solvent. Alcohol, butane, or carbon dioxide acts as a solvent forcing through the Cannabis Sativa plant matter. In solvent extraction, the cannabinoids are separated from the terpenes and trichomes. When the solvent evaporates, what is left behind is CBD-rich oil.
The difference between CBD oil and hemp oil: cannabinoid content
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that interact with cannabinoid receptors in your brain. Scientists have discovered 113 different cannabinoids including:
- Delta9-tetrahydrocannbinol (THC)
- Cannabidiol (CBD)
- Cannabigerol (CBG)
- Cannabinol (CBN)
- Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA)
- Cannabichromenate (CBCA)
- Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA)
- Cannabichromene (CBC)
- Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV)
Growers typically focus on the two most dominant cannabinoids in the cannabis plant: THC and CBD. They create new versions by crossing strains that increase the amount of one cannabinoid while decreasing the other.
On the market you will find strains with high THC and low CBD which specifically cater to those who are looking to get high. Some products contain a whopping 29% of THC – creating one heck of a trip!
Strains with high CBD and low THC are designed to help reduce the symptoms of certain medical conditions without the mind-altering effects.
With the discovery of the "entourage effect" which basically means the medicinal impact of a whole plant is greater than the sum of its parts, growers are now creating strains that contain not just CBD and THC but other cannabinoids as well. These are often called full-spectrum CBD products.
Unlike marijuana strains, hemp oil and CBD oil contain low THC levels. Most countries require a THC concentration of 0.3% or lower for a product to be considered hemp.
Remember: hemp oil and CBD oil will not get you high. If you experience psychoactive effects, you have probably taken something that is not hemp oil or CBD oil.
CBD oil has a very high concentration of CBD – up to 20% – which makes it a potentially effective method of treatment for health issues such as anxiety, pain, nausea, seizures, and even cancer.
The difference between CBD oil and hemp oil: applications
Hemp seed oil is found in so many applications – food, dietary supplements, cosmetics, paint, and even fuel. Since its main benefit is nutritional, think of hemp oil as closer to olive oil than cannabis oil.
Hemp oil contains lots of vitamins E, B, B1, and B2 as well as potassium, magnesium, and polyunsaturated fats such as Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids. It is also a rich source of protein and antioxidants. [R]
Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids help improve heart health and fight the signs of aging. They are known to boost metabolism, which helps you burn fat at a faster rate and lower cholesterol levels. Omega-6 and Omega-6 fatty acids also protect your nerve cells by preventing damage to the myelin sheath. [R] [R]
Fatty acids mimic the natural lipids of the skin. They help improve water retention and elasticity so your skin, hair and nails are always healthy and well-hydrated.
Hemp oil also contains gamma linoleic acid which helps fight a skin condition called psoriasis. [R]
As food additive, hemp oil is great for cooking as it provides a crispy and nutty taste. It is an excellent substitute for olive oil in salads.
As a natural moisturizer, hemp oil is often added as an ingredient to soap, shampoo, lotions, and other cosmetic products.
Hemp oil is also found in industrial applications such as plastics, paint, lubricants, and bio-diesel fuel. Hemp oil is an eco-friendly substitute for petroleum when creating a base for different forms of plastic and in the production of paints. It can also be used as bio-diesel fuel similar to other vegetable oils.
While hemp oil is great as a dietary supplement, CBD oil holds so much promise when it comes to therapeutic health benefits.
Emerging scientific evidence is now supporting anecdotal reports on how CBD oil could help treat the following medical conditions:
- Muscle spasms
- Seizures and convulsions
- Chronic pain
- Anxiety and depression
- High blood sugar
- Nausea and vomiting
- Poor appetite
- Cancer pain
- Nervous system degeneration
- Artery blockage
- Bone growth
These major differences in applications between hemp seed oil and CBD oil is why it is important to call each one by its correct name. You would not want to ask your local dispensary for hemp seed oil if you intend to relieve chronic pain or stop an anxiety attack.
Summarizing the difference between CBD oil and hemp oil
- Hemp seed oil is extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant
- Hemp seed oil contains zero CBD
- Hemp seed oil is valued for its nutritional and industrial applications
- CBD oil is extracted from the flowers, leaves, buds and stalks of the Cannabis Sativa plant
- CBD oil can contain up to 20% cannabidiol
- CBD oil is valued for its therapeutic applications
When oil is extracted from the seeds of a hemp plant, it contains no CBD or THC. When oil is extracted from the resin glands of a hemp plant, it contains high CBD and trace THC.
CBD oil can be extracted from the hemp plant as well as the marijuana plant. Hemp and marijuana may be cousins in the cannabis genus but marijuana has a much higher THC content than hemp.
Oils that are extracted from different parts of the hemp plant may contain THC or CBD and still be labeled as hemp oil since it comes from the hemp plant.
If you want to try CBD but are concerned with its effect on a drug test, always read the packaging information to make sure that you are purchasing a CBD product that is completely THC-free.
Finally, beware of vendors that call their products hemp oil when they are in fact hemp seed oil that do not contain any CBD.