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CBD Oil vs. Hemp Oil: What’s the difference?

Breaking down the terminology and classifications of cannabis to help clear up the confusion around different CBD, hemp, and marijuana products available today.

When investigating cannabis products, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the varieties available. Cannabis oil, hemp seed oil, CBD oil, hemp oil, industrial hemp; the list goes on. If you don’t understand the differences between products like this, you aren’t alone!

Shopping with confidence is key to finding a product that will suit your needs. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of the terminology and products you might encounter when shopping for cannabis products like CBD oil and hemp oil.

Where Does CBD Oil Come from?

To put it simply, cannabidiol oil, or CBD oil, comes from hemp, which is one of the main categorizations of the cannabis plant.

Cannabis is thought to contain more than 100 phytocannabinoids, with CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) being two of the most well understood and researched among them. THC and CBD interact with the cannabinoid receptors located throughout your brain and central nervous system in a similar way to endocannabinoids, which are naturally produced by your body.

While THC has a large number of health benefits, it also has intoxicating properties that produce the ‘high’ associated with marijuana use. CBD however, has no negative impact on mental functioning, making CBD oil a viable option if you’re looking to gain the natural benefits of cannabinoids without the high of THC.

Cannabis can be largely broken down into two main types: hemp and marijuana. “Marijuana” is used to describe cannabis that’s high in THC content, making it a well known recreational drug. “Hemp” describes cannabis with a very low THC content—0.3% or less according to the recently passed 2018 Farm Bill — and is an industrial wonder-resource, used for paper, clothing, biofuel and of course, consumable oils.

CBD Oil or Hemp Oil?

Since CBD oil is derived from hemp, you may be wondering if hemp oil and CBD oil are in fact the same thing. After all, when it comes to purchasing these oils online—including through the largest online retailer in the world—they’re often treated as one in the same, and a search for “CBD oil” will likely bring up hemp oil products. (For legal reasons, hemp oil is more easily bought and sold online than CBD oil.)

The answer as to whether hemp oil and CBD oil are the same is pretty simple, and it all hinges on extraction.

What Is CBD Oil?

CBD oil begins with the extraction of CBD from the Cannabis sativa plant. There are a number of methods for extracting cannabidiol from hemp, but at the end of the process, you should be left primarily with CBD oil.  The extracted substance is then mixed with a carrier oil, preferably coconut, hemp seed, or olive, so your body can more easily absorb it. Then, the final product is altered in a variety of ways to produce end products like CBD edibles, vapes, and tinctures.

Because of its concentrated nature, CBD oil yields benefits very specific to the way in which cannabidiol interacts with the human body. For example, compared to cannabis oil or hemp oil, CBD oil much more effective and popular for its anti-anxiety, pain-relieving, and anti-inflammatory properties.

So, CBD oil is not hemp oil and should not be labeled as such. If you are looking for products primarily comprised of cannabidiol oil, take special care when reading the labels and doing your research. If the product you’re buying is labeled as “hemp oil,” you are getting something different than CBD oil.

What Is Hemp Oil?

Hemp oil, also known as hemp seed oil, is most commonly derived from industrial hemp, which has been cultivated to produce stronger, less porous fibers making it well-suited for use in clothing, rope and paper products. Industrial hemp plants are significantly lower in THC than naturally occurring cannabis plants because industrial hemp is bred to produce fewer flower buds, which contain a majority of the plant’s THC cannabinoids.

It is made from a process in which the seeds of the hemp plant are cold-pressed. Hemp oil is regulated for THC content to ensure it doesn’t exceed the minimum allowance of 0.3%.

When it comes to hemp oil, CBD content is not usually measured and is generally lower than it would be in CBD oil. The low CBD concentration is a result of the hemp oil extraction process: because it’s restricted to the seed and does not use the whole plant, there is less cannabidiol to be extracted.

Hemp seed oil still has many of its own health benefits, and in addition to being a popular carrier oil for CBD, can be found in many hair, skin, and nail products. Hemp oil also has a 3:1 ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids, which promote heart and brain health.

What Is Cannabis Oil?

Cannabis oil is created by extracting oil from the leaves of the cannabis plant, particularly from marijuana plants with a high THC content like Cannabis indica. Because cannabis oil has more THC than CBD oil or hemp oil, it can make the user feel high. For this reason, cannabis oil, which you might also see advertised as THC oil, faces tighter restrictions and is illegal in many countries and some U.S. states.

Nevertheless, studies have shown the potential health benefits of CBD can be amplified by taking it in combination with THC because of the unique way in which cannabinoids and other cannabis compounds work together within the human body. This is particularly true in cases where there are both physical and neuropathic symptoms in need of treatment, as with epilepsy or cancer.  

Purchasing What’s Right for You

Whether you buy CBD oil or hemp oil (or cannabis oil) will come down to what benefits you’re seeking, and perhaps more importantly, what’s legal in your state. While the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp on a federal level, there are still states that prohibit the production or purchase of cannabis products that contain any amount of THC, including many CBD and hemp oils.

This just means you need to do your research and be vigilant about checking product labels and Certificates of Analysis, which are third-party lab reports that the measure, amongst other things, the THC and CBD content in cannabis-based products. If you are not able to find the answers you seek, consider reaching out to the brand for clarification or consult with a cannabis doctor.

It may take some experimentation, but with patience and the right motivation, you’ll be able to decide if hemp oil or CBD oil is the right addition to your health regimen.

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2 responses to “CBD Oil vs. Hemp Oil: What’s the difference?”

  1. Avatar James Borst says:

    It is interesting that cannabis oil is created from marijuana plants with a high THC content. My mom has a lot of pain in her back and she has considered CBD hemp oil. If I were to use it, I’d probably consider a medical-grade so that I know it will be the right potency.

  2. Avatar Jamie Lee says:

    Something that God made to grow on earth and in the dirt he made earth with should have never been classed as being illegal! The reason for this type of plant has been known for 1000s of years but has just in the last few years been finally recognized as a medication for epilepsy! It has always been known to help with nausea, anxiety, pain, sleep, and relaxation! With or without the THC! Where are the research papers and articles on that? Know where to be found now that CBD has risen in research and popularity!

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