Both CBD (cannabidiol) oil and hemp oil have gained favor in recent years as preventive measures and therapeutic remedies for everything from dry skin to anxiety and chronic pain. But it’s important to understand that, though both products come from the cannabis sativa plant, hemp oil and CBD oil are very different products, each of which is best suited to particular applications.
Hemp Oil vs CBD Oil: 5 Key Differences
- Production Process
- Active Compounds
- Overall Potential Benefits
- Regulatory Status
- Cost and Availability
Consumers interest in both hemp oil and CBD oil has risen steadily in recent years, ever since the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 made the industrial production of the hemp plant legal in the United States for the sale of products using the cannabis compound cannabidiol. Around the same time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration also approved the first CBD-based pharmaceutical drug, which is used as a treatment for some forms of epilepsy. The resulting interest in hemp derived CBD as medicine has led to a flood of products on the market touting the benefits of both hemp oil and CBD oil for overall good health, along with the therapeutic treatment of several specific medical conditions.
It’s important to note that you’ll often see the terms “hemp oil” and “CBD oil” used interchangeably, even though that use isn’t always accurate. For example, what many people call hemp oil actually is hempseed oil, which is very different from CBD oil. For the purposes of this article, consider the term hemp oil to represent hempseed oil.
Hemp Oil vs CBD Similarities
While hemp oil and CBD oil are very different products, they do have a handful of specific similarities.
First, one of the most important characteristics that hemp oil and CBD oil share is that neither contains any, or only very little amounts, of the chemical compound tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is the psychoactive element of the marijuana plant that largely is associated with the euphoric feeling of being high. So you don’t have to worry about getting high or experiencing a psychoactive effect when you use either hemp oil or CBD tincture oil.
Additionally, both hemp oil and CBD oil are generally considered safe for use, with few drug interactions and minor side effects reported. Most side effects reported are either related to fatigue or digestive in nature, and generally are minor in their reported intensity.
For example, according to one documented study, no side effects were reported when participants ingested 300 milligrams of CBD per day for up to six months. An additional study also documented no side effects when people took up to 1,500 milligrams of CBD per day for a month. In most clinical studies to date, researchers have used oral dosages of CBD that range from 100–800 milligrams per day.
And by all documented accounts, hemp oil and CBD oil are safe to use together, so if you’d like to use them to treat multiple conditions, there’s no documented danger of doing so.
Just be sure to talk with your doctor before beginning to use CBD oil or hemp oil—whether in place of or in addition to any current medications or therapeutic treatments. You especially want to be careful if you’re already taking certain prescription drugs. In some cases, CBD may interact with pharmaceuticals, dramatically increasing or decreasing their effectiveness and/or elevating liver enzymes.
Hemp Oil vs CBD Oil: 5 Key Differences
Now that we’ve covered the similarities between hemp seed oil and CBD oil, let’s take a closer look at each of the major differences between them:
1. Production Process
Yes, both hemp oil and CBD oil come from the same source—the cannabis sativa plant—but each is made from a very different part of the plant and refined using a different process.
Cannabis and hemp are actually two separated, but related, varieties of the cannabis sativa plant species. When it comes to harvesting and processing CBD, it almost entirely comes from the cannabis sativa plant’s stalks, leaves, and flowers, all of which are rich in cannabidiol. Using highly specialized CBD extract techniques, including carbon dioxide or solvent-based extraction, manufacturers are able to isolate an extract rich in beneficial plant compounds, like cannabinoids and terpenes.
The final CBD oil product also usually includes some type of carrier oil, like coconut oil or olive oil and is clear or dark gold in color, with a neutral or earthy plant flavor. Some CBD oils also may contain added flavorings, like citrus or even mint CBD oil.
Hemp oil, on the other hand, is processed only from the seeds or the lower stalk of the cannabis sativa plant, which contain no CBD, but they are rich in other powerful nutrients, fatty acids, and useful bioactive compounds, including an omega-6 and omega 3 fatty acid; plus B vitamins, gamma-linolenic acid, vitamin D, and other powerful antioxidants. During the hemp oil production process, hemp seeds are cold-pressed into an omega-filled, rich, thick oil that is highly concentrated and full of helpful nutrients. It is typically dark to clear or light green in color and has a nutty flavor. It’s also used to make other popular hemp products, like hemp milk and hemp protein powder. Hemp fibers have also long been used to make clothing and other fabrics.
2. Active Compounds
A key difference you should be aware of is that, while cannabidiol is the key compound present in CBD oil, there is no CBD in hemp oil. Instead, hemp oil’s key feature is its richness in highly nutritious and beneficial compounds. For example, hemp oil is high in omega fatty acids, which are essential fatty acids that many experts believe aid brain and heart health.
Gamma linolenic acid, also present in hemp oil, is part of the omega-6 family, and is known for easing symptoms of PMS while supporting healthy skin, hair and nails. In addition, omega-9 may promote heart health by supporting balanced cholesterol levels and improving immune function. This makes hemp oil a popular ingredient used for cooking, along with a desirable ingredient for many skin care products. In fact, some hemp oils may provide up to 25 times more omegas than olive oil, with roughly 40 percent less saturated fat. Some patients also report a decreased appetite when taking hemp oil.
CBD oil, on the other hand, contains cannabidiol, which influences the receptors in our brains, including opioid receptors that regulate feelings of pain, glycine receptors that help regulate the "feel-good" hormone, and neurotransmitter serotonin. This makes CBD a better candidate for pain management, such as CBD for nerve pain, CBD for joint pain, etc.
Though researchers are still working to identify CBD’s precise mechanism of action, early research indicates that cannabidiol may interact with the brain’s cannabinoid receptors, which form part of the body’s endocannabinoid system. When this happens, CBD seems to stimulate the whole system, encouraging the body to produce more of its own cannabinoids, which then helps to regulate movement, the sensation of pain, emotions, mood, focus, appetite, memories, and other important brain functions. The result is homeostasis, or the body’s natural sense of balance.
3. Overall Potential Benefits
Hempseed oil, because of its richness in nutrients and essential fatty acids, may offer some basic health benefits, largely related to the presence of omega-3 and omega-6. Many people love hempseed oil because it doesn’t clog pores, has anti-inflammatory properties, and provides moisture to keep skin looking and feeling young and smooth. Hemp oil can be added to an existing skin product or simply used as a face oil all by itself.
However, there is very little evidence to show that hemp oil has any significant therapeutic effects beyond its basic nutritional boost or skin care potential. CBD oil, on the other hand, is a chemical compound that interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which means it has the potential to provide therapeutic relief from chronic pain, anxiety, and other health conditions.
You’ll see CBD oil used for a wide variety of therapeutic effects—there’s CBD for headache, CBD for sleep, CBD for relaxation, CBD for anxiety, and more. The cannabidiol binds with receptors near pain pathways in the brain and to block pain signals.
4. Regulatory Status
The FDA takes a very different view when it comes to hemp oil and CBD oil. Hemp oil has complete clearance from the FDA and is legal to purchase in all 50 U.S. states—and has been for many years.
When it comes to CBD oil, on the other hand, laws are inconsistent from state to state, though CBD oil is generally legal as long as it contains less than 0.3 percent THC content. To put this in perspective, marijuana commonly features THC content around 30 percent. Keep in mind that these stipulations are enacted at the federal level. Some hemp-derived CBD products remain illegal at the state level, so it’s important to check the laws of your state, plus the laws of any state you visit or travel to with CBD products.
Since the FDA has not approved CBD oil, you need to be extra careful when you make a CBD oil purchase. Make sure you purchase CBD oil from reputable CBD companies, like Farmer & Chemist, so that you can rest easy with a safe, high-quality product.
5. Cost and Availability
In general, a true CBD oil will be much more expensive than a simple hempseed oil. The process to manufacture CBD oil is much more involved than the cold-pressing of hempseed oil, and that cost is typically passed along to the consumer. If you see a product labeled as CBD oil, but at a significantly lower price point than other comparable products, there’s a fairly good chance that it’s actually just hempseed oil. This is where reading the product label is especially important.
Hemp oil has been available for purchase at the local grocery store or pharmacy for many years, while CBD is only just beginning to make its appearance. Most reputable CBD brands allow consumers to purchase CBD oil directly from their websites or through a specialized retail store.
If you choose to shop for CBD products online, it’s important to know the differences between hemp oil and CBD oil. For example, many consumers go to Amazon in search of CBD products, and while certain items may hint at being CBD oil, they are most likely hemp oil. True CBD products cannot be sold on Amazon because to do so would violate their terms of service.
How to Tell the Difference Between CBD Oil and Hemp Oil While Shopping
Purchasing a quality CBD oil can be tricky. Because the FDA has yet to formally evaluate CBD, the industry remains unregulated, so it can be difficult to distinguish between hempseed oil and a high quality CBD oil if you don’t know what to look for.
First and foremost, it’s important to read the product label before you buy any CBD or hemp product so that you understand exactly what you’re buying. It’s not uncommon for a product to feature images of the cannabis plant and highlight the term “cannabis,” leading consumers to believe that a product contains CBD, when it may only contain hempseed oil. The inverse can also be true—a company may market CBD products as containing only hemp oil in order to avoid some of the regulations around selling CBD. So, you have to do your due diligence when it comes to getting familiar with what’s on the product label.
Look especially for references to CBD, cannabidiol or full-spectrum hemp extract on a product’s ingredient list; if none of these are listed, the product is most likely hemp oil. It’s good to be cautious—many hempseed oils are misleadingly marketed to look like they are CBD products. But if there’s no reference to CBD or cannabidiol and the CBD content in milligrams present in the product, it’s safe to assume the product is actually hempseed oil.
Hempseed oil should be listed in product ingredients as cannabis sativa seed oil, while you should see CBD listed as cannabidiol, full-spectrum or broad-spectrum hemp, hemp oil, phytocannabinoid-rich (PCR) or PCR hemp extracts.
And when it comes to CBD oil, it’s important to know what type of CBD oil you’re getting. CBD oil is available in three different types: full-spectrum, which contains all cannabis plant compounds (even THC), though in trace amounts that will not produce a high. Broad spectrum CBD oil contains several cannabis compounds, but no THC, and CBD oil made using CBD isolate contains only CBD. CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD—it's THC-free, contains 99 percent pure CBD, and contains no other cannabinoids or terpenes.
The only way to know for sure what’s in the CBD oil you’re buying is to request and review its certificate of analysis, which any reputable seller should be willing to supply. It’s wise to make sure any CBD oil you buy is tested by an independent third-party lab for potency, safety, and potential toxins or unintended levels of THC.
Which is Better: CBD vs Hemp Oil?
Whether you choose CBD or hemp oil really comes down to personal preference and how you want to use the product. They both have beneficial qualities that can be used for different purposes. We at Farmer & Chemist, of course, are partial to CBD oil, but we also recognize that hemp oil has many positive applications.
When it comes to hemp oil, most patients use it for its nutritional benefits. Because it’s rich in unsaturated fatty acids and essential amino acids, it may have a positive effect on gastrointestinal issues and constipation. It may also provide cardiovascular benefits and immune support by slowing the buildup of plaque in arteries and lowering blood pressure.
Hemp oil is often used in skin care products because of the richness of the oil itself—as an ingredient in topical moisturizing products, hempseed oil has many properties that can help soothe dry, irritated skin without clogging pores.
While hemp oil use remains relegated to proactive health and nutrition measures, many patients have reported therapeutic effects of CBD oil to treat some fairly serious medical conditions. Those conditions include, but aren’t limited to, chronic pain, anxiety, epilepsy, insomnia, and autism spectrum disorders. CBD oil is also much more effective than hemp oil when it comes to treating pain, though both can be used to massage sore joints.
Some topical CBD products, including CBD oil, have also been shown to help treat skin conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis, while also reducing the appearance of scars. It’s not uncommon to find a wide range of skin care products containing CBD.
So, if you’re looking for a nutritional supplement that can help you avoid health or skin problems in the future, hemp oil may be exactly what you need. But if you’re looking for a chemical compound that can ease the symptoms of a current chronic or acute health challenge you’re dealing with, it’s likely that CBD oil will be more helpful for you.
Hemp Oil vs CBD Oil: Both Beneficial, But in Very Different Ways
Both hemp oil and CBD oil have their own benefits, but having a clear understanding of the similarities and differences between hemp oil and CBD oil can help consumers make better, more informed decisions regarding each product and how it fits into their overall health regimen.
If you’re ready to take advantage of CBD’s therapeutic benefits, we encourage you to shop FarmerAndChemist.com. We carry a wide variety of high-quality, certified pure CBD oil products, and if you ever have any questions or concerns, our expert pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are always happy to make recommendations to help create your optimal treatment plan.