Understanding the difference between hemp oil and CBD oil

You have probably noticed the rise in interest generated by CBD since the passage of the U.S. Farm Bill in late 2018. A few years ago, only a small group of people knew that CBD existed, and in just a few short years, hemp and CBD oil are becoming household names all over the U.S. and internationally. Today, CBD products are showing up everywhere and in a variety of forms, including CBD oils, lotions, edibles and sprays. But what most of us still do not understand is that there is a big difference between hemp and CBD oil.

To ensure you have a better understanding of these products and how to use them effectively, we have a short overview to help you learn more about the differences between hemp oil and CBD oil. In addition to the overview, you will learn to determine know how to get the right product for your specific needs.

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Hemp Oil

Also known as hemp seed oil, Hemp Oil, just as its name suggests, is oil. The oil is removed from the seeds of the industrial hemp. This is a species of the cannabis Sativa plant. During the extraction process, the hemp seeds are pressed to extract the oil from the seeds before bottling. They can also be further processed and refined before bottling, depending on the intended use.

Hemp oil is naturally loaded with protein, omega fatty acids, and vitamin E. So far, research has only been able to show that its main benefit is its use as a topical, nourishing oil.


CBD or cannabidiol oil, unlike hemp oil, is extracted from the flowers, leaves, stems, and stalks of matured cannabis Sativa (hemp) plants. The CBD oil can be extracted through various methods, including using carbon dioxide, ethanol, and even olive oil. The quality of CBD oil is largely dependent on the processing methods used.

There is also full-spectrum CBD oil, which contains terpenes and nutrients that are not derivable from hemp oil alone.

What are some things Hemp oil and CBD oil have in common?

  • Obviously, both are oils.
  • Hemp oil and CBD oil originate from the cannabis Sativa plant.
  • Unlike marijuana, both oils are non-intoxicating.
  • They are both valuable and provide a variety of benefits
  • You can apply topically or ingest both.
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The differences between Hemp Oil and CBD Oil

  • CBD oil is extracted from leaves, stems, stalks, and flowers of the cannabis plant, while the hemp oil originates from the seed of the plant.
  • You can get hemp oil only from the industrial hemp variety of Cannabis Sativa, while CBD oil can be sourced from various species of the cannabis plant.
  • Usually, CBD oil from a trustworthy source will come with a certificate of analysis (COA) that provides full details of the exact constituents of the product. However, hemp oil does not usually come with a COA.
  • By federal law, CBD oil can contain up to 0.3% THC, which is the psychoactive cannabinoid. On the other hand, there is no legal backing for hemp oil to contain THC. State and local laws may vary from this.
  • In a few states, there are laws that apply to the manufacture and distribution of CBD, but hemp oil contains no THC, thus have no such restrictions.
  • Hemp oil contains no cannabinoids; it is merely a nutrient-rich oil. Therefore, it cannot reap the benefits of the entourage effect like CBD oil.
  • You cannot buy CBD oil on Amazon, but Hemp oil is available for purchase on large eCommerce websites.
  • Unlike hemp oil that has been used in beauty products for a long time, CBD is relatively new in most industries.
  • Though you can use both hemp oil and CBD topically or ingest them, you are more likely to apply hemp oil topically whereas you typically ingest CBD oil.

The Entourage Effect: Hemp Oil vs. CBD Oil

There are certain unique benefits you can obtain from the use of Hemp oil, but with CBD oil, you can get a variety of benefits owing to the entourage effect. While hemp oil is manufactured only from the seeds of the cannabis Sativa plant as stated earlier, the entire plant from stem to leaf is useful to produce full-spectrum CBD oil.

When you harvest oil from various parts of the plant, naturally, you get some powerful, valuable compounds from the plant. This goes beyond just the CBD but includes a variety of other cannabinoids and scent compounds known as terpenes.

Hemp seeds do not possess the same cannabinoids, terpenes and other beneficial compounds. This means you are only getting a small portion of the benefits which are available from CBD oil. The hemp oil denies you of the entourage effect.

Why does the entourage effect matter?

In simple terms, the entourage effect is a term used to describe the notion that when the different elements of the cannabis plant are used in conjunction, the effect is more potent and balanced. The reverse is the case when these different components are used individually.

While the terpenes assist the cannabinoids in producing their best output, the cannabinoids help other cannabinoids to provide maximum effect. This synergy makes the compounds more effective.

The theory behind this effect is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Therefore, you can obtain the utmost benefits of the entourage effect when you use CBD oil rather than hemp oil.

How to Read Hemp Oil and CBD Oil Labels

At this time, regulation of CBD oil is limited. This makes it easier for fraudulent marketers and manufacturers to mislead users with ambiguous labeling or claim unfound benefits on their products. So, be vigilant in your research of these products.

When you go to the store to purchase the oils, endeavor to carefully read the list of ingredients on the label of the CBD/Hemp oil you are purchasing. That way, you can be certain of the components of what you are buying. Regardless of what the label says, note that the active ingredient in Hemp oil should always be hemp seed oil, and CBD oil should have cannabidiol, full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD, hemp (not hempseed) or phytocannabinoid-rich CBD as its major component.

With a little effort you can select which type of oil is right for you and enjoy these unique products.


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