After the 2018 Farm Bill made hemp cultivation legal at the federal level, U.S. farmers planted over 167,000 acres of hemp in 2019 alone. Hemp has been used for myriad purposes throughout human history, but there’s one reason behind the recent mainstream market boom in this crop: cannabidiol, also known as CBD.
Growing research on and interest in the potential of the cannabis plants’ second most famous compound has created a multi-billion dollar industry of balms, capsules,and of course, CBD oil,which commonly comes in the form of CBD drops.
Although hemp cultivation is federally legal, state laws on cultivation and labeling vary. This leaves many wondering, is hemp oil the same as CBD oil?
In this guide, we’ll break down the difference between hemp oil vs CBD oil so that you can buy the product that best suits your wellness goals.
A Brief History of Hemp
Hemp oil and CBD oil have one big thing in common: they both come from cannabis plants.
Is that the same as marijuana? The answer is complicated and can vary based on your country and state.
- All marijuana and hemp plants come from the cannabis family, which includes cannabis sativa, cannabis indica and cannabis ruderalis plants, although there’s some debate as to whether these three are really genetically distinct.
- Cannabis plants have been cultivated over millennia for different purposes. While some are high in psychoactive THC, the plants historically grown in Asia tend to have much smaller amounts of this cannabinoid. We’ve long called these hemp plants.
- The 2018 Farm Bill legally defines industrial hemp plant as any hemp plant containing less than 0.3% THC.
- CBD comes from hemp plants. CBD products have low levels of THC, meaning that CBD does not produce psychoactive effects.
While it’s legal to cultivate higher-THC plants in some states, usually with a license, most commercially available hemp oil and CBD oil comes from industrial hemp plants. As a result, neither CBD oil or hemp oil have psychoactive properties.
While CBD oil and hemp oil come from the same plant, they are two different products with different qualities.
So what’s the real difference between hemp vs CBD oil? Let’s dive in.
CBD Oil: Definition and Benefits
First let’s answer: what is CBD? CBD is derived from the flowers, leaves and stalks of the industrial hemp plant. CBD is only one of many compounds found in the plant. Depending on the extraction method, a CBD product may contain other potentially beneficial cannabinoids, terpenes and phytonutrients, too.
There are several kinds of CBD oil:
- Full Spectrum CBD oil – Full spectrum oil is produced with extraction methods that preserve all its beneficial cannabinoids, including CBD, CBG, and CBN, as well as terpenes like myrcene and linalool. Research indicates that these compounds partner with each other to create the entourage effect. That means that each chemical enhances the others’ effects. Full-spectrum CBD contains less than 0.3% THC.
- Broad-spectrum CBD oil – This kind of CBD oil is a further refined oil in which THC is removed from the oil, along with the removal of THC, other minor cannabinoids are often lessened and thus lacks the entourage effect.
- CBD isolate – The difference between broad spectrum and full spectrum CBD vs CBD isolate is that CBD isolate is the most processed and is just the CBD compound in isolation. It doesn't have any other beneficial minor cannabinoids, terpenes or phytonutrients. CBD alone is less effective than when it is partnered with other naturally occurring compounds.
Check the label on your prospective CBD oil tinctures to see what other compounds it contains. You’ll likely notice some other ingredients on the list, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since most commercial CBD oils place hemp extract in a carrier oil.
While hemp extract is rich in beneficial compounds, the molecules are not readily bioavailable. Carrier oils like MCT (mono chain triglyceride) coconut oil can aid in absorption through the skin, mucous membranes and digestive tract. This means they enter the bloodstream quicker and at greater concentration.
Formulating CBD oil with coconut oil, for example, makes hemp’s beneficial effects much more accessible. At Plant People, we like to include a cold pressed hemp seed oil which adds additional phytonutrients and omegas from the hemp plant, to the hemp extract.
How CBD Works
What happens when you take CBD oil?
CBD interacts with our body’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS), setting in motion a host of potentially beneficial effects.
The ECS is a system of nerve receptors throughout the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system.
This system is thought to help regulate:
- Response to discomfort
- Sleep cycles
- Stress response
THC alone binds with ECS receptors and can easily overwhelm them, creating effects like the munchies, short-term memory loss and even paranoia. This is what is colloquially known as “being high.”
CBD has a much more subtle effect.
While scientists continue to research CBD’s chemical pathways, what’s clear is that CBD binds with ECS receptors. It positively influences the way that nerve fibers bond with other molecules, thereby supporting their healthy functioning. Of course, these effects will often depend on a person’s CBD dosage.
More research is needed to understand CBD’s specific pathways, but early studies indicate that CBD may interact with the ECS to support the following CBD benefits:
- Soothing aches and soreness – CBD can be applied topically to help provide relief for stiff joints and muscles. Some people even use it to help with period cramps. Because CBD is absorbed transdermally, it targets the problem area.
- Helping maintain healthy sleep – Specially formulated CBD oils combine the relaxing properties of CBD with other adaptogenic herbs. Placing CBD oil under your tongue before bed may help you put your mind to rest so that you can get some shut-eye. Other cannabinoid compounds such as CBN can be very helpful for sleep too.
- Decreasing stress and tension – Taking CBD sublingually may help you feel calm and at ease throughout your day.
- Fighting post-exercise inflammation – Applied topically, a CBD lotion or balm may help to relieve redness, bumps, blemishes and other signs of post-exercise inflammation. Taken orally, it may help your body return to homeostasis and reduce soreness.
- Improving focus and clarity – CBD isn’t just for bedtime. The ECS helps support a strong memory, and CBD may help facilitate all day focus and concentration.
These are just some of the reasons why CBD is such a popular botanical ally.
Hemp Oil: Definition and Benefits
So is there a difference between hemp and CBD oil? The short answer is yes. Hemp oil does not usually contain CBD.
How is that possible? Doesn’t all hemp contain CBD? The short answer is no.
While CBD oil is derived from the whole hemp plant—flowers, leaves and stems—hemp oil most often comes from hemp seeds, which do not naturally contain CBD.
Hemp seed oil can be great for many uses:
- Hemp seed oil is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which make it a popular dietary supplement.
- Hemp seed also contains Vitamin D, which has benefits when added to food or applied topically.
- Similar to jojoba oil and other carrier oils, hemp seed oil can help to plump and hydrate skin, providing a youthful and glowy complexion.
Note: As noted, hemp seed oil usually does not contain CBD, and does not interact with the ECS in the same way.
Can Hemp Oil Contain CBD?
In some cases, hemp products may theoretically contain CBD.
CBD is legal at the federal level and can be found in corner stores and pharmacies across the country. However, in some states, it’s illegal to sell food and beverages with added CBD. If you’re wondering what states legally allow CBD, check out our list of CBD legal states.
You may be surprised to hear that as of late 2020, CBD beverages were not permitted in California, where marijuana itself is recreationally legal!
- Because of differing state laws, many large food and beverage companies could choose not to label a hemp-derived food or beverage product as containing CBD.
- Instead, they could list “full-spectrum hemp oil” or full spectrum hemp extract in the ingredient list.
- These products may theoretically contain CBD, but because companies are intentionally hiding this ingredient from their list, it’s impossible to know how much, or in what concentration.
While there is some hemp-derived oil in these products, it may very well be hemp seed oil without CBD. The ingredient list suggests there might be CBD, but there’s no way to know without conducting laboratory testing on the hemp oil product. This is why it’s important to only shop with brands that have their third party lab testing reports readily available
Choosing Your Hemp-Based Ally
Have you decided whether hemp oil vs CBD oil is right for you? We’ll spell it out: the main difference between CBD oil and hemp oil is that only one definitely contains CBD.
- If you want to be 100% sure you’re getting the full range of potential benefits from your hemp products, your best bet is organic, U.S.-farmed CBD oil. A full spectrum CBD oil product will have a stronger effect than broad-spectrum or isolated oils.
- If you’re hoping to hydrate your skin or improve your diet with omega fatty acids, a hemp oil product may be a worthwhile investment. We also recommend CBD oil for your skincare needs!
Whatever oil you choose, be sure to purchase from a trusted vendor who is transparent about their ingredients and extraction processes.
Plant People: Organic, Full-Spectrum CBD Oil
Plant People uses USDA organic, Colorado-grown hemp without herbicides, pesticides, or glyphosate. Our products are free from potential chemicals, solvents, irritants and toxins that may diminish CBD’s beneficial effects.
Our CBD oil is full spectrum, meaning that you reap the full benefit of the “entourage effect” by using it.
Our line of solution-oriented oils combines CBD and other beneficial cannabinoids with powerful herbs, mushrooms and neutrophils to help you meet specific wellness goals. Whether you want to stay focused, get better sleep, or experience mind-body balance, we’ve formulated an oil specifically for your needs.
Quartz. What to know about the U.S. legal cannabis market in 2020. https://qz.com/1886903/what-to-know-about-the-us-legal-cannabis-market-in-2020/
Analytical Cannabis. Hemp vs. Marijuana. https://www.analyticalcannabis.com/articles/hemp-vs-marijuana-is-there-a-difference-311880
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