CBD Oil vs Hemp Oil: What’s the Difference?

Sophia Delphi June 21, 2022 - 11 min read
Fact Checked
CBD oil and hemp oil

What’s the difference between CBD oil and hemp oil?

Well, there’s a major one.

Hemp oil and CBD oil aren’t the same products, although people often confuse them. They think hemp oil and CBD oil are one and the same, especially since most CBD oils you see for sale are derived from hemp — just like hemp oil.

We’ll clear the fog around this in today’s article.

We’ll also highlight all the differences between CBD oil and hemp oil and how to distinguish between these two extracts.

What is Hemp Oil (Hemp Seed Oil)?

It’s no wonder that so many people often confuse CBD oil with hemp seed oil. Since both products come from hemp, hemp oil is just an umbrella term you can use interchangeably with both products, right?

Unfortunately, not.

When people say “hemp oil,” they usually mean hemp seed oil.

Hemp seed oil is made by cold-pressing the seeds at a low temperature to extract their oil, creating a thick, dark solution that’s chock-full of nutrients, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

The only compounds that hemp seed oil lacks are cannabinoids and terpenes.

Yes, you’ve read that correctly; hemp seed oils don’t have any CBD or other cannabinoids. They’re also devoid of terpenes because these molecules aren’t typically found in the seed of the plant.

So, where do CBD and terpenes occur?

In the flowers and leaves, specifically, trichomes, which are the resin glands containing these two.

What Is Cannabidiol (CBD) Oil?

The term “CBD oil” is used to describe a viscous extract that comes from the flowers of hemp plants. It’s usually mixed with a carrier oil and contained in dark, glass bottles with a dropper. The flowers are the richest source of trichomes where, as we said, you can find the highest concentrations of cannabinoids and terpenes.

Hemp isn’t the only cannabis plant from which you can extract CBD oil.

Some selectively-bred marijuana strains can also yield high-quality CBD extracts, but their chemical composition is different from hemp-derived ones.

Namely, marijuana-derived CBD oils contain higher levels of THC — more than 0.3% — which is considered federally illegal. You can purchase these products only in those states that have a legal marijuana market (for recreational or medical use).

Such CBD oils can induce a mild psychoactive high.

In contrast, CBD oil sourced from hemp has 0.3% THC or less by dry weight. Such products are legal in all 50 states under the 2018 Farm Bill.

These products won’t get you high because there’s not enough THC to trigger it.

But we’re not done yet.

CBD oil comes in three main types: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate.

Here’s what you need to know about them.

1. Full-spectrum CBD Oil

Full-spectrum CBD oil is the most complete type because it contains all cannabinoids and terpenes from the hemp plant, including trace amounts of THC.

Together, these compounds work synergistically to create a biological phenomenon known as the entourage effect (1).

According to this concept, cannabis compounds work better together than in isolation because they can amplify each other’s health benefits while mitigating potentially unwanted reactions.

The best example of the entourage effects is the relationship between CBD and THC.

CBD counteracts the psychedelic potential of THC, making the high feel smoother. You can also use CBD oil to bring your high down if you smoke too much weed at a time (2).

On the other hand, THC enhances the anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties of CBD, making lower doses more effective, as suggested by one Israeli study conducted in 2015 by the University of Jerusalem (3).

2. Broad-spectrum CBD Oil

Broad-spectrum CBD oil is similar to the full-spectrum version in that it also comes with a broad range of cannabinoids and terpenes.

However, this type of CBD doesn’t contain any THC at all. You can benefit from some parts of the entourage effect, but it won’t unlock the full potential of CBD.

3. CBD Isolate Oil

Isolate is just pure CBD oil. The CBD is separated from other hemp compounds and then turned into crystals which can be powdered and infused into oils, gummies, capsules, vapes, etc.

This form of CBD is flavorless and odorless; it also comes with the highest amount of CBD per serving (~990 mg in one gram).

Unfortunately, CBD isolate doesn’t evoke the entourage effect due to the lack of other cannabinoids and terpenes.

This makes them the least desired option among CBD users.

Which Type of CBD Oil is the Best?

If you’re looking for the most effective type, we recommend buying full-spectrum CBD oil. While it has an earthy and slightly harsh taste, it works better than isolates.

On the other hand, if you’re a public service officer or an Olympic athlete, CBD isolate oil will be better because lab-tested isolates won’t get you a false-positive result for THC during a drug test.

Bottom line: your choice of CBD oil will depend on your lifestyle, health needs, and occupation.

What’s the Difference Between Hemp Oil and CBD Oil?

Now that we’ve covered the basics surrounding both hemp oil and CBD oil, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty and explain the many differences between them.

1. The Source

That’s the main difference between CBD oil and hemp seed oil.

The first type is extracted from the flowers, leaves, and stalks (the aerial parts) of hemp and marijuana plants.

Hemp seed oil, on the other hand, is obtained by cold-pressing the plant’s seeds.

2. CBD Content

There’s literally zero CBD in hemp seeds, so if you want to support your endocannabinoid system with a hemp extract, you should look for CBD oil instead of hemp seed oil.

Hemp seed oil is a better pick if you’re trying to add more nutrients to your diet or create your own topical products for skincare (4, 5).

3. Extraction Methods

Hemp seed oil is typically made using a cold-press extraction method to force the oil from the seed.

CBD oil is made with supercritical CO2 or other solvents, such as ethanol, propane, butane, or olive oil.

4. Benefits and Uses

Again, hemp seed oil is a rich source of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids, but these compounds aren’t enough to produce substantial therapeutic effects.

When it comes to symptom control, we put our bet on CBD oil.

CBD oil is not only a decent supplement for optimizing physical and mental health, but it can also help you manage many symptoms.

Research indicates that CBD has painkilling and anti-inflammatory properties. It also acts as an antioxidant and contains compounds that may help kill cancer cells and reduce epilepsy (6), infections (7), mental health disorders (8), autoimmune diseases (9), and addiction (10).

5. Whole-plant Synergy (the Entourage Effect)

There’s no entourage effect in hemp seed oil. This product has several beneficial compounds, but without cannabinoids and terpenes, it doesn’t interact with the endocannabinoid system.

If you’re looking for the complete entourage effect, opt for full-spectrum CBD oil. All its cannabinoids, terpenes, and even flavonoids will activate various receptors in your body that modulate symptoms and help control diseases. The sum of their therapeutic properties makes CBD oil superior to hemp oil when it comes to supplementation.

6. Legal Status

Hemp seed oil is legal across the world. Anybody can buy and sell it.

With CBD oil, things are a bit murky.

At the federal level, you can legally buy only hemp-derived CBD oil. Anybody can purchase and use it without a prescription. You can also drive a car with CBD oil inside, fly between cities, or even cross state borders with CBD oils that are made from hemp.

Marijuana-derived CBD oil is subject to different regulations. As mentioned a few sections earlier, marijuana products are federally illegal, but you can buy them in 17 states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use — or become a patient in a state that has a medical marijuana program.

Look Out for Scam Brands Selling Hemp Seed Oil as CBD Oil

We call this one the Amazon scam because it’s where most fake CBD oils are sold.

Some “creative” entrepreneurs in the CBD space are taking advantage of the confusion between CBD oils and hemp seed oils — so they use the umbrella term “hemp oil” to fool customers into thinking they’re buying the real stuff.

But in fact, they’re just pushing super expensive hemp seed oils.

Such products usually don’t have “CBD” written on the label; they also provide ridiculously high numbers of milligrams, such as 10,000 mg or 20,000 mg per bottle, which actually refers to the total amount of all phytonutrients from the product — not cannabinoids.

Last but not least, fake hemp oils are cheaper than CBD oils, but still priced higher than hemp seed oils that are properly labeled.

Tips for Spotting Shady CBD Oils

  • Know your vendor so that you make sure you’re buying CBD oil from a reputable source.
  • Examine the product label and make sure you’re getting just the ingredients you’re interested in. The label should clearly state whether you’re dealing with isolate, broad-spectrum, or full-spectrum CBD oil.
  • Read the product’s certificate of analysis (COA) to confirm it contains the advertised amount of CBD. The laboratory tests also check for the presence of THC, other cannabinoids, and terpenes, as well as pesticides, heavy metals, solvents, and mycotoxins.
  • Read user reviews. This will give you a bigger picture of your company, its products, customer approach, and other important aspects.

Watch out for CBD oils that don’t mention “cannabidiol,” “CBD,” “full-spectrum hemp extract,” or phytocannabinoid-rich (PCR) on the product label. What you’re looking at could be hemp seed oil in disguise.

Vinal Verdict: Which One is Better, CBD Oil or Hemp Oil?

To wrap it up, there’s a major difference between CBD oil and hemp oil.

Hemp oil — also called hemp seed oil — contains many beneficial compounds, but it doesn’t offer cannabinoids and terpenes found in full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD oils.

Cannabinoids and terpenes make CBD oil superior in terms of addressing specific symptoms due to their ability to modulate the endocannabinoid system and promote homeostasis throughout the body.

Hemp seed oil, on the other hand, is a decent superfood extract that can support your immune system, skin health, cognition, and cardiovascular function.

We hope this article has managed to clear up the confusion surrounding CBD oils and hemp oils — and that you’ll be able to pick the right product for yourself based on the above information.


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