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what is the difference between hemp oil and cbd oil

What is the Difference Between Hemp Oil and CBD Oil?

What is the difference between hemp oil and CBD oil? Here's why there are many opinions, but only one that matters

Pop quiz: what’s the scientific name for humans? Homo sapiens, of course. You paid attention in biology class.

Let’s make it a little harder. What are the scientific differences between cannabis and hemp? And what’s the deal with hemp vs. CBD oil?

If you’re stumped, don’t fret. You’re not alone. Anyone who has browsed the market for hemp oil or CBD oil products can tell you the labels don’t really dive into the differences.

But it’s easy to make an informed decision when you can answer for yourself what is the difference between hemp oil and CBD oil. That’s exactly what you’ll be able to do if you keep reading.

Same Plant, Different Products

Let’s step back into biology class. You probably remember there’s a process called taxonomy. This is a method scientists use to categorize and name every kind of plant, animal, and organism based on similarities and differences.

Everything gets a genus and a species, which is kind of like the scientific equivalent to a first and last name. Why does this matter in the discussion between hemp vs. CBD? Because both come from the same plant and species, but not really.

Hemp oil and CBD oil both come from the cannabis plant, which is a part of the cannabis family. The cannabis plant can be broken down into three major species:

  • Cannabis indica
  • Cannabis sativa
  • Cannabis ruderalis

CBD oil and hemp oil both come from the cannabis sativa plant. But they come from different strains (or species) of the plant: hemp or cannabis.

You can think of these plants as cousins in the same plant family. They share similarities, but ultimately there are two different plants. And hemp oil and CBD oil are distinct products.

Breaking Down CBD Oil


CBD is actually short for cannabidiol. It is just one of the many components, or cannabinoids, found in cannabis plants.

Where does it come from? CBD is found in all parts of the cannabis plant: leaves, flowers, and stalk.

CBD oil is sourced from each of these areas of the plant through the chemical process of extraction. A solvent, like alcohol, separates the CBD from other chemicals in the plant. When the solvent evaporates a residue is left behind. And that’s the CBD oil.

Now another cannabinoid to keep in mind along with CBD is THC. THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol. It’s a psychoactive chemical, which means it impacts our senses and perceptions.

Scientists have named the interaction between the chemicals in the body and THC as the endocannabinoid system. Basically, THC interrupts or scrambles the messages our brains send to the rest of the body.

CBD neutralizes THC. And since CBD oil contains high levels of CBD and low levels of THC, there are no side effects like anxiety or impaired motor function.

Evidence does points to various medicinal benefits of CBD oil. That’s because CBD oil is very high in cannabinoids, which scientists believe help boost immune system health.

That’s why people often use CBD oil to help with some of their daily pains.

What’s Hemp Got to Do with It?

Hemp seed oil

Hemp oil, on the other hand, comes from hemp seeds. Industrial hemp is a type of cannabis sativa, but it’s legally different from the plant that CBD oil is extracted from.

While CBD oil is extracted from all parts or solely the unseeded flowers of the cannabis plant, hemp oil comes only from the seeds of the plant. The seeds are cold pressed, which is similar to the way olive oil or avocado oil is produced.

The reason hemp seed oil is cold processed is to retain the delicate compounds that are responsible for the potential health benefits like improved heart health, improved brain health, improvements in pain relief, among many others.

Hemp seed plants generally produce a low level of cannabinoids, as their energy is being expended in producing seeds instead of , which means there’s little to no medicinal  cannabinoids found within them. That includes the psychoactive compound delta 9 THC. Does hemp oil contain THC? You can find some THC and CBD in hemp plants but in very low amounts.

Most of the cannabinoids found within hemp seed oils are there due to cross contamination during harvesting, where the trichomes make it into the oil making process.

But hemp plants do contain rich amounts of important nutrients like vitamins E, B, B1, B2, omega-3 fatty acids, and more.

Hemp oil is also high in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, potassium, magnesium, protein, antioxidants.

It’s no surprise, then, that hemp oil is often seen as a superfood, and not medicine.

People turn to hemp oil as a dietary supplement and to lower cholesterol. Because of its rich moisturizing capabilities, hemp oil is also a popular skin care product ingredient.

What Is the Difference Between Hemp Oil and CBD Oil?

If we compare hemp oil vs. CBD oil, side by side, what are the big takeaways?

Both hemp oil and CBD oil come from the cannabis plant. But each product comes from a different kind of cannabis sativa species.

CBD oil comes from a cannabis sativa plant that is high in CBD and other cannabinoids and low in THC, and plants that were bred for high cannabinoid production and have avoided pollination so the plants produce more protective and reproductive compounds instead of seeds.

Hemp oil comes from another cannabis sativa plant, hemp, which is low in both CBD and THC, and were bred for their ability to produce higher quantities of oil or protein rich seeds.

Cannabinoids are linked to numerous health benefits, CBD oil is used for its medicinal properties.

Hemp oil lacks a high level of cannabinoids, but is rich in nutrients, vitamins, and fatty acids. This makes hemp oil ideal for application in skin care and beauty products, or as a valuable nutritional supplement.

The only true similarity between the two is that they both come from plants that are called cannabis.

The differences are more numerous:

  • They have different chemical makeups
  • They come from different parts of the cannabis plants
  • CBD oil is extracted and hemp oil is pressed
  • They offer complimentary benefits

So what is the confusion?

Both products can come in a variety of forms. You may be puzzled because of the way that hemp oil and CBD oil products are named. Especially when trying to buy CBD oil on Amazon, as they do not allow CBD rich products on their site currently. You’ll find the same nomenclature used for CBD oil, but is used to define hemp seed oil content versus cannabinoid content.

Sometimes hemp oil is also listed as cannabis sativa seed oil and hemp seed oil. CBD oil could be listed as hemp CBD, hemp oil, full-spectrum hemp, broad spectrum hemp extract, CBD isolate, or PCR oil (phytocannabinoid rich oil).

But now you know the primary differences. When in doubt, it never hurts to read labels and ask questions.

Which Option Is Best for You?

Is your head is spinning with questions? Are you still confused about what is the difference between hemp oil and CBD oil?

That’s okay!

It can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Whether you’re looking for CBD drops, capsules, or serums, we’re here to assist.

Contact us with questions and we’ll help you find exactly what you’re looking for.

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