Hemp oil vs CBD oil - What's the difference?

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The use of CBD as a supplement has catapulted the cannabis plant to the wellness stage and consumers are becoming aware that CBD is very different from THC – the compound responsible for the marijuana high. 

Still, the confusion around CBD products is growing as the more people become interested in the potential benefits of CBD Oil, and the stigma around the cannabis plant declines.

In particular, there is a lot of confusion over hemp oil vs CBD oil and if these products are the same.

This is a common question, and the short answer is while they are both derived from the hemp species of the cannabis (sativa) plant they are not the same, and hemp oil does not contain CBD.

Due to a lack of regulation, there is no uniformity in CBD products and especially in product labelling, which is what makes buying a (high quality) bottle of CBD oil so difficult.

You might have seen products suggesting they contain CBD but are labelled as hemp oil or even as CBD hemp oil.

So what gives?

It’s a little more to it than just we are letting on here, so let’s dive straight in!

hemp oil vs cbd oil

Is hemp oil the same as CBD oil?

Firstly, let’s quickly formalise ourselves with some terminology: Hemp seed is also known as hemp hearts, and hemp seed oil is commonly known as hemp oil – these are interchangeable terms.

Now a quick lesson about CBD oil contents:

To make CBD oil, a type of CBD concentrate derived from the hemp plant is combined with a carrier oil which is often hemp seed oil (although it can be any oil, MCT oil for instance).

Where hemp extract + carrier oil = CBD Oil.

Hemp oil is made by cold-pressing hemp seeds (part of the Cannabis Sativa family) which have not germinated at high pressure, to turn them into a light golden oil.

Hemp oil contains zero CBD and none of the other beneficial ingredients associated with full-spectrum (or broad-spectrum) CBD oils. As a result, hemp oil is not the same as CBD oil.

CBD is extracted from fully grown industrial hemp flowers, often using highly pressurised CO2 or solvents to separate cannabinoids like CBD from the plant. It’s a much more complicated process than cold pressing hemp seeds under an industrial press.

It’s important to note that not all CBD oil contains hemp seed oil, any oil can be used as the base. At Nature & Bloom, our CBD oils all contain MCT oil as the carrier and many brands use other diluents too such as olive oil or even rapeseed oil.

In the context of CBD oils, you can consider hemp oil as being a potential ingredient used to dilute the CBD to the right potency. As without a carrier, CBD oil would be highly concentrated, and you wouldn’t have the variety as you do today in respect to milligrams of CBD in a bottle.

However, as there is no regulation around product content nor labelling the best way to check if the product you are buying contains the CBD it suggests it does is to look for a set of third party testing certificates (CoAs) which will outline the exact product content and easily differentiate a Hemp oil vs CBD oil.

To learn more about how to read a CoA, check out our post walking through a CBD test.

What is CBD hemp oil?

As we touched on earlier, CBD oils are a combination of at least two ingredients sometimes more depending on if they are flavoured or contain added terpenes.

CBD Hemp Oil often refers to CBD oil which uses hemp seed oil as the carrier oil. This differs from traditional hemp oil in that it contains both hemp seed oil and hemp extract rather than just the former.

If you read the ingredients list and it mentions hemp extract, CBD extract, full-spectrum / broad-spectrum CBD extract or CBD distillate the product confirms it contains CBD.

Exactly how much Cannabidiol the bottle contains is another matter, so always check the CoA!

500mg cbd oil

CBD labels are a mess

As the green rush continues, some questionable characters are attempting to make a quick buck by labelling hemp seed oil as a CBD tincture.

As we discussed earlier, both of these products come from the hemp plant, but they are vastly different.

So why is this happening?

This is partially due to the fact CBD oil retails for a much higher price given the fact extracting CBD needs fully grown hemp flowers. It’s also because no one is actively checking what the bottle contains and there is no regulatory oversight…Yet!

As a result, buying CBD oil from anywhere like a petrol (gas) station or newsagent is usually an unwise move. Buying only from trusted sources who can transparently show you where the product is sourced from and more about their operation is critical.

Don’t sleep on checking these things out when buying CBD, as otherwise, you are potentially in for an expensive ride with a cheap bottle of hemp seed oil.

Hemp Oil Benefits

This not to say that there are no benefits of hemp oil!

Hemp plants have been used for their seeds for decades in the beauty and food supplement world.

Anecdotally there are reports of people using hemp seed oil as part of the daily skincare routine to improve tired skin. There is some support for benefits of the skin via studies around the use of hemp seed oil for eczema.

Outside of this, hemp seed is a common ingredient in skin care products and is known for its naturally high levels of fatty acids, including omega 3 and omega 6 acids. Which we know have their own benefits for our health!

Hemp hearts are also exceptionally high in protein derived from plants, at around 25% protein content. This is significantly higher than other seeds such as chia or sunflower seeds.

Hemp Oil on Amazon

This paragraph is more of a caveat and disclaimer than anything else…CBD oil is often sold by sellers on Amazon who label it as hemp oil to avoid Amazon pulling down the product as they do not allow for the sale of ingestible CBD.

Nonetheless, if you intend to buy CBD oil on Amazon beware that you won’t get to see a CoA outlining product contents and this is fishy as it’s the only way to be sure of what the bottle contains!

Final Word

Whenever buying something you think contains CBD then follow these quick steps to ensure your buying what you think:

  • Check if the label states it includes a type of CBD concentrate such as CBD extract or distillate. If so the label suggests it contains CBD. Check for the milligram amount to see the potency of the product is.
  • Is there a CoA you can look at to see the exact product contents? This is the most effective way, especially if you buy a full-spectrum CBD product and want to see what other cannabinoids it contains.
  • Check if the label talks about a way the CBD is extracted from the cannabis sativa plant. Look for “CO2 supercritical extraction” which is the most common method.

If all else fails, ask the brand/reseller for more information regarding the earlier 3 points. If they cannot get back to you with the information, especially a CoA, then move on to a brand which can!

P.S Remember asking questions is entirely normal, especially in terms of the CBD industry. Brands which do not help resolve your queries are not worth spending money on.

If you’re still puzzled about hemp oil vs CBD oil, drop a comment below, and we will try and help out!

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Disclaimer: Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Nature & Bloom and its staff. This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention for any disease. Nature & Bloom products have not been evaluated by the MHRA.