Hemp seed oil vs CBD oil: Your guide to knowing the difference between hemp oils
by Taylor Hogan
As the popularity of hemp-derived CBD oil has grown over the past few years, there has been more confusion surrounding how products are labeled. You'll often find CBD products labeled as "hemp oil.” For instance, Populum's CBD tinctures are called "Full Spectrum Hemp Oil.” Yet when you're shopping at your local grocery store or on Amazon, you might also run into "hemp oil" products. These could be packaged quite differently, and are also likely much cheaper. But when you look at the packaging closer, you'll find that they're made from "hemp seed oil.” So, are they the same thing?
As the young hemp industry has evolved over the past several years, it's become common for both hemp CBD products and hemp seed oil products to be labeled as "hemp oil.”
Yes, it’s true that hemp seed oil and CBD oil both come from the same source — namely, the hemp or cannabis sativa plant. However, each comes from different parts of the plant. As a result, each byproduct creates its own distinct effects, which in turns allows people to use them in different ways.
To help clear up any confusion, we’re digging into the differences (and similarities) between the two product types so you can make the most informed decision possible when shopping.
What is hemp seed oil?
Hemp seed oil is created by pressing the seeds of the hemp plant (scientifically known as Cannabis sativa L.). This oil is rich in fatty acids and other nutrients that some studies have shown can help treat skin conditions, including eczema, psoriasis, and acne.
Hemp seed oil does not contain cannabinoids (or phytocannabinoids) or terpenes. These are the chemical compounds in the hemp plant that interact with our body’s endocannabinoid system. This system is linked to a wide variety of functions, including mood, pain, stress, memory, appetite, sleep, immune function and more.
Because hemp seed oil only comes from the seeds and doesn’t come from the leaves or flowering parts of the hemp plant, it also contains no THC (i.e., the main psychoactive compound in medical marijuana).
As a result, hemp seed oil has no impact on your mood or mental state — in other words, it’s non-psychoactive.
Benefits and uses of hemp seed oil
Because of its valuable nutrients that promote skin health, hemp seed oil is a common ingredient in cosmetic and body care products such as soaps, lotions, and washes.
Typically, hemp seed oil is combined with other natural ingredients that also soothe the skin. Some popular complementary ingredients include:
- Shea butter
- Lemon peel
Dr. Bronners' Castile Soap is probably the best known body care product that uses hemp seed oil as the main ingredient.
Hemp seed oil is also sometimes consumed in drinks or added to meals. Recent scientific research shows that hemp seed oil may be a hypoallergenic replacement in certain foods due to its high digestibility.
Where to shop for hemp seed oil
Because hemp seed oil does not contain cannabinoids (or phytocannabinoids), there are fewer restrictions on purchasing hemp seed oil than there are for CBD oil. If you see products labeled as “hemp oil” on Amazon or at your local grocery store, it’s almost certainly hemp seed oil.
However, because this is still an emerging market, it’s essential to seek out a reputable vendor that practices transparency when it comes to product ingredients and accurate label information.
What is cannabidiol (CBD)?
Unlike hemp seed oil, cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid extracted from the entire hemp plant — including the flowers and leaves, not just the seeds. Consequently, CBD oil contains certain compounds that you won’t find in the oil derived only from hemp seeds.
CBD has trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), but unlike medical marijuana, CBD doesn't contain psychoactive properties. To be classified as CBD oil, the extracted oil must have less than 0.3% THC.
Benefits and uses of CBD
Since CBD oil has cannabinoids, which interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, it may produce changes that can be beneficial.
Early research has shown that cannabidiol has a variety of potential benefits. Over the last few years, many seeking holistic, natural remedies have adopted CBD as part of their wellness routine. It’s projected that the rapidly-growing CBD market may reach $20 billion by 2024 in the United States alone.
However, more research is needed before cannabidiol can be definitively classified as an anti-inflammatory or treatment for any other specific conditions. Currently, only one CBD-based drug has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA): Epidiolex, which can treat specific types of seizures in patients two years or older.
Where to shop for CBD oil
Whereas hemp seed oil is quite easy to find in retail and even online outlets, cannabidiol products have many restrictions due to the presence of cannabinoids. For example, full spectrum CBD oil has a number of different cannabinoids, including minor traces of THC – albeit not enough for any intoxicating effects.
Because CBD has a more complicated chemical profile than hemp seed oil, it’s better to buy CBD oil directly from a trusted and reputable brand’s website. Always seek out a brand that provides verifiable lab tests of its products and is upfront about the quality and ingredients.
Comparing hemp seed oil and cannabidiol
As mentioned, the main difference between hemp seed oil and CBD is that oil from hemp seeds does not contain any cannabinoids, the active ingredients in cannabis products that affect the brain and can cause intoxication.
While CBD does contain minimal amounts of cannabinoids and other compounds, it's not enough to cause psychoactive effects.
Both hemp seed oil and CBD:
- Are used in a variety of skincare and cosmetic products
- Can be consumed as dietary supplements
- Do not contain more than trace amounts of THC
If the CBD products you are considering are labeled as full spectrum, they can contain up to 0.3% THC. However, even with multiple doses of a full spectrum CBD oil, you will not feel “high” – most users report feeling a sense of balance and relaxation.
What to look out for when choosing between hemp seed oil and CBD oil
Merely knowing the differences between hemp seed oil vs. CBD isn’t enough to ensure you’re using the right products.
The massive growth in the CBD and cannabis industry has led to a similarly significant surge in the availability of CBD and hemp products over the last few years. That means you’ll want to spend some time researching the vendor, whether you’re looking to buy hemp seed oil lotion or a CBD topical. Here’s what you need to know:
Reading the Ingredients on CBD and hemp seed oil labels
You must know what you are putting in your body, especially if it’s a supplement that you plan to make part of your regular wellness routine. Unfortunately, many confusing terms are being used by manufacturers today, and not all are accurate.
Here are a few different factors and terms to look out for as you read ingredient lists on the labels of both hemp seed oil and CBD products:
- “Seed” vs “Extract”: If you dig into the ingredient list on the label, it should make it clearer whether the hemp ingredient was derived from the seed or from aerial extracts. Typically, if it’s a form of aerial extract, you can assume it contains cannabinoids. To be safe, it’s always good practice to ask the brand for a third-party lab result that shows the potency of CBD (and other cannabinoids).
- Product form: Why are you interested in trying out a hemp oil product? Is it for skincare? Are you looking to apply it topically or take it as a supplement? Different products enter the body in a variety of ways, which can alter their effects – even among products with the same concentration of cannabidiol.
- If it’s a CBD product: Full spectrum vs. isolate: CBD isolate is a type of product in which cannabidiol compounds have been extracted so that CBD is the only cannabinoid remaining in the final product. Because of these differences in the extraction process, full spectrum CBD – sometimes referred to as broad spectrum CBD – contains different cannabinoids, including a low amount of THC and CBG. Note: If you’re looking for hemp seed oil, you won’t need to worry about full spectrum vs. isolate.
- If it’s a CBD product: Concentration: With CBD, you’ll want to consider the relative strength of the product you choose. A dose from a 200mg tincture will provide different results than a 5mg capsule, for example. With hemp seed oil, you don’t need to be concerned with strength since it has no cannabinoids. However, pay attention to the concentration of other nutrients in the hemp seed oil and read the label to see if there are any additional ingredients or synthetic additives.
- If it’s hemp seed oil: Fatty acids: Hemp seed oil is an excellent source of natural fatty acids, which are important in nourishing and moisturizing the skin. Omega-3 and omega-6 are two common types of fatty acids you’ll find in hemp seed oil.
As you are reading labels, remember that hemp seed oil does not contain cannabinoids. If you see a reference to concentrations of terpenes like CBD, CBG, or THC, or the phrase “full spectrum,” you are likely looking at a CBD product that has been labeled “hemp oil.”
Think about your past experiences with hemp products (if any) and other medications you may be taking. Because there’s not enough research regarding how hemp and cannabis may interact with specific drugs, you’ll want to discuss any particular concerns with your healthcare provider.
One of the most reliable signs of a trustworthy CBD or hemp seed oil vendor is the availability of test results. Unless you look at lab results for industrial hemp extract or cannabidiol, there is no way of definitively knowing the quality of the product.
In the United States, the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp products under the 0.3% THC threshold. However, the FDA still has not established standard guidelines defining how CBD and hemp products should be tested. Only Epidiolex has passed the FDA's drug approval process.
At all stages of the transaction, a merchant should be willing to answer questions and provide further insights into any part of its products. If you’re confused by the descriptions and the seller isn’t willing to clarify if it’s a hemp seed oil or CBD product, select a different provider.
Merchants available on large retail platforms like Amazon may be competitive on price and shipping speed, but not all of them have consistent quality or customer service. It’s not worth getting a great deal on a CBD product with questionable ingredients, so be sure you are confident in what you are ordering before making a purchase.
Final thoughts on hemp seed oil vs. CBD
To sum up, it’s important to know what type of “hemp oil” you’re buying. Hemp seed oil is a non-psychoactive byproduct of the hemp plant most commonly used in skincare products such as oils and lotions. CBD oil is also derived from hemp, but because it comes from other parts of the plant, it contains compounds that act on the body. Studies show anecdotal evidence of CBD's ability to treat certain medical conditions, especially those involving seizures.
Whether you’re shopping for hemp seed oil or CBD, choosing a dependable merchant is just as important as understanding the difference between the two. If you know what to look for, you can find products that will support your existing wellness routine and help you enjoy a more balanced life.