Hemp oil vs. CBD oil: what's the difference?

Hemp oil vs. CBD oil: what's the difference?

CBD oil vs. hemp oil

At Vitality CBD we specialise in producing high quality CBD oil, but sometimes it can be unclear just what CBD oil is. When it comes to cannabis-related products, the terminology used can conflate similar products: cannabinoids, cannabidiol, hemp-derived CBD, hemp oil...It’s easy for it all to blur into one.

This complex web of lingo is why we’ve put together a comprehensive guide on defining what CBD is here, but the distinction between hemp oil and CBD oil requires further examination. That’s why we’ve broken down the differences (and similarities!) between the two in terms of background, process and intention.

The first thing to recognise is that hemp oil typically refers to hemp seed oil even as its sometimes used to describe CBD oil. We'll get into what that entails later, but it's important to recognise this early distinction when discussing hemp oil and CBD oil. 

Hemp vs. marijuana

CBD oil and hemp oil are both extracted from hemp, which is part of why they’re often equated with one another. In fact, industrial hemp is used throughout much of the world in creating paper, textiles, and rope, which begs the question. Isn’t cannabis illegal?

The answer, even more confusingly, is yes and no. Cannabis itself is the name for the entire genus, and can be split further into two main categories - Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica, which constitute the two overarching species.

The more useful terms for understanding legality are hemp and marijuana. Rather than species, these are broad designations that refer to the use and purpose of the plant. The main difference comes down to THC (the cannabinoid that gets you high) and CBD (the cannabinoid that we extract for CBD oil).

Hemp is a subset of Cannabis sativa, and has been bred to have low THC and high CBD. As mentioned previously, it’s primarily used for industrial purposes and biofuels, though its low THC content makes it perfect for both CBD oil and hemp oil.

Marijuana, on the other hand, refers to any plants grown for recreational purposes, and can either be a sativa or an indica. It generally has high THC and low CBD, due to its primary purpose being its psychoactive effects.

Accordingly, hemp being legal is typically to do with its low THC content, whilst the inverse is true of marijuana. By recognising this key difference between the two, you can understand better why CBD oils and hemp oils aren’t being seized from the shelves.

What is hemp seed oil?

Despite our previous discussion of how hemp contains low THC and high CBD, hemp oil is distinguished by the fact that is has next to no cannabinoids whatsoever. Instead, hemp oil (or more specifically, hemp seed oil) is very much what it says on the tin: an oily residue extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant.

This extraction is much simpler than the process for CBD oil, and just involves cold-pressing the seeds, before filtering the sediment from the resultant liquid. Hemp seeds have a high percentage of oil (around 35% on average) whilst the remaining solid byproduct is still useful for the purposes of protein supplements and animal feed. The filtered oil is a deep green in colour, a distinct difference from the golden brown of CBD oil.

Hemp seed oil has been sold in health retailers for many years oils due to the number of unsaturated fats they contain, such as Omega 3 and Omega 6. However, since they only contain trace amounts of the cannabinoids and hemp compounds associated with the entourage effect (more on that here) they are used for wholly different reasons than CBD oils.  

What is CBD oil?

We’ve got a full guide on just what CBD, or cannabidiol, is here, but let’s run through a quick summary. CBD is one of over 100 different cannabinoids found in plants in the cannabis genus, and is the second most prevalent after THC. However, CBD oil will nearly always have been harvested from hemp plants which have been specifically bred to have a higher CBD percentage.

CBD is extracted from the flowers of the hemp plant, or more specifically the tiny, hair-like trichomes which contain all the essential compounds, through a series of different processes. Whether through solvents, or a CO2 supercritical extraction, the CBD can either be removed in isolation, or alongside other naturally-occurring substances.

Whereas hemp oil is an existing substance that is simply extracted, depending on the desired end result, the process for CBD oil differs. On one end of the spectrum, whole plant products contain the full array of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, waxes and oils found in the hemp plant, whilst a CBD isolate is quite literally CBD isolated by itself. For more on the differences, read here.

The distinction can be further muddied by the fact that CBD oil is blended with a carrier oil rather than the finished product being oily in itself, and one of these carriers is actually hemp seed oil. That means you might end up with a product that is technically both CBD oil and hemp oil. However, the products have wholly different purposes.

Different products, different purposes

Hemp oil is primarily taken for its nutritional value. It's particularly rich in two essential fatty acids as mentioned above, but it also contain a high level of protein, vitamin E, and several other minerals. Alongside its dietary uses, it also won’t get you high because it contains none of the psychotropic THC.

CBD oil, whilst also non-psychotropic, is focused primarily on the effects of cannabinoids. In broad and full spectrum products, the premise is built on the entourage effect - namely, that CBD has a stronger effect when ingested alongside its natural partners from the hemp plant.

We also understand that CBD oil interacts with our body in a fundamentally different way than hemp oil. Our body actually produces its own cannabinoids internally, in a network known as the endocannabinoid system. When we ingest cannabinoids, they actually work to support this existing series of cannabinoids and receptors, helping promote balance throughout the body.

Learning More

Our commitment to producing high-quality cannabidiol oil is premised on Vitality CBD’s central belief in the natural synergy of the hemp plant.

To learn more about our product range, see the following articles on our CBD oils, our CBD vape juices, and our CBD cosmetics, or if you just want to get a better overview on cannabidiol, our beginner’s guide.

For any further questions you have about the differences between CBD oil and hemp seed oil, our experienced team are always on hand to field any questions. Reach out to us on our contact page here.