Short answer: CBD oil and hemp oil are created from different parts of the cannabis plant and are used to benefit different parts of our overall health and wellbeing.
CBD oil and hemp oil at first glance may seem to be very similar products that can be used interchangeably, however they are notably different. Both oils originate from cannabis, but the distinction lies in which part of the plant is used to formulate the oils. Hemp oils are produced from the seeds of the plant while CBD oils are produced from the flowers, leaves and stalks (2). Beyond the origin of the oils, their differences are also evident in the use.
Are there cannabinoids in CBD oil and hemp oil?
The two most widely studied cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant are THC and CBD. Particular chemovars (or strains) of cannabis differ due to their chemical composition including the amounts of these cannabinoids (as well as other therapeutic contents like terpenes and flavonoids). Chemovars with high THC content are generally referred to as marijuana and are intoxicating, meaning they can elicit the feeling of being ‘high’. In contrast, chemovars with high CBD content are often derived from hemp plants and are therefore used for much of the CBD oil on the market today. By comparison, hemp oil contains negligible cannabinoid levels, meaning that it is generally not suggested on its own for therapeutic use.
The presence of CBD in CBD oil is what allows it to affect cannabinoid receptors in the brain so that CBD oil can be used medicinally. CBD oil has been researched to ease symptoms of low mood, chronic pain, inflammation, anxious feelings, and many other conditions (3).
What is hemp oil used for?
For a frame of reference, hemp oil is more similar to olive oil than CBD oil, and is used in food preparation for its nutritional benefits. It provides nutritional support that is rich in vitamin E, vitamin B1 and B2, polyunsaturated fats, potassium and magnesium. It may also provide moisture to skin, promote the immune system and lower blood fat levels. Not only is there a nutritional appeal to hemp oil, but it is also used industrially to manufacture shampoos, soaps, fuel and plastics (2).
How is CBD oil made?
CBD is made by solvent extraction which uses an alcohol or carbon dioxide to separate it for medicinal use. The solvent can then be evaporated to leave the concentrated oil for use.
How is hemp oil made?
Hemp oil is produced by pressing the hemp seeds to extract the oil which is similar to some other oils used in food consumption(2).
Overall, the main differences between hemp oil and CBD oil are the cannabinoid content, the production method, their usages, and what benefits there are to using each product. The discussion of these two types of oils reigning from the same plant shows the versatility of botanicals. When looking for a nutritional benefit, consider hemp oil, while if you’re looking for therapeutic benefit, CBD oil may be a good choice for you. Before starting any CBD oil, please consult with our team to make sure you’re choosing the best fit for your lifestyle and goals.
This article was edited by Dr. Najifa Choudhury and was written by Dr. Peace Lily Scientific Communications Intern, Caroline Cassol. She is a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) student at University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy in Storrs, Connecticut.
- Farinon B, Molinari R, Costantini L, Merendino N. The seed of industrial hemp (cannabis sativa L.): Nutritional quality and potential functionality for human health and Nutrition. Nutrients. 2020;12(7):1935.
- Franciosi A. Hemp oil vs. CBD oil: What’s the difference? Honest Marijuana. https://honestmarijuana.com/hemp-oil-vs-cbd-oil/. Published April 2020. Accessed February 2022.
- VanDolah HJ, Bauer BA, Mauck KF. Clinicians’ guide to Cannabidiol and hemp oils. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2019;94(9):1840-1851.