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Hemp Oil vs CBD Oil: What’s the Difference, and Which is Best for You?

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Are Hemp Oil and CBD Oil the Same?

With legality, curiosity, and therefore popularity growing across the world, the number of cannabis-derived or influenced products available is growing rapidly.

From skincare and beauty products to herbal supplements and even e-liquids, products of varying quality are beginning to flood the market. 

The most common of these is CBD oil, likely due to the number of recent studies that have found surprising health benefits associated with CBD use. But chances are, you’ve been hearing about something called hemp oil, too.

Both are derived from the cannabis plant, both are often sold as herbal health supplements, and both contain CBD. 

So how are you supposed to know the difference between hemp and CBD oil, or which one could work best for you?

We’ve got all the answers right here in this simply breakdown of hemp oil vs CBD!

CBD Oil vs Hemp Oil

First, let’s look at the basics around hemp extract vs CBD and what these different oils actually are:

What is CBD Oil?

CBD, short for Cannabidiol, is one of the two most famous of the cannabinoids, a group of over 120 different natural chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. It has recently been discovered to have many health benefits and is rapidly becoming a popular health supplement. Despite being from the cannabis plant, CBD does not have any psychoactive effects whatsoever, meaning it doesn’t make you feel “high” or even drowsy.

THC, short for Tetrahydrocannabinol, is the other of the two most famous cannabinoids. While it has been suggested to have health benefits too, the psychoactive effects combined with the fact THC is illegal across most of the world means it’s a lot more risky to consume, and research into its benefits have been much slower and less certain.

CBD oil is made up of extracts from the cannabis plant and contains a high concentration of CBD, but a minimal (<0.2%) amount of THC. 

If you would like to go in depth and learn more about CBD oil and the claims that have been made about its efficacy as a health supplement, check out our guides to CBD oil and the benefits of CBD oil.

What is Hemp Oil?

Does hemp oil contain CBD?

First, we have to establish what hemp itself is.

Cannabis plants that are grown primarily for their THC content, whether recreational or medically, are known as just that: cannabis plants. 

Hemp plants are cannabis plants that are grown with very low THC content and are more commonly used for creating CBD products as well as other industrial hemp products.

In other words, they are two slightly different variations of the same plant species, with cannabis more commonly being the one that drug users smoke to get high, and hemp more commonly being farmed on an industrial scale for use in CBD products.

Hemp typically contains higher amounts of CBD, meaning the plants are much more commonly used for CBD oil products than the cannabis plant is. However, cannabis plants are still fairly high in CBD and can be used too, but only in places where cannabis and THC are legal.

Hemp oil can only be extracted from a hemp plant. To describe a CBD oil product from a cannabis plant as hemp oil would be false advertising, and this is important to be aware of if you want to avoid any psychoactive effects.

On the other hand, a product described as CBD oil can come from either plant but still has CBD as the main ingredient.

To use our own products as an example, we only use pure industrial hemp and our CBD oils are extremely low in THC, so they can technically be described as both hemp oil and CBD oil, whichever you prefer.

In locations such as Canada or California where cannabis is legalised, you may find that many of the CBD oil products are not hemp oil and therefore have a lower CBD content but more THC.

To add to the confusion, there is also something known as hempseed oil

However, this is made only from the seeds of the hemp plant and contains zero THC and only trace amounts of CBD, so it is better off used as a healthy cooking alternative and has little promise as a dedicated health product.

The table below will hopefully make the question “what is the difference between CBD oil and hemp oil?” a little easier to digest:

CannabisHempHemp Seeds
Avg THC Content20%+Less than 0.2%Zero
Avg CBD Content5-10%20%+Tiny traces
Main Plant UsesRecreational and MedicinalMedicinalUsed in granola and other healthy foods
Oil UseHealth promotion with psychoactive effects, or recreationalHealth promotionCooking
Legality in UKIllegalLegalLegal

So…Is Hemp Oil the Same as CBD Oil in Terms of Potential Benefits?

As explained above, in places like the UK where THC is illegal, all CBD oil is hemp oil.

The real question, then, is “which is better, CBD oil with high THC content, or CBD oil with almost no THC content?”

This is a tough question with studies still developing, but the benefits of THC that have been suggested so far are quite different to the ones that have been found from CBD, so the answer really depends on the result you’re looking for.

Generally, you don’t want to get high when taking a health supplement and in the majority of the world, THC is illegal, so the vast majority of the time and for the vast majority of people, hemp oil (meaning CBD oil made from hemp plants) is the best route.

However, if you live somewhere where THC is legal, are looking for benefits more commonly associated with THC, and don’t mind the psychoactive effects, then CBD oil made from cannabis plants may also be worthy of your consideration.

CBD Hemp oil is also higher in other beneficial ingredients than CBD oil made from cannabis is, for example Vitamin D, E, minerals such as potassium and magnesium, and omega-3. Combined with the higher CBD content, we would always recommend that CBD hemp oil should be your first port of call when it comes to a CBD based health supplement.

How to Take Hemp Oil or CBD Oil

There are a variety of methods of ingesting CBD (or CBD in hemp oil), including gummies and candies. However, digesting CBD products is one of the least efficient ways to take in CBD, and the bioavailability of CBD is much higher when absorbed under the tongue, which is why CBD oil drops are the most effective way of taking CBD or hemp oil.

For more tips on this, check out our full post on how to take CBD oil.

CBD Isolate vs Full Spectrum CBD

This is another fundamental difference in CBD products and something you need to be aware of when deciding which type of CBD could work best for you.

CBD isolate is created when CBD only is extracted from the plant. It’s a pure white, crystalline powder containing 99% CBD. Everything else, from THC and terpenes to chlorophyll, wax and more are removed. This creates a product which is generally used for vaping. 

In fact, CBD isolate is illegal for ingestion, meaning it can only be used for vaping or inhaling via other means.

Another benefit of CBD isolate is that it is easy to measure when creating your own CBD e-liquids etc, for example, 1mg of CBD isolate is very close to containing 1mg of CBD as a dose.

However, since many of the other cannabinoids, terpenes and other ingredients of the hemp/cannabis plant have been found to have a wide range of benefits too and potentially even work together, the potential health benefits of CBD products made from CBD isolate are limited. Full Spectrum CBD is by far the more effective option if you’re looking for CBD for health reasons.

Full Spectrum CBD is extracted from the plant in full, including other natural compounds besides Cannabidiol, such as terpenes, traces of THC (<0.2%), all of the other 113 cannabinoids, flavonoids, omega-6, omega-3, vitamins and more. 

Since many other cannabinoids besides THC and CBD have been found to have unique health benefits, full spectrum CBD is the only form of CBD you should look for when it comes to health products or supplements. The ‘team approach’ or ‘entourage effect’ of having all of the different hemp ingredients working together tend to lead to a more powerful and long-lasting effect, according to studies. Terpenes also have anti-inflammatory effects and have been suggested to increase the efficacy of cannabinoids significantly, so you really don’t want them to be missing from your CBD oil!

Despite the bad reputation and potential psychoactive effects, THC is part of this entourage effect too which is another reason to avoid using CBD isolate for health reasons.

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