Difference between Hemp Oil and CBD Oil, Explained

Author Erica Garza by Erica Garza
what is the difference between hemp oil and cbd oil

“What’s in a name?” Juliet Capulet once uttered to her beloved Romeo. While Shakespeare didn’t seem to think names mattered very much, when it comes to oils derived from the cannabis plant, he’d be dead wrong. 

CBD oil, hemp oil and hempseed oil are all names we see on labels of cannabis products, and they all come from the same plant genus. While hemp oil and CBD oil are often used interchangeably, they are not necessarily the same. To decide which cannabis product is best for you, here are some key differences between hemp oil and CBD oil, as well as a guide to understanding label ingredients.

What Is the Difference between Hemp Oil and CBD Oil?

The main difference between hemp oil and CBD oil is that while hemp oil is extracted from the hemp plant, which has a higher ratio of CBD to THC, CBD oil can be either extracted from hemp or marijuana, the latter having a higher ratio of THC to CBD. 

While many CBD oils do come from the hemp plant, which only contains up to 0.3% THC, a label that reads only “CBD oil” or “cannabidiol” does not make this clear, which becomes a legal issue in some states with strict cannabis laws. Though oils taken from the hemp plant also will contain CBD, because the labeling clearly states that the oil is derived from the hemp plant, hemp oil products are completely legal in all 50 states

While CBD oil is taken from the flowers, stalks and leaves of either the hemp plant or the marijuana plant, hemp oil is extracted from the flowers, stalks, and leaves of the hemp plant alone. Some CBD oils contain isolated cannabidiol, while others contain trace amounts of THC, along with other phytochemicals found in the cannabis plant, like terpenes and flavonoids. SHEbd hemp products are “broad spectrum,” which keep these phytochemicals, but exclude THC, making this an optimal choice for those sensitive to the effects of THC, or for those who don’t like the feeling of being “high.” 

Both CBD oil and hemp oil containing CBD have similar health benefits, which include relief from everyday inflammation, stress and soreness. CBD even has been proven to induce deeper REM sleep and improve skin conditions

What about Hempseed Oil? 

Sometimes, products labeled as “hemp oil” actually refer to hempseed oil, which is made from hemp seeds. Hemp seeds contain no CBD content and therefore have entirely different health benefits. 

what is the difference between hemp oil and cbd oil

Hempseed oil is a good source of protein, vitamin E and other important minerals, such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc. Hemp seeds also are rich in essential fatty acids like omega-6 and omega-3, as well as antioxidants, which can be a beneficial addition to one’s diet. 

How to Read CBD Oil Product Labels 

A 2017 Penn Medicine study shows that nearly 70 percent of CBD oil sold online is mislabeled. If you’re trying to distinguish hemp oil from CBD oil, it’s best to pay attention to language used in product labeling. 

If the ingredients do not clearly state the words “hemp oil” or “hempseed oil,” look for “cannabis seed oil” or “cannabis sativa seed oil,” which are the scientific names for hempseed oil, and not the same as CBD oil or hemp oil derived from the flowers, stalks and leaves of the hemp plant. Similarly, if you see only “cannabidiol” or “CBD oil,” then you may be using a product derived from the marijuana plant and not the hemp plant, increasing the likelihood of ingesting trace amounts of THC. 

The same goes for labels reading “full spectrum,” which indicates that the product may contain trace amounts of THC, along with other terpenes and flavonoids found in cannabis plants. “Broad spectrum” oils, on the other hand, contain the terpenes, cannabinoids, and flavonoids, but not the THC. While all products will enhance your health in one way or another, it’s always empowering to know that you’ve found exactly what you need.

Erica Garza is an author and essayist. Her work has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Health, The Telegraph and VICE. She lives in Los Angeles.