Hemp Oil vs. CBD Oil: What You Should Know
Not all CBD is created equal. There are tons of products on the market now that call themselves “CBD”, but the truth is that some CBD is not as potent or effective as other kinds. The primary difference has to do with the process with which the CBD is extracted and how it is used to make the product. There’s a noticeable difference in efficacy between isolates, distillates, and whole plant methods for creating CBD products. The efficacy of oils can vary, especially when it comes to those derived from the cannabis sativa plant. Though often used interchangeably, hemp oil and CBD oil have crucial differences in how each one affects your body and health. In order to determine which cannabis product is right for you, you have to explore the differences between hemp oil and CBD oil, and what ingredients you should look out for, and the history the end of the hemp prohibition.
What the 2018 Farm Bill Meant for Hemp and CBD
Since 2013, farmers and ranchers have weathered a 50% drop in income. The Farm Bill came about as a result of a mounting farming crisis in the last decade. The bill itself seeks to crack down on corporate farming in order to help support family farms and restore measures like supply management (which curbs over production), and repair pricing policies, among other measures. Notably, the Farm Bill also incorporates the farming of industrial hemp and hemp for hemp-derived CBD. As a result, the manufacturing and sale of hemp-derived CBD products has skyrocketed on the national market.
On December 20, 2018, President Trump signed the Farm Bill (H.R.2) into law. The farm bill is an omnibus, multiyear law that governs various agricultural and food programs. The most recent farm bill covers farm commodity revenue supports, agricultural conservation, trade and foreign food assistance, farm credit, research, rural development, forestry, bioenergy, horticulture, and domestic nutrition assistance. Typically renewed about every five or six years, the farm bill provides a predictable opportunity for policymakers to comprehensively and periodically address agricultural and food issues. With this version, we saw the legalization of hemp.
Though hemp has been legalized, it has been met with several stipulations: hemp cannot contain more than 0.3% THC, or it is considered non-hemp cannabis, a state’s plan to license and regulate hemp can only occur once the Secretary of the USDA approves the state’s plan, and lastly, while the Farm Bill legalizes hemp, it does not create a system where people can grow it as freely as basil or your garden variety vegetables.
Hemp Oil vs. Hempseed Oil vs. CBD Oil: Know the Difference
CBD oil is made from the leaves, flowers, and stalk of the hemp plant—the only part of the plant where cannabidiol is found. Hemp oil, or hemp seed oil, is made from hemp seeds, meaning there is little to no CBD content. Each type of oil offers its own health benefits. You may have seen small bottles of Hempseed oil on the market, but buyer beware, hempseed oil does not contain any CBD. Hempseed oil is extracted from the seeds of industrial hemp, and while it is beneficial for cooking your favorite cut of steak, it has none of the same benefits of hemp-derived CBD oil. Another key difference is that by regulation, pure hemp oil can have no more than 0.3% Delta-9 THC by volume, whereas oil made from industrial hemp has no cannabinoids present whatsoever.
Hemp vs. CBD: What’s The Difference & Which One Should I Take?
Until recently, federal regulation in the U.S. meant that industrial hemp could not be cultivated for commercial use. It wasn’t until the 2018 Farm Bill that farmers could grow and sell hemp plant extracts—namely, hemp oil and CBD oil. Since then, these products have hit the market quickly and with much fanfare, but with increasing popularity comes increasing confusion. If you’re wondering about hemp, CBD, and the difference between the two, here are the top-level highlights.
Hemp vs. CBD: The basics.
For starters, let’s go over the differences between hemp and marijuana. These are two different plants from the same family: Cannabis. Cannabis plants contain a variety of different compounds called cannabinoids, the two most well-known (and most studied) are THC and CBD. THC has psychoactive effects, which means it can get you high and is found in high concentrations in marijuana plants. CBD does not have psychoactive effects, and is instead taken for stress management.*
Hemp oil extract, on the other hand, is an oil that’s made from the stalk, and/or flowers of the hemp plant and is rich in beneficial cannabinoid compounds. (It should not be confused with hemp seed oil, an omega-3 rich culinary oil made from pressed hemp seeds that does not contain cannabinoids.) CBD isolate oil, on the other hand, is an isolated extraction of one particular cannabinoid, cannabidiol. So the main difference between hemp oil and CBD oil is that CBD oil contains one type of cannabinoid, while hemp oil has a variety of them.
More on hemp oil.
Hemp oil is safe and legal: It must contain less than 0.3% THC, it is legal in all 50 states, and it will not make you feel you high even in large doses. (Repeat: Hemp oil will not make you high!)
What it will do is give you a dose of beneficial cannabinoids, including CBD. While CBD and THC are the most well-known cannabinoids, the hemp plant contains more than 140 different cannabinoids in total. In addition to the cannabinoids, hemp is also rich in organic compounds called terpenes that give the plant its smell and taste. Each of these cannabinoids and terpenes is associated with various benefits, like supporting sleep, digestion, and immune function.*
While each cannabinoid and terpene is beneficial on its own, all of these compounds are synergistic when taken together—a phenomenon called “the entourage effect.”* That’s what makes hemp oil extract so impressive. As a rich source of cannabinoids, hemp oil extract imparts the entourage effect, meaning you benefit from all the plant compounds.
OK, what about CBD oil?
CBD is the isolated extract of the specific cannabinoid cannabidiol from either the hemp or marijuana plant. CBD oil can be purchased in the isolate form, which means all of the other cannabinoids and terpenes have been filtered out or in the broad- or full-spectrum form, which means some or all of the other cannabinoids remain.
CBD oil that comes from the marijuana plant can contain higher concentrations of THC and get you high. This type of CBD oil is only legal in certain places or under certain circumstances, like with a medical marijuana card. CBD oil extracted from marijuana is often marketed as “cannabis oil.” CBD extracted from hemp contains less than 0.3% THC and will not get you high.
A good way to tell if the CBD oil you’re purchasing is from hemp or marijuana is its availability. Most of the CBD oil that you can buy online and over the counter is the type that comes from hemp since the sale of high-THC CBD oil isn’t legal everywhere or outside of dispensaries.
While CBD does have benefits on its own, like stress management and enhanced sleep quality, it’s missing out on the synergistic benefits of the other cannabinoids and terpenes.* For this reason, many experts recommend whole-plant extracts rather than isolated CBD products. For more, check out our roundup of best CBD products.
So, what’s the difference?
Although they are marketed as being essentially the same thing, hemp oil extract and CBD oil extract do have some important differences. Hemp oil is a cannabinoid-rich extract that contains over 140 beneficial cannabinoids that produce the entourage effect, while CBD oil is an isolated extract of a single cannabinoid.
Decoding the label: What do the different spectrums mean?
Both hemp oil extract and CBD oil often have additional qualifiers, like full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate to give you an idea of what’s actually in the bottle.
Full-spectrum products contain all of the cannabinoids, including CBD, and terpenes in a nice little package—the way nature intended. Hemp-derived full-spectrum extract contains a very small amount of THC (less than 0.03%) and will not get you high. If you’re looking to reap the health benefits of the entourage effect, then full-spectrum hemp oil extract is what you want.*
However, be aware that some marijuana-derived CBD oil (or cannabis oil) can be marketed as “full-spectrum CBD oil”; in this case, the product likely contains THC as well and might get you high.
Broad-spectrum CBD products contain all of the cannabinoids and terpenes except THC (and the minor THC cannabinoids, like THCa and THCv). These products are marketed as “THC-free” or “contains 0.00% THC,” and while that sounds good on paper, it does diminish some of the health benefits of the plant.
Remember: The small amount of THC (less than 0.03%) in the full-spectrum hemp products won’t get you high, but it can enhance the entourage effect, amplifying benefits like stress management.* However, if you’re concerned about THC even in small doses, broad-spectrum is a good choice.
CBD isolate is pure CBD. All of the other cannabinoids and terpenes have been filtered out and you’re left with only CBD. CBD isolates are often marketed as “pure” or “99% pure CBD.”
Remember: While you’ll get plenty of CBD from these products, you’re missing out on all the health benefits of the other cannabinoids and terpenes.*
Even armed with all of this information, the marketing of many CBD products can still be misleading. So, it’s up to you to read labels closely and ask questions. When choosing a hemp-derived product, ask the manufacturer for a certificate of analysis (or “CofA”). A CofA shows the breakdown of all the cannabinoids in the product (and in what amounts) so you can be sure you’re getting what’s advertised. It’s best if the CofA was done by an unbiased third-party lab rather than directly by the manufacturer.
The bottom line.
The difference between hemp and CBD comes down to the cannabinoid content. Cannabinoids are beneficial plant compounds, including THC, CBD, and others. Both hemp oil and hemp-derived CBD products are legal and contain less than 0.3% THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid found in marijuana.
CBD oil is the isolated extract of a single cannabinoid, cannabidiol (CBD). Hemp oil is a whole-plant extract that contains all of the cannabinoids, including, but not limited to, CBD. When taken together, cannabinoids have a synergistic effect, called the entourage effect.
If you are looking to reap the benefits of the entourage effect, you should try full-spectrum hemp oil. If you are concerned about THC, even in small amounts, you should try CBD oil or broad-spectrum hemp oil. For more on stress management, check out the best supplements to help relieve stress.*