What's the difference between hemp and CBD?
Hemp seed oil and cannabidiol (CBD) oil are sourced from the cannabis sativa plant species. Hemp seed oil is extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant, which is a variety of the cannabis sativa plant that contains less than 0.3% THC, while CBD oil comes from the leaves, stalks and flowers of both cannabis and hemp plants. Both oils can be identified across a variety of products, from beauty to food. Read on to learn more about the similarities and differences between hemp seed oil and CBD oil, including how they’re made, what they’re used for and potential benefits they provide.
What Is Hemp Seed Oil?
Hemp seed oil is extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant and offers a robust and nutty flavor. Consisting of around 70 to 90% of polyunsaturated fatty acids (often referred to as healthy fats), it’s abundant in omega-3 essential fatty acids, tocopherols and linoleic and linolenic acids.
Depending on the way hemp seeds are handled and processed, hemp seed oil may contain delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD oil, according to a report by Oklahoma State University. Most companies producing hemp seed oil for consumption must adhere to strict guidelines, ensuring that the products contain almost imperceptible amounts of THC, 0.3% or less. This amount will not cause psychoactive effects.
How Is It Made?
Hemp seed oil is extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant. The seeds are cold pressed, similar to the way olive oil is made. Once oil is extracted from the seed, it’s stored in a cool, dark place for processing and shipping.
How Is It Used?
Hemp seed oil can be used as a culinary oil to enhance flavor and may be drizzled on vegetables or made into salad dressings. It can also be taken straight from the spoon as a dietary supplement, as it’s found to be rich in polyunsaturated omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, according to the American Oil Chemists Society (AOCS).
Hemp seed oil also has a variety of industrial uses, such as paints, varnishes and other coating materials, due to its drying properties. The oil is also used in plastic flooring, such as linoleum.
Potential benefits of hemp seed oil include boosting omega intake, thanks to the oil’s unique composition of a 3-to-1 ratio of omega-6 (linoleic) to omega-3 (alpha-linolenic) essential fatty acids. In general, a diet rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids contributes to skin health, cardiovascular health, maintaining healthy blood pressure and reducing pain and inflammation, as well as potentially reducing some PMS symptoms like breast tenderness.
The dense nutritional profile of hemp seed oil also includes:
- Antioxidants, such as vitamin E
- Omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9
What Is CBD Oil?
CBD is one of the most abundant active constituents of the cannabis plant. It’s a non-psychoactive isomer of THC—meaning it won’t result in the intoxicating, “high” sensation. It’s derived from the leaves, stalks and flowers of hemp and cannabis plants, but as the legality of cannabis is still controversial in some places, most CBD oils are extracted from hemp plants.
“CBD is a plant compound found in cannabis sativa—both hemp and cannabis,” says Yvonne Perez Emerson, an herbalist and the founder of Make and Mary, a CBD boutique in Portland, Oregon. There are thought to be at least 100 unique compounds found in hemp known as cannabinoids, of which CBD is the second most abundant. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that interact with the body’s central regulatory system (endocannabinoid system), which manages the body’s homeostasis (physiological balance) among bodily processes such as appetite, mood, memory, sleep, and immune system functions, adds Emerson.
They can be either consumed as phytocannabinoids found intrinsically within CBD products or produced naturally by the body (endocannabinoids). When ingested, CBD oil can help the brain and body by interacting with the endocannabinoid system and neurotransmitters that impact inflammation, pain, mood regulation and stress response.
How Is It Made?
CBD oil is made from an extraction, often using carbon dioxide, that creates nutrient-dense products with high cannabinoid content.
“CBD oil is made by adding the hemp extract to a carrier oil,” says Emerson. The most common carrier oil used with CBD is medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil, which is made from coconuts. Vegetable oil, sunflower oil, almond oil and olive oil can also be used as carriers.
Once a carrier oil has been paired, the focus shifts to potency, which determines the product’s strength based on the amount of CBD content present. “A formulation needs to be calculated by what percentage you want the dosage or potency of the end product to be. This depends on the potency of the raw material first,” continues Emerson.
When the desired potency is reached, additional ingredients can be added to the oil depending on the use for which it’s intended. For example, Emerson’s products include other plant-based materials, such as rose hip seed oil and jojoba oil, that address specific concerns like inflammation or skin hydration.
How Is It Used?
Many products contain CBD oil, from topical pain relieving creams to tinctures or gummies used to improve sleep or anxiety. Even bubbly drinks, pet products and beauty products are jumping on the CBD wave.
Experts find CBD oil has an array of health benefits. “Put simply, CBD restores homeostasis (the body’s natural balance),” says Emerson. “It works in the endocannabinoid system by activating two of its core receptors (known as CB1 and CB2), which regulate mood, temperature, cognitive function and muscle repair.”
Although more research is needed, preliminary studies show that CBD oil may also be used to treat or improve the following areas:
- Acute and chronic pain
- Seizures due to epilepsy and related conditions
- Anxiety disorders, depression and post traumatic stress disorder
- Psychiatric and neurologic conditions and diseases
- Digestive health
- Weight management
- Oxidative stress
- Cardiovascular conditions, such as hypertension, heart disease and stroke
- Stress induced cardiovascular conditions
- Skin health