If you've been exploring the potential health benefits of hemp-based products, you've likely encountered the phrases "hemp seed oil" and "CBD oil" frequently in your search. While related, these two substances are not the same, and in this brief guide, we'll explain why.
Cannabidiol is a substance that naturally occurs inside the flowers of the cannabis plant. These flowers contain a resinous material filled with hundreds of chemical compounds, including the more commonly known cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Although both are psychoactive and are considered to have nearly an identical molecular structure, they react differently inside your body and produce different effects.
- THC is the chemical found in the cannabis plant that produces a "high" sensation, euphoria, or sedation. It has this effect because of the way it binds to specific receptors in the brain.
- CBD doesn't bind to those same receptors, or if it does, it does so very weakly, so it doesn't produce the same sensations. In fact, CBD can prevent THC from binding to these receptors, thus muting the effects of THC, too.
- CBD oil must contain 0.3% of THC or less to be sold legally. There are also CBD oil products available that contain no THC at all.
- CBD oil is produced from the leaves and flowers of the hemp plant, not the seeds.
- CBD oil is legal everywhere in the United States, whereas recreational use of the cannabis plant containing high THC concentrations is only legal in 15 states. Medical marijuana is currently legal in 35.
Types of CBD Oil
CBD oil is available at varying levels of cannabinoid compound concentration depending on what you'd like to achieve.
- Full-spectrum CBD oil contains all the compounds found in the cannabis plant, including very low THC levels. Some research suggests that the other compounds make CBD's properties more effective.
- Broad-spectrum CBD oil contains several cannabinoid compounds but does not have THC. This type is ideal for people who want the benefits of multiple cannabinoid compounds but don't want the THC or are concerned about THC showing up on a drug test.
- CBD isolate contains CBD only and none of the other compounds. CBD isolate is the purest CBD available and is considered the most low-risk form; however, it doesn't provide the "entourage effect" from the combination of compounds.
The Difference Between Hemp and Cannabis
Hemp and cannabis are both plants of the same genus and species, Cannabis sativa. The difference lies in their THC content. Cannabis (also known as marijuana) contains THC levels greater than 0.3 %, whereas the hemp plant contains less than 0.3%.
Benefits of the Hemp Plant
Hemp has many uses across many industries, from clothing to plastic to food.
- Hemp has significant nutritional value, is high in fiber, and is also a complete protein, making it ideal for vegans.
- Hemp is a fast-growing plant, making it a more sustainable choice over trees for paper products.
- Hemp seed oil is considered a healthy cooking oil with the added health benefit of lowering blood pressure. It may also reduce the odds of having a stroke or heart attack.
- Hemp oil can be used to moisturize the skin, as a hair conditioner, or to improve conditions such as eczema or dry, itchy skin.
Hemp seeds are where the difference between CBD oil and hemp seed oil really makes itself known. Hemp seeds contain 0% THC and only trace amounts of CBD; therefore, hemp seed oil can be considered the risk-free option compared to cannabidiol products. Considered “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) by the FDA, hemp seeds and their oils are often found in food, beauty products, and other household applications. However, there's a difference between hemp oil and hemp seed oil, so always check the product labeling to identify what you're buying.
- As just mentioned, hemp seed oil contains no THC and only trace amounts of CBD — but usually none at all. You can purchase it at a health food store or some grocery stores for its multitude of benefits. Hemp seed oil is considered GRAS by the FDA.
- Hemp oil is made from the flower of the hemp plant instead of the seeds. This means it contains a variety of cannabinoids, like CBD and sometimes low concentrations of THC. Extracted hemp oils have not received the GRAS designation from the FDA.
Benefits of Hemp Seed Oil
Hemp seed oil contains essential fatty acids, has a pleasant taste a bit like sunflower oil, and has higher amounts of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) than any other plant. GLA has been shown to have potent anti-inflammatory qualities.
- Hemp seed oil promotes cardiovascular health and maintains healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- Because it's nutritious and anti-inflammatory, hemp seed oil helps relieve constipation, boosts immunity, improves skin and hair, and helps with gastrointestinal conditions.
- Hemp seed oil's high levels of GLA can help slow or reverse cancer growth.
- Due to being rich in antioxidants, hemp seed oil can lower the risk of developing chronic diseases (cancer included).
- Hemp seed oil also has anti-aging properties and helps the epidermis (outer layer of skin) retain moisture.
Hemp Seed Oil vs. CBD Oil: The Takeaway
Now that you understand how these two beneficial oils are different, how do you know which to choose? While they both provide benefits, CBD oil is the more powerful of the two and packs the bigger punch. However, CBD may cause side effects that can vary between individuals, especially when consumed in large quantities. These include:
- changes in appetite
- weight loss
Additionally, some CBD products contain THC, which has its own list of side effects, including:
- red eyes
- coordination problems
- dry mouth
- elevated heart rate
- slower reaction times
- loss of memory
The takeaway? Both CBD oil and hemp seed oil are loaded with benefits, but hemp seed oil is the risk-free choice for overall health. It can reduce muscle inflammation, lower your risk of diabetes, and boost the immune system. And like CBD, hemp seed oil can also combat stress and anxiety, but with fewer side effects, making it completely safe for adults. It also protects the brain and heart.
About the Author
As a journalist and freelance writer in the cannabis and hemp industries, Kristina Etter advocates responsible consumption, as well as ethical and compliant communication and education for consumers.
The author of this article was hired as freelance writer by Good Hemp, Inc. and was compensated financially for this article.
Although there is a wide range of available research, the statements made regarding CBD, hemp, and cannabis products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of such products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are NOT intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information presented here is merely informational and not meant as a substitute for or alternative to information from health care practitioners. Please consult your health care professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any product. The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act requires this notice.
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