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Hemp Oil vs. CBD Oil: What’s the Difference?

Hemp Oil vs. CBD Oil: What’s the Difference?

The popularity of CBD oil has skyrocketed over the last few years. But with so many news reports, blogs, and information in general — especially from sources that aren’t exactly reputable — it’s easy to be confused about the differences between different products and where they come from. Not to worry, though! We’re here to explain everything you need to know about CBD oil, hemp oil, how to tell them apart and how to use them. But before we dive into the differences between hemp oil and CBD oil, let’s start with a bit of background on the cannabis plant itself.

Hemp, Marijuana, & Cannabis: Oh My!

When most people think of cannabis, they think of marijuana. However, nearly a decade of misinformation about the plant has caused mass confusion about cannabis, hemp, and marijuana: mainly that they can be used interchangeably because they’re the same plant. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Cannabis is a family of plants from the Cannabaceae family that includes two main species: Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. Though marijuana can originate from either classification, hemp is firmly placed within the cannabis sativa family. Since both hemp and marijuana are placed in the cannabis sativa family, there are several components of the plants that are similar. However, there are also multiple important differences, including the anatomy and composition of the plants, what each is typically used for, and the legality.

Just for else of understanding, let’s break down the types of cannabis into two categories: hemp plants and drug plants. Hemp plants are produced for things such as fiber, paper, and more industrial purposes, while drug plants are grown for the production of marijuana.

Believed to have originated in Central Asia, cannabis has been used medicinally for thousands of years. While cannabis sativa and cannabis indica both contain varying amounts of non-psychoactive and psychoactive components, they vary in strengths and are therefore each used for different focuses.


Plant Anatomy

Unless you’re experienced in identifying the specific visual differences between hemp and marijuana, the two species can look fairly similar. With a little bit of research, however, both plants have distinct features that differentiate them from one another. Marijuana has a short, plump appearance featuring dense buds and broad leaves. Hemp, on the other hand, is top-heavier, featuring skinny leaves that grow clustered at the top of the plant. Once you’ve done a side-by-side visual comparison, it’s easy to tell the difference.

Chemical Composition

The breakdown in chemicals contained within marijuana and hemp are where the biggest difference can be determined. Let’s take it back for a minute. Cannabis contains several different compounds called cannabinoids, with the two most dominant being Tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC, and Cannabidiol, also known as CBD. While both cannabinoids have been shown to have their own distinct benefits, THC produces the high that people typically expect from marijuana while CBD doesn’t have any psychoactive properties.

When comparing the two and the products made from them, such as hemp oil or CBD oil, this is where the biggest distinction lies. The hemp plant typically contains an insignificant amount of THC — .3% or less — while marijuana can contain anywhere from 15-40% THC. The lack of THC has become a significant perk for those looking to take advantage of the brain and body-boosting power of cannabis products without experiencing the high or the psychoactive effects that come with it. That key factor, and the explosion of CBD’s recent popularity is what has led to the rebirth of hemp from a manufacturing asset to a health food staple. With that knowledge in mind, let’s take a deeper dive into hemp oil and CBD oil.

Hemp Oil vs. CBD Oil

The major difference between hemp oil and CBD oil is the amount, or lack thereof, of cannabinoids. Unfortunately for consumers, this is where things can get tricky if you’re not educated about the differences between hemp oil and CBD oil.

Hemp Oil 101

Hemp oil, as I’m sure you can imagine, is made from the hemp plant. Hemp is a form of cannabis sativa that, up until recently, was produced primarily for industrial purposes. Typically grown in the northern hemisphere, hemp is one of the fastest growing plants, and was one of the first plants to be used to create fibers more than 10,000 years ago. Hemp can be made into various products including clothing, textiles, paint, paper, animal feed, biofuel, biodegradable plastics, food, and insulation.

Hemp oil, also known as hempseed oil, is produced by pressing hemp seeds. Hemp oil is derived from varieties of cannabis sativa that do not contain substantial amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly known as THC, or the psychoactive element present in the cannabis plant. When hemp oil is manufactured, the seeds are harshly cleaned before being pressed. Although there is no THC within the hemp seeds themselves, trace amounts of THC may be found in post-production hempseed oil due to plant matter not being fully washed off during the cleaning process. The modern-day processing of hempseed oil, particularly in Canada, has successfully decreased THC values in hempseed oil in the last 20 years through refining the cleaning and pressing process of its production setup.

The most important thing to realize about hemp oil is that it’s essentially a vessel for which other extracts can be delivered. Take flavored olive oil for example. If you enjoy cooking, you may have experimented with infusing different types of ingredients such as garlic, lemon, rosemary, or chili flakes. While the olive oil itself contains natural benefits, including antioxidants and healthy monounsaturated fats, those properties are thanks to the olive oil itself, not the ingredients its infused with. The same thing can be said for the ingredients being infused. The flavors and benefits come from each separate ingredient, and a person receives those through ingesting the olive oil containing that particular ingredient.

The same thought process applies to hemp oil as well. The benefits are plentiful: it contains fatty acids that can nourish your skin, prevent breakouts, and encourage your brain to produce cannabinoids. However, hemp oil itself does not contain a significant number of cannabinoids.

Why Hemp?

So why does hemp oil work so well in our bodies? The answer lies in our Endocannabinoid System. Discovered in the 1990s, the Endocannabinoid System is a group of receptors found in the body throughout the brain, central nervous system, immune system, and more.


Similarly to hemp oil, CBD oil contains a wide variety of healthy and beneficial ingredients and extracts. Research has shown that CBD oil has a positive impact in improving the symptoms of dozens of diseases, including anxiety and depression, pain associated with multiple sclerosis and arthritis, nausea, trouble sleeping, and seizures. CBD oil is also believed to have a positive impact on treating acne, lowering high blood pressure, and preventing diabetes.

Understanding the Difference

A lot of the confusion between hemp oil and CBD oil comes from the misuse of terminology in today’s marketing campaigns by organizations and companies looking to take advantage of the popularity of CBD oil and use it to market products to their consumers. As we’ve mentioned before in our blogs, because the United States Government sees CBD as a level two controlled substance, it isn’t approved for use in foods or other over the counter medicinal products. As such, there is very little government oversight into the production and manufacturing of these products, including the management of products that are being mislabeled or making false claims. This lack of oversight means that producers can claim that a product is 100% pure CBD oil and because the Food and Drug Administration isn’t doing any background research or checking into each product’s claims, there’s no way to know if the oil is in fact 100% pure CBD unless the manufacturer is offering to produce third party testing results.

The Bottom Line

As more research becomes available, the number of conflicting reports online and in the media should begin to decrease. In the meantime, consumers should ensure that they are doing their best to purchase products from reliable sources with transparent testing policies. When in doubt, it’s always appropriate to ask! Have a Nice Day CBD is a great site to purchase from if you want to ensure that the products you’re receiving are exactly as advertised. You can shop the entire selection by visiting their website here.

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