Hemp oil vs CBD oil – what exactly is the difference?
CBD and hemp products have grown in popularity recently, and you may have seen the terms used interchangeably. But is hemp oil the same as CBD oil?
The short answer is no, although they are related. In this article, we’ll unpack some common misconceptions and explain the differences between hemp oil and CBD oil.
Hemp oil vs CBD oil: what are the differences?
Hemp oil and CBD oil are not the same thing – although they are both derived from the Cannabis sativa plant, commonly known simply as the cannabis plant.
There are a number of different varieties of Cannabis sativa. Marijuana is one of them – it contains high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the cannabinoid that causes you to feel ‘high’. Hemp is another strain with a much lower THC content.
Although hemp oil and CBD oil come from the same plant species, there are a number of differences between them:
- They’re made from different parts of the plant. Hemp oil is extracted from the seeds, which is why you may see it referred to as hemp seed oil. CBD oil is derived from the leaves, stalks and flowers of the plant. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is another cannabinoid that is secreted in the plant’s resin. This resin is only found in the leaves, stalks and flowers, and is absent in the seeds.
- Hemp oil and CBD oil have different uses. We’ll go into this in more detail later, but hemp oil tends to be used as food and in cosmetics, while CBD oil is usually used for its potential therapeutic properties.
- CBD oil is more tightly regulated than hemp oil. While both products are legal in the UK, CBD is subject to tighter restrictions. Hemp oil has been used for thousands of years and is not subject to restrictions. CBD oil, on the other hand, was recently added to the EU Novel Food Catalogue. This means any product containing CBD must undergo safety testing and authorisation before it can be sold. In addition, CBD oil can only be sold legally if it contains less than 1mg of THC per pack, and CBD companies are not allowed to make medicinal claims about their products.
- Hemp oil is cheaper than CBD oil. Extracting CBD is a more complex process than pressing oil from hemp seeds, which is reflected in their relative prices. While both products can vary significantly in price, there is a marked difference between them. You can find a 500ml bottle of hemp oil for £5-10, but a 10ml bottle of CBD oil may set you back £50-100.
What are the similarities between hemp oil and CBD oil?
While there are a number of significant differences between CBD oil and hemp oil, there are some notable similarities too:
- They’re both generally derived from industrial hemp. Industrial hemp is a term that refers to varieties of Cannabis sativa that contain little to no THC. In the UK, industrial hemp must contain less than 0.2% THC to be legally cultivated, and a special licence from the Home Office is required to grow it.
- Neither of them has psychotropic or intoxicating effects. THC is the main psychotropic compound in Cannabis sativa. As mentioned previously, hemp seeds don’t contain THC, and CBD oil is only legal in the UK if it contains less than 1mg of THC per pack. So while both hemp oil and CBD oil have a range of potential effects, neither of them get you ‘high’.
What is hemp oil used for?
Hemp has been cultivated for thousands of years for a multitude of uses. These include textiles, paints, paper, printing ink and building materials. Hemp oil, or hemp seed oil, is obtained by cold-pressing the raw seeds of hemp plants.
One of the primary uses of hemp oil is in food. It has a light, nutty flavour and provides excellent nutritional value. It is rich in essential fatty acids and other polyunsaturated fats, providing the optimum ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids, and is low in saturated fat.
Hemp oil is also popular in skincare products and other cosmetics. This is because it’s a highly effective moisturiser and has potential anti-inflammatory properties.
Read our blog outlining the best CBD skincare products you can buy in the UK.
What is CBD oil used for?
CBD oil has soared in popularity in the last few years due to its potential therapeutic properties, combined with its favourable safety and tolerability profile.
As well as in oil form, CBD is available in a variety of products including pills and capsules, topical creams, gummies, cosmetics, beverages and vape products.
Although more research must be done to understand its therapeutic potential and full health benefits, CBD is used to treat a range of issues. This includes stress, anxiety, pain, asthma, inflammation, nausea, insomnia and acne.
For more information, check out our guide on how to use CBD oil.
Hemp oil vs CBD oil: why is there so much confusion?
There is often confusion around hemp oil and CBD oil, and it’s not just because they’re closely related.
In the last few years, interest in CBD oil has grown rapidly. A 2019 report by the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC) valued the UK market at £300 million, with 1.3 million users. It appears that some brands may be capitalising on this by blurring the lines between hemp oil and CBD oil.
Some hemp oil products, whether intentionally or not, can be mislabelled as CBD oil. The under-regulation of the CBD market so far has allowed some low quality and incorrectly labelled products to fly under the radar. For example, in a blind test of 30 CBD products available in the UK, the CMC’s report found that only 38% of samples contained within 10% of the advertised CBD content.
Conversely, some companies may mislabel CBD products as hemp oil in order to sell them in places they would otherwise be prohibited. In the UK, Amazon prohibits the sale of products containing CBD (although it currently allows a limited number of sellers to market CBD products as part of an invite-only pilot). Given that Amazon is by far the largest online retailer, it’s not inconceivable that some companies may be bending the truth in order to sell their products.
Which oil is right for me?
If you’re looking for a CBD oil or hemp oil product, the one you choose will depend on your aims and the context you’re using it in.
Although they have some similarities, now that you know the difference between hemp oil and CBD oil it shouldn’t be too hard to work out which one you need.
Unsure about a product? Be sure to check the label to find out which category it falls into.