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

CBD oil and hemp oil are unique products that benefit our health in different ways. Traditionally, they come from different parts of the cannabis plant and therefore have different uses and benefits.

It’s easy to confuse CBD oil and hemp oil because more recently, with the CBD craze, CBD companies have used the term “hemp oil” to market their CBD products. This can complicate things when it comes to understanding the difference between CBD oil and hemp oil.

Many companies have chosen to use the term hemp oil as opposed to CBD oil to avoid problems with the FDA.

As a tip, if a company does market their CBD oil as hemp oil, look for terms like CBD, cannabinoids or hemp extract in other areas on their label. This means the product contains CBD.

Given this confusion, we think it’s essential to educate consumers on the differences between CBD oil and hemp oil.


The main active ingredient in CBD oil is, of course, CBD. This compound is popular in the holistic wellness community. Its main role is to regulate our endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for maintaining proper internal balance.

Although more research needs to be done, there is some professional support for CBD’s usefulness in helping to curb stress, providing joint, muscular, and neurologic relief, and getting better sleep. In fact, the FDA recently approved the first-ever CBD drug called Epidiolex. This drug is being used to help treat seizures related to rare forms of epilepsy.

Hemp Oil/Hemp Seed Oil

On the other hand, what we historically know as hemp oil is now more commonly referred to as hemp seed oil.  Hemp seed oil does not contain any cannabinoids like CBD, but instead is a rich blend of nutrients including a high concentration of protein, polyunsaturated acids and vitamin E.

It is also one of the few oils to contain both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, which are recognized as essential to the human diet. These desirable but rare fatty acids are found in a ratio that is thought to be optimal according to some nutritionists. The high vitamin E content of hemp oil is another beneficial attribute. Vitamin E is an antioxidant, which helps to protect your cells from free radicals. Its impact on the skin make it a staple in the cosmetic world.

CBD Oil vs. Hemp Oil Sourcing

CBD oil and hemp oil come from different parts of the cannabis plant. CBD oil uses the whole plant, while hemp oil typically comes from its seeds. Because of the growing CBD market, hemp oil derived from the seed of the plant is now more commonly referred to as hemp seed oil.

CBD oil is made from a variety of parts of the mature hemp plant, including its stalks and flowers. In order to get CBD and other compounds from the plant, they must be separated in a process called extraction. Most reputable producers use ethanol extraction or the CO2 extraction process, because neither involve the use of any toxic compounds.

During extraction, useful parts of the hemp plant are usually pelletized, and then a solvent like ethanol or gases like CO2 are used to pull out the CBD and other vital nutrients. The result is an oil with a high CBD content. After this, it is rigorously tested to make sure that there are no unwanted substances, and the level of essential compounds is where it needs to be.

Hemp oil, on the other hand, now referred to as hemp seed oil, is made only from hemp seeds and is created by a process called cold pressing. This process is similar to the creation of other carrier oils like sunflower seed oil or jojoba oil. The cold pressing method is used to help preserve all the raw, nutritious contents of the seeds. The hemp seeds, which contain up to 50% their weight in oil, are de-shelled, chilled and squeezed for their content. The product is an unrefined, green colored substance.

One of the main differences between CBD oil and hemp oil? Hemp seed oil is usually made using the seeds of industrial hemp plants and does not contain any CBD or other cannabinoids like THC.

CBD Oil vs. Hemp Oil The Uses

CBD oil is mainly used in the holistic or alternative wellness space to help balance the body’s internal systems, while hemp oil (now considered hemp seed oil) is mainly used in food and skincare products.

Hemp-derived CBD oil has high CBD content and low THC content (below 0.3%). This makes it great for harnessing potentially therapeutic properties of CBD without any of the mind-altering effects of THC.

Many proponents claim that it can be helpful with a number of chronic conditions such as anxiety and epilepsy, but more clinical research is needed to confirm its effect. Some athletes also use hemp-derived CBD oil to support exercise-induced inflammation reduction and recovery. CBD oil is also said to be effective as a sleep aid. Today it can already be found in a variety of forms such as capsules, tinctures and topicals.

As scientists continue to study the impact of CBD, we can expect even wider applications in the future.

Hemp oil, on the other hand, when derived from the seed of the plant, has become a hit in the kitchen. This is because of its high nutritious value (as explained above). It’s been on the shelves of health food stores for quite some time and is considered a superfood by many. You can find it being used in smoothies and even as a nutritious substitute for olive oil.

Additionally, hemp oil, in its seed oil form, is used extensively in the cosmetic industry. It’s a key ingredient in products such as shampoos, conditioners, lotions, and soap due to its fatty acid content, which helps to protect skin and preserve moisture.

You can also find hemp oil from the seed included in some paints, plastics, and lubricants as a substitute for petroleum-based oil.

Still Confused? Here’s a Recap:

So, what is the difference between CBD oil and hemp oil? Both can support our health and wellness goals, but the difference lies in the part of the plant harvested and the specific benefits that each oil provides.

Hemp oil, now referred to as hemp seed oil, comes from hemp seeds and is a nourishing blend of nutrients, which is great for cooking or supplementation.

CBD oil (often now called hemp oil) comes from hemp flowers and interacts with our body’s endocannabinoid system to create an internal balancing effect.

When trying to understand the differences between CBD oil and hemp oil, it is important to keep in mind that some CBD companies market their products as hemp oil.

To avoid confusion, look on the label or supplement facts panel for the terms CBD, cannabinoids or hemp extract. These are all indicators that the product contains CBD oil.

Photo by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay

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Disclaimer: The statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficiency of these 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 not meant as a substitute for or alternative to information from healthcare practitioners.  Please consult your health care professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any products.  The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act requires this notice.

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