The key differences between hemp oil and CBD oil

By Special to Lift

April 28, 2016

Knowing the difference between the two products ensures that patients and health enthusiasts are getting the best possible product for their specific needs.

Cannabidiol (also known as CBD) is one of the most vital components of marijuana, and it seems to hold the answer to a wide array of medical problems. But because it’s derived from cannabis, oil that contains CBD is often confused with hemp oil. Both come from the same plant, contain components sought after for their healthful properties and have established themselves as useful products—albeit for vastly different reasons.

These differences are especially important for consumers who may think that both oils provide the same things. Confusing regulations regarding labelling mean that some producers might describe products as medicinal when their effects haven’t actually been proven, furthering these misconceptions.

Knowing the key differences between the two will help users better discern what to look for when shopping and to know whether they want to add these products to their health regimen.


CBD oil is extracted from the stalks, leaves and buds of hemp plants. Typically, strains are chosen that are known to have higher CBD levels in order to maximize the potency of the end product.

Extraction process

Extraction methods vary, but the safest known process is the oil-based method, wherein the plant is soaked in a carrier oil—typically hemp or olive—to separate the components. Contrast this with the unsafe solvent-based approach that pushes butane, hexane or alcohol through the plant to extract the chemical. Larger and better funded operations may also opt to use a CO2-based approach, which places the material under high pressure. This method offers the safest alternative and produces the purest end product.

Usefulness as a medicine

The resulting oil is rich in CBD and low in THC, making it ideal for those seekingthe benefits of marijuana with none of the psychoactive effects. The oil has been shown to help treat epilepsy and psychological problems, aid in cancer treatment and act as an anti-inflammatory. Additionally, CBD inhibits the uptake of THC, reducing many of the negative aspects of marijuana while still producing a calming effect.

THC traces

Because production methods vary and some producers use cannabis instead of hemp to produce CBD oil, there are also some types of the product thatcontain both THC and CBD. However, the amount of THC in these products is strictly limited, and reflects doses and concentrations permitted by pharmaceutical standards. It’s important to understand the difference and read product labels when finding the right CBD oil for you.

Hemp Oil


Hemp oil can be made from the seeds of any plant in the cannabis family, but is primarily derived from hemp. The seeds themselves contain as much as 50% of their weight in oil, which is easily extracted. For the most part, these seeds are used for their nutritional value rather than as a medicine.

Differences from CBD oil

The seeds themselves contain very little CBD—not nearly enough to take advantage of its medicinal properties. Likewise, the seeds only contain trace amounts of THC, making them useless for anyone looking to get high. And unlike CBD oil, hemp oil has a strong nutritional value, as it is high in polyunsaturated fats like Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids, as well as Vitamin E.

Health benefits

Because of this profile and its low amount of saturated fats in comparison to other oils, hemp oil has found a spot in many kitchens around the world. It can have a nutty to grassy flavour depending on how it’s refined, and high quality brands can be used for salad dressing and cooking.

Alternative uses

Hemp oil can also be found in a myriad of health products, from shampoos toskin conditioners to soap. Producers take advantage of its high Vitamin E content, which helps to replenish and protect the body from cancer-causing free radicals. According to Cannabis and Cannabinoids: Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Therapeutic Potential, the oil has also been used to effectively treat arthritis inflammation, neurodermatitis and PMS, among other conditions. Much like other vegetable oils, hemp oil can be used for plastics, fuel and as a base for non-petroleum paint products.

The underlying difference between the two products is that one is medicinal and the other is an ingredient used for both cooking and manufacturing. Knowing the difference ensures that patients and health enthusiasts are getting the best possible product for their specific needs.

Photos: Wollertz /, Wollertz /, Brent Hofacker /



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