By | November 7, 2019

A growing “green rush” towards products made with CBD (cannabidiol), a non-psychoactive component of cannabis, has created a wealth of new products and terms that can easily be overwhelming and confusing to consumers.

One of those products is CBD oil made from hemp, but it is very easy to mix up that product with another that has been around a lot longer — hemp seed oil, also known as hemp oil.

Given that demand for CBD products is high, some may be taking advantage of the craze with misleading labels that use shared terms between CBD oil and hemp seed oil.

A 2017 study found that nearly 7 out of 10 CBD products did not contain the amount of cannabis extract promised on the label. Nearly 43 percent of the products contained too little CBD, while around 26 percent contained too much.

We’re here to help you cut through the “hemp oil vs. CBD oil” confusion. Read on to discover what exactly hemp seed oil and CBD oil are, and how to tell the difference between the two.


What is hemp oil?

Hemp oil has been on store shelves for decades.

It is created by pressing hemp seeds to extrude its oil, similar to how olive oil or coconut oil is made, then refining the concentrated oil to make it taste less strong or change its dark green color.

Hemp seeds contain little to no CBD or THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive component of cannabis.

Under Canadian law, hemp oil must contain less than 10 parts per million of CBD or THC, according to Ted Haney, the executive producer at the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance (CHTA).

While some CBD from other parts of the plant may make its way into hemp oil during manufacturing, Haney says it is usually around three to four parts per million — below the regulatory limit.

Hemp oil is classified as a food product, Haney says, and is available in regular retail stores where specialty oils are sold.


As long as there is less than 10 parts per million of THC, hemp oil requires no license to sell it or export it, according to Haney.

Hemp oil uses

Hemp oil has been used for years for a variety of purposes.

“Hemp seed oil’s primary health claims are related to its fatty acid content,” Haney explained.

Haney says that hemp oil contains omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in a “very well balanced ratio” of three to one, which matches the human body’s dietary requirement ratio for the fatty acids.

Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids help lower cholesterol and increase metabolism, which means burning fats at faster rates.

Hemp oil’s fatty acids also make it a good topical to nourish and protect the skin from inflammation and oxidation, as well as increase skin’s elasticity and water retention. This has led hemp oil to be included in shampoos, lotions, soaps and other cosmetic products.

Hemp oil also contains high levels of vitamins E, B, B1, and B2. Just add it to food to have it act as a vitamin supplement; it will also bring a crispy, nutty flavor to the meal.

What is CBD oil?

CBD oil is a completely different beast from hemp oil.

It is derived from the cannabinoid cannabidiol, which can be found both in cannabis and hemp.

CBD is non-psychoactive and counteracts the psychoactive effects of THC.

This feature has helped CBD gain a lot of popularity as a more consumer-friendly form of cannabis for those wary of THC’s high, and studies have found CBD has its own health benefits.

CBD oil can be made from either CBD isolate extract, which is pure CBD extracted from either hemp or cannabis, or full-spectrum CBD extract, which contains other cannabinoids and terpenes (which give cannabis its flavor) that organically occur in the plant.

We would recommend full spectrum CBD for this purpose since the inclusion of other cannabis components have been found to work synergistically with CBD, which is known as the “entourage effect.”

The CBD extract is then mixed with a carrier oil to distill it and make it more palatable. Carrier oils include hemp seed oil, MCT coconut oil, grape seed oil, olive oil or canola oil, but really it can be any edible oil.

Hemp CBD oil should contain very little to no THC — around a 20 to one ratio CBD to THC, according to Haney.

CBD oil made from cannabis rather than hemp could contain more THC, but may also provide a better entourage effect because cannabis contains a wider variety of cannabinoids and terpenes than hemp.

The possible inclusion of THC is something to be aware of when purchasing CBD oil, especially if made from cannabis.

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