Hemp Oil vs. CBD: Why They Aren’t One and the Same Thing

Written by David Ericson

Attitudes towards cannabis in the UK have been on the mend for the past couple of years, and that can largely be attributed to CBD oil. Also known as cannabidiol, CBD is a chemical compound extracted from hemp, a variety of the Cannabis Sativa plant that doesn’t create the “high” feeling cannabis is most famous for. It is the second most prevalent cannabinoid in cannabis alongside THC, the main psychoactive agent responsible for cannabis’ high.

Cannabidiol owes its popularity to its potent and diverse range of medicinal properties. As most of the CBD oil on the UK market is sourced from hemp and has 0.2% THC, you don’t have to worry about being intoxicated or failing a drug test. What you can expect, however, is a diverse range of medical benefits from alleviating depression and anxiety to relieving chronic pain and cancer-related symptoms, if anecdotal and preliminary evidence is to be believed.

Lately, there has been a lot of confusion between hemp oil vs. CBD oil, especially since both of them are sourced from the same plant species. CBD oil is extracted from the stalks, leaves, and flowers which usually contain higher levels of CBD while hemp oil is sourced from the seeds of the Cannabis Sativa plant. However, where they are sourced is not the only difference between hemp oil and CBD oil.

What is Hemp Oil?

Also referred to as hemp seed oil, hemp oil is harvested by cold-pressing hemp seeds. It is a clear green oil with a nutty flavor and it is often unrefined. Since it is made from hemp seeds which usually have a low cannabinoid count, it doesn’t contain any psychoactive THC as well as CBD and other minor cannabinoids. It does have a rich profile of nutrients, unsaturated fatty acids, essential amino acids, and useful bioactive compounds, though, so the lack of cannabinoids doesn’t make hemp seed oil inferior to CBD oil in the slightest.

Hemp seed oil more than makes up for its lack of cannabinoids with omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, gamma-linolenic acid as well as other nutritional antioxidants. It also contains high levels of B vitamins and vitamin D.

Benefits of Hemp Oil

Although hemp seed oil differs in fundamental ways from CBD oil, they are both brimming with potent medicinal properties. Just like CBD oil, hemp seed oil is a popular alternative medicine that is said to be effective against a wide variety of ailments. However, note that a lot of the evidence backing these claims is either anecdotal or from preliminary research, so make sure you do lots of research and talk to a health professional before you start using hemp seed oil for its benefits.

Pain and Inflammation

Cannabis is a potent pain reliever, so it is no surprise that hemp oil is effective against pain as well. Hemp oil for pain works best when the hemp seed oil is consumed orally as well as applied topically, with the Cannabis Company stating that this approach yields ‘optimum effects.” According to a 2011 study, adding omega-3s, such as the ones found in hemp seed oil, to your diet can reduce inflammation which contributes to diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

Menopause and PMS

The emotional and physical symptoms typically associated with premenstrual syndrome are potentially caused by sensitivity to the hormone prolactin, which may be in turn related to low prostaglandin E1 (PGE1), suggests a 2011 study. Hemp oil contains gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) which aids in the production of PGE1, causing a chain reaction that may tamp down on those symptoms. Additionally, the study found that women with PMS who took 1 gram of fatty acids that included 210mg of GLA reported a noticeable reduction in the symptoms.

Another study that was done earlier in 2010 indicated that hemp seeds could protect against the complications of menopause, most likely due to the high levels of GLA.

Skin Health

Hemp oil’s effects on the skin are just out of this world. Hemp seeds are highly nutritious, so their oil is quite nourishing for the skin. Additionally, the vitamins and fatty acids in this oil may help keep the skin healthy and prevent breakouts. According to a 2014 study that looked at the lipid profile of hemp seed oil, it is rich in healthful oils and fatty acids, making it an excellent natural remedy for nourishing the skin and protecting it from inflammation, oxidation and other causes of aging,

Additionally, a 2014 review noted that the topical application of hemp oil strengthens the skin and makes it better able to resist infection. The authors of the review ultimately suggested that hemp seed oil may be a helpful treatment against a range of skin conditions such as;

  • Eczema
  • Dermatitis
  • Psoriasis
  • Acne rosacea
  • Lichen planus
  • Varicose enema

Brain Health

Another similarity between hemp oil vs. CBD oil is that both have positive effects on brain health. For starters hemp oil is filled with fatty acids that may be good on the brain as it needs plenty of healthy fats to work effectively. A recent study on mice found that hemp seed extract containing essential amino acids and fatty acids as well as phenypropionamides (TPA) was able to protect the brain against inflammation. Additionally, the authors of the study also noted that hemp seed oil may be able to play a role in protecting the brain due to the presence of polyphenols.

Heart Health

Hemp seed oil’s nutritional profile is thought to be beneficial for the heart. An old study in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism highlights the nutrient profile of hemp seeds, noting that they might have a positive effect on various health issues such as high blood pressure, atherosclerosis and cholesterol levels. Another review from 2014 concluded that an increase in alpha-linolenic acid, one of the fatty acids in hemp seed oil, appears to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

So which one should you opt for, hemp oil vs. CBD? At the end of the day, it depends on your end goal. Although they are totally different products, both of them come with a plethora of benefits. Once you’ve determined what you are trying to treat and which of the two is the most suitable to treat it, you’ll be able to make a choice. But before you take either hemp oil or CBD, make sure you talk to a qualified medical professional, especially if you are pregnant, are trying to conceive or you are on other medication.

Have you tried hemp seed oil before? What was you experience with it? We’d love to hear in the comments!

About the author

David Ericson

I've been interested in CBD research ever since it helped me with my insomnia back in 2014. My goal is to reserach and provide the most accurate information about CBD so that the public can build their own opinion.