The hemp plant has seeds, from which hemp seed oil is derived. Sometimes, hemp seed oil can be confused with CBD oil and marketed as the same thing. Both oils are highly nutritious and loaded with omega-3 and-6 fatty acids, antioxidants, 21 amino acids, vitamin E and beta-carotene. These oils are safe, well-tolerated and may cause anti-inflammatory properties. Unlike CBD oil, hemp seed oil is extracted through a cold-pressing extraction from hemp seed; it is cheaper, contains trace amounts of CBD and doesn’t come with a Certificate of Analysis (COA). Hemp seed oil can benefit the health of skin, heart, hair, and cause potential pain relief and antibacterial effect. Hemp seed oil is unlikely to cause adverse effects, though some minor side effects are possible.
When it comes to hemp seeds, confusion abounds. Many have a difficult time discerning hemp seed oil from CBD oil; but we hope to dispel any confusion by outlining everything there is to know about the hemp plant, its seeds, how it differs from CBD oil and its innumerable benefits to our wellness.
What is hemp?
Hemp is one of the two varieties of the cannabis Sativa plant species. The other is Marijuana, which you may recognise as the intoxicating plant often used for recreational purposes. Hemp, on the other hand, has always had medicinal, therapeutic and industrial uses. Indeed, historically, hemp has featured in industrial and commercial products like rope, textiles, clothing, paper, insulation, biofuel, building materials and plastic. It was even used in the ropes of the ships that carried English colonists as they took to America in the 16th century.
Differences between hemp seed and CBD oil
Different parts of the plant
Like every plant, the hemp plant has different elements to it. It has seeds, from which hemp seed oil is derived. CBD oil, on the other hand, does not come from the seeds or roots of the hemp plant; rather, it comes from the aerial parts of the plant. This means that CBD is only present in the parts of the plant above the soil line, such as the flowers, stems and leaves.
Different extraction processes
Hemp seed oil is extracted via a cold-pressing extraction from hemp seed varieties that contain around 30% oil, but do not contain any cannabinoids. The extraction process involves de-shelling the seeds and removing the outer husk before cold pressing them. After they have been chilled and squeezed, manufacturers unveil the hemp seed oil. This process is much easier and cheaper than the various extraction methods used to obtain CBD oil, meaning the subsequent hemp seed products are largely cheaper than CBD-infused products.
Extracting CBD oil is slightly more complex, given that it is mainly carried out using the cannabis plant’s flowers, leaves and stalks. Some extraction processes that may be used to obtain CBD oil include supercritical CO2 extraction; ethanol extraction and hydrocarbon extraction.
Another note on extracts: hemp seed oil usually just comes as is. It may also be presented as a full-spectrum oil, meaning it has remnants of plant matter still in it as it hasn’t gone through refinement to remove this matter. With CBD oil, there are more options: the different refinements include full and broad-spectrum CBD, as well as CBD isolate.
Different chemical properties and compositions
Usually, CBD oil will contain a range of active compounds like cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenes, vitamins and fatty acids directly from cannabis. In fact, CBD oil that comes from a reputable company will be accompanied by something called a Certificate of Analysis (COA). This highlights the cannabinoid and terpene profile of a given CBD product and verifies that the CBD batch that is found in your product underwent testing by a third-party laboratory.
Hemp seed oil will never come with one of these certificates, as this kind of oil generally isn’t tested by a lab. The reason for this is that there shouldn’t be anything present in the hemp oil that needs to be highlighted to a consumer or tested in a lab. Hemp oil will never contain any THC and may only contain only trace amounts of CBD; whereas CBD oil may contain THC, as well as all the other cannabinoids and compounds we listed above.
Some of the names for hemp seed oil are as follows: cannabis Sativa seed oil; virgin hemp oil, hemp seed oil and hemp oil.
By contrast, CBD oil often goes under one of the following titles: CBD, hemp CBD, cannabidiol, full-spectrum hemp, PCR (phytocannabinoid-rich) or PCR hemp extracts.
Due to their different modes of extraction and hemp oil being easier to obtain, it is often the case that hemp oil is cheaper than CBD oil.
Different impacts on the body
Like we said, CBD oil in a broad-spectrum or full-spectrum extract usually comes with a range of its other cannabinoids in trace amounts, like CBN, CBG, CBC and sometimes THC. Whilst it does not make you high, it is able to simulate changes in your body that are advantageous to your wellness.
Hemp oil, though great for your health in many ways, may not bring on any noticeable effects – except perhaps to your skin. CBD’s effects can be felt, due to the way it works with a system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), meaning the CBD molecule works with our body’s receptors to bring about changes, such as to our mental health. As we said, hemp oil contains none of these active cannabinoids, so will probably not stimulate any changes in our mental health.
You wouldn’t talk about dosing hemp seed oil, as there is only one concentration available. However, with CBD oil, doses are important and are measured in micrograms (mg).
CBD-infused products may come in different strengths, ranging from 250mg to around 4000mg. CBD concentration may also be presented in the form of millilitres (ml) or as a percentage.
Hemp seed oil has been around for decades
While CBD is a new ingredient to many consumers due to the ban lifts on this cannabinoid, hemp seed oil has been around much longer. It can be found in health food stores and is used in both cooking and skincare.
Similarities between hemp oil and CBD oil
Both are often sold as an oil
CBD oil and hemp seed oil are both commonly sold in oil form. With CBD oils, you can purchase tinctures, which are small bottles with built-in pipettes to easily administer the oil under the tongue. Hemp seed oil can be found in supermarkets, wellness stores and in cosmetic skin products. Hemp oil often serves as an alternative cooking oil to olive, sunflower or coconut oil.
CBD oils often use a carrier oil like MCT coconut oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil, avocado oil, or something similar. Some companies may even use hemp oil as their carrier oil. Ideally, the carrier oil should have its own set of wellness benefits.
… but also come in different formats
Hemp seed oil is also sold in the form of capsules as a wellness supplement and, as we said, is found in many topical skin care products. You can also just purchase raw hemp seeds that haven’t been converted into oil. These are great additions to salads, smoothies, soups, granola and other dishes alike.
CBD oil comes in numerous different formats – many more than hemp seed oil. Today, the CBD market is flooded with different ways to take this cannabis-constituent. Examples include e-liquids, vape oils, topicals, capsules, softgels, transdermal patches, edibles like chocolate and gummies and much more.
Both have anti-inflammatory properties
Hemp oil has been associated with anti-inflammatory effects. One study suggests that a diet rich in omega-3s, such as those found in hemp oil, can reduce inflammation in the body. Hemp seeds have especially been linked to improved skin and reduced acne, due to their capacity to increase collagen production; their anti-inflammatory activity and their anti-lipogenesis. More on the effects of hemp oil on skin health later.
Like hemp seed oil, CBD oil is a powerful anti-inflammatory. It has been seen to successfully manage a slew of inflammatory disorders affecting different parts of the body. For instance, it has been found to ameliorate certain inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis, by decelerating the growth and division of skin cells that cause psoriasis inflammations and lesions. The CBD molecule may also help reduce the formation of sebum in the sebaceous glands, which causes acne. CBD could thus help with breakouts of red acne (not blackheads), which are the result of inflammatory skin changes. Moreover, it has been known to assist with eczema, alleviating itchiness and redness, as well as with Epidermolysis Bullosa, encouraging quicker wound healing, reduced blistering and alleviated pain. Other instances where CBD has aided skin regeneration have been with rashes, rosacea – even sunburn and insect bites and stings. CBD is even sometimes included in hand sanitisers, as it is said to strengthen the skin’s barrier and shield us from bacteria and viruses.
You can’t overdose on either
The good news is that there is virtually no such thing as an overdose when it comes to both hemp and CBD oil.
Even CBD oil, which contains active cannabinoids and (sometimes) traces of THC, you can’t take too much. Adverse effects have been reported when some people have taken a lot all at once; hence the Food Standards Agency has recommended sticking to 70mg per day. Still, some people with extreme chronic pain, for example, are on much higher doses.
The secret to CBD oil dosing is to begin with low doses and earn your way up to higher ones. Doses may depend on biological factors unique to the individual, such as age, weight, metabolism, condition and other factors. Adverse effects that have previously been reported include diarrhoea, nausea, lightheadedness, headaches, fatigue, changes in weight and changes in appetite, though these, as we said, are rare.
Both contain a host of wellness-boosting nutrients
As we touched on earlier, both hemp and CBD oil contain scores of nutrients.
Hemp oil contains antioxidants, omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, as well as all of the 21 amino acids, vitamin E and beta-carotene. In addition, it features small amounts of three other polyunsaturated fatty acids: oleic acid, stearidonic acid, and gamma-linolenic acid. And it still doesn’t end there: phytosterols, phospholipids, chlorophyll, small amounts of iron and zinc and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, sulfur, potassium and phosphorus are all present in hemp oil as well. Some of these may be difficult to consistently include in your diet, which is why hemp seed oil makes an excellent supplement to a healthy diet. In fact, hemp seeds provide similar amounts of protein as beef or lamb; 30 grams of hemp seeds, or 2–3 tablespoons, equate to around 11 grams of protein. Given that they contain all the essential amino acids, they are considered a complete protein source.
CBD oil usually contains the same fatty acids as hemp oil. It also contains vitamins, plant-derived terpenes and flavonoids unique to the cannabis plant. Six of the most common terpenes present in full and broad-spectrum CBD oil include pinene, linalool, myrcene, limonene, caryophyllene, and humulene. As for flavonoids, there are thought to be about 20 in cannabis. Some examples include quercetin, apigenin and cannaflavin A.
Some other benefits of hemp seed oil
Hemp oil has widely-reported benefits for your biggest organ: your skin. lt plays host to some highly unique qualities that earn it a spot amongst the best skincare agents. Firstly, it has a comedogenic rating of 0, rendering it a perfect option for keeping skin pores unclogged and oil-free. Hemp oil has been praised for improving skin conditions like atopic dermatitis and for delaying the skin’s ageing process.
Hemp seed oil can also be used as a UV shield to protect you and deflect some of the sun’s UV, while still enabling you to absorb vitamin D. However, hemp seed oil should not act as a replacement for proper SPF protection on days when the sun is especially strong.
An additional benefit of hemp oil is that it is rich in antioxidants, omega-3 and -6 fatty acids. Hemp seeds also contain marvellous skin-replenishing ingredients: all of the 21 amino acids (the building blocks of protein) as well as vitamin E and beta-carotene, which complement each other well when it comes to skincare.
Due to being rich in omega-3, omega-6 and antioxidants, hemp oil is thought to be beneficial for maintaining strong and healthy hair. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are considered to be beneficial for hair when taken as an oral supplement, as illustrated by one study, which saw improvements in the hair diameter and hair density of participants who took omega-3 and omega-6 oral supplements for a period of six months. The same study also established that omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids taken in combination with antioxidants prevent hair loss in participants.
Based on hemp oil’s affinity to other, similar oils, hemp oil is thought to moisturise, strengthen and revitalise hair, as well as stimulate its growth.
The various nutrients in hemp seed oil, paired with the limited information from older and animal studies means we can make an inductive leap and say that it may boost heart health.
One study highlighted that the nutrients in hemp seeds might have the ability to decrease high blood pressure, atherosclerosis and high cholesterol levels. In addition, a review from 2014 declared that an increase in alpha-linolenic acid (more commonly known as linoleic acid), one of the fatty acids present in hemp oil, may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. This fatty acid can also be found in fish oils and flaxseed oil.
Potential pain relief
As we’ve seen, hemp oil is an anti-inflammatory, meaning it may be used to alleviate pain associated with inflammatory conditions such as those affecting the skin, muscles, joints or gut. Many people turn to hemp oil as a natural form of pain relief, especially for pain resulting from inflammation. Hemp seed oil has a better side effect profile than that of some mainstream medications used to relieve pain. Even so, more studies on hemp oil and pain relief are necessary to draw definitive conclusions.
A 2017 study noted that hemp oil’s antimicrobial properties inhibited the activity of various types of bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus. Staphylococcus aureus is a dangerous bacteria that can cause skin infections, pneumonia and infections of the bone and heart valve. Regular doses of hemp oil, then, could help defend you against such bacteria.
Physical or emotional symptoms linked to premenstrual syndrome are potentially caused by sensitivity to the hormone prolactin, which may be related to low prostaglandin E1 (PGE1), according to one study from 2011. Hemp oil contains gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which assists in the production of PGE1.
The study investigated what happened when women with PMS who took 1 gram of fatty acids that included 210 mg of GLA. The research found that the participants experienced a notable decrease in symptoms after taking these fatty acids.
It is, therefore, reasonable to conclude that this specific fatty acid in hemp seed oil can help manage PMS.
A 2010 study on rats indicated that hemp seed helped reduce the likelihood of complications associated with the menopause, which was likely to do with its high concentration of GLA. However, it is crucial that research verify these results in a human sample.
Potential side effects of hemp oil
Adverse effects caused by hemp oil are extremely rare; hence we said earlier that there’s practically no such thing as an overdose. To date, there have been no reported cases of toxicity from the ingestion of hemp seed oil. There is, however, always the possibility of some minor side effects, like anything in life.
Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids present in hemp oil are classified as polyunsaturated fat, meaning that they are healthy dietary forms of fat. These compounds are highly beneficial to the body and are ideal for human nutrition, except when taken in excess, which has historically been linked to cardiac dysfunction, tumour growth, and increased susceptibility to bacterial infections.
It is possible that those susceptible to gastrointestinal problems may endure minor digestive issues such as diarrhoea or stomach ache when consuming hemp oil. If you suffer from a disorder related to bowel movement, it may be a good idea to consult your doctor before taking the oil.
Large amounts of hemp seed oil may cause hypertension or high blood pressure. It may also lead to bradycardia (slow heart rate). If you’re on medication such as cardiac glycosides or diuretics, we advise that you speak to your doctor before regularly taking hemp oil, as it may interact with your medication.
The marketing of hemp oil
Sometimes, CBD and hemp oil may be mixed up by companies and marketed as the same thing, or one of them may be marketed as the other. Usually, when this happens, it is hemp oil that is marketed as CBD oil. Companies may get away with this due to a number of factors:
- Both CBD and hemp oil come from the same plant, the hemp plant. This makes it easy to blur the lines between them, despite coming from entirely different parts of the hemp plant.
- Regulation over the CBD industry is poor, which means some brands may take advantage and market hemp oil as CBD oil. Even those that are innocently mistaken may not be informed due to the insufficient policing of the industry.
- CBD oil tends to be more of a premium product than hemp oil, with more premium prices to match. Some companies may exploit this by making their hemp seed products as pricey a CBD product might be, so that consumers are led to believe that what they are buying is CBD.
- Some brands may also market their products as hemp seed-based to avoid Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations on hemp-derived products.
As long as you take the responsible measures, like learning the respective names given to hemp and CBD oil that we discussed earlier, as well as checking ingredients list on every product, you shouldn’t fall victim to the (sometimes purposefully) confusing marketing around hemp and CBD oil.
Hopefully, as you come to the end of this read, you are a little clearer on the basics of hemp seeds, hemp seed oil and what distinguishes these from their close relative, CBD oil.
Knowledge is power, so knowing exactly what you want will prevent you from being duped by the sometimes-obscure nature of the CBD and hemp oil industries. Knowing what you want out of your oil will assist you when it comes to making a purchase.
We hope this has been hempful – uh, helpful!
Verified by a health professional
Anastasiia Myronenko is a Medical Physicist actively practicing in one of the leading cancer centers in Kyiv, Ukraine. She received her master’s degree in Medical Physics at Karazin Kharkiv National University and completed Biological Physics internship at GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research, Germany. Anastasiia Myronenko specializes in radiation therapy and is a fellow of Ukrainian Association of Medical Physicists.