Both CBD oil and hemp oil hold wondrous health benefits for the human body, from positively affecting your mood, to enhancing the appearance of your skin. However, despite being derived from the same source, and their names sometimes being used interchangeably, CBD oil and hemp oil do not tout the same effects. It's important to educate yourself on the differences between CBD and hemp oils and tinctures in order to achieve the appropriate results. So, we're here to help clarify the boundary between the two cannabis-based oils.
What is CBD oil?
Before we can answer that, we need to break down what exactly CBD is. Cannabidiol (CBD) is the second most-present active ingredient in marijuana and hemp, both belonging to the Cannabis sativa family, according to Harvard Health Publishing. The first most-present active ingredient in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and it's this compound, or phytocannabinoid, that causes a person to feel "high."
But CBD, on the other hand, does not produce a high, nor does it alter a person's state of mind. Rather, it influences the body to use its own natural endocannabinoids, produced by our endocannabinoid system (ECS). Our ECS helps to regulate functions like sleep, pain, and immune-system responses, as Medical News Today explains. CBD activates or inhibits specific compounds from interacting with the ECS, and can do things like stop the body from absorbing anandamide, a pain-regulating compound. (The higher the anandamide levels, the less pain a person feels.)
Furthermore, ingesting a dosage of CBD oil can also reduce inflammation in the brain and nervous system, Medical News Today reports, therefore administering pain relief, relieving insomnia, and altering specific immune-system responses.
CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant, which growers either refer to as a marijuana plant or a hemp plant depending on the amount of THC in the leaf. Some farmers have bred marijuana plants to contain high levels of THC. However, hemp plants used for commercial CBD production only contain about 0.3% THC and are legal under the 2018 Farm Bill.
Even though CBD is extracted from the hemp plant, this still doesn't mean that CBD oil and hemp oil are one in the same. CBD is extracted from the stalks, leaves, and flowers of the hemp plant, whereas hemp oil is made by cold-pressing the seeds of the hemp plant. Sometimes you may even see hemp oil marketed as "hemp seed oil" for this reason.
So, what is hemp oil?
Although CBD oils can do wonders when ingested by those who suffer from pain, insomnia, anxiety, and other internal inflammatory issues, hemp oil, rich in omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, B-complex vitamins, and antioxidants, can have positive anti-inflammatory effects when applied topically as a skincare product. Hemp oil, as like other hemp-related food items available at many health food stores, is also considered a superfood and can be added to smoothies, salad dressing (in lieu of olive oil), or taken as a daily tincture.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that, when applied topically, hemp oil can aid multiple skin issues like eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, acne rosacea, and other afflictions. The researchers stated that applying hemp oil directly to the skin can strengthen the cells and help to ward off infection. Of course, if you're allergic to hemp oil, or any of the fatty acids, vitamins, or nutrients it contains, you may not experience the same skin-related benefits as others.
As Women's Health notes, the anti-inflammatory omega-6 GLA, or gamma linolenic acid, present in hemp oil may be the most helpful factor in combating pesky skin problems. In fact, a 2011 study found that the GLA can also curb PMS symptoms because it effectively levels out hormonal imbalances. However, it should be noted that the ingestion or topical application of hemp oil to subdue PMS symptoms has yet to be properly studied.
Furthermore, hemp oil is believed to be good for heart health, as one of its prominent fatty acids, alpha-linolenic acid, could help to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. But, like GLA use for PMS symptoms, hemp oil's effects on heart health needs to be studied more in order for experts to draw solid conclusions.
Even though they do different things, it's still easy to confuse the two oils.
When it comes to CBD and hemp products, wording is everything. As the Daily Beast reports, many CBD products are made with "hemp extract oil," which is made from the flowers and leaves of the hemp plant where the CBD lives. Hemp extract oils are also not the same as hemp oils, so be aware of the wording on any oils you may be interested in purchasing.
And read the fine print. Because the production of CBD oil is a much lengthier process, and therefore, the resulting oil is expensive, many companies trick uneducated consumers into buying hemp oil by marketing it as CBD oil. Although hemp oil may be used as a carrier oil for CBD, oftentimes these companies sneakily leave the CBD out entirely. Buy from reputable companies and read the ingredients to avoid falling victim to this scheme.
Sometimes, CBD oil and hemp oil can work together.
Although, when left on their own, CBD oil and hemp oil are two different entities, they can be combined to create a "full-spectrum hemp oil." As Medical New Today explains, full-spectrum hemp oil is standard hemp oil that contains additional plant matter compounds, such as CBD. The combination of multiple naturally-occurring compounds, all derived from different parts of the hemp plant, within a single oil is often referred to as the "entourage effect," and can actually cause the body to have an enhanced chemical reaction. Sometimes the hemp plant compounds may work better when paired with each other than on their own.
The benefits of full-spectrum hemp oil run the gamut, with one such benefit being that while hemp oil fights future acne, the CBD oil may reduce sebum production in those with chronic acne, as one study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation found.
So, which type of oil is best for you?
This obviously depends on what you're looking to get out of your oil, as well as your current medical conditions. CBD oil is great for chronic pain management, curbing anxiety, treating epilepsy and seizures, and even lessening symptoms of multiple sclerosis, such as muscle spasms. It's recommended you consult a doctor before taking CBD oil for any of the above afflictions, as there are some side effects related to CBD oil ingestion including tiredness, weight loss or gain, diarrhea, and changes in appetite. Further, CBD oil may interfere with the effectiveness of prescription medication, and therefore, your doctor may want to monitor you if and when CBD oil is introduced to your existing medication regimen.
And although hemp oil is often used topically rather than ingested, as CBD oil is, you may want to consult a doctor before purchasing hemp oil, as well, especially if you have sensitive skin and suspect you may be allergic to hemp or specific compounds within a full-spectrum hemp oil. Hemp oil has been known to cause minor irritation on some types of skin, so do a patch test on a small area before applying topically to larger areas.
Because the legalization of CBD and hemp products is so fresh, studies on how CBD and hemp affect the body are still in the works, and more information about the benefits and side effects of each will undoubtedly be released in the coming months and years. But, in the meantime, if CBD oil and hemp oil sound like they might be beneficial to you and your internal or external medical issues, ask your doctor what they think about adding either or to your life. You may just see a big difference in your mood, pain levels, ability to sleep, and skin texture. And one or more of those benefits may be the key to changing your life for the better.