Over the past few years, cannabis-based products have swept the United Kingdom. CBD has become a buzz ingredient, making its way into everyday products such as drinks and chocolate, and even being infused into sportswear and pillows.
Thanks to the rise in consumer demand, CBD mania has led to many people becoming more aware of the health benefits of cannabis while dropping the stigma attached to the plant’s recreational use. CBD might seem like a modern trend, but hemp, the industrial name for the cannabis Sativa plant, has been used as a food ingredient for thousands of years.
Because CBD is a relatively new trend, consumers can sometimes mistake CBD for hemp, and vice versa. While CBD oil, cannabis oil and hemp oil might all sound similar, and come from the same plant, the end products are very different.
If you are new to purchasing CBD products then it’s important to understand the difference between hemp oil and CBD oil to ensure you choose the right product for you.
What is hemp oil?
Hemp oil is predominantly used as a food ingredient and can be found on the shelves of supermarkets and health food stores across the United Kingdom. Made by pressing the seeds of the hemp plant, hemp oil is rich in omega-6 and omega-3 as well as amino acids.
Studies have shown that hemp oil can be beneficial for cardiovascular health, thanks to the presence of arginine.
Because hemp oil is made from the seeds of the plant it contains very low levels of cannabinoids such as THC, the compound in cannabis responsible for the high. It also contains very low levels of CBD, the compound found in high concentrations in CBD oil.
While hemp oil has a number of health benefits, it does not have the same composition as CBD oil because of the low levels of cannabinoids.
What is CBD oil?
CBD oil is predominantly used as a health supplement and can be bought online, in a number of high street shops such as Boots and Superdrug, as well as in countless small retailers across the United Kingdom. CBD oil is made by extracting cannabidiol, a compound found in the cannabis plant. CBD can be extracted from the plant in a number of ways, most commonly by using a safe solvent such as CO2 or ethanol.
CBD has become incredibly popular as a health supplement. In the United Kingdom, more people consume CBD than supplements for vitamin C and D combined. It has a number of health benefits, from reducing stress and anxiety to helping with sleep and sports recovery. It can also be prescribed on the NHS for a select number of conditions.
As the market for CBD has grown rapidly, so too has the range of products available. You can buy CBD oils in varying strengths and sizes. You can also buy CBD products that contain just the CBD compound, known as CBD isolate, or CBD along with all the other compounds in the plant, which is known as full-spectrum CBD. Full-spectrum CBD oils will contain other compounds in the plant, including small amounts of THC. While THC is present in CBD oils, the amount legally allowed is negligible, and will not produce the intoxicating high effect.
What is the difference between CBD oil and hemp oil?
Many people won’t actually know the difference between hemp, CBD and cannabis, and to get to grips with this, we must break down the cannabis species. Cannabis and hemp are two varieties of the same plant species, Cannabis sativa. Cannabis (the class B drug), is derived from the cannabis plant and will contain the psychoactive substance THC. Industrial hemp plants have far less THC than cannabis plants (typically 0.3% or less). In the UK, it is legal to grow pre-approved industrial hemp strains that contain less than 0.2% THC, providing farmers use seeds from an approved list and apply for a home office licence. Hemp plants typically contain more CBD than the cannabis plants and are legal to extract CBD from, provided the requirements are met. CBD can be extracted from both hemp plants and cannabis plants, but as cannabis plants are illegal in most countries, most of the CBD oil you find on the market will be derived from hemp plants.
Whilst CBD oil and hemp seed oil both come from the same plant, they are two totally different compounds and are made from different parts of the hemp plant. The main difference between hemp seed oil and CBD oil is that hemp oil has little to no CBD content. Whilst both have their own health benefits, CBD is thought to have more serious therapeutic properties – from potentially helping slow the growth of cancer cells to providing relief from inflammation, anxiety, insomnia and life-threatening seizures.
Hemp oil, more accurately known as hemp seed oil, is made by cold-pressing the hemp seeds from the hemp plant into an omega-rich oil which is used in cooking and health products – similar to how olive oil is made. CBD oil is made by extracting the CBD compound from the leaves, flowers and stalks of a hemp plant. The method of production is a big difference between the two oils, CBD is produced from the entire hemp plant (the flowers and buds have trichomes that are rich in cannabinoids), and extracted through more complicated techniques such as CO2 extraction.
Hemp seed oil does have nutritional benefits, hence its use in food and beauty products and its touting by brands as a fashionable wellness elixir. Hemp oil has a high number of antioxidants, omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, all of which are valuable for the skin and hair. The bountiful fatty acids contained in hemp seed oil make it an exceptional choice for nourishing the skin, protecting it from inflammation and serving as a nutritious moisturizer. As well as a beauty product, hemp oil has the potential to promote heart health, one of its fatty acids, alpha-linolenic, appears to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
CBD is notable for its many potential health and medicinal benefits that go well beyond the extent of hemp seed oil. With huge backing behind medical trials of CBD as a treatment for various diseases and conditions, the scientific community clearly believes in the promising therapeutic results shown by CBD in small trials and consumer testimonies. CBD has shown encouraging results in managing the negative symptoms in an array of conditions, from arthritis to menopause and high blood pressure.
What should I look for when buying CBD oil?
If you’re looking to reap the most benefits from the magical hemp plant, you’re better off acquiring a high-grade, organic CBD oil as opposed to hemp seed oil. If you are looking for a nutritionally strong oil to add to salad dressings or your skin routine, hemp seed oil is a cheaper and tastier option.
With hemp oil being much cheaper to produce than CBD oil, it’s inevitable that some unethical and rogue companies have been trying to hoodwink customers through misleading labelling. This is evident on marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay, where multiple hemp oils are packaged and branded in a way to make them seem like CBD oil. Since the discovery of the medicinal potentials of CBD, boundless snake oil salesmen have tried to jump on the CBD wave, taking customers for a ride.
So…If it’s CBD you’re after, check the label in detail – if a product contains CBD, it should tell you the exact milligrams on the label and in the ingredients list. Reputable brands will be able to provide lab reports to prove quantities and extraction methods. You can learn more about what makes CBD oil ‘good’ in our beginners guide to CBD.