Even though “CBD” and “hemp” are often used interchangeably – with some products even now confusingly labeled as “cbd hemp oil” – there are distinct differences between the two compounds which are important to note.

People have cultivated and harvested the cannabis plant for approximately 12,000 years. Throughout history, it has had a wide range of applications – from treating medical conditions to making textiles.

In recent years, it has attracted increased interest around the world due to the potential health benefits of one of its primary cannabinoids: cannabidiol (CBD). This is extracted and made into CBD oil and is recommended as a health supplement to help relieve various conditions, including seizures, anxiety, depression, insomnia, skin conditions, and chronic pain. CBD oil is widely available in the form of oils, capsules, edibles, and topical creams – among others.

Hemp oil (or hemp seed oil) – the substance traditionally extracted from hemp seeds – is still a popular supplement which provides many benefits of its own.

In this article, we take an in-depth look at the difference between CBD oil and hemp oil and their respective properties and uses.

  1. What Is Hemp Oil?
  2. Hemp Oil Benefits and Uses
  3. Where to Buy Hemp Oil and What to Look Out For
  4. What Is CBD Oil?
  5. CBD Oil Benefits and Uses
  6. Where to Buy CBD Oil and What to Look Out For
  7. Conclusion: Hemp Oil vs CBD Oil


Hemp oil – which is also often called hemp seed oil – is extracted by cleaning the hemp seeds to 99.99% before pressing them – a similar method to olive oil and coconut oil extraction which requires no special equipment or solvents.

To better understand what hemp oil is, we must first understand what hemp itself is. Put simply, it is a low-resin cannabis plant that is grown for seed oil and fiber. The tall, thin shoots are machine-harvested and manufactured into various products, such as oil extracts, textiles, and paper.

Hemp differs from other strains of the cannabis plant due to its lack of resin. This resin contains the active psychoactive compound called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that is commonly associated with the “high” people experience when using recreational marijuana. Consequently, hemp contains a minimal amount of THC – by definition, less than 0.3% by dry weight.

According to federal law, cannabis is considered to be hemp, not illegal marijuana, as long as the THC level does not exceed this threshold – and with the Agricultural Act of 2014, industrial hemp was removed from the Controlled Substances List.

Consequently, hemp oil can now be legally extracted even at home. The extraction process itself is fairly easy; all you need is a press. Cold-pressed, unrefined hemp oil is light to dark green in color, while refined hemp oil is clear and colorless, with little flavor.

Hemp oil | all of your hemp, CBD, and CBD oil questions answered


Hemp plants, in general, have much to offer. The seeds and plant matter are rich sources of proteins and fatty acids. The stems are full of fiber and, therefore, ideal for manufacturing textiles and biodiesel. The leaves are an excellent source of medicinal compounds such as CBD and cannabichromene (CBC).

As such, extracted hemp oil has become an extremely popular ingredient in products marketed toward those who are nature- and health-conscious. Coming from the hemp seeds, it is an excellent source of vitamins, proteins, and fatty acids.

Due to its high levels of vitamins E, B, B1, and B2, which are vital for maintaining good health, hemp oil is often added to food as a supplement.

Specifically, these vitamins have a direct impact on energy levels and cell metabolism, and promote healthy brain function. The potassium and magnesium present in hemp oil contribute to overall bone health while lowering blood pressure, thereby decreasing the risk of a stroke or other heart conditions. The addition of proteins and antioxidants further support general well-being and good health.

Hemp oil also contains fatty acids such as omega 3 and omega 6, which can improve the overall health of the heart by lowering cholesterol and increasing metabolism. Additionally, they act in a similar way to the skin’s natural lipids, increasing elasticity and water retention – therefore, making hemp oil a fantastic moisturizer and effective at delaying the signs of aging. It’s also great when used in shampoos and conditioners, as the fatty acids hydrate the hair and promote its overall health and strength.

While the oleic and linoleic acids found in hemp oil cannot be produced by the body, they play an essential role in anti-aging and overall skin health.

Additionally, linoleic acid has been shown to relieve the symptoms of a number of skin conditions, including psoriasis, via topical applications.


Because of its lack of THC, there are no restrictions on buying hemp oil.

It’s widely available in the majority of health food stores, some grocery stores, and even well-known e-commerce platforms such as Amazon. It’s relatively cheap, with refined, organic, cold-pressed, and virgin variants readily available. Additionally, you can buy hemp oil in capsule form to take as a daily health supplement. As long as the hemp oil is bought from a reputable company or store, there’s not too much to worry about in terms of poor quality or contaminants.

CBD oil tincture | all of your hemp, CBD, and CBD oil questions answered


CBD oil – or CBD hemp oil, as it is also sometimes called – is an oil extracted from hemp. It contains a concentration of CBD.

CBD oil can be extracted from any cannabis plant, but only industrial hemp plants will guarantee THC content of less than 0.3% and, therefore, legality across the US and in many other countries.

An oil containing more than 0.3% THC remains a Schedule 1 substance under federal law, meaning its possession can come with severe punishments.

However, industrial hemp typically contains low levels of CBD, so a large quantity is required to extract a substantial amount of CBD oil. Usually, the whole hemp plant is used, rather than just the seeds as in hemp oil extraction.

Due to hemp’s bioaccumulative nature – meaning it naturally absorbs whatever elements are in the soil it’s planted in – the extraction method needs to be of high quality, and tests need to be performed to ensure the absence of heavy metals, pesticides, or other contaminants which could not only counteract the benefits of CBD but also harm the body. Often, this results in a high price tag.

There are multiple methods used to extract CBD oil from cannabis plants, with CO2 extraction often used because it is safe and provides a pure end product. However, the equipment required to perform this type of extraction is extremely expensive.

Alternatively, a solvent, such as ethanol or butane, can be used to extract CBD oil, but this also extracts chlorophyll, which can bring on unpleasant side-effects. That is why the chlorophyll is often filtered out, but this also significantly reduces the potency of the CBD oil.

Olive oil and dry ice can also be used to extract CBD oil, but these are relatively amateur methods and are not employed by large CBD manufacturers.

CBD oil can be sourced from non-industrial hemp plants, in which case it is usually more potent, as the high-resin plants generally contain more CBD. Unfortunately, the THC content of these CBD oils tends to be higher than 0.3% – sometimes as high as 1% – making them illegal in many (although not all) states in the US, as well as the majority of countries around the world (read more about CBD’s complex legal status here).

It is, therefore, best to stick to CBD oils extracted from industrial hemp that have undergone extensive third-party testing to ascertain the compound content and confirm the absence of contaminants.


CBD is believed to provide many benefits to both body and mind. These all start with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is something all mammals have in their bodies.

Primarily, the endocannabinoid system maintains homeostasis (balance) throughout the body through involvement in the regulation of various cognitive processes, such as memory, pain sensation, sleep, appetite, and mood. As a result, it has been termed as “the bridge between the body and the mind” (read more about how CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system to promote wellness here). 

Additionally, the ECS protects vital organs from damage as a result of inflammation, infection, or toxicity. All this is achieved by endocannabinoids – specialized cannabinoids that are naturally produced by the body and act as messengers for the ECS by sending signals around the body to ensure homeostasis is maintained. These bind to endocannabinoid receptors, of which there are two types. The first (CB1) is found in the brain, the nervous system, organs, tissues, and glands, while the second (CB2) is located in white blood cells, the tonsils, and the spleen.

The ECS is also receptive to plant-sourced cannabinoids, or phytocannabinoids, which is where CBD comes in. In fact, the compounds found in cannabis – known as phytocannabinoids – are the perfect shape and size to interact with the ECS. While CBD does not bind directly to the primary endocannabinoid receptors listed above, it does impact them indirectly.

Experts have likened the CB1 and CB2 receptors to locks, with cannabinoids acting as the key. When CBD activates the CB1 receptor, the benefits can include relief from various conditions such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, paranoia, high blood pressure, inflammation, and chronic pain.

The CB2 receptor, conversely, plays a vital role in liver and kidney function, and bone and skin health – and general well-being and immunity (read more about the ways CBD interacts with our immune system here). Additionally, activating the CB2 receptor causes a release of macrophages. These destroy the beta-amyloid protein which is associated with the advancement of Alzheimer’s disease.

Since CBD oil can provide benefits for a whole range of conditions, it’s not surprising that it has gained so much popularity in recent years. Its uses are extensive – and so, too, are the various types of products containing the compound.

Most are targeted toward internal consumption due to the benefits of activating the CB1 and CB2 receptors. They contain, therefore, CBD oil in the forms of vape oils, capsules, tinctures, and suppositories – or are even infused into edible items such as gummy bears. Others, however, focus on a topical application due to CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties. These consist of CBD oil mixed with other essential oils and moisturizers to make creams and salves. You can even find CBD-infused shower gels and lip balms on the market these days.

CBD oil body care | all of your hemp, CBD, and CBD oil questions answered


An increasingly common place to purchase CBD oil is the internet. Almost all reputable CBD suppliers have a website and can ship products directly in a matter of days.

It’s worth noting that the e-commerce platform Amazon allows the sale of hemp oil but not CBD oil – anything advertised as the latter is actually hemp oil being sold by a dishonest third party (read more about ordering CBD oil from Amazon here).

Another good place to buy high-quality CBD oil locally is a dispensary, because the staff will have specialized knowledge. However, you’ll have to live in a state which has legalized recreational marijuana, or have approval for medical marijuana in a participating state. Alternatively, you should be able to find CBD oils in health food stores and vape shops, although the selection may be somewhat limited.

However a purchase is made, there are some things to look out for when choosing a CBD oil for the first time.

Legal matters

Before buying CBD, the THC level must always be taken into consideration.

As mentioned above, this determines whether the product is legal under federal law or not. If it contains less than 0.3% THC, then it’s legal in all 50 states – as well as multiple other countries around the world. However, if it’s purchased from a recreational marijuana state, it could be a marijuana-derived CBD oil and, therefore, contain a level of THC that makes it illegal elsewhere. This is something to bear in mind, particularly if you travel frequently or undergo drug tests.

Read here some tips for traveling with CBD products and find out more about CBD’s legal status here.

Buy from a trusted source

Researching a company before making a purchase is essential.

Reviews posted on the company website are helpful, but unbiased reviews on public forums such as Reddit and individual blogs tend to be more informative and accurate. Ensuring that the company uses 100% organic, non-GMO, pesticide-free industrial hemp grown in the US, plus a high-quality extraction process, will guarantee a high-quality product that’s free of any contaminants.

The company’s word shouldn’t be taken for granted, however – ensure the CBD oil has been tested recently by a third-party laboratory. These unbiased results will confirm whether the content of the CBD oil matches what’s on the label. The best companies post the test results online so you can check each individual bottle.

Read here some things to consider before buying a CBD product.

Full-spectrum vs. broad-spectrum vs. CBD isolate

Lastly, it’s important to consider whether the CBD oil is an isolate, full-spectrum, or broad-spectrum.

A CBD isolate oil is fairly self-explanatory: it contains only CBD that has been separated from all the other cannabinoids and compounds in the cannabis plant. This includes THC, making it ideal for people who do not wish to consume even trace amounts of the illegal psychoactive substance (for example, athletes who undertake frequent and detailed drug tests).

In contrast, full-spectrum CBD oils contain – as the name suggests – the full spectrum of cannabinoids, compounds, and terpenes found in the cannabis plant. This is widely regarded as the superior type of CBD oil because all the components work together to optimize their benefits – something known as the “entourage effect.” Because of the entourage effect, most users believe that this is more beneficial than CBD on its own.

Broad-spectrum CBD falls somewhere between the two. It contains most cannabinoids, compounds, and terpenes but all traces of THC have been removed. 


Both hemp oil and CBD oil may offer multiple health benefits to those who use them – however, there are distinct differences between CBD oil vs hemp oil which are essential to bear in mind when deciding what to put in or on your body.

The differences between CBD oil and hemp oil start right at the beginning of the production process: hemp oil is extracted from industrial hemp seeds using a similar method to olive or coconut oil extraction, and, as a result, contains only trace amounts of the other compounds found in the cannabis plant.

CBD oil, on the other hand, is extracted from hemp’s flowers and smaller leaves. This ensures that the CBD oil will contain all the other cannabinoids, compounds, and terpenes found in the cannabis plant.

Consequently, hemp oil is regarded as a relatively standard product and is widely available in a range of health food stores and grocery stores, as well as online. Apart from deciding what variety to purchase (for example, refined, cold-pressed, or virgin), there’s nothing to worry about or consider, as it’s perfectly legal and safe.

Buying CBD oil, in contrast, is more complicated. If it’s made from industrial hemp, then the THC level will more than likely be below 0.3%, making it legal in all 50 states. If the THC level exceeds 0.3%, however, the CBD oil is illegal under federal law. It is, therefore, extremely important to purchase CBD oil from a reputable company that provides recent third-party lab test results detailing the exact content – as well as confirming the absence of harmful materials.

The effects hemp oil and CBD oil have on the body are different, but both are beneficial. As a result, there are currently some products on the market which combine the two as an effective daily health supplement.