I. Similarities between hemp oil and CBD oil

One reason why hemp oil and CBD oil are so commonly conflated is that they are both derived from hemp, one of the varieties of the Cannabis sativa plant.

CBD, which is short for cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid, which are chemical compounds found in various Cannabis sativa plants, including hemp and marijuana. Hemp oil, on the other hand, is only derived from hemp, not marijuana.

Although hemp oil and CBD oil have a close association with marijuana, so long as they are derived from hemp plants, they will not make users high. That is because hemp contains little to no THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana that gives people the feeling of being high. In the U.S., in order for hemp to be legally cultivated, it must contain less than 0.3 percent THC. This amount is not enough to make users feel high.

For several decades, it was illegal to cultivate hemp, and sell or possess hemp-derived products in the U.S. However, in 2018, Congress passed a bill legalizing hemp at the federal level. Although there are some states where hemp and hemp-derived products are still prohibited, both hemp oil and CBD oil are legal at the federal level.

II. Where do hemp oil and CBD oil come from?

In the broadest terms, hemp oil and CBD oil are both made from hemp, but they are derived from two different parts of the plant.

Hemp oil is made from hemp seeds (which is why it is also known as hemp seed oil), through a process known as cold-pressing, which separates the oils from the rest of the seed’s materials.

Meanwhile, CBD oil is derived from the hemp plant’s leaves, flowers, and stalks, through an extraction process that uses CO2, steam distillation, or other solvents.

There are three types of CBD oil available — full spectrum, broad spectrum, and CBD isolate. Each type of oil contains different levels of other cannabinoids, phytocannabinoids, and terpenes, with CBD isolate being the purest form of CBD extract available.

III. Uses of hemp oil vs. CBD oil

Despite their common origins, hemp oil and CBD oil have rather divergent uses. Hemp oil is more of a nutritional supplement, while CBD oil is more commonly used for therapeutic and medicinal benefits.

Hemp oil uses

  • Nutritional benefits. Hemp oil’s popularity is its nutritional benefits. Hemp seeds have an optimal ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, as well as significant amounts of other proteins, antioxidants, and amino acids, which promote heart and brain health. They also contain soluble and insoluble fibers, which aid in digestion, lower bad cholesterol, and can help decrease the risk of diabetes
  • Heart health. Early research shows that hemp oil contains amino acids, fatty acids, and polyunsaturated fatty acids that can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Hemp oil contains high levels of the amino acid arginine, which helps produce nitric oxide, which is a key component of regulating various cardiovascular functions.
  • Skincare. The antioxidants and fatty acids found in hemp oil are also beneficial for reducing skin inflammation and breakouts. There is evidence that applying hemp oil topically can help treat various common skin conditions, including eczema, psoriasis, and acne rosacea.

CBD oil uses

  • Epilepsy and neurological disorders. Currently, CBD oil’s best-known benefit is as a treatment for seizures caused by epilepsy and other neurological disorders. Epidiolex is the first FDA-approved prescription medication that contains CBD, and the chemical is becoming a popular alternative therapy for people with drug-resistant epileptic conditions.
  • Pain relief. CBD oil is also a popular alternative to prescription and over-the-counter pain medications, especially for those suffering from chronic inflammatory or neuropathic pain. Preliminary research indicates that CBD is an effective treatment because of how it binds to endocannabinoid system receptors, reducing inflammation and disrupting neurotransmitters that signal painful feelings.
  • Anxiety. CBD oil is noted for the sense of calm and relaxation it induces, which is why many people turn to it as a way to relieve chronic and temporary anxiety. There is evidence that CBD interacts positively with serotonin, the chemical in our bodies that helps regulate mood.
  • Sleep issues. For people suffering from sleep issues like insomnia, CBD oil can also be useful in helping them fall asleep, and stay asleep, by helping to regulate sleep hormones in the endocannabinoid system.

IV. Negative side effects hemp oil vs. CBD oil

As with any substance that is introduced into the body, both hemp oil and CBD oil come with some possible negative side effects. While the potential for these side effects is low in most cases, anyone considering using CBD oil or hemp oil should be aware of them.

CBD oil and hemp oil can also have negative interactions with certain prescription and over-the-counter medications, so it’s important to consult with your doctor before using products containing either of these substances.

Hemp oil side effects

CBD oil side effects

  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Reduced appetite

V. How to consume hemp oil vs. CBD oil

When it comes to consuming hemp oil and CBD oil, there is some overlap, with some consumption methods being more popular depending on the effects you are seeking.

Hemp oil

For individuals who want hemp oil’s nutritional benefits, eating or cooking with hemp oil is the best way to go. Hemp oil can be used as a base for salad dressings, drizzled onto vegetables, grains, or pasta, or blended into hummus and dips. You can also consume hemp oil by itself, as a tincture that is taken sublingually (absorbed into the bloodstream under your tongue).

Hemp oil is not a good substitute for other cooking oils like olive, coconut, or vegetable oil because it has a low smoke point. If hemp oil is heated to over 121 degrees Fahrenheit, it breaks down, changing the taste, and removing key nutrients.

If you are using hemp oil as a way to care for your skin or treat a skin condition, you can apply it topically, either specifically in oil form, or mixed into lotions, serums, cosmetics, and other products.

CBD oil

CBD oil is very versatile, in terms of consumption methods.

Although CBD oil isn’t generally used in cooking, it can be consumed orally, either by eating CBD-infused edibles; adding it to food and beverages, or as a sublingual tincture.

CBD oil can also be blended into topicals like lotions and creams, many of which are used for targeted pain relief.

Unlike hemp oil, CBD oil can also be ingested through vaping, which is the most fast-acting way of consuming CBD.

VI. Hemp oil vs. CBD oil Summary Table

Hemp OilCBD Oil
Derived from hemp plantsYesYes
Derived from marijuana plantsNoYes
Legal at the federal levelYesYes
Legal at the state levelYes (certain states)Yes (certain states)
Beneficial for skin conditionsYesNo
Beneficial for heart healthYesNo
Beneficial for treating insomniaNoYes
Beneficial for treating anxietyNoYes
Good for cookingYesNo

VII. Additional Resources