CBD Oil vs. Hemp Seed Oil: What's The Difference & Why It Matters

mbg Health Contributor By Gretchen Lidicker, M.S.
mbg Health Contributor
Gretchen Lidicker earned her master’s degree in physiology with a focus on alternative medicine from Georgetown University. She is the author of “CBD Oil Everyday Secrets” and “Magnesium Everyday Secrets.”
Expert review by Roxanna Namavar, D.O.
Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine & Psychiatrist
Roxanna Namavar, D.O. is an adult psychiatrist focusing on integrative health. She completed her residency training at the University of Virginia Health-System and currently has a private practice in New York City.
CBD Oil vs. Hemp Seed Oil: What's The Difference & Why It Matters
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Hemp and CBD products seem to be everywhere right now, with some pretty powerful benefits (like stress management and enhanced sleep, to name a couple).* In a rush to get those benefits, it can be easy to get confused about all of the different types of hemp-derived products, including the distinction between hemp-derived CBD oil and hemp seed oil. While they're both healthy, their properties are actually quite different. Let's have a look:

What is CBD oil?

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is one of the main compounds found in the cannabis plant family, which includes both marijuana and hemp.

While CBD is one of the most well-known of these compounds, called cannabinoids, there are over 80 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, each with its own benefits.* 

In the body, cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system, a network of receptors that regulate physiological processes, like pain perception, stress response, sleep quality, and digestion.

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CBD can be purchased in two ways. One, as an isolated product called CBD oil, which means all of the other cannabinoids have been filtered out and only CBD remains. Two, in hemp oil extract, which contains high concentrations of CBD as well as the other beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes (aromatic essential oils).* 

Both isolated CBD oil and hemp oil contain less than 0.3% THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid, and will not get you high—they are also fully legal in all 50 states.

While CBD oil on its own does offer benefits, like stress management and sleep enhancement, many experts recommend hemp oil over isolated CBD oil because the cannabinoids and other compounds work better together.* As renowned integrative physician Robert Rountree, M.D., explains, "I think about it in a sports metaphor, where you've got one star player, but you need the team. It's the mix that's important." Research has dubbed this synergistic phenomenon "the entourage effect."


What is hemp seed oil?

Hemp seed oil is different from whole hemp extract oil. It comes from the pressed seeds of the hemp plant and is used for cooking, skin care, and other purposes. It is sometimes referred to as "cannabis seed oil" or "Cannabis sativa seed oil." 

"Hemp seed oil is a nutty-tasting oil that contains both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids," Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, a nutrition and wellness expert and author of Eating in Color, explains. She suggests using it in salad dressing, dips, and smoothies. 

"It's a healthy ingredient that provides beneficial fats and is made sustainably," but, she points out, "culinary hemp oil does not contain CBD."

While hemp seed oil is a great addition to your diet, it is not CBD oil, or hemp oil, and does not have the same benefits.

So, what's the difference between CBD oil and hemp seed oil?

Hemp seed oil comes from the seeds of the hemp plant, while hemp oil and CBD oil come from the stalk or flower, which are known to be high in cannabinoid content. This means that hemp seed oil won't have the same properties as hemp oil or CBD oil. 

As Rountree puts it, "Hemp seed or hemp seed oil is really good for your skin. But it's not good if you're using it as a source of CBD." Objectively, hemp seed oil is a healthy ingredient; it's just not hemp oil or CBD oil.

So, if you are looking to reap the stress management and calm-promoting properties of hemp and CBD oil, just make sure you're actually buying a product that contains cannabinoids.*


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