Article written by
Dipak HemrajHead of Research and Education
Content reviewed by
Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
Table of contents
Both oils have anti-inflammatory effects on the body, but the main difference between hemp oil and CBD oil is that hemp oil is more often used in health supplements and food, whereas CBD oil is a potential therapeutic.
More specifically, the main difference between hemp oil and CBD oil is the cannabinoid content of CBD oil.
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What Is Hemp Oil?
Hemp oil contains high omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, essential polyunsaturated fats, also called “healthy fats.” Hemp oil also contains high levels of antioxidants. Some hemp oils contain CBD, while hemp seed oils tend to have very little CBD.
How Hemp Oil Works
The essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6 and antioxidants found in hemp oil act as anti-inflammatories within the body. Anti-inflammatories reduce inflammation throughout the body, which can improve health.
Hemp Oil Uses
Due to the potential anti-inflammatory benefits of hemp oil, it can be used in various ways to help the body, including:
- As part of an anti-inflammatory diet such as the Mediterranean diet.
- Added to food and drink when cooking and baking.
- As a topical massage oil on sore joints.
Potential Benefits of Hemp Oil
The anti-inflammatory properties of hemp oil may play a small role in the prevention of chronic and metabolic diseases, including:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Neurological degeneration
- Autoimmune diseases
The anti-inflammatory effects of hemp seed oil are attributed to gamma-linoleic acid (GLA).
Risks and Drawbacks to Using Hemp Oil
While the potential benefits of hemp oil seem numerous, the evidence of these effects is not strong, so results may vary (and it might not be effective at all). The high-fat content of hemp oil can cause gut discomfort and diarrhea if you are not used to it, so it is recommended to start with a small dose and work up to more.
Hemp seed oil should contain no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and next to no cannabidiol (CBD), so it should not have any adverse effects associated with those compounds. However, there is little product regulation for hemp and cannabis products, so you should exercise caution. THC and CBD are both cannabinoids, compounds found in C. sativa, which affect an essential body system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
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What Is CBD Oil?
How CBD Oil Works
CBD is a cannabinoid that affects the ECS in the body, but it does not have the same level of psychoactive properties as THC. THC is the compound in marijuana known for its intoxicating effect associated with getting “high.” CBD in isolation will not produce a high in the same way that THC does, which is part of why it holds potential as a medical treatment.
The ECS runs throughout the body and plays a vital role in the brain, immune system, gut, and areas of inflammation.
Types of CBD Oil
- Full-Spectrum: Contains all naturally occurring active compounds found in C. sativa, including CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids, as well as other compounds such as terpenoids.
- Broad-Spectrum: Contains CBD, terpenoids, and other naturally occurring compounds but does not contain THC.
- Isolate: Contains CBD only.
CBD Oil Uses
CBD oil can be used in many different ways, depending on the form it is in, including:
- Putting drops under the tongue.
- Adding the oil to foods (often in baking).
- Capsule form.
- Topically as a massage oil.
Potential Benefits of CBD Oil
CBD oil appears to have endless potential benefits due to its effect on the body’s ECS. CBD’s effects on this system make it a potential target for the treatment of many conditions, including:
- Chronic pain
- Dysbiosis and inflammation in the gut
- Sleep disorders
- Cardiovascular disease
- Neurological diseases, including epilepsy
- Chronic inflammatory conditions
Risks and Drawbacks to Using CBD Oil
There are higher risks associated with full-spectrum CBD oils due to the THC content and its effects as a psychoactive compound. Although many find THC tolerable, some may feel anxious if they take too much THC without realizing it. For most, however, the main risks aren’t THC’s psychoactivity but the legal issues one might encounter if one goes through a drug test.
Side effects of broad-spectrum and isolate CBD oils are generally mild, with some people experiencing stomach discomfort and lethargy.
Using CBD oil can be expensive and risky, as product standards are not always regulated. Taking CBD orally in oil form is also less bioavailable than inhalation. While better for your health, orally consuming CBD may have a weaker effect.
Similarities and Differences Between Hemp Oil and CBD Oil
There are a few similarities between hemp oil and CBD oil. They are both extracted from C. sativa, both potential anti-inflammatories, and they can potentially help chronic disease states. Hemp oil is often used as another term for CBD oil, adding to the confusion.
One of the differences is that hemp oil does not contain any active compounds, whereas CBD oil contains cannabinoids such as CBD and THC. Because of this, CBD oil has more specific potential benefits in many medical conditions, whereas hemp oil may only help non-specific inflammation.
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How to Decide Which Is Best for You
Both hemp and CBD oil can be beneficial depending on your specific needs.
When to Use Hemp Oil
If you want to live a healthier lifestyle or need a massage oil for sore joints, then hemp oil could be a good choice.
When to Use CBD Oil
If you are experiencing chronic pain, insomnia, epilepsy, or any inflammatory condition, then CBD could potentially help you. However, you should always seek medical advice from your doctor.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Is hemp oil the same as CBD oil?
Hemp oil and CBD oil aren’t the same. Hemp oil comes from the hemp plant’s seeds and is high in essential fatty acids, and CBD oil is from the flowers and leaves of the hemp plant and contains active compounds such as CBD and THC.
Does CBD work better than hemp?
It depends on what you want it to do. There is stronger evidence on the potential medical benefits of CBD oil and how it works as an anti-inflammatory compared to hemp oil. However, hemp oil may work better if you just want a healthy dietary supplement.
Is hemp oil good for pain?
There is no evidence that hemp oil helps reduce pain, although many people use it on sore joints.