Hemp Oil vs. CBD Oil: Explaining the Difference

cbd oil

If you don’t know much about cannabidiol (CBD) oil or hemp oil, it can be a little bit difficult to understand what they are and the differences between the two.

The same terminology is used to describe both products; you will often see words and phrases like cannabinoids, hemp-derived, etc, making it easy for everything to blend into one giant blur.

For this reason, we have created this ultimate guide to describe what hemp oil and CBD oil are, their similarities and their differences. By the time you have finished reading, you will know everything you need to know.

The best place to start is to understand the difference between hemp and marijuana.

Hemp vs Marijuana

hemp vs cbd oil

Both CBD oil and hemp oil are extracted from the hemp plant. This is one of the reasons they are often described as the same product. Industrial hemp is used throughout the world for a variety of reasons, such as the creation of paper, rope and other textiles.

But isn’t the sale and use of cannabis illegal?

To help understand which is legal and which is not, the terms hemp and marijuana are used. The distinguishing factor that determines legality comes down to CBD, the substance used for CBD oil and THC, the substance that gets you high.

The cannabis plant has two genera: Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica

Hemp is derived from the former and has low levels of THC but high levels of CBD. This is the plant used for industrial purposes around the world.  The low concentration of THC makes it very useful for CBD oil and hemp oil.

On the other hand, marijuana can come from either the sativa or indica plant but it is referred to as any plant grown for recreational use. Marijuana tends to have high levels of THC and low levels of CBD.  So people seeking marijuana are interested in its psychoactive effects.

To sum up: hemp-with its low concentration of THC-is legal within the US. Conversely, marijuana is illegal due to its high concentration of THC. Extracts from the marijuana plant are illegal in the US under Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act

This difference is key to understanding that CBD oil and hemp oil are both legal – as long as they are derived from hemp – so if you purchase either one online or from the shelf, you won’t get into trouble.

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Having clarified the legality of CBD oil and hemp oil, let’s look into each one in more detail.

What Is Hemp Oil?

hemp oil

The previous section mentioned that hemp contains a low concentration of THC and a high concentration of CBD.

To be more precise, hemp oil contains little to no cannabinoids at all.  Hemp oil is simply the residue extracted from hemp seed oil – which is why, as stated previously, hemp seed oil is referred to as hemp oil.

The extraction of hemp oil is far easier than the process for extracting CBD oil. All that is needed is a cold-pressing of the seeds before the sediment is filtered from the resulting liquid.

On average, hemp seeds contain around 35% oil, with the remaining 65% good for other uses, such as animal feed and health and fitness supplements. The two differ in appearance, too – CBD oil is more of a golden brown, hemp seed oil has a distinctive deep green color.

You may have found hemp seed oil in other health products in the past. This is because the seeds contain a high number of healthy fats, including Omega 3 and Omega 6.

However, because they do not contain many cannabinoids as does CBD, hemp seed oil is mainly used for other reasons compared to CBD oil.

What Is CBD Oil?

cbd vb hemp oil

We have written a complete guide that covers what CBD oil is in detail, but for the purposes of this article, we will provide a brief explanation.

The cannabis plant produces hundreds of different cannabinoids and CBD, along with THC, is the most common. However, most CBD oil is extracted from hemp plants that have been specifically grown to contain a higher percentage of CBD than other cannabinoids.

Once grown, CBD is extracted from the flowers of the hemp plant – specifically the trichomes of the plant that contain the compounds – courtesy of several processes, such as CO2 and solvents. The CBD is removed on its own or with other substances that occur naturally.

CBD oil is not a ready-made substance, unlike hemp oil that exists as it is once it has been extracted from the seed. Plant products have many different substances, such as cannabinoids, waxes and more in hemp plants. On the other hand, CBD isolate is exactly that – CBD isolated by itself.

CBD oil is mixed with carrier oils, meaning that the final product is not just the plant extract. One common carrier oil for CBD is, weirdly enough, hemp oil, so there is a chance that you can end up with a final product that can be classed as both CBD oil and hemp oil.

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Even so, there are many different types of CBD oil, which brings us to the next section.

Types Of CBD Oil

type of oil

Here are some of the different types of CBD oil available and the differences between them. 

Raw CBD Oil Vs CBD Concentrate

Upon the extraction of CBD from the hemp plants, the product that is created is classed as ‘raw hemp extract.’ This must be placed through several filtration and distillation processes to clean up the extract and remove impurities and other unwanted compounds, such as wax and even chlorophyll.

The process also takes into account the number of different oils and CBD content purity. The refined oil that is left, after filtration, is known as CBD concentrate or CBD distillate.

Full Spectrum CBD Oil

Raw hemp extract contains multiple cannabinoids and substances that are similar to CBD but do not quite have the same properties, for example, terpenes. Some CBD oil, though, contains the same natural balance of CBD and these other cannabinoids found from the original hemp plant.

These products are called full-spectrum oils.

Broad Spectrum CBD Oil

Where there is full-spectrum oil, there is also broad-spectrum oil. This is very similar to its namesake in that it contains the original levels of cannabinoids and terpenes found from its source.

The difference between broad-spectrum CBD oil and full-spectrum CBD oil is that broad-spectrum CBD oil has all trace concentrations of THC extracted, while full-spectrum does not.

For anyone who wishes to consume absolutely no THC whatsoever, broad-spectrum CBD oil is the ideal solution.

CBD Isolate

CBD can be purified and isolated.

CBD that has been purified has no color and is odorless. CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD and, at room temperature, it forms a solid crystal, but does not contain any of the beneficial terpenes and other cannabinoids.

In terms of consumption, CBD isolate can be taken directly or combined with other products, such as food and beverages.

CBD-Rich Oil/Phytocannabinoid-Rich (PCR)

CBD-rich oil is another form of CBD oil. It is generally used to describe CBD oil that has been through a few of the initial filtration and distillation processes to remove unwanted substances and impurities.

The resulting product has a much higher concentration of CBD compared to the original product, giving it the name CBD-rich oil.

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CBD-Infused Oil

This final form of CBD oil describes a product that has been infused with either purified CBD isolate or another CBD product infused with any of the following types of CBD: full-spectrum CBD oil, broad-spectrum CBD oil or CBD-rich oil.

CBD-infused oil will display all the ingredients used that make up the product. If it contains CBD isolate, then it is not full-spectrum CBD oil. Conversely, if it contains CBD-rich hemp oil, full-spectrum CBD oil or broad-spectrum CBD oil, then, by common sense, it’s a full or broad-spectrum product.

This is important to know as each variant has different effects.

CBD Oil Products

cbd vs hemp

Here is the list of all the different types of CBD oil products, each containing different concentrations of CBD, as well as other cannabinoids and terpenes:

  • Hemp seed oil: produced from hemp seeds and contains no CBD at all.
  • Raw industrial hemp extract: low-quality CBD oil.
  • Raw PCR hemp extract: high-quality CBD oil, also known as full or broad-spectrum CBD oil. This contains a high concentration of CBD and contains many natural products from the original source, including other cannabinoids and terpenes.
  • CBD concentrate or distillate: full-spectrum CBD oil or broad-spectrum CBD oil. All impurities and unwanted substances have been removed.
  • CBD isolate: pure CBD oil with other beneficial terpenes and cannabinoids removed.
  • CBD-rich oil/Phytocannabinoid-rich (PCR): either full-spectrum CBD oil, broad-spectrum CBD oil or CBD oil infused with CBD concentrate.
  • Broad-spectrum oil: rich in CBD, it contains many of the same beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes present in hemp EXCEPT for THC.
  • CBD-infused: referred to as CBD oil product infused with pure CBD. It is also known as a full spectrum product.

Purpose Of Hemp Oil vs CBD Oil

purpose cbd oil

Hemp oil is loaded with nutritional value. It contains two of the essential fatty acids the body needs to function at its best. It is also high in protein, vitamin E and a variety of other minerals to keep the body healthy.

Since it contains no THC, hemp oil does not make you high once consumed.

The reason people take CBD oil is to focus on the beneficial effects of the cannabinoids. CBD oil can be used for a number of reasons, such as to relieve pain from chronic conditions, relieve stress and anxiety, treat arthritis and even, in some cases, to help with the fight against cancer.

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Broad-spectrum CBD oil and full-spectrum CBD oil are both taken on the basis of their ‘entourage effect’. This means that the CBD has a stronger effect if it’s taken with other substances that are also naturally found within the hemp plant.

However, although hemp oil and CBD oil both appear to have positive effects on the body, they interact with it differently. The human body naturally produces its own cannabinoids through a network called the endocannabinoid system. As cannabinoids are ingested, they work to support this network to help balance internal processes and systems.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Here, we will answer some frequently asked questions about CBD oil and hemp oil.

CBD oil is a complicated product. There are many variations of the product itself, meaning and many questions come with them. As with all new products in the spotlight, there is much misinformation going around which, in turn, creates great confusion.

For example, the media sometimes likes to use the term marijuana when referring to hemp but, as you have seen, there are key differences between the two. As a result, when it’s described as marijuana, it can be easily thought that CBD oil can get you high.

Hopefully, your queries have already been answered, but if not, here are some more to put your mind to rest. 

Does CBD Oil Get You High?

The short answer is: no, CBD oil does not get you high.

Proper CBD oil derived from hemp contains little traces of THC but not enough that will get you high.

The reason for the high is that there are certain receptors in the brain that are activated when they come into contact with THC. Upon activation, they change the brain’s chemistry, resulting in a change in consciousness.

CBD does not activate the same receptors as THC. 

Note that everybody is different, though. If taken in large enough quantities, CBD can cause drowsiness and other side effects… which brings us to…

What Are the Side Effects of CBD Oil?

This depends on the person taking the CBD oil. Some people will experience side effects that others won’t, and vice versa.

One common side effect is nausea which can lead to other issues such as vomiting, diarrhea and other symptoms related to the digestive system. Some people just can’t easily digest CBD oil even if they have no problems with other oils and supplements.

Other common effects of CBD oil and hemp oil are loss of appetite and dry mouth or just an unpleasant feeling unpleasant after digesting, but these pass with time.

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Of course, as just mentioned, taking CBD oil can lead to drowsiness. This is because it has bi-phasic properties, meaning that the side effects can change based on how much is served.

In small doses, it’s unlikely that taking hemp oil or CBD oil will cause drowsiness but as dosage increases, the chances of becoming drowsy increase.

A good example of another product with biphasic properties is alcohol. Small blood-alcohol levels can act as a stimulant, creating feelings of increased energy and greater social stimulation, but large amounts can act as a depressant and eventually lead to unconsciousness.

It’s worth noting that CBD oil and hemp oil are, to date, unregulated supplements. The only FDA-approved form of CBD is used for treating a rare form of epilepsy so no standards have been set in terms of dosage and safe measurements.

This means that you can easily be subjected to amounts your body cannot handle. If this happens, your body will flush it out of your system, albeit unpleasantly.

Can My Pet Take CBD Oil?

cbd for pet

High-quality CBD oil and hemp oil are both safe for pet consumption. The amount that they can take will depend on their size and how active they are during the day.

Highly active pets can take larger doses; pets that don’t get much exercise should have smaller doses. Likewise, larger pets (e.g., horses) can tolerate bigger doses while little pets (e.g., hamsters) can only tolerate smaller doses.

If you are at all unsure, check with your vet before giving any pet a CBD product.


Hemp oil and CBD oil both benefit the body. They provide it with many important macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals to function properly and also help to relieve pain and stress.

But they are different. Hemp oil contains low concentrations of THC and high concentrations of CBD, while CBD oil contains slightly higher concentrations of THC.

As long as you take hemp oil or CBD oil derived from the hemp plant, as opposed to the marijuana variant, you can be sure that the product is legal. As with all the variations of CBD oil, the ingredients will show how much THC is contained so you can choose how much CBD (and to some extent THC) you wish to be exposed to. 

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Marina Turea

Marina has been calling Chicago home since 2007. She's a world traveler and an avid reader.

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