Since the approval of the first cannabidiol (CBD)-based drug by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), consumers have become increasingly interested in the benefits of hemp seed and CBD oils.

First, it is important to note that there is a lot of confusion around the names of these products. “Hemp oil” is another way that people can refer to CBD oil. However, some people may also refer to hemp seed oil as hemp oil.

Hemp seed oil and CBD oil are very different products.

CBD oil uses the stalks, leaves, and flowers of the hemp plant in its production. These contain a higher concentration of CBD, which is a compound with numerous potential health benefits.

Meanwhile, hemp seed oil comes from the seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant. The seeds do not contain CBD, but they still have a rich profile of nutrients, fatty acids, and useful bioactive compounds that can also have health benefits.

Having a better understanding of hemp seed oil and CBD oil may allow both clinicians and consumers to choose the safest and most appropriate product.

Keep reading to learn more about the differences between hemp seed oil and CBD oil.

a woman in a shop and leaning into a cabinet with Hemp seed oil and CBD oilShare on Pinterest
Both hemp seed and CBD oil contain a range of compounds that may offer health benefits.
Image credit: RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Image.

Hemp seed oil derives from the seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant. It contains omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, gamma-linolenic acid, and other nutritional antioxidants. It is also high in B vitamins and vitamin D.

People will not get high when using hemp seed oil, as it contains no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and little to no CBD.

Uses

People do not use hemp seed oil for recreational purposes. This is because the levels of THC and CBD, which cause the psychoactive effects, are either limited or absent.

Some nutritional supplements contain hemp seed oil because of its high omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid, gamma-linolenic acid, and nutritious antioxidant content.

Other uses of hemp seed oil include manufacturing clothing and fibers.

How it works

Some people suggest that hemp seed oils can help people maintain good cardiovascular health by improving:

  • total cholesterol
  • high-density lipoprotein cholesterol
  • low-density lipoprotein cholesterol
  • triglycerides

However, the evidence for its efficacy for these purposes is not clear.

Effects and benefits

When manufacturers add hemp seed oil to nutritional products — such as snack bars, breads, cookies, and yogurt — it provides an excellent source of nutrients. It is rich in unsaturated fatty acids and essential amino acids.

Hemp seed oil also has several possible benefits, including:

  • relieving constipation
  • providing cardiovascular health benefits
  • modifying the immune system
  • improving skin conditions
  • improving gastrointestinal conditions

Some other possible benefits of hemp seed oil include:

  • anticancer effects
  • antioxidant effects
  • anti-aging effects

Hemp seed oil also contains other components that may provide benefits to consumers.

How is it made?

Manufacturers extract hemp seed oil from the seeds of the hemp plant.

Since the oil comes from the seeds and not the leaves, flowers, or stem of the cannabis plant, hemp seed oil does not contain THC.

Risks and side effects

Consuming hemp seed oil is safe.

However, it may not provide any benefit for cardiovascular health, as some people believe. Some consumers also report digestive issues, but these effects may not occur in everyone.

Less than 0.3% of the dry weight of hemp seed oil contains THC, so people are unlikely to experience a high when consuming it.

Learn more about the potential benefits of hemp seeds here.

People can generally find three different types of CBD oil on the market:

  • full-spectrum CBD oil, which contains all compounds of the cannabis plant, including THC (but at a very low level)
  • broad-spectrum CBD oil, which contains several compounds but not THC
  • CBD oil made using CBD isolate, which contains only CBD

It is important to note that because these terms are not regulated, some manufacturers may use them interchangeably.

People should always check the Certificate of Analysis (COA) of CBD products. Usually, a third party will conduct this testing. Checking the COA is the only way to fully understand what exactly a CBD oil product contains.

Uses

Some people use CBD oils for their alleged medicinal benefits.

For example, people may use CBD-derived products for:

  • epilepsy
  • pain and inflammation
  • anxiety and depression
  • addiction management
  • inflammatory skin conditions
  • neurodegenerative conditions

Aside from the antiepileptic effects of CBD, researchers still need to confirm the other potential therapeutic benefits of CBD.

Since full-spectrum CBD oil contains THC, some people may use it for recreational purposes because it has psychoactive effects. Other effects of THC may include preventing nausea and vomiting.

These oils may also contain smaller amounts of other phytocannabinoids and terpenoids, which may have other effects that require further investigation.

Learn more about the potential health benefits of CBD oil here.

How it works

Researchers are still attempting to determine how CBD affects the body, but they suggest that it works in several ways, including by:

  • inhibiting endocannabinoid reuptake
  • activating the transient receptor potential vanilloid 1, which plays a role in regulating pain, and g-coupled receptor 55
  • increasing the activity of serotonin receptors

The THC in full-spectrum CBD oil binds to the CB1 receptor in the endocannabinoid system, and this is responsible for its psychoactive effects.

Full- and broad-spectrum CBD oils may also contain beta-caryophyllene, which can bind to the CB2 receptors. Researchers are still investigating the function of the CB2 receptors.

Effects and benefits

Several components of the different CBD oils have specific effects.

The following table summarizes some of the components in CBD oils and their potential effects:

ComponentEffects
CBDantiepileptic
pain-relieving
anti-inflammatory
antianxiety
antidepressive
neuroprotective
THCanti-nausea
anti-inflammatory
pain-relieving
Beta-caryophylleneantianxiety
pain-relieving
Limoneneantioxidant
antitumor
Cannabichromenepain-relieving
Cannabigerolanti-inflammatory
neuroprotective

Researchers are still studying the effects of the components in CBD-derived products.

How is it made?

CBD oil comes from the flowers and leaves of the plant. With specialized extraction processes such as carbon dioxide extraction, manufacturers can draw out an extract rich in CBD and other components.

Although manufacturers need to keep all components intact for full-spectrum CBD oil products, they only need to extract CBD for CBD isolate.

Risks and side effects

Research suggests that CBD-derived products are safe and have limited side effects. Although information about the safety of different CBD oils is lacking, researchers have studied the side effects of individual ingredients in CBD-derived products.

For example, there were no reported side effects when participants took 300 milligrams (mg) of CBD per day for up to 6 months. A study also demonstrated no side effects when people took up to 1,500 mg per day for a month.

Larger studies into the effects of Epidiolex, a CBD drug for people with epilepsy, reported some side effects. These included:

  • fatigue
  • decreased appetite
  • diarrhea
  • elevated liver function tests

Experts advise people who want to use CBD-derived products to ensure that they can trust their source. Improper labeling and faulty manufacturing processes can expose people to contaminants or THC in CBD isolate or broad-spectrum CBD oil.

Today, regulations on product labeling in the United States are unclear. To select an appropriate and safe product, experts suggest ensuring that:

  • the manufacturers did not use solvents during extraction
  • the U.S. Department of Agriculture have certified it as organic
  • the product underwent pesticide and herbicide testing
  • the label clearly lists the potency

People who want to use CBD oils or other CBD-derived products should speak with a doctor or qualified cannabis clinician first, as CBD can interfere with certain other medications.

Learn more about some of the top CBD oils available here.

Hemp seed oil and CBD oil both derive from the cannabis plant. CBD oil comes from the flowers, leaves, and stems, while hemp seed oil uses extract from the seeds of the cannabis plant.

Products containing hemp seed and CBD oils do not typically cause a high, since the levels of THC, if any, tend to be very low.

Both CBD oil and hemp seed oil have numerous potential health benefits, but because research is limited, scientists must continue to study them.