One can hardly walk through the grocery store these days without being bombarded by an array of earthy, trendy hemp products. Hemp has captivated the nation’s attention as we look for more natural and sustainable ways to meet our everyday needs. While it’s true that hemp offers many benefits, it’s essential to understand the differences between hemp oil and CBD oil before you shop. Keep reading to learn more.
When Frogsong Farm broke ground in 2016, the Coston-Adams family had only an inkling of how popular CBD was about to become. At the time, hemp could only legally be grown in a few states under industrial hemp pilot research programs (a provision made in the 2014 Farm Bill). CBD’s surge in popularity came as a surprise to the public.
In 2017 it grew rapidly from a little-known alternative health product to the subject of major national news headlines. Then, late last year, the 2018 Farm Bill nationally legalized hemp farming in the US. Suddenly, it seemed CBD was everywhere: you could buy it online, choosing from CBD-enriched tinctures, gummy bears, dog treats, even shampoos. Hemp legalization had set the stage for a new generation of farmers, along with a new generation of businesses offering hemp & CBD products to the national market.
With this wave of awareness has also come a great deal of confusion. Inconsistent regulation in the CBD industry has resulted in misleading claims and unclear language between brands and products. One common question we receive at Frogsong Farm is: “Does this hemp oil I purchased have any CBD in it?” Unfortunately, many hemp products on the market have little or no CBD in them. Websites like Amazon are teeming with companies looking to capitalize on the excitement and confusion surrounding CBD, while peddling simple hemp seed oil to unsuspecting shoppers who think they’re getting a CBD product.
Don’t make the same mistakes others have. Here’s a quick primer to help you decipher between hemp oil and CBD extract and find the best products specific to your needs. Just a few minutes of reading could save you hundreds in costly shopping mistakes and help you find valuable CBD that really delivers.
Five Major Differences Between Hemp Oil and CBD Oil
Species of Origin: Same Species, Two Different Plants
Cannabis for medical or recreational drug use (often referred to as marijuana) and hemp are two varieties of the same plant species, Cannabis spp. The difference between the two is that hemp produces low levels of THC, the psychoactive compound responsible for high-THC cannabis’ high. In the United States, the limit for THC content in hemp is 0.3%. Modern breeds of hemp for CBD production look nearly identical to the high-THC cannabis grown for medical and recreational use, since the goal for both is to maximize flower production. Hemp for fiber or seed production looks very different (tall and skinny) as it is grown to produce long, straight fibers or a maximum amount of seed per acre.
Consider the many varieties of roses. Some are naturally tall and thorny, while others are quite small and dainty, and flower traits vary widely between strains. They are all roses. This is also true of cannabis. Some strains are intoxicating, others have medicinal qualities, and still others are a promising source for fiber, fuel, and building materials.
More confusing than the cannabis/hemp distinction is the taxonomy and genetic classification of the cannabis plant. The Cannabaceae family of flowering plants includes the genus Cannabis, which consists of three distinct types of plant: Cannabis indica, C. ruderalis, and C. sativa. There is ongoing scientific debate over whether these three types should be classified as species, subspecies, or varieties. C. indica plants tend to be short, bushy, and found in cool climates and higher elevations. C. ruderalis refers to short, branchless, day-neutral plants that grow wild in Europe and Central Asia. C. sativa is the most common variety and is typically tall, loosely branched, and found in warm lowland areas.
To add to the confusion, all three types of Cannabis can interbreed, resulting in hybrid cultivars. Most commercial varieties of hemp and high-THC cannabis are C. sativa x C. indica hybrids. This cross-breeding allows for the selection and development of various genetic characteristics such as cannabinoid production, aroma and appearance, and various agricultural considerations. At Frogsong Farm, we grow low-THC, high-CBD hemp plants that are C. sativa x C. indica hybrids. The 2019 fields are planted with Elektra and Lifter varietals. Cultivars we have grown in previous years have included ACDC, BaOx, Otto, PineBerry, Sour Space Candy, Special Sauce, Suver Haze, and Therapy – all hybrids bred by the renowned Crawford brothers of Oregon CBD.
Plant Parts Used to Produce Hemp Oil and CBD Oil
Hemp is an amazing plant. For decades, the United States has been importing hemp fabric and garments, hemp seed oil for cosmetics, and shelled hemp seeds which are a popular health food. Hemp seeds are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin E, and antioxidants, making them a popular addition to cereals, smoothies, and protein supplements. Hemp seed oil has been studied for its benefits on heart health, brain health, and a variety of skin conditions thanks to its fatty acid profile. Medicinal compounds like CBD and THC, with many other cannabinoids and terpenes, are found in the plant’s flowers. There is no CBD in hemp seed oil, which is often deceptively marketed as “hemp oil”.
Hemp oil and CBD oil are completely different products. Hemp oil (more accurately labeled as hemp seed oil) comes from seeds. CBD oil comes primarily from the flowers.
Neither hemp seed oil or CBD oil are intoxicating. Central to the differences between hemp seed oil and flower-derived CBD oil is each oil’s cannabinoid content. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found within cannabis that have therapeutic qualities. The most well-known cannabinoids are THC, which causes the high associated with cannabis consumption, and CBD, which is non-intoxicating and offers an array of other benefits. Beyond THC and CBD, there are currently 113 distinct cannabinoids that are found in trace amounts in the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids are almost entirely found within the flowers. These work together in a phenomenon called the Entourage Effect, where the potential benefit of the cannabinoids is increased when taken together.
CBD and THC have many similar medical benefits, including pain relief, mood improvement, and as a sleep aid. Because CBD does not cause the euphoric effects that occur with THC, some people prefer it for non-intoxicating daily use.
Uses of Hemp Oil and CBD Oil
While devoid of CBD, hemp seed oil is a nourishing health food and popular nutritional supplement. Hemp seeds and their oil are used primarily as a foodstuff; the seeds are nutritionally similar to chia seeds, and their oil is similar to olive oil in use. In addition to these culinary uses, hemp seed oil is also used in products like shampoo, lotions, biodiesel, plastics, and paint.
In contrast to hemp seed oil, CBD oil is a powerful medicinal compound. Preliminary research shows promising effects for a whole array of health conditions. The mechanism by which CBD works is still being understood, but the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is vast and intricately connected with the neurological and immune systems within the body.
The following are among the conditions potentially aided by high-quality, bioavailable CBD (Please visit echoconnection.org/education/ for the latest in cannabinoid research):
- Bone fractures 1
- Cancer cell inhibition in studies with pets 2
- Bacterial growth 3
- Cardiovascular health 4
- Psoriasis 5
- Nervous system degeneration 6
- High blood sugar 7
- Insomnia 8
- Seizures and convulsions 9
- Muscle spasms 10
- Anxiety 11
- Psychoses 12
- Nausea and vomiting 13
- Low appetite 14
- Inflammation 15
- Chronic pain 16
These are benefits of CBD oil, rather than hemp oil. While the essential fatty acid profile of hemp oil does offer some heart health and anti-inflammatory benefits, the health-enriching promise of hemp comes from the cannabinoid compounds within the flowers. (You wouldn’t want to go up to the counter at your local dispensary and ask for hemp oil if you were intent on relieving your chronic pain.)
Hemp seed oil is produced by pressing the seeds which have been removed from fertilized hemp flowers. This process is similar to pressing olives or coconuts for culinary use. Cold-pressed hemp seed oil is highly nutritious with a nutty flavor, and a good option for unheated recipes like salads and sauces.
CBD oil, on the other hand, is collected by a sophisticated extraction process. CBD flowers are combined with a solvent such as CO2, ethanol, or various chemical solvents to separate the cannabinoids and other plant compounds from the plant matter. It is then purified and distilled until reaching the desired form, which could be full-spectrum distillate, broad-spectrum distillate, or CBD isolate. Frogsong Farm uses an organic ethanol extraction process.
Hemp Oil versus CBD Oil At a Glance:
1. Species of Origin
2. Parts Used
3. Cannabinoid Content
Foodstuff, industrial applications
5. Production Method
While both valuable in their own right, hemp seed oil and CBD oil are completely different. It is important to know the difference and use the right terms when searching for CBD products. Always look for CBD that is full-spectrum, clearly labeled, and lab-tested. Your product should clearly label how many milligrams of CBD or cannabidiol are in the bottle, and delineate whether the CBD is full-spectrum or isolate. The company should readily offer lab tests to support these claims.
Don’t trust products that say “300 milligrams Full-Spectrum Hemp Oil” as these have unknown amounts of CBD, if any. There is no way to know how much CBD is in “hemp extract” or “hemp oil” products. Unless the ingredients clearly say CBD and the product comes from a reputable source, the product is likely hemp seed oil or low-CBD hemp extract from low-quality plants or flowers.
From now on, when perusing hemp products, remember the following: look for farm-direct, full-spectrum CBD, and products with clearly labeled milligrams of CBD or cannabidiol. Walk the other way from products touting “hemp oil” or “hemp extract.”
Unless, that is, you’re looking to make a heart-healthy salad dressing.
Those looking to reap the benefits of farm-direct, organically grown, and impeccably produced CBD products can find an array of offerings at FrogsongFarm.com/shop. Experience the Frogsong Farm difference!
Becca Recker is Director of Communications for Frogsong Farm. With a background in organic farming and permaculture design, Rebecca has been writing about soil health and local food access for nine years. The author of several blogs, she has contributed to articles for Oregon Leaf and Green Living PDX magazines, as well as the following websites: Civilized, Splimm, Miss Grass, and Flowertown. She has been a featured guest on the Periodic Effects and Your Highness podcasts.