CBD vs Hemp: What's the difference? - Healthy Living Association

CBD vs Hemp: What’s the difference?

Hemp and CBD products are more popular than ever, but many people don’t know they’re two different products! The differences between CBD and hemp are subtle but knowing them will help you avoid unwanted side effects and throwing money on products that don’t fit your needs.

Whether you want to treat chronic pain, cope with chemo side effects, or are just curious about the CBD hype, here’s everything you need to know to tell CBD and hemp apart.

Are CBD and Hemp the same thing?

Not really. However, since both compounds come from the same plant species (Cannabis sativa), it’s easy to get them mixed up. Before diving into what makes CBD and hemp different, let’s cover the basics:

Cannabis, Hemp and CBD

Cannabis is a broad term for a family of plants. Hemp and marijuana are both part of this family.

While there are different varieties, the Cannabis family shares unique compounds called cannabinoids. Two of the better-known compounds of Cannabis plants are THC and CBD.

THC has psychoactive effects, and it’s responsible for the “high” people get from marijuana. In contrast, CBD won’t get you high on its own and shares many of the medicinal benefits of THC.

Most cannabis products sold today have a mix of both CBD and THC. Depending on the ratios, you’ll get different results and you might or might not get psychoactive effects. The latter depends on the THC content of your product, the dosage, and how you use it.

What is CBD?

CBD is short for “cannabidiol”. This is a chemical compound found in Cannabis plants. Although Marijuana plants have CBD (among hundreds of other cannabinoids), CBD by itself doesn’t have any psychoactive effects [3].

CBD extract can be bought as is in oil or tincture form, and as an ingredient in other products. In the US, CBD regulations are a grey area. Although on a Federal level CBD is lumped in the same class as marijuana and is illegal, this regulation isn’t usually enforced. The legality of CBD in the US depends on its origin: if it’s extracted from hemp it’s legal, but can be illegal in some states if extracted from a marijuana plant. In general, most people in the US can buy CBD products online even without a medical prescription.

What is hemp?

Although many people use CBD and hemp interchangeably, “hemp” is just a broad classification under which we lump different species of Cannabis plants.

In general, “hemp” are cannabis strains that contain very little THC. Usually, hemp contains 0.3% THC content or even less. This makes hemp a sort of “cousin” to marijuana plants.

Hemp and its byproducts are legal in the US. In 2018 [3], farmers in the US were allowed to plant hemp throughout the country and use other parts of the plant aside from the seeds. This was a big step because, on top of its medicinal properties, hemp plants can be used as a cheap and readily available raw material to make rope, clothes, paper, and even fuel.

There are two main products made from hemp, with very different components: hemp oil and hemp seed oil.

“Hemp oil” can come from any part of the hemp plant, and it has CBD as well as other cannabinoids. Hemp oil is also known as “full-spectrum CBD oil” because it’s made from the whole plant. Many CBD products with low THC content are made from hemp plants.

In contrast, “hemp seed oil” is extracted solely from the seeds of the hemp plant. While hemp seed oil is rich in healthy omega-3, omega-6, and antioxidants, it has no CBD nor any other cannabinoids in it.

In the beauty industry, hempseed oil is available as a carrier oil or used on its own to hydrate the skin. Many people prefer hemp seed oil because it’s non-comedogenic and doesn’t cause breakouts, unlike other oils like coconut.

Hemp vs CBD: similarities and differences

So now that you know the basics when it comes to CBD and hemp, let’s go over what makes them similar (or not):

Similarities between CBD and hemp

  1. They come from the same plant: Hemp is a common name given to different Cannabis plants with very low amounts of THC. CBD is a cannabinoid found in hemp plants, as well as marijuana plants.
  2. They won’t get you high on their own. Hemp has very little THC content. In fact, hemp plants typically have 0.3% THC or less. CBD, while not a plant, doesn’t have an intoxicating effect on its own and won’t get you “high”. Keep in mind however, that full-spectrum CBD products extracted from marijuana plants can have greater amounts of THC and might have an intoxicating effect.

What makes hemp and CBD different?

  1. CBD is a compound, but “hemp” is a plant. Hemp is a broad term that describes cannabis plants with very little THC content. Hemp is used as a raw material for things like clothes and paper, but also to make hemp oil or extracts. CBD oil is a cannabinoid found in all Cannabis plants (including hemp and marijuana).
  2. Different extraction methods: As we already mentioned, you can find both CBD oil and hemp oil. CBD oil is extracted exclusively from the leaves and flowers of Cannabis plants (hemp or others). On the other hand, hemp oil can come from any part of the plant (leaves, flowers, and stalks), and hemp seed oil is cold-pressed from the seeds of hemp plants.
  3. CBD products can also have high THC compounds, while hemp won’t. Although CBD won’t get you high on its own, some CBD products can have higher levels of THC compounds. Depending on whether they come from hemp or marijuana plants, CBD products can have an intoxicating effect or not. Hemp, on the other hand, never has a THC content greater than 0.3% and it will never get you “high”.

Proven health benefits of CBD

Whether in oil or other vessels, many researchers have found CBD to be effective at dealing with common health issues. Here are some research-backed benefits of CBD:

  • Seizures and epilepsy: CBD has shown to reduce seizure frequency among epileptic children that don’t respond well to traditional medications [2]. In fact, the FDA recently approved a CBD-based medication to treat pediatric seizure disorders.
  • Help with chemotherapy side effects: Many chemo patients deal with nausea, vomiting, and appetite loss. CBD products with a higher dose of THC can help you deal with those side effects and make treatment more bearable [4].
  • Chronic pain: CBD oil can help with chronic muscle spasms, nerve damage, and chronic pain that stems from generalized inflammation thanks to its strong antioxidant effect.
  • Other health benefits: improving sleep, treating post-traumatic stress disorder, helping chronic anxiety, and fibromyalgia. These all need further research.

Health benefits of hemp

Hemp has many health benefits thanks to its wide range of cannabinoids. In contrast, hemp seed oil has no cannabinoids but instead is packed with omega-3 and -6, as well as plenty of antioxidants. Here are some of the benefits of adding hemp to your daily routine:

  • Lower inflammation: Full-spectrum hemp oil lowers inflammation thanks to its high percentage of polyunsaturated fatty acids and cannabinoids. This can help with auto-immune diseases as well as other conditions involving inflammation like celiac disease and arthritis.
  • Soothe skin with dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis: Hemp seed oil is full of vitamins and fatty acids that boost your skin’s protective barrier. Plus, it’s classified as a non-comedogenic oil, meaning it won’t break you out. Patients with eczema, rosacea, dermatitis, and psoriasis have reported significant improvement after using hemp seed oil [6]
  • Brain health: Because of hemp’s healthy fatty acids, researchers found it lowered brain inflammation and could help heal from trauma faster [7].
  • Improved cardiac health: The high percentage of omega-3 and omega-6 in hemp seed oil means it can help curb high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as prevent cardiovascular disease [5]

Adding CBD and hemp to your daily routine: How to take CBD

Thanks to its health benefits, more and more people are incorporating CBD and hemp products into their daily lives. In fact, as of 2019 14% of Americans say they use CBD products and around 20% of those aged 18 to 29 use them on a regular basis [1].

A majority of people who use CBD products do so to deal with pain (40%), anxiety (20%), and insomnia (11%). Luckily, CBD and hemp come in many forms adapted to your specific needs:

  • Oils and tinctures: This is one of the better known and easiest ways of taking CBD or hemp. Carrier oils are infused with CBD or extracted from hemp seeds and, thanks to the tiny capillaries in our mouths, the compounds are quickly absorbed. Oils can also be used to cook (usually without heating to preserve its properties) and applied topically as well.
  • Creams and lotions: Another way to add CBD and hemp to your routine is through creams and lotions. These products are especially useful to deal with eczema, rashes, and psoriasis.
  • Capsules: CBD and hemp capsules help to deal with digestive issues as well as seizures. The only FDA-approved CBD drug for treating epilepsy is taken in pill form. However, many people prefer to take oils and tinctures over capsules because pills take longer to kick in, while oils act faster.
  • Edibles: On top of liquid versions of CBD and hemp, solid edibles are available as well. While gummies are the most popular edible CBD product, you can also find chocolates, cake pops, dried fruit, and even pretzels.

How to tell if a product has CBD or hemp seed oil?

Many people look for CBD products for their health-boosting effects. Because hemp seed oil has no CBD or other cannabinoids, it’s especially important to know what you’re getting.

Remember, “hemp oil” has CBD (and other compounds), but hemp seed oil has none. Intentionally or not, many companies use the terms “hemp oil” and “CBD oil” interchangeably, and this can lead to confusion.

In order to know if a product has CBD or not, you need to take a look at the ingredients list.

Hempseed oil is listed as “cannabis sativa seed oil” or just “hemp seed oil”. If you’re looking for CBD, it will be listed as hemp oil, full-spectrum hemp, cannabidiol, PCR, PCR hemp extracts, or phytocannabinoid-rich hemp extract.

FAQ

Why is hemp oil much cheaper than CBD oil?

When you see a “hemp oil” at a lower price than “CBD oil”, it’s probably because it’s hemp seed oil and not full-spectrum hemp oil.

Hemp seed oil is extracted through cold pressing the seeds. In contrast, CBD oil (also known as hemp oil or full-spectrum hemp oil) needs to be processed through an expensive and long extraction method. That’s why CBD products are more expensive than hemp seed products.

Will hemp get me high?

No. Only THC is responsible for marijuana’s psychoactive effects. Hemp products have a very low THC content (less than 0.3%) and hemp seeds (as well as hemp seed oil) have no cannabinoids whatsoever.

Are there CBD oils without THC?

Yes. There are “pure CBD extracts” that only have CBD in it, and there are some cannabis strains with a negligible THC percentage. Your best option is asking at your local health store or CBD shop, they will point you to the strains with a lower THC percentage.

References

  1. Brenan, M. August 7, 2019. 14% of Americans say they use CBD products. Gallup News. Available here.
  2. Devinsky O, Cross JH, Laux L, et al. Trial of Cannabidiol for Drug-Resistant Seizures in the Dravet Syndrome. N Engl J Med. 2017;376(21):2011-2020.doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1611618.
  3. Harvard Health Center. CBD: What we know and what we don’t. Available here.
  4. NIH Drug Database: Dronabinol (Marinol, Synthetic THC). Available here.
  5. Rodriguez-Leyva D, Pierce GN. The cardiac and haemostatic effects of dietary hempseed. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2010;7:32. Published 2010 Apr 21. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-7-32. Available here.
  6. Tabassum N, Hamdani M. Plants used to treat skin diseases. Pharmacogn Rev. 2014;8(15):52-60. doi:10.4103/0973-7847.125531. Available here.
  7. Zhou Y, Wang S, Ji J, Lou H, Fan P. Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) Seed Phenylpropionamides Composition and Effects on Memory Dysfunction and Biomarkers of Neuroinflammation Induced by Lipopolysaccharide in Mice. ACS Omega. 2018;3(11):15988-15995. doi:10.1021/acsomega.8b02250. Available here.

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