Over the last few years, CBD oil has grown from a niche health supplement into one of the most popular natural health products on the market.
As a result, an increasing number of people are searching both online and offline for information about what CBD oil can do. In doing so, it’s common to see CBD oil confused with other, similar products such as hemp oil and cannabis oil.
While these can seem like CBD oil, they’re actually very different products with different effects on the body. In some cases, they’re also restricted by certain banned substance laws that don’t affect CBD oil.
Below, we’ve explained the key differences between CBD oil and hemp oil. We’ve also looked at the differences between CBD oil and cannabis oil — a very different oil that’s often confused with CBD oil by individuals and the media.
CBD Oil vs. Hemp Oil: What’s the Difference?
At first, CBD oil and hemp oil can seem identical — after all, both are produced using the hemp plant, and both are widely praised by natural health enthusiasts. However, there are a range of differences between these two products.
What is CBD Oil?
CBD oil is a type of oil that’s produced using the hemp plant. Its active ingredient is cannabidiol, or CBD. In the UK, you can purchase CBD oil as a tincture for use under the tongue, as e-liquid for use in a vaporiser, as an edible product and even in capsule form.
Although CBD oil is commonly produced using the hemp or cannabis plants, it doesn’t get you high. This is because CBD isn’t a psychoactive substance. Instead, the high from cannabis is caused by the presence of a cannabinoid called tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.
Most forms of CBD oil either contain no THC at all, or contain such a small amount of THC that it’s impossible for you to feel high after consumption.
Although THC is banned in the UK under the Misuse of Drugs Act, CBD is not. Because of this, you can legally purchase, possess and use CBD oil and other CBD products in the UK, as well as (with a few exceptions) throughout the EU.
You can learn more about CBD’s legal status in the UK and abroad in our guide to CBD laws in the UK.
CBD oil is used for a variety of purposes. Some people use it for its benefits as a natural pain relief treatment. Others use it to treat anxiety, depression and stress. It’s also widely used as a natural alternative to common sleeping pills.
For the most part, CBD oil is viewed as a natural treatment and as a supplement, not as a food ingredient or cooking oil (although it could, theoretically, be used for these purposes).
In the UK, CBD is strictly regulated. Products marketed as containing CBD need to be made using certain EU-approved strains of hemp. They also need to contain 0.2% THC or less, as higher concentrations of THC can cause a CBD product to gain psychoactive effects.
What is Hemp Oil?
Hemp oil, on the other hand, is a completely different type of oil with different health benefits, effects and characteristics. It’s made by pressing the seeds of the hemp plant to create a light green, semi-transparent, nutty-flavoured oil.
This type of oil is commonly marketed as hemp seed oil, often in order to differentiate it from other oils made using different parts of the hemp plant.
Hemp oil is used for a variety of purposes. It’s a common ingredient in many beauty and skin products, including facial creams, shampoos and soaps. It’s also widely used in a variety of industrial products, such as plastics, paints and oil-based lubricants.
Finally, hemp oil is widely used in the home as a cooking oil, dressing ingredient and as an ingredient in a range of dishes.
For consumers, hemp oil is mostly known for its nutritional benefits. Nutritionally, it’s rich in essential fatty acids and heart-friendly fats. From a taste perspective, most hemp oil users report that it’s similar to walnuts and sunflower seeds.
Since this type of hemp oil is made from the seeds of the hemp plant, it doesn’t contain any CBD or THC. As such, it doesn’t offer the same therapeutic effects as CBD oil for conditions such as pain relief, anxiety, depression and insomnia.
Confusing things somewhat is the fact that many CBD products are marketed as containing an ingredient called “CBD hemp oil.” In general, if you see any hemp products with “CBD” on their packaging, chances are they’re made from CBD oil rather than hemp seed oil.
If you’re not sure about a product’s ingredients, check its label in detail. You can almost always find a complete list of ingredients on the product’s rear label.
CBD Oil vs. Cannabis Oil
CBD oil is also frequently compared to cannabis oil — another oil that’s made using the cannabis plant. Like with CBD oil and hemp oil, there are several major differences between CBD oil and cannabis oil that you should be aware of.
First, while CBD oil products are made using low-THC, EU-approved strains of the hemp plant, cannabis oil products are typically made from strains of the cannabis plant that have significant levels of both CBD and THC.
The presence of THC in most cannabis oil means that you could feel high after consuming it — something that won’t ever happen with CBD oil.
Second, because cannabis oil contains THC, it’s treated differently under the UK’s Misuse of Drugs Act. While CBD oil is legal in the UK, cannabis oil is not. This means that you could be prosecuted if you purchase, possess or use cannabis oil.
You can learn more about cannabis oil’s legal status, as well as the specific laws under which it’s regulated, in our guide to the UK’s CBD oil laws.
While CBD oil and hemp oil can seem similar, they’re actually very different products. One is a natural health product made using certain strains of the hemp plant, whereas the other is made for a variety of purposes, from food preparation to industrial manufacturing.
If you’ve seen a product labelled as “CBD hemp oil” in a shop and don’t know which category it falls into, it’s best to check the product’s ingredient label for more information.