If you’re new to CBD or have browsed the section in your local health food store, you’ve probably come across your fair share of products labeled “hemp oil.”
However, you’ve probably also noticed that many look vastly different from one another, begging the question: what exactly are hemp oils?
The long answer? It depends on labeling.
What is Hemp Oil?
Officially, the term hemp or hemp seed oil refers to oil that is pressed from the seeds of the Cannabis Sativa plant. This is similar to oils like walnut, almond, and olive oil, in that oil is pressed from the fruit of olives or the flesh of the nuts; when it comes to hemp, it is simply extracted from seeds.
Here’s where the term “hemp oil” may get confusing. Since the rise of CBD, it’s become a common practice by brands and manufacturers to label CBD oil products as hemp oil. This is usually done as a marketing tactic to insinuate that a hemp oil product may contain similar benefits to CBD oil, which are vastly different.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is the compound extracted from the leaves, stems, and buds of the cannabis plant (not the seeds), which when ingested interacts with our own endocannabinoid receptor system to produce health benefits, and may even help improve certain medical conditions. For instance, research has shown CBD can help improve chronic pain ranging from pain from arthritis and difficult-to-treat neuropathic pain, like that from multiple sclerosis. [*]
CBD oil is also a bit different even when used in skincare products. Hemp oil is commonly used in skincare and can be used as a standalone moisturizer or in a mixture of oils that contain vitamins and antioxidants that enrich your skin. CBD oil, on the other hand, is typically combined with creams or lotions and is designed to penetrate your skin barrier to offer similar benefits as when you ingest it.
As you can see, you won’t necessarily harm yourself if you accidentally grab hemp oil in place of CBD oil, but if you’re looking to reap the benefits of CBD, you definitely want to double-check the label. Hemp oil will show on the label either hemp seed oil, cannabis Sativa (hemp) seed oil, virgin hemp oil, and/or hemp oil, while a true CBD oil will usually have a cannabidiol content listed. This is a good practice to get into because it will also ensure you’re getting a higher quality CBD oil that is more transparent. If the manufacturer is leaving out details on the label, it’s probably a good idea to skip it.
Will Hemp Oil Get Me “High?”
The short answer is: no. Even though hemp is part of the same Cannabinaceae plant family, it doesn’t contain the compound THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, that produces a high.
Hemp oils are extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant, which contain no THC, while the hemp plant in and of itself has lower levels of THC than marijuana. The difference between marijuana and hemp is that hemp contains 0.3% or less THC by weight, while marijuana contains 0.3% or more THC by dry weight.
Think of hemp and marijuana-like lettuce: “lettuce” is the term for a plant family that consists of several different varieties (romaine, butter leaf, etc…), yet each one under the broad term “lettuce” is different and has different vitamins and minerals. Hemp and marijuana are simply different forms of “lettuce.”
Also know that even if you purchase “hemp oil” that is actually a CBD oil, it also will not get you high provided it is pure oil. CBD also doesn’t contain THC or any other mind-altering molecules that produce a high.
Again, it helps to look at labels before purchasing because some CBD spectrum oils do contain doses of THC: these should be clearly listed on the label. To avoid any type of high, look for CBD only.
Benefits of Hemp Oil
The benefits of hemp oil are vastly different from CBD oil, with hemp oil being more of a superfood and vitamin-rich product, and CBD is a molecule that interacts with receptors within our body.
Hemp oil contains an abundant amount of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that are extremely useful for moisturizing your skin, which is why you often see hemp oil in skincare products. It’s also rich in an array of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and plenty of anti-aging antioxidants.
Other research shows hemp oil may help with PMS symptoms. One study, in particular, found that women who took 1 gram of fatty acids that included 210 mg of GLA (a fatty acid abundant in hemp oil) experienced a significant decrease in symptoms. [*]
Interestingly, hemp oil also contains antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies show the antibacterial properties of hemp oil can inhibit even dangerous bacteria like Staph. [*]
Uses of Hemp Oil
Because of its rich vitamin, mineral, and fatty acid content, hemp oil is often used in skincare products. Studies show it can help improve skin conditions like atopic dermatitis, and can also help reduce inflammation due to its gamma linoleic acid content. [*][*]
Other uses for hemp oil include:
- Hair conditioner
- Cut and scratch lubricant
As you can see, the hemp plant is a pretty remarkable plant. Even the parts that aren’t producing CBD still offer major health benefits in the form of oil that you can eat or apply topically. Be sure to check labels before buying anything labeled hemp oil, just to be certain you’re getting what you’re paying for.