hemp vs cbd

Because CBD is derived from the hemp or cannabis plant, it can be easy to assume hemp and CBD products are one and the same. However, not all hemp is CBD, and not all hemp products contain CBD.  

Let’s break down the difference.

Hemp and CBD: The Difference

Hemp is a strain of the cannabis sativa plant that has been cultivated by humans for over 12,000 years. Aside from being consumed as a medicinal food, its leaves and roots were also used to make clothing, rope, paper, building material, shoes, and more. [*

Another important thing to know about hemp is that it is not marijuana; they are simply part of the same Cannabinaceae plant family. Hemp contains little to no THC, the molecule in marijuana that can give you a “high.” 

What hemp does contain, however, is high amounts of CBD. Because of this, hemp is one of the main sources of CBD production. In addition, it’s also used similarly to the way it was thousands of years ago: to produce eco-friendly materials like clothing and furniture. 

CBD is the compound, as we mentioned, that is derived from the hemp plant. Unlike hemp, it’s used as a medicinal isolate to help reduce stress, improve sleep, and even possibly improve some conditions like schizophrenia. [*][*]

The confusion between hemp and CBD mostly comes down to product labeling, where things like “hemp oil” are substituted for “CBD oil” and vice versa. This gets even more confusing when we consider that actual hempseed oil is produced from the seeds of the hemp plant, which are also consumed as a health food. 

Hemp Oil vs Hempseed Oil vs CBD Oil

To better understand what’s going on in the labeling world with hemp and CBD, it helps to break down what each term could mean on product labels. 

Hemp Oil

Hemp oil is oil that is extracted from the seeds of hemp plant; however, hemp oil itself contains little CBD even though CBD is extracted from the same plant. Hemp oil is rich in nutrients and is often used in various beauty products, health tinctures, and even as a consumable oil like olive oil because of its healthy fatty acids. 

Because of the closeness of hemp and CBD (and because producers know many of us associate hemp with CBD), CBD oil is sometimes labeled as “hemp oil.” Products that contain THC may also be labeled under the umbrella term “hemp.” 


CBD oil is extracted from the buds, leaves, and stalk of the hemp plant, where most of the CBD in the plant resides. It is used as a medicinal compound to help treat various conditions, and also comes in different varieties. CBD isolate oils and tinctures feature CBD-only, while spectrum CBD oil can contain some THC, which could produce a high similar to smoking marijuana. 

CBD can also be labeled as “hemp oil,” but we’ll break down below what to look for in the ingredients to tell if you’re truly getting a CBD oil vs. a hemp seed oil.

Hemp Seed Oil

Hemp Seed oil can be the same thing a hemp oil, if the product is simply oil pressed from the seeds of the hemp plant. Hemp Seed oil is similar to olive and other oils pressed from seeds and fruits, although it has a different range of fatty acids and nutrients. Like hemp oil, it is used as an oil to cook with and consume, as well as being added to beauty products like skincare oils. 

How to Purchase Hemp and CBD Products (and make sure you’re getting the right one!)

While labeling can be tricky between hemp and CBD products, the true content of both products can usually be found under the ingredient list.

For instance, you can tell if a hemp oil is actually hemp seed oil or CBD oil if you look under “ingredients” on the label. True CBD oil will list cannabidiol (the full name for the CBD molecule) as the ingredient, along with the percentage in the oil. 

If the product is a hemp oil or hemp seed oil, it will be listed as such, or may even be called cannabis sativa seed oil in reference to the official name of the plant it is extracted from. These oils won’t have any cannabidiol listed if it is not a true CBD product. 

Hemp oils can also be infused with CBD or THC, or even contain the full spectrum of the hemp plant, which would feature both CBD and THC. These may be listed as full or broad-spectrum hemp, hemp oil, PCR (phytocannabinoid rich) or PCR hemp extracts. 

Another key indicator that a hemp oil product may actually be a CBD oil product is to look at the price. Typically, since CBD is more difficult to extract than hemp seed oil, CBD products will be markedly more expensive than hemp products (in any event, still always double check to be certain).

Other CBD and Hemp Products

If you’ve ever scanned the hemp or CBD section at your local health store, you’ve probably seen that both hemp and CBD products come in a variety of versions aside from oils. 

For instance, you’ll probably see hemp creams and CBD creams, but the same rule for looking at ingredients applies to these: hemp creams may contain hemp seed oil and CBD, which you’ll see listed as cannabidiol under the ingredients. Or they could contain none at all.

Key Takeaways

  • CBD is the chemical compound that is derived from the hemp plant. Unlike hemp, it’s used medicinally to help treat a variety of conditions.
  • Hemp oil can be either CBD oil or hemp seed oil: look for cannabidiol on the ingredient list to see if it contains CBD.
  • Hemp oil and hemp seed oil are extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant, which contain very minimal amounts of CBD. CBD is extracted from the leaves, stalks, and buds of the hemp plant, which is rich in CBD. 
CBDinside is an independent, New York based CBD comparison platform. Many of the CBD products that appear on this site are from companies from which CBDInside receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CBDinside does not include all CBD companies or all CBD products available in the marketplace.

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