What is the Difference Between CBD Oil and Hemp Oil?

There are lots of hemp-based products out there—and with some of the hype surrounding those products, wouldn’t you love to be able to distinguish between the different products and recognize the different benefits these products may have
Written by 
Zora Degrandpre, MS, ND.
|Last Updated:
Hemp oil vs CBD oil

Take hemp oil for example. Hemp oil is actually hemp seed oil. It has lots of benefits—but is missing one ingredient that some sellers seem to hope you don’t realize—it is missing CBD!

Hemp Seed Oil

Hemp seed oil is a nutritious oil—it contains:

  • Omega-6 fatty acids including linoleic acid (LA) and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA)
  • Omega-3 fatty acids including alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
  • Other poly- and mono-unsaturated fatty acids.
  • Protein (Hemp seed oil is a “complete protein” containing all the essential amino acids)
  • Dietary fiber
  • Plant sterols and plant polyphenols
  • Antioxidants

Potential Health Benefits of Hemp seed oil

Hemp seed oil has one of the highest amounts of polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) in any commercially available plant oil. PUFAs have been linked to decreased risks of cardiovascular disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, inflammatory, and autoimmune diseases. [1] The ratio of omega-3/omega-6 oils is about 1:2 – 1:3, much better than other plant oils. These fats may also reduce inflammation, cholesterol, heart disease, and benefit the growth and development of the fetus and young child.[2], [3]

Antioxidants and plant polyphenols also have health benefits for heart health, healthy nervous and digestive systems and a healthy immune system.[4]

Hemp seed oil does not have high levels of CBD. Trace amounts are sometimes found in some batches, but this is likely due to contamination with older parts of the plant. [5]

It is best to get cold-pressed hemp seed oil —no heat should be used in the processing, just as with olive oil. The color ranges from clear green/yellow to dark green. It should be used at room temperature because it smokes very quickly if you are trying to sauté or cook something with it on a stovetop. Instead, it can be used in dressings, smoothies, dips, pesto and sauces.

Hemp Seed oil also has benefits for the skin—it hydrates, smooths, is anti-inflammatory and doesn’t clog up pores, so it is used to benefit acne, rashes, dry skin, and may be beneficial in inflammatory skin diseases like eczema and psoriasis.


CBD oil, on the other hand, is derived from a mature hemp plant and not the seeds. CBD oil can also be made from purified CBD which is then added to a carrier oil such as coconut oil, MCT (Medium Chain Triglyceride) oil, glycerin or…hemp seed oil! It can also be contained in a mixture of these oils.

CBD oil comes in a variety of concentrations (potencies) and may also include terpenes, other phytocannabinoids (but with ≤0.3%THC), amino acids and other plant constituents.

Benefits of CBD Oil

The most evidence-based benefits of CBD are:[6], [7],[8]

  • Help with various sleep issues. CBD can help people get to sleep and stay asleep.
  • Act as an anti-inflammatory agent
  • Act as a pain reliever
  • To reduce anxiety and depression
  • To reduce seizure activity
    • Synthetic forms of CBD/THC are used to treat some rare forms of childhood epilepsy.

CBD oil can be safely used over a relatively wide range of doses—we at LeafReport always recommend that you start at a low dose and slowly increase that dose until your health goal is achieved. Side effects are relatively mild but can include a dry mouth, diarrhea, drowsiness and fatigue. It is important, though, to know that CBD can interact with prescription medications including SSRIs and blood thinners. Talk to your pharmacist for the best information.

CBD oil is best taken under the tongue (sublingually) because it is best absorbed through the mucus tissues under the tongue. Keep the oil under your tongue for 30-60 seconds for best results.


[1] Abedi, E., & Sahari, M. A. (2014). Long‐chain polyunsaturated fatty acid sources and evaluation of their nutritional and functional properties. Food Science & Nutrition, 2, 443–463. https://doi.org/10.1002/fsn3.121 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25473503/ .

[2] https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/tips/things-to-know-about-omega-fatty-acids

[3] Kris-Etherton PM, Harris WS, Appel LJ. Omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease: new recommendations from the American Heart Association. Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology. 2003 Feb 1;23(2):151-2. https://europepmc.org/article/med/17539883

[4] Rasouli H, Farzaei MH, Khodarahmi R. Polyphenols and their benefits: A review. International Journal of Food Properties. 2017 Dec 29;20(sup2):1700-41. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/10942912.2017.1354017

[5] Cary Leizer BA, David Ribnicky PhD, Alexander Poulev PhD, Slavik Dushenkov PhD & Ilya Raskin PhD (2000) The Composition of Hemp Seed Oil and Its Potential as an Important Source of Nutrition, Journal of Nutraceuticals, Functional & Medical Foods, 2:4, 35-53, DOI: 10.1300/J133v02n04_04 https://www.tandfonline.com/action/showCitFormats?doi=10.1300%2FJ133v02n04_04

[6] White CM. A review of human studies assessing cannabidiol’s (CBD) therapeutic actions and potential. The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 2019 Jul;59(7):923-34.


[7] Boyaji S, Merkow J, Elman RN, Kaye AD, Yong RJ, Urman RD. The role of cannabidiol (CBD) in chronic pain management: an assessment of current evidence. Current pain and headache reports. 2020 Feb;24(2):1-6. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11916-020-0835-4

[8] Maroon J, Bost J. Review of the neurological benefits of phytocannabinoids. Surgical neurology international. 2018;9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc5938896/


Dr. Zora DeGrandpre practices naturopathic medicine (home visits) in rural Washington and is a professional medical and scientific writer and editor, specializing in naturopathic, functional, botanical and integrative medicine. Dr. DeGrandpre has degrees in drug design, immunology and natural medicine and has extensive research experience in cancer and molecular immunology. In her practice, Dr DeGrandpre has found the use of CBD with elderly patients and others to be safe and clinically effective. She brings to all her writing a straightforward approach that is accurate, clear and authentic.

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