Cultures around the world have used cannabis plants for medicinal and ritualistic purposes for thousands of years. But it’s only recently that mainstream culture and Western medical professionals have begun to recognize their true potential.

You’ve probably noticed the onslaught of cannabis derivatives, including hemp, hemp oil, hemp seed oil, and CBD oil, popping up everywhere from pharmacies to bodegas. It’s great that more people are beginning to tap into the treasure trove of health benefits these products have to offer. But it can also be challenging to determine what’s what.

Here’s a guide to the basics of hemp oil, hempseed oil, and CBD.


Hemp oil is often used as an alias for CBD oil because CBD oil can be a derivative of the hemp plant. However, some people use hemp oil to refer to hempseed oil, which is very different from CBD oil, or as an umbrella term for both CBD and hempseed oils. Confused? Basically, hemp oil can be CBD oil if it was extracted from multiple parts of the plant, i.e., the flowers, leaves, and stalks. Hemp oil is not CBD oil if the product is derived strictly from the hemp seeds.

This is because different parts of the plant contain different concentrations of CBD. The leaves and flowers have a high concentration of CBD, while the seeds have virtually none.

The difference between CBD oil and hemp seed oil is somewhat similar to the difference between hemp and marijuana, which are also commonly confused. Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the most well-known and powerful cannabinoids found in cannabis. But they occur in different concentrations in different varieties of the cannabis plant. Hemp is Cannabis Sativa, while marijuana is from Cannabis Indica. Hemp contains almost no THC (the compound in marijuana that gets you “high”), usually less than 0.3%. Marijuana, on the other hand, can contain up to 30% THC. Both Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica contain CBD.

However, because marijuana and THC are not legal in many places, most CBD products on the market are extracted from hemp. Sometimes, companies use the term hemp oil to refer to their CBD oil product because of advertising restrictions.

Industrial hemp is legal in the United States since the passing of the Farm Bill in 2018. This bill defines the hemp plant as the specific variety of Cannabis sativa L. with a THC concentration of 0.3 percent or less on a dry weight basis. Essentially, it’s legal to grow hemp as long as it doesn’t contain enough THC to have a psychoactive effect. But individual states make their own rules regarding the legalization of products, including CBD oil or hemp seed oil, derived from hemp.


Hempseed oil is derived solely from the seeds of the hemp plant. It is created by cold-pressing seeds to extract the oil. It may contain trace amounts of CBD or THC, but the amount, if any, is so minute it does not have any effect.

Hemp seeds, technically a nut, are similar to flax seeds or chia seeds and pack a powerful nutritional punch. Specifically, hemp seeds contain fiber; protein; vitamin E; minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc; and omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, as well asgamma-linolenic acid. These seeds have a mild, nutty flavor, making their oil ideal for use as a salad dressing or mixed into cereal or a smoothie. They have been a part of Chinese medicine and cooking for 3,000 years or more.

In addition to providing several vital nutrients in one convenient package, hemp seeds, and the oil derived from them, may provide benefits such as encouraging a healthy blood pressure and taming certain skin conditions, such as eczema. In part, this is because of the positive effect of polyunsaturated and essential fatty acids, in which hemp seeds are rich. These “healthy fats” are crucial for a range of bodily functions, including cardiovascular and neurological wellness and healthy skin and hair.


Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is a safe, holistic dietary supplement, offering support for a number of body systems.

Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has only approved one CBD product for medicinal use. Called Epidolex, it is used to treat a rare form of epilepsy that primarily affects children. However, that doesn’t mean there ample studies pointing towards its efficacy in support the body in other ways. A study in the European Journal of Pain, based on animal subjects, showed CBD reduced pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. And a survey of 5,000 people conducted by the Brightfield Group found more than 60% of CBD users had taken it to relieve anxiety.

CBD products, including oils, tinctures, vaporized liquid, capsules, edibles, and cosmetics, are legal in most states and many countries around the world.


So now you know what’s what when it comes to CBD oil, hempseed oil, and hemp oil. But the question remains, how do you know if you’re getting CBD oil or hemp oil without the CBD?

First, remember to look specifically for products that contain CBD, not just hemp seed oil or other hemp extracts. Also, shop with reputable suppliers. A trustworthy retailer should clearly state on the product label whether or not the product contains CBD and how much. Furthermore, they should display a certificate of analysis (COA). This indicates the product has been third-party tested to verify contents and quality.

Varieties of CBD oils include full-spectrum, THC-free distillate, and CBD isolates. THC-free distillate and CBD isolates are those you’ll find in places where marijuana is still illegal.

If you’re not sure how much CBD to take, check out our guide here.

If in doubt, whether regarding the contents of a product, what kind of product is best for you, or what dosage to take, ask. Any retailer with a legitimate product should be happy to share their knowledge and help you find the best solution for your needs.