What’s the Difference Between CBD Oil and Hemp Seed Oil?

Confused about the difference between CBD oil and hemp seed oil? You’re not alone. It’s common to get these two mixed up. It doesn’t help that they don’t always go by those exact names. In fact, you’re likely to see all kinds of different variations of these names on websites and product labels. However, the difference is actually quite simple. Here’s a quick tutorial.

Hand holding CBD tincture dropper

First, The Basics

In case you’re not sure exactly what CBD is, it’s short for cannabidiol and it’s a chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. It belongs to a group of compounds called cannabinoids. These compounds interact with receptors in your body, and they can affect the way you feel and the way your body works. Some researchers estimate that there are close to a hundred different cannabinoids in cannabis, including well-known ones like CBD and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), and dozens of more obscure ones like cannabidivarin and cannabichromevarin. 

What’s So Great About Cannabinoids?

There’s a wealth of anecdotal evidence that cannabinoids have a wide range of health benefits. CBD, in particular, has become extremely popular in the last few years as a general beauty and wellness aid and to treat a multitude of specific health concerns including epilepsy, anxiety, depression, and pain. Scientific research on the topic is still limited but growing. In 2017 CBD even received a favorable health assessment from the World Health Organization

So What Is CBD Oil?

CBD and other cannabinoids are found in almost all parts of the cannabis plant. One of the most common ways to take these cannabinoids is by consuming an oil extracted from the plant; that’s what CBD oil is. Keep in mind that different strains of cannabis contain varying amounts of these different cannabinoids, and this will affect the cannabinoid content of the oil that’s extracted. For example, some plants have very high levels of CBD. Others have high levels of THC. In the United States, a cannabis plant with more than 0.3 percent THC is classified as marijuana. An oil extracted from a marijuana plant is likely to contain a significant amount of THC, and be subject to stricter government regulation. In contrast, Hemp plants contain only trace amounts of THC. Most of the CBD oil products you’ll see being sold come from Hemp plants, and while you can’t know exactly what’s in an extract without looking at the testing results, an extract that comes from a hemp plant should theoretically contain only trace amounts of THC. 

What Does “Full Spectrum” or “Whole Plant” Mean?

It’s possible to buy CBD isolate, which means that just the CBD has been isolated from the plant, and no other cannabinoids are present in the extract. However, many CBD oils are whole plant or full spectrum extracts, meaning that they contain the full spectrum of chemicals found in the cannabis plant. In addition to a variety of cannabinoids, the cannabis plant contains a number of other substances such as terpenes, which believed to be beneficial to your health. If it’s a whole plant extract, a CBD oil might be labeled as a full spectrum extract or a whole plant extract rather than just CBD oil. Some other labels you might see are: hemp extract, hemp oil, and full spectrum hemp extract.

What About Hemp Seed Oil?

Like CBD oil, hemp seed oil also comes from the cannabis plant, but it’s something quite different to CBD oil. As the name suggests, Hemp seed oil is made from hemp plants. However, that doesn’t make it different from CBD oil, which often comes from hemp plants too. The difference between CBD oil and hemp seed oil is that hemp seed oil is made with only one part of the hemp plant; the seeds. Hemp seeds don’t have a significant quantity of any cannabinoid in them, so neither does hemp seed oil. If you’re looking for CBD or other cannabinoids, Hemp seed oil is not what you want. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have health benefits though. In fact, it has arguably been a popular health supplement for longer than CBD. Hemp seeds—and the oil extracted from them—contain a long list of beneficial nutrients including essential fatty acids, vitamin E, potassium, iron, and calcium. So don’t cross this product off your list just because it doesn’t have any cannabinoids in it. Just don’t confuse the benefits of hemp seed oil with CBD oil because they are quite different substances.


The last thing to remember is that if it’s CBD oil that you’re looking for, don’t forget that the CBD market is still not well regulated, and it can be hard to know exactly what you’re getting. Some expert tips on shopping for CBD products: ask questions about where the product comes from, find out how it has been extracted, look for testing by a third party, and read the test results.  

Some of Our Favorite Hemp Seed Oil Products:

Olive + M cleansing oil

Tonik organic hemp seed oil capsules

Some of Our Favorite CBD Oil Products:

Gara Skincare Youth Serum

Verte Essentials Flow premium hemp-infused oil 

Written by Andrea Nakaya

Author and Svn Space contributor. Andrea is a native of New Zealand, and holds a BA in English and an MA in communications from San Diego State University. She has written numerous articles and more than fifty books and anthologies, on a wide variety of current issues.

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