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Cbd Oil Vs. Hemp Oil: What’s The Difference?

CBD and Hemp oil have been all over the news recently as well as being discussed on daytime TV talk-shows like this morning and good morning Britain.

So what exactly is CBD oil, what is Hemp oil, and what are the differences between the two?

There are many similarities and differences between Hemp and CBD oil.

Firstly, to clarify, they are actually both types of Cannabis, but don’t worry, neither of them will get you arrested.

They’re both perfectly legal in the UK as neither of them contain more than 0.2% THC (Delta 9 Tetrahydrocannabinol), the currently illegal chemical component responsible for the “high” most commonly associated with the consumption of cannabis.

Different species

The main thing to understand when comparing these two oils is that although they’re derived from the same genus of plant, Cannabis Sativa L, a member of the Cannabaceae family of flowering plants, they are extracted from different sub-species.

There is still debate raging as to the exact number of sub-genus of the Cannabis plant. Today we’re going to be a little controversial and go with FOUR distinction sub-species, not the usual three.

    • Sativa
    • Indica
    • Ruderalis
  • Hemp

Each has their own unique attributes, different physical characteristics, and potential uses.

Sativa Indica and Ruderalis

Sativa strains

Sativa originates in equatorial regions of the globe and can grow to an incredible height of 4-5 metres. They have long branches with large gaps between nodes, long thin leaves and expansive root systems which are necessary to support the potential size of the plant. Few Sativa strains naturally produce CBD.

Indica strains

Indica has its origins in what is now modern-day Pakistan and India. In contrast to their Sativa siblings, Indicas are much shorter only reaching a height of around 1.5 – 2 metres when cultivated outdoors. They have strong, robust stalks with wide, dark green leaves. They produce dense, heavy flowering buds which often contains small amounts of CBD and typically have a much more condensed rooting network than their Sativa sister.


Ruderalis can be traced back to Siberia and Kazakhstan. This may help to explain some of its more peculiar properties. It tends to have fewer branches, be on the small side and can often be mistaken for a common roadside weed because of its wild appearance.

The photoperiod doesn’t affect the plants flowering cycle meaning it’s self-regulates and can grow pretty much anywhere. It is this unique trait which has lead to the advent of Auto-flowering genetics. Breeders can now cross Ruderalis with other Indica and Sativa strains to produce these evermore popular auto-flowering strains. Ruderalis plants tend to have equally low THC and CBD levels as well as trace amounts of other Cannabinoids.

Cannabis Ruderalis


Hemp has been classified as a sub of Sativa, however recent studies by a Canadian team has discovered genetic evidence to suggest that Hemp strains have their own distinguishable pool of genetic diversity.

Their research also revealed some unexpected results.

The Hemp strains that the team tested showed more genetic relation to Indica strains than Sativa ones, challenging the age-old assertion that Hemp is a sub-species of Cannabis Sativa L sub Sativa.

This could be due to the fact that few Sativa strains produce CBD. Unlike most Indicas that do, at least in small amounts anyway.

Hemp produces CBD as its primary cannabinoid perhaps representing a link between these two sub-species.

Obviously, there is and continues to be a great deal of accidental and intentional hybridisation of these sub-species to produce ever more specific and useful strains with myriad medicinal and industrial applications.


What is Hemp Oil?

Hemp oil is often referred to as Hempseed oil, it’s derived from cold pressing the seeds of Cannabis Hemp plants.

Although technically the seeds are actually nuts, we’ll continue to refer to them as seeds for ease. The seeds do not contain any cannabinoids or Terpenes, they are produced by the living plant.

The finished product is clear to a light green in colour when refined, and is most often used in cooking. It has a rich, nutty flavour.

Unrefined Hemp oil is a much darker green and isn’t suitable for cooking as it has such has a low smoke point. It also goes rancid rather quickly if not kept airtight and refrigerated.

Hemp and Hemp oil has historically been used for tens of thousands of years by humans all over the globe. Until the 20th century and the adoption of America’s misguided policy of prohibition, Hemp was a staple crop in most countries and in most cultures on Earth.

What are the usages of Hemp Oil?

Hemp oil is an incredibly versatile and diverse resource. Hemp oil could replace petroleum in cosmetics, Varnishes, inks, Pharmaceuticals, cleaning products and Plastics.

The vast majority, if not all functions currently being performed by petroleum-based plastics, could be done by Hemp and other plant-based plastics.

Instead of taking 100 million years to produce the petroleum necessary to make these plastic products, it takes just 100 days to grow and produce the required Hemp oil.

It is also 100% biodegradable contrast to the fact that every piece of plastic ever produced is still here polluting our rivers and oceans.

Hemp is also carbon negative, which means that as it grows it sequesters on average 325KG of carbon per ton from the atmosphere, which can be processed into Hempcrete homes storing it safely for generations while tackling both homelessness and climate change at the same time.

Hemp oil also works as a very effective fuel source. Mass domestic cultivation of resin rich Cannabis could produce enough oil to make individual nations fuel independent, eliminating the need for continued global conflicts to secure ever-dwindling resources and could potentially end the world’s addiction to fossil fuels once and for all.

The diesel engine was actually originally designed by Rudolph Diesel to run on plant and vegetable oils like Hemp.

Henry Ford wanted to utilise this engine in his revolutionary design of a car made of out of plant-based plastics. The plastic was made up of Hemp, Soy, and Flax. The engine was to be fuelled by Hemp oil as well.

“Why use up the forests which were centuries in the making and the mines which required ages to lay down, if we can get the equivalent of forest and mineral products in the annual growth of the hemp fields?” — Henry Ford 

Ford was attempting to merge agriculture with industry and at a time when metals were evermore in demand, he was exploring alternative construction methods and materials. He believed that the plant-based plastic car would be more durable and safer than steel cars as they were 10x stronger than steel meaning they didn’t crush when rolled.

Image: Henry Ford demonstrating the strength of his plant plastic panels.

The plant powered vehicle concept pioneered by Henry Ford may finally come full circle with the discovery of Hemp nanosheet superconductors which has recently been shown to be a more efficient energy storage than its carbon-based counterpart in Graphene, making it the perfect material to produce batteries for the next generation of electric vehicles, negating the need for expensive, polluting and time-consuming mining for Lithium and other precious metals.

Hemp-based Graphene has also been shown to be 100 times stronger than steel, lighter, easier and cheaper to fabricate meaning Hemp based and Hemp powered cars are once again a possibility, whether they’ll ever become a reality remains to be seen.

Hemp seeds and Hempseed oil is also highly nutritious and contains:

    • Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, D and E
    • A complete protein
    • An excellent 3:1 ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 (Polyunsaturated fats)
    • Essential Amino acids
  • Minerals Magnesium, Calcium, Potassium, Zinc, and Iron

Prior to global Cannabis prohibition Hemp, Hemp seed and its oil have been used historically by humans all over the planet in the production of Paints, Lubricants, Cosmetics, Cleaning products, Textiles, Ropes, Paper and Medicines.

Hemp seed was also once the most ubiquitously utilised animal feed given its high nutritional value and high crop yield.

What is CBD Oil?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of many naturally occurring compounds in Cannabis known as Cannabinoids.

Cannabinoids are a type of Phytocannabinoid that is found only in Cannabis. They act on the CB1 and CB2 receptors located in the central nervous system, immune cells, gastrointestinal tract and the peripheral nervous system.

They form part of an internal network of cannabinoid receptors known as the Endocannabinoid system. This system is regulated by the production of endogenous cannabinoids inside the body called Endocannabinoids, this helps to regulate everything from fertility to appetite, mood to memory.

The production of cannabinoids in cannabis happens on the flowers, leaves and in many small amounts on the stalks of the cannabis plant too. These little microscopic chemical factories are called Trichomes. Derived from the Greek word, trikhōma means “growth of hair” these multi-chemical producing little hairs appear in the flowering cycle of the plant and are home to Cannabinoids, Terpenes and Flavonoids too.

So is CBD psychoactive?

CBD is currently classed as being non-psychoactive, however, given its effects on so many neural networks and the ever-increasing research, this classification may not be long-lived.

CBD doesn’t have a high affinity with the CB1 and CB2 receptors but has been found to be a Pleiotropic drug, meaning that it produces effects through multiple molecular pathways.

In short, CBD doesn’t get you high, but may have effects on mood, emotions, and mind, such as anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic effects.

Scientists have so far observed CBD operating through more than 60 different molecular pathwaysincluding 5HT1A (Serotonin) TRPV1, PPAR- Gamma and GPR55 to name just a few.

CBD can be produced from Hemp strains because they have been specifically bred to have low levels of THC, however, these strains also tend to have very low levels of CBD (3-4%) and few terpenes and other vitally important chemical compounds necessary for the entourage effect.

It can also be extracted from Cannabis strains that have been specifically bred to increase CBD levels to the high 20% and beyond, while reducing the THC content to under 0.2% making it legal in Europe.

This has the advantage of including all the other trace cannabinoids such as CBC, CBG and CBN, terpenes and other vital chemical components that our current understanding of the science suggests are necessary to achieve the maximum benefit from its consumption.

What are the usages of CBD Oil?

The number of potential applications and uses for CBD grows daily, however, the issue here in the UK is the law. The current UK government refuses to acknowledge that cannabis has any “Accepted medical value” because they do not acknowledge studies and research done in other countries and territories where the restrictions have been lifted and the medicinal benefits can be discussed openly.

In response to the rise of the global Cannabidiol market and its emergence in the UK MHRA (the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency), subsequently, as of January 1st 2017, classified CBD as a medicine requiring anyone who sells it making any medical claims, must have a license and adhere to strict regulatory guidelines.

This opened up a legal grey-area for companies to sell CBD in the UK without a license, as the products must be sold as food supplement instead. This legally limits companies from discussing any potential medicinal benefits a customer may get from a particular product.

Given this information, any potential therapeutic uses and benefits of CBD cannot be advertised.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is now available in the UK in a multitude of preparations and products.

From balms and skin creams to suppositories, Capsules and Edibles to Tinctures and mouth sprays.

You can also buy the dried flowers (as long as they contain less than 0.2% THC) and smoke it/Vaporise it too. CBD extracts such as Shatter, Wax, and Crumble are available to buy too, however, all of these products are age restricted to 18 because they are smokable.

Cannabinoids including CBD have been found to have anti-inflammatory properties – this potentially means cannabinoid-based preparations could help to relieve the symptoms of chronic inflammatory illnesses.

CBD has been found to help titrate the psychoactive effects of THC, leading some specialists to theories that CBD could be used to help treat certain mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, BPD, Bipolar and Depression. It has also been found to help reduce Anxiety.

So in summation, although Hemp and CBD are both derived from Cannabis sub-species and share common traits they have different applications and benefits.

Hemp oil has primarily been an industrial resource.

CBD oil, on the other hand, has been slowly gaining a legitimate footing as a highly nutritional food supplement and medicine in its own right.

Until cannabis is fully relegalised and reintroduced into society, there will remain a legal grey-area where people can exploit the public’s lack of knowledge and general confusion around this subject.

The ineffective regulatory and legal controls that are currently in place allows unscrupulous individuals to sell industrial Hemp oil as a cure for everything from Cancer to Aids.

This is exactly why it is vital to use the correct nomenclature when discussing these similar yet vastly different oils.

Hopefully, you should now be able to confidently explain the difference between Hemp oil and CBD oil.

4 thoughts on “Cbd Oil Vs. Hemp Oil: What’s The Difference?

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