One of the biggest questions we get from consumers both new and experienced: what is the difference between hemp oil vs CBD oil? Or is there a difference at all?
The answer, it turns out, is not so cut and dry. The beauty industry and Amazon marketplace blurred the lines in CBD hemp labeling best-practices. And the result leaves consumers understandably confused. We are here to clear up the confusion!
The problem with “hemp oil” on Amazon
The e-commerce giant Amazon now accounts for over 50% of all online sales. Also, Amazon strictly prohibits the sale of CBD products on its platform. So, you won’t find anything on Amazon labeled “CBD.” CBD is short for cannabidiol, a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant.
However, Amazon offers a massive amount of products labeled “Hemp Oil” or products made with hemp seed oil. But hemp seed oil doesn not contain CBD. Some products even call themselves “cannabis sativa seed oil,” which is just another way to say hemp seed oil.
Ever since CBD oil first became popular, people have been selling hemp seed oil labeled as “Hemp Oil” on Amazon. And they sold a lot of it. Some of the top reviewed Hemp Oil products received over 2,000 reviews. These include lotions, ingestible oils, capsules, pet products, and beauty products.
Many of the bottles for sale come in the classic 1-oz amber bottles that most legitimate hemp brands use to package their authentic CBD oils. They even contain a milligram level on the front of the bottle or box.
But when you dive deeper into hemp oil vs CBD, these hemp oil products are almost always a simple mixture of hempseed oil, which contains no cannabidiol whatsoever.
CBD hemp oil comes from the flower or “bud” of cannabis plants, not the seed. But does that mean you can’t find real CBD oil products on Amazon? Well, it’s complicated.
Hemp oil vs CBD oil on Amazon
With sketchy scammers selling knockoff CBD products labeled “Hemp Oil” on Amazon, real CBD companies took notice. In their fight to define hemp oil vs CBD oil, these real CBD companies started labeling legitimate CBD oil products as “hemp oil” to cater to Amazon’s demands.
This includes some of the largest brands in the country who just recently decided to take the plunge on Amazon CBD sales. The trick is to make the label more vague so that it does not include the phrase “CBD.”
This system seems to work fine for Amazon. But it does a terrible disservice to consumers trying to find the real thing.
Understanding the hemp plant
Part of the problem is that too many people just don’t understand terms like hemp, hemp seed oil, and CBD oil. These terms are often used interchangeably. And that leads to confusion.
Part of this confusion comes from definition of hemp changing because of the Farm Bill. Hemp used to be interchangeable with “industrial hemp.” But then Congress legalized hemp by changing the definition of a hemp plant to mean any cannabis plant with a THC level not more than 0.3%. That opened the door to produce CBD hemp, which was a new thing until quite recently.
Marijuana and hemp both come from the same plant species: cannabis sativa. Both marijuana and hemp produce CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids that interact with the human body through the endocannabinoid system, or ECS. Full spectrum hemp-derived CBD engages with the body’s ECS through the entourage effect to bring the body’s systems into balance.
To put it simply: not many people talk about “industrial hemp” any more. Most conversations about hemp are about the entourage effect and production of cannabinoids like CBD.
CBD oil vs hemp oil
Hemp plants are a variety of cannabis sativa with a legally compliant level of THC in trace amounts, of not above 0.3%. Hemp seeds can be a very nutritious dietary additive, but they contain no cannabinoids. They are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E. Hemp seeds and hemp seed oil, sometimes labeled as “cannabis sativa seed oil,” are commonly found at health food stores.
But hemp seed oil is more similar to fish oil or olive oil than to CBD hemp oil. CBD hemp oil is extracted from the flowers of cannabis sativa plants with a low enough THC level to be considered hemp plants by the federal government.
CBD oil is made from an extract of the flowers of the cannabis sativa plant and a carrier oil.
How to tell good hemp products from bad ones
Answering this question is not as easy as it should be. All cannabidiol comes from hemp, but not all hemp oil has CBD content. Here’s a few helpful tips to help you determine at a glance if a CBD or “hemp oil” product is worth your trust.
Look for a QR code
Every legitimate CBD company will provide access to their third party lab reports. That’s a good start. But those lab reports should also be linked to a QR code on the product packaging. When scanned with a smartphone camera, this QR code should link directly to those lab reports.
Look at the lab reports
It’s not enough for a CBD company to test only for cannabinoid potency to prove the THC content is below the legal limit. However, when determining if a “hemp oil” product is actually a cannabidiol product in disguise, this cannabinoid potency test is very helpful. In addition to telling you whether it’s legal or not based on THC content, it can also tell you if there’s CBD present, and how much.
In addition to testing for cannabinoids, a good CBD brand will also test every batch of product for contamination and impurities. Look for lab reports that test for pesticides, heavy metals, solvents, bacteria, mold, fungus, etc. If a company does not test for these things, it is either lazy or trying to hide something. Either way, they don’t deserve your trust.
Look for the USDA organic seal
The product may have a USDA organic seal on it. This is generally a sign of quality. But again, this doesn’t mean it’s quality CBD oil. It could be hemp seed oil, which has been certified organic by the USDA. Amazon doesn’t appear concerned that customers can be confused by this.
Difference between hemp oil and CBD oil: conclusions
To recap, what’s the difference between hemp oil and CBD oil? Products labeled “hemp oil” while appearing to be CBD oil should be viewed with skepticism and caution. The only way to truly know if a “hemp oil” product contains any cannabidiol is through a chemical analysis and a lab report.
Many products labeled “hemp oil” are actually hemp seed oil and not CBD oil. And that’s not good. Even if they come from the same cannabis plant, the content will be different depending on which part of the plant is extracted: the seeds or the flowers.
However, just because a product says “hemp oil” doesn’t mean it’s automatically a bad product made with hemp seed. But it does mean you need to examine it more closely to know for sure if it’s hemp seed oil, or CBD oil in disguise.
Put simply: make sure you can choose a more trustworthy brand of CBD oil, like our USDA certified organic CBD oil from Cornbread Hemp. Our CBD tinctures contain a full spectrum of cannabinoids for a robust entourage effect. To avoid confusion, we never use hemp seed oil.
That’s because we take our job of sourcing CBD for our hemp oils very seriously. As a consumer, make sure you do too.