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Everything you need to know about the similarities and differences between hemp seed oil and CBD oil, including how they’re made, what they’re used for and potential benefits they provide. Find out what the research says about hemp oil, who should avoid it, and how it may affect your health.

Hemp Seed Oil vs. CBD Oil: What’s The Difference?

Dr. Myles Spar is a double board-certified medical expert in performance medicine, men’s health, advanced testing and integrative medicine.

Commissions we earn from partner links on this page do not affect our opinions or evaluations. Our editorial content is based on thorough research and guidance from the Forbes Health Advisory Board.

Table of Contents

  • What Is Hemp Seed Oil?
  • What Is CBD Oil?

Hemp seed oil and cannabidiol (CBD) oil are sourced from the cannabis sativa plant species. Hemp seed oil is extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant, which is a variety of the cannabis sativa plant that contains less than 0.3% THC, while CBD oil comes from the leaves, stalks and flowers of both cannabis and hemp plants. Both oils can be identified across a variety of products, from beauty to food.

Read on to learn more about the similarities and differences between hemp seed oil and CBD oil, including how they’re made, what they’re used for and potential benefits they provide.

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What Is Hemp Seed Oil?

Hemp seed oil is extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant and offers a robust and nutty flavor. Consisting of around 70 to 90% of polyunsaturated fatty acids (often referred to as healthy fats), it’s abundant in omega-3 essential fatty acids, tocopherols and linoleic and linolenic acids.

Depending on the way hemp seeds are handled and processed, hemp seed oil may contain delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD oil, according to a report by Oklahoma State University. Most companies producing hemp seed oil for consumption must adhere to strict guidelines, ensuring that the products contain almost imperceptible amounts of THC, 0.3% or less. This amount will not cause psychoactive effects.

How Is It Made?

Hemp seed oil is extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant. The seeds are cold pressed, similar to the way olive oil is made. Once oil is extracted from the seed, it’s stored in a cool, dark place for processing and shipping.

How Is It Used?

Hemp seed oil can be used as a culinary oil to enhance flavor and may be drizzled on vegetables or made into salad dressings. It can also be taken straight from the spoon as a dietary supplement, as it’s found to be rich in polyunsaturated omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, according to the American Oil Chemists Society (AOCS).

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Hemp seed oil also has a variety of industrial uses, such as paints, varnishes and other coating materials, due to its drying properties. The oil is also used in plastic flooring, such as linoleum.

Potential Benefits

Potential benefits of hemp seed oil include boosting omega intake, thanks to the oil’s unique composition of a 3-to-1 ratio of omega-6 (linoleic) to omega-3 (alpha-linolenic) essential fatty acids. In general, a diet rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids contributes to skin health, cardiovascular health, maintaining healthy blood pressure and reducing pain and inflammation, as well as potentially reducing some PMS symptoms like breast tenderness.

The dense nutritional profile of hemp seed oil also includes:

  • Antioxidants, such as vitamin E
  • Omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9
  • Carotene
  • Chlorophyll
  • Calcium
  • Sulfur
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Phosphorus
  • Zinc
  • Iron

Potential Risks and Side Effects

Hemp seed oil’s composition of fats can cause the oil to go rancid easily. A relatively low flash point—the temperature at which a liquid will vaporize or ignite when exposed to an open flame—also means it’s unsuitable for frying and is best consumed raw when fresh.

This oil is also difficult to store. Due to its fatty acid make-up, hemp seed oil is at risk of going rancid (oxidative deterioration), meaning it degrades when exposed to oxygen, according to the European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology.

For best use, hemp seed oil should be used at temperatures below 300 degrees Fahrenheit (150 degrees Celsius), and is best stored in the refrigerator or freezer after opening due to its short shelf life.

What Is CBD Oil?

CBD is one of the most abundant active constituents of the cannabis plant. It’s a non-psychoactive isomer of THC—meaning it won’t result in the intoxicating, “high” sensation. It’s derived from the leaves, stalks and flowers of hemp and cannabis plants, but as the legality of cannabis is still controversial in some places, most CBD oils are extracted from hemp plants.

“CBD is a plant compound found in cannabis sativa—both hemp and cannabis,” says Yvonne Perez Emerson, an herbalist and the founder of Make and Mary, a CBD boutique in Portland, Oregon. There are thought to be at least 100 unique compounds found in hemp known as cannabinoids, of which CBD is the second most abundant. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that interact with the body’s central regulatory system (endocannabinoid system), which manages the body’s homeostasis (physiological balance) among bodily processes such as appetite, mood, memory, sleep, and immune system functions, adds Emerson.

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They can be either consumed as phytocannabinoids found intrinsically within CBD products or produced naturally by the body (endocannabinoids). When ingested, CBD oil can help the brain and body by interacting with the endocannabinoid system and neurotransmitters that impact inflammation, pain, mood regulation and stress response.

Hemp Oil: Is It Good for You?

Hemp oil, also known as hemp seed oil, is made from hemp, a cannabis plant like the drug marijuana but containing little to no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical that gets people “high.” Instead of THC, hemp contains cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical that has been used to treat everything from epilepsy to anxiety.

Hemp is increasingly popular as a remedy for a range of conditions including skin issues and stress. It may contain properties that contribute to reduced risks of illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease and cardiovascular disease, though additional research is necessary. Hemp oil may also reduce inflammation in the body.

In addition to CBD, Hemp oil contains large amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 fats, which are two types of unsaturated fat s, or “good fats,” and all nine essential amino acids, the materials your body uses to make protein. Here’s more information about nutrients in hemp seed oil and how they may benefit your health.

Nutrition Information

Hemp oil is made from hemp seeds. In one serving of hemp seeds (3 tablespoons), you’ll find the following:

  • Calories: 170
  • Calories from fat: 108
  • Total fat: 12 grams
  • Saturated fat: 1 grams
  • Trans fat: 0 grams
  • Cholesterol: 0 grams
  • Sodium: 0 grams
  • Total carbohydrates: 5 grams
  • Sugars: 1 grams
  • Protein: 10 grams

Hemp seeds also contain these minerals and hemp nutrients:

Many of these nutrients provide the body necessary minerals and also contribute to overall health. Note that hemp seeds contain a significant amount of iron (20 % of your recommended daily diet). This helps prevent iron deficiency, or anemia.

Potential Health Benefits of Hemp Oil

Hemp seed oil is used as a remedy for a range of conditions. Some studies show that its nutrients and minerals can contribute to better skin and heart health as well as reduced inflammation. Here’s a deeper look at what the research says about the potential health benefits of hemp oil:

Improved Cardiovascular Health

The amino acid arginine is present in hempseed oil. Studies have shown that this ingredient contributes to a healthy cardiovascular system. Consuming foods with high arginine levels can help decrease the risk of heart disease.

In studies, the CBD in hemp oil has been shown to reduce seizures in rare types of childhood epilepsy that are resistant to other treatments, Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Regularly taking CBD can also reduce the number of seizures brought on by tuberous sclerosis complex, a condition that causes tumors to form throughout the body.

Reduced Inflammation

Over time, excess inflammation in your body can contribute to a variety of diseases including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and asthma. It has been suggested that gamma linolenic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid found in hemp, acts as an anti-inflammatory. Studies have also linked the omega-3 fatty acids in hemp with reductions in inflammation.

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Healthier Skin

Spreading hemp oil on your skin as a topical application can also reduce symptoms and provide relief for several types of skin disorders. One study showed that hemp oil can act as an effective acne treatment, though more research is needed in this area. In addition, consuming hemp seed oil was found to improve symptoms of atopic dermatitis, or eczema, due to the presence of the “good” polyunsaturated fats in the oil.

Potential Risks of Hemp Oil

Although hemp and marijuana come from the same species of cannabis plant, hemp has little to no THC. This means that consuming hemp is legal in the U.S. and will not cause you to become intoxicated or impaired.

In general, hemp seed oil is safe to ingest or use topically, but there are a few things to note if you decide to start taking hemp oil. Pay attention to the following potential risks of hemp oil:

Some people experience skin irritation when using topical oils containing CBD, possibly due to an allergy. Start with using a small amount to see how your skin reacts to it, and keep an eye on any changes.

Digestive Issues

It’s possible that ingesting CBD-containing oils like hemp oil can cause an upset stomach or diarrhea. Again, when you’re first introducing hemp oil into your diet, start small to see how it impacts you. Reactions may be different from person to person.

Show Sources

Brain, Behavior, and Immunity: “Omega-3 Supplementation Lowers Inflammation and Anxiety in Medical Students: A Randomized Controlled Trial.”

Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment: “Scoping paper on the potential adverse effects of CBD products.”

Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports: “Cannabis for the Treatment of Epilepsy: an Update.”

Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology: “Gamma linolenic acid: an antiinflammatory omega-6 fatty acid.”

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon: “Hemp Oil.”

GW Research Ltd.: “A Randomized Controlled Trial of Cannabidiol (GWP42003-P, CBD) for Seizures in Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (GWPCARE6).”

Harvard Men’s Health Watch: “Iron and your health.”

Journal of Clinical Investigation: “Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and antiinflammatory effects on human sebocytes.”

Journal of Dermatological Treatment: “Efficacy of dietary hempseed oil in patients with atopic dermatitis.”

Mayo Clinic Proceedings: “Clinicians’ Guide to Cannabidiol and Hemp Oils.”

Nutrition & Metabolism: “The cardiac and haemostatic effects of dietary hempseed.”

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