Hemp oil vs CBD oil and medical cannabis

Tuesday June 8, 2021

If you’re wondering about the difference between hemp oil vs CBD oil and medical cannabis, here’s a guide to help you understand what each does so that you can choose the most appropriate product.

Cannabis (often referred to as marijuana) and hemp are both plants. They are two different varieties of the same plant species called Cannabis sativa. CBD and hemp oil are in the same cannabis family, and sometimes are presented incorrectly as being the same.

A quick guide to the differences

Let us start with the plant.

Hemp is legal in the UK. It is a type of cannabis plant which contains less than 0.2% of the psychoactive chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is why it’s legal in the UK. Both hemp oil (also known as hempseed oil) and CBD oil are extracted from the hemp plant, but they differ in their composition and uses.

Cannabis plants contain more THC, the compound that causes the ‘high’ that people associate with cannabis use.

Hemp oil is made by cold-pressing the seeds of the hemp plant into an oil. It contains very low levels of CBD. Hemp oil will not deliver the benefits which are specific to CBD interaction in the body, but the nutrients, fatty acids and other nutritional antioxidants provide nutritional benefits. It is also high in vitamins B and D.

CBD oil is extracted from the leaves, stalks and flowers of the hemp plant, which is where CBD is concentrated. Studies indicate that CBD oil may have wide ranging benefits to wellbeing. In particular, CBD appears to have potential for pain relief, as an anti-inflammatory, to tackle anxiety and depression, and to aid sleep. CBD research is still in its infancy and requires large scale studies before it can be medically proven.

Medical cannabis, is made of dried parts of the Cannabis sativa plant, a different variety of the cannabis plant species, and contains significant amounts of both CBD and THC. It is only legal to possess this in the UK if you have been prescribed it by a specialist doctor and this will only be for certain symptoms and diseases.

How do they work and what are the benefits?

Hemp oil

Hemp oil is applied to the skin or ingested by many people as a form of natural pain relief. Some nutritional supplements contain hemp oil because of its vitamins and fatty acids. Hemp oil is safe and because it contains no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), you won’t get high from using it.

Hemp oil may be especially helpful for nourishing the skin and for treating conditions such as acne, eczema and inflammation. It is also used for PMS and menopause. Some also suggest that the fatty acid content of hemp seed oil may be good for the brain and that hemp seed oils can help people improve their cholesterol levels.

CBD oil

CBD is a chemical which interacts with our endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS plays a major role in balancing our bodily functions including pain, sleep, mood, metabolism, immune system, and more.

Whilst the benefits of CBD are not yet medically proven, a number of studies indicate it may have a range of wellness benefits from aiding sleep to providing relief from anxiety, pain, depression and inflammation. Researchers have also found that there are limited side effects to taking CBD.

The most popular way to take CBD oil, considered to be the most efficient way of absorbing CBD into the body, is via drops under the tongue. CBD is also available in other formats including capsules and creams.

Medical cannabis

‘Medical cannabis’ is a broad term for any sort of cannabis-based medicine used to relieve symptoms. In addition to containing CBD, it has THC, the compound that makes you high.

Legal in England and Wales since 2018, medical cannabis is only available on prescription from a specialist clinician – not your GP. Very few people will be able to get a prescription and it is only given for a few conditions and when other treatments have not worked or were not suitable. One medicinal cannabis product is Epidyolex, a highly purified liquid containing CBD prescribed for rare forms of epilepsy. Another is Nabiximols (Satviex) which is licensed in the UK for people with MS.

Scientists are still studying the effect of medicinal cannabis on the brain and body and judgment about the benefits is ongoing.

The UK government has no plans for legalising the use of cannabis for recreational (non-medical) use.

Whatever product you choose to take, be sure to check the label. Our labels come with a barcode which allow you to see the batch report for your bottle. It is important to look for a trusted brand and reputable manufacturer and to know what is in the bottle.

Finally it is always important to consult with a medical professional as these products can interfere with other medications.

So, there you have it – the differences between hemp oil vs CBD oil and medical cannabis. For more information about what is CBD take a look at our CBD knowledge centre