Since news of cannabidiol’s (CBD) incredible medicinal benefits are in the spotlight, more and more interest is growing in this powerful cannabinoid. CBD can help with a range of symptoms and problems such as pain, inflammation, anxiety and spasticity. But it won’t get you high like the other well-known cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). For this reason, many are interested in taking CBD to gain the medical benefits of cannabis while still staying functional throughout the day.
Still, in all of the excitement over CBD, there’s also a lot of confusion about its different sources. CBD is present in cannabis and hemp—two different varieties of the Cannabis sativa L plant, and there can be differences in the end product depending on how your CBD was sourced.
The Difference Between Hemp & Cannabis
While there are some crucial differences between hemp and cannabis, it’s important to know that they’re both varieties of the same plant species Cannabis sativa L. Still, while cannabis varieties were bred to increase the medicinal and recreational elements of the plant, hemp varieties were cultivated for industrial purposes like making rope, paper, clothing and oil.
So, cannabis varieties tend to have high concentrations of medicinal cannabinoids like THC or CBD, while hemp varieties don’t. Instead, hemp cultivators focused on encouraging thick, strong stalks that can be used for their fibre, and large plentiful seeds to be pressed for oil.
The legal definition that separates the two types of plants is simply how much THC is present. In Canada, anything with less than 0.3% THC is considered to be hemp, anything with higher levels of THC is considered to be cannabis.
CBD Oil vs. Hemp Oil
We’ve seen the difference between hemp and cannabis, but there are also differences in the CBD products they supply. CBD oil from cannabis is usually made using the flowers and leaves of high-CBD cannabis strains.
With hemp, oil can be pressed from the hemp seeds. This hemp oil is somewhat different from the CBD oil made from cannabis flowers and leaves, but has its own benefits. Still, it’s important to understand the differences between these two sources of CBD.
Understanding Cannabis-Derived CBD Oil & its Benefits
CBD oil derived from cannabis is a potent medicine with a wide variety of uses. CBD oil is used to treat:
- Huntington’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
CBD oil derived from cannabis usually has high levels of CBD along with a blend of other cannabinoids and terpenes. THC is usually part of these CBD blends as well and may add to the effects. Additional cannabinoids can and are increasingly included in cannabis products so as to take advantage of something called the entourage effect. Researchers coined this term when they came to the conclusion that the cannabinoids work better together than they do in isolation. Research on CBD has shown that it‘s more effective when combined with these other compounds than it is on its own.
CBD oil from cannabis can be difficult to access if you aren’t in an area with medical cannabis. And since it usually contains some THC, it can pose problems for some people who must take drug tests, or who want THC for other reasons.
Understanding Hemp Oil & Its Benefits
Hemp oil is also becoming increasingly popular and is an easy-to-access option, because it isn’t regulated by the same system as cannabis is. Unlike cannabis-derived CBD, you can order hemp CBD online or buy it in a grocery store or pharmacy.
Still, it’s important to understand the differences between hemp oil and cannabis-derived CBD. While cannabis-derived CBD oil is a potent medicine packed with cannabinoids and terpenes, hemp oil usually has low trace amounts of THC and lower levels of CBD than it’s cannabis cousin does.
While some consider hemp not as potent as cannabis is, if you choose a quality hemp product, it can still be a good source of CBD and other essential nutrients like:
- Polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 and omega-6)
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin B2
- Vitamin B1
With this blend of vitamins and healthy fats, hemp oil has some huge nutritional benefits such as:
- Promoting a healthy immune system
- Lowering blood fat levels
- Preventing certain degenerative conditions
- Providing nutrients for your brain
One worry with hemp oil is the lack of regulations surrounding it. This means it’s often hard to find information about how much CBD is in a particular product, and whether it was tested for contaminants like pesticides. Whether you’re using hemp or cannabis-derived CBD, it’s always important to make sure your products have been lab-tested so you know what you’re getting. That said, read labels and look out for unhealthy ingredients.
Shifting Lines Around Hemp & Cannabis
It’s important to know that the situation around hemp has been shifting as the demand for CBD continues to rise. Nowadays, hemp farmers are beginning to breed their hemp stock with high-CBD varieties of cannabis, like the popular strain ACDC, to create more and more CBD-rich varieties of hemp.
As the CBD levels in hemp plants increase, we may see more medicinal products coming from hemp. If laws change to allow processing the flowers of hemp into oil, this could also shift how we see the two products. Only time will tell how these two varieties of Cannabis sativa L. may develop and change.
Photo credit: Your Best Digs