CBD, THC and Hemp Oil – Whats the difference?

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With so many cannabis-related acronyms around, things can get confusing. It is critical, however, that we know the difference between CBD, THC, and Hemp Oil. Each of these compounds has one thing in common – they are all derived from the Cannabis plant. However, they are quite distinct from one another and have differing effects on the human body.

The Cannabis plant has been found to hold many benefits, most of which research has yet to discover. With almost 120 different compounds available to be extracted from this wonder-herb, there are three that are quite prominent in terms of their uses and benefits – Hemp Seed Oil, Tetrahydrocannabinol and Cannabidiol. Many studies and discussions are intensely investigating the extremely wide range of their applications to us and, every day, we are learning new things about these adaptable compounds. Here, we look at the differences between Hemp Seed Oil, CBD, and THC.

Hemp Seed Oil

Hemp seed oil, also known simply as hemp oil, is an oil derived by pressing the small seeds of the hemp plant. It is not to be confused with hash oil, which is taken from the flowers of cannabis. The basic product is brownish-green in color and has a rich, nutty flavor. Once refined and filtered, hemp seed oil appears clear, with no flavor and very little smell. Cannabis plants with low levels of THC (hemp) are used in the production of hemp seed oil, and there is no beneficial cannabinoids present in the final product.

The hemp seeds are cleaned very thoroughly before being pressed to remove any residual plant matter. Home extraction of hemp seed oil is a simple one. Using a press and a hand crank, the seeds are pressed, and the oil released. Industrial production makes use of more complex methods, including chemical separation, using CO2, and even applying ultrasonic frequencies! 

Hemp seed oil is extremely rich in nutrients and is used for a myriad of applications. Used predominantly as a skin product for its nutrient value, it is also used in soaps, shampoos and, detergents. The oil holds a variety of benefits to the skin including regulating natural skin oil production, moisturizing, and soothing inflammation. Other skin benefits include treatment for eczema and acne. Evidence is also emerging of the fatty acid elements of the oil offering benefits to the brain and heart. The oil also possesses properties that are proven to relieve muscle tension and relieve pain in the body. 

It can also be consumed as an edible oil. Extremely rich in polyunsaturated (healthy) fat and omega-3 fatty acids, the oil is used in food as a dietary supplement. 

Where hemp seed oil contains zero cannabinoids or terpenes, it is considered a legal product worldwide. The oil is widely available at many pharmacies, health and grocery stores.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

This is one we’ve all heard of- tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. It is the principal psychoactive compound of cannabis. Interestingly, it is believed that the cannabis plant evolved to produce THC within its physiology as a self-defense mechanism against insect predation and environmental stress. THC comes in the form of an oily resin produced by the plant and is easily extracted and consumed.

As a potent psychoactive, ingesting THC can have a strong effect on the brain. Once ingested, the THC enters your bloodstream and attaches to specific neurotransmitters in the brain. Your brain possesses a set of receptors called CB1 receptors forming part of the human body’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS). These receptors are capable of interacting exclusively with THC, allowing the molecules to bind to neurotransmitters and block or mimic signals sent between neurons, producing the psychoactive action. Your body also produces a neurotransmitter called anandamide. This is a naturally occurring cannabinoid inside your body that binds with THC and activates the effect on your neurons.

The psychoactive effects on the brain differ from user to user. While some describe feelings of calmness and relaxation, others have reported light-headedness and an increase in appetite. The effects of THC are temporary and depend on the amount ingested either orally or by smoking. THC elements will remain in your system for up to two weeks after ingestion.

THC in cannabis was previously declared an illegal drug by most governments and organizations around the world during the early 20th century. It was believed that the psychoactive properties of the compound acted as a “gateway drug”, leading users to abuse heavier, processed narcotics. Years of evidence have generally proven these facts to be false, and as a result, governments around the world are moving to relax restrictions and unban THC.

Beyond the stated psychoactive effects of THC on the brain, the compound is recently being linked with several valuable treatments including assisting with sleep disorders, treating anxiety, and relieving pain. Recent research has linked THC to effective treatments for anorexia and epilepsy. There is no known overdosage level of THC and no single recorded fatality as a result of ingestion.

Though many governments still outlaw THC use, some are beginning to realize the benefits of its use, and through proper regulation and control, are slowly lifting the strict regulations imposed on the product.

Cannabidiol (CBD)

CDB is quite possibly the most important and exciting of the three compounds discussed here. As research continues into its uses and benefits, it is becoming clear that this cannabis product is opening the door to a litany of rich health benefits.

CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant through several different methods. From solvent extraction to using olive oil, CBD can be taken out of the plant in an oil form. There are two types of CBD – full-spectrum and isolate CBD. The former contains a multitude of other healthy cannabinoids and the latter comes in the purest, cleanest form of CBD.

The benefits of CBD include boosting the brain’s processing capacity, managing sleep disorders and pain, reinforcing your gastrointestinal system, and assisting in treating anxiety and depression. The compound is applicable to people of all ages and conditions, with the application of its characteristics for pain management the most prominent.

CBD can be taken into the body through a variety of mechanisms. From liquid drops to an oral spray, it can be mixed into food or applied as a gel.

As the production of CBD ramps up in many countries around the world, CBD is sure to soon be made available universally. With almost no side effects and zero THC content, CBD is already legal in over 20 countries and it is only a matter of time before the product is recognized as a universal medical treatment.


The differences between hemp seed oil, CBD, and THC are vast, once again illustrating the rich variety in uses for the Cannabis plant. Hemp seed oil, taken from the plant’s seeds is used mostly in skin products, though it is also used as a highly nutritious oil. THC is the psychoactive compound found in Cannabis, ingested for the effect that it has on the brain. Research is uncovering valuable uses for THC in treating a number of ailments and disorders. Finally, CBD is taking the world by storm and the many, many health benefits of the compound are being published frequently. As only three of the close to 120 different compounds derived from Cannabis, we still have much to learn from this diverse plant.

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Jake Smith

Web Developer | Blogger | Snowboarder

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