Bait & Switch: “Hemp Seed Oil” vs “CBD Oil” — Know the Difference

A quick search of CBD oil on Google reveals that many companies seem to be using the terms “CBD oil” and “hemp seed oil” interchangeably. But are they the same thing? With the 2018 legalization of industrial hemp in the USA, more and more people are gaining access to hemp-derived health and wellness products. CBD and CBD oil are of particular interest to many, since cannabidiol has been shown to have positive effects on a wide range of conditions from chronic pain and inflammation to painful sex and anxiety. 

Hemp seed oil also has some potential health benefits. However, to answer the question posed above, they aren’t the same thing – and unscrupulous vendors may be taking advantage of customers’ confusion. You’ll want to make sure you know what you’re getting before you break out the credit card.

What is hemp seed oil?

Hemp seeds are an excellent source of essential amino acids and polyunsaturated fats, with an optimal 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3. Often called a “superfood”, hemp seed oil may also benefit hair and skin when applied topically. Hemp oil is one of the healthiest, most nutritious fats you can buy. It’s made by cleaning and pressing the hemp seeds, like any seed or nut oil. It’s also legal and available everywhere.

However, hemp seed oil does not contain CBD. The hemp plant concentrates CBD in its leaves and flowers, not in its seeds. 

What is CBD oil?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of over a hundred active components found in the cannabis plant. It has wide-ranging health and wellness applications, combating pain and inflammation and helping to regulate mood, digestion, and immune response, among many other effects on the human body. This is why it’s become a hot new wellness trend, with many people claiming that regular CBD use has changed their lives for the better. 

CBD oil is made by extracting CBD from the stems, leaves, and flowers of non-psychoactive hemp, using a solvent of some type; liquid C02 is considered to be the cleanest and safest solvent for this purpose. This process produces a small quantity of oil that’s naturally high in CBD, among other essential oils, lipids, and other compounds. Reputable manufacturers will test their CBD oil to make sure it’s free of contaminants and THC, and share those results publicly.

Commercial CBD oil is made by mixing either the direct result of the extraction process (broad-spectrum CBD) or the refined chemical on its own (CBD isolate) with a carrier oil of some kind, like coconut oil.

What is cannabis sativa seed oil?

If you’re buying it online or at a health food store instead of at a licensed dispensary in a state where marijuana is legal, a product labeled Cannabis sativa seed oil will be exactly the same thing as hemp seed oil – because hemp is cannabis sativa. However, since the word “cannabis” is usually used to refer to marijuana, manufacturers may call their hemp oil “cannabis sativa oil” to imply that it has medicinal or psychoactive properties. This may be a sign that you’re not buying from an ethical company — or that they think they need to sound extra-scientific on their ingredients instead of using a plant’s common name.

Can you buy CBD oil on Amazon? is the go-to online retailer for many people these days. It seems to have every kind of product imaginable. But if you’ve found an Amazon listing for CBD oil, beware. It probably isn’t CBD at all. 

The reasons for this have to do with legality. You won’t get in trouble for buying or using CBD products, but Amazon is a huge company that doesn’t want to run afoul of the law, so their official policy says that they don’t carry CBD or even hemp extract (i.e. broad-spectrum CBD). Why?

Although hemp is legal to grow, and CBD-rich hemp extracts are legal to sell as dietary supplements, cannabis, in general, is still a legal gray area, so Amazon is playing it as safe as possible. 

There are a lot of Amazon listings that have CBD in their names, or in the search terms, but if you look more closely, the product ingredients and descriptions don’t mention CBD anywhere, or mention it in very ambiguous words. This is because they’re actually hemp seed oil or hemp seed oil mixed with something else. The product probably won’t hurt you – and again, hemp seed oil is a good product with some benefits – but if you’re looking for the wellness advantages provided by CBD, you’ll be disappointed. 

For this reason, it’s recommended that you buy directly from retailers and manufacturers that are explicit about what their products contain. 

How to buy the best CBD oil

Look for a reputable manufacturer that’s clear about what’s in its products, performs laboratory testing to make sure products are free of toxins and psychoactive THC, and is able to tell you how much CBD – if any – is in the product you’re buying. A reliable company will be transparent and happy to answer any questions you might have. When it comes to your health, the more information that’s readily available, the better.