What Is Hemp Extract?

Grön CBD Tinctures

Hemp oil vs CBD oil vs hemp extract

If you have been paying attention to the crazy world that is CBD, you might have noticed some shifts in the way companies talk about their CBD products. Tinctures that used to be proudly labeled as “CBD oil” now advertise themselves as “hemp extract,” and other products have the words “hemp oil” on their labels without the little letters “CBD” anywhere to be seen.

So, what’s the difference between hemp extract and CBD oil? Does hemp extract contain CBD at all? And what’s the deal with hemp oil?

Worry not! I’m going to walk you through some of the differences between these terms so you can feel confident you are getting exactly what you are looking for. Plus, I’ll try to fill you in on some of the motivations for why companies use each description or have recently shifted form one to another.

Many of these terms are interchangeable

First thing’s first: this is meant to be used as a guide and not as gospel. One of the main problems is that the FDA hasn’t yet come out with set definitions for many of these terms (except for “industrial hemp,” which I’ll get into below), so a lot of terms are used somewhat interchangeably. I know, it’s confusing, but unfortunately, that’s the current world we live in.

That all being said, there ARE some basic trends and industry standards, and being aware of those will make navigating the ever expanding CBD marketplace that much easier.

Bottle of olive oil.
When you think “hemp oil,” think vegetable oil.

What is hemp oil?

Hemp oil can mean one of two different things: either it’s referring to hemp seed oil, which is commonly used as a cooking oil, a supplement, or in some skincare products, or “hemp oil” is used as a synonym for “hemp extract.”

As the name might lead you to believe, hemp seed oil is pressed from the seeds of the hemp plant, and contains none of the cannabinoids or terpenes found in the rest of the plant. This means hemp seed oil doesn’t contain any CBD or THC. Think of hemp seed oil as a sort of vegetable oil, just one that happens to come from the cannabis sativa plant.

Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy! Often times, companies use the words “hemp oil” to refer to an oil that actually contains the cannabinoids and terpenes found inside the rest of the hemp plant. The government requires that industrial hemp have under .3% THC, so any product using the words “hemp oil” in this sense are going to have little to no THC.

In general, context matters a lot here. Are you purchasing a cooking oil labeled “hemp oil”? They probably mean hemp seed oil and it doesn’t have any CBD. Purchasing a tincture? You are probably looking at an oil that has CBD and possibly other goodies in there.

What is hemp extract?

Hemp extract is a little more straightforward (sort of). No one would label hemp seed oil as “hemp extract,” so you don’t have to worry about that confusion. However, hemp extracts can refer to a bunch of different things.

There are a few different ways you can get what’s in the hemp plant into an oil, and how you get it there makes a big difference with regard to what winds up in the finished product. Full spectrum extracts contain everything that is in the original plant, THC and all! Broad spectrum extracts, on the other hand, usually contain everything in the plant except THC.

There are also hemp extracts called “isolates” that have all the natural CBD found in the hemp plant but with all of the other stuff removed.

All of these fall under the umbrella of “hemp extracts.” What they all have in common is that they all will contain CBD, so if you are in the market for CBD (and let’s be honest, you probably should be), then these are the oils for you!

What is CBD oil?

Here is where things get a little more interesting! Obviously, CBD oil is going to have CBD in it. It’s right there in the name, after all! However, aside from that, you don’t really know what else is in there or where that CBD came from.

Most CBD comes from the cannabis sativa plant, but not all of it. Some companies have been pulling CBD out of hops (yup, the stuff they use to flavor beer), while others synthesis CBD in laboratories. In fact, there are companies out there trying to synthesize CBD from sugar! How crazy is that?

Even if the CBD oil did come from hemp, however, it’s hard to know if it’s full spectrum, broad spectrum, or an isolate. Products labeled as “CBD oil” really give you the least to go on. The CBD could be synthetic, or it could contain amounts of THC you just aren’t comfortable with.

If you are at all concerned with the origins of your CBD, make sure you look for hemp extracts, like those from Grön, as at least those you can be sure come from the natural hemp plant itself.

My bottle of hemp extract doesn’t say CBD anywhere on it, does it actually have CBD in it?

Yes, it probably does! And the answer why is admittedly a little frustrating.

You see, the FDA and other federal agencies involved in the regulation of CBD haven’t quite figured out what they want to do yet, and until they do figure regulation out, most CBD companies are treading VERY carefully.

It’s a bit silly, to be honest. The 2018 Farm Bill effectively legalized industrial hemp and the products that come from it, including CBD. However, it doesn’t legalize CBD directly. So, hemp and the things that come from it are now good, while CBD itself is still up in the air, even though it is a thing that comes from hemp. We are in this weird sort of limbo where CBD both is and is not totally fine legally speaking, depending on how you talk about it.

So, many CBD companies are taking the safe route and labeling their products as merely “hemp extract” for the time being, leaving the consumer to sort of read between the lines. Hopefully this won’t be the case forever, but it seems to be the reality for the time being.

Flat lay of Grön hemp extract tincture.
Less hope regulation gets worked out so we can see more of this.

Final thoughts

To sum it up, hemp seed oil has no CBD in it, and some things labeled “hemp oil” might actually be hemp seed oil. Some hemp oils might actually be hemp extracts, but that alone doesn’t really tell you what else is in the oil other than CBD, if anything. CBD oil definitely has CBD, but you don’t know for sure if it comes hemp, or a natural source at all, really. And you might not actually see the letters “CBD” on products that actually do contain CBD because the federal government hasn’t yet got it’s act together on CBD regulation.

That’s a lot to take in, but hopefully it helps shed some light on what’s going on out there in the wild! Or maybe I just made it all worse…

Leave a comment below and let’s try and sort this out together!

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