Many people use hemp and its valuable extracts for various applications, ranging from cooking to skincare and prescription drugs.
However, sometimes people use the terms “CBD oil” and “hemp oil” interchangeably, which can lead to confusion. CBD oil and hemp oil derive the hemp plant, but they do not possess the same chemical make up.
Unfortunately, shady advertisers sometimes use the misunderstanding to their advantage, selling overpriced, ineffective, or misrepresented products.
Then there are the big questions: Can you use CBD oil for pain? Can you use hemp oil for pain?
When most people describe using a hemp product for pain, they’re talking about CBD oil – even if they say hemp oil.
But CBD oil is not approved as a pain reliever in the United States. Therefore, CBD companies cannot legally claim that CBD relieves pain. But there are products made with CBD that also contain approved pain relievers.
Confused yet? It’s a complicated matter, so let's dive into the specifics.
What is CBD Oil?
To understand what CBD oil is, we should start with how CBD oil is made. The CBD oils available to consumers derive from the stalks, flowers, and leaves of mature hemp plants grown for high CBD yields.
Under the legal definition of hemp, the plants must contain 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or less. Otherwise, the plant is considered illegal marijuana.
After harvesting hemp, the plant matter undergoes an extraction process. It begins when workers combine the plant mass with a solvent like ethanol or supercritical carbon dioxide. They then press the mixture, which yields crude.
This thick extract contains a wide range of compounds, including CBD, small amounts of THC, a variety of other cannabinoids, essential oils, plant terpenes, and amino acids.
The crude can then become refined into full spectrum or broad spectrum CBD oil for a wide variety of consumer products.
It’s also possible to further refine the oil to create pure CBD isolate – a white powdery substance.
Supplement makers can use full spectrum CBD oil, broad spectrum CBD oil, and CBD isolates in a long list of CBD products. Some of the most common formulas include oral products like tinctures, capsules, and gummies. You can even take a CBD bubble bath now with CBD bath bombs. There’re also skincare products, and specialized topical pain relievers containing CBD and other compounds like menthol, lidocaine, or histamine dihydrochloride.
Many companies also make products that contain CBD oil for dogs, cats, and other pets.
What is Hemp Oil?
Processors extract hemp oil from seeds through cold press techniques. As a result, hemp oil is also known as hemp seed oil or hempseed oil.
Hemp oil contains vitamins and beneficial fatty acids, making it a nutritious food and skincare product ingredient. However, hemp oil is not a useful source of CBD or any other cannabinoid.
You can use hemp oil in many of the same ways people use other plant-derived cooking oils such as canola oil and olive oil. However, hemp oil has a lower smoke point, which makes it less suitable for frying. You can also use hemp oil in salad dressing recipes or as a bread dip.
Hemp oil does not clog pores, which makes it an excellent choice for skincare. You can apply hemp oil directly to your skin, or use a consumer product that contains the oil.
What are the Differences Between CBD Oil and Hemp Oil?
Even though CBD oil and hemp oil come from the same plant, their chemical makeups are completely different.
Processors extract CBD oil from mature hemp plants. At this point in the plant’s life span, it produces flowers, pollen, and seeds for reproduction. The extracts are chemically complex and contain a staggering amount of compounds, including CBD and over 100 other cannabinoids.
Cannabinoids are substances that interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system - a system of specialized cell receptors and chemical transmitters that scientists believe helps to regulate homeostasis.
Hemp seeds aren’t as complicated as the plants that produce them. Therefore, hemp oil does not contain substantial cannabinoid content.
Can You Use CBD Oil for Pain?
This question is particularly tricky.
In a recent poll by SingleCare, over 60 percent of CBD users report that they use CBD for pain, while many others stated they use CBD for everyday stress. Meanwhile, a growing number of athletes say they use topical formulas that include approved pain relievers with CBD for muscle pain.
But physicians have not widely accepted CBD as a treatment for pain or stress. That’s mainly because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved CBD as a pain reliever. In fact, it is illegal to market CBD oil for pain.
The FDA has only approved one CBD-based drug, Epidiolex, as a treatment for two rare childhood epilepsies.
The federal government mostly treated cannabis as an illegal drug until late 2018, when non-intoxicating strains of hemp were made legal. As a result, researchers only started to investigate CBD oil for pain and the other possible benefits of CBD oil recently.
Pre-clinical studies provide evidence that CBD may have applications for some pain issues. But the scientists behind those studies insist the subject requires more research.
In other words, CBD is not a proven pain fighter yet. And researchers may need years to carry out thorough clinical trials in humans.
However, cbdMD offers pain relief formulations that combine CBD with FDA-approved topical pain relievers, including their CBD Freeze Roller (2020 Product of the Year – CBD Topical) and CBD Recover.
Can You Use Hemp Oil for Pain?
Scientists have not pursued significant research into hemp oil for pain since it does not contain more than trace cannabinoid levels – this is a key point of a distinction between CBD oil and hemp oil.
But hemp oil is a healthy dietary choice since it contains beneficial fatty acids and vitamins.
As previously mentioned, hemp oil can also provide some relief from the discomfort of dry skin and may have applications for other uncomfortable skin conditions.
Things to Look for When Shopping for CBD Oil
How ever you choose to use CBD oil, there are a few key points to consider before making a purchase.
Some retailers use common consumer misunderstandings to confuse buyers. As you now know, CBD oil and hemp oil are quite different from one another, so there are also distinctions in how you should shop for them online and in stores.
When shopping for CBD oil with pain fighters or any other CBD oil product, there are a few key things you should look for before purchasing.
Leading CBD companies provide clear labeling.
All CBD oil products should have clear labels that list all ingredients.
For instance, cbdMD’s labels always show the exact amount of CBD in their products on the front and display specifics about CBD per serving and other ingredients in the appropriate places on the label.
Shifty CBD oil makers sometimes label their product with the words “hemp extract” or similar phrasing with several milligrams (mg). But they never specifically mention CBD. These products do not usually contain CBD despite the implication.
A search on Amazon will display dozens of these products with ridiculous claims on the label, such as 120,000 mg.
Reputable CBD makers provide independent lab reports.
Reputable CBD oil producers and retailers always provide the results of tests performed by independent laboratories. These documents provide information on the exact amount of CBD in the product if it passed testing for contaminants and similar information.
Sometimes called certificates of analysis (COA), CBD companies usually make these documents accessible through the company’s website or a QR code on the product label.
COAs allow consumers to compare lab results to what’s listed on the label.
Dishonest companies make illegal drug claims about CBD.
The way a CBD brand markets its products can provide valuable insight into how that company operates. Federal laws prohibit companies from saying that CBD can prevent or cure medical conditions.
Further, CBD makers cannot claim that CBD can relieve symptoms. Therefore, it’s unlawful for a company to call CBD a pain reliever. So when you see a CBD brand make drug claims, you know they’re acting outside of the law, which is a bad sign.
However, individuals with no affiliation to a CBD seller can discuss CBD for pain as they please.
CBD oil prices vary drastically across brands and product types.
Many people wonder why CBD is so expensive. The simplest answer is that hemp farming and CBD oil extraction methods are still evolving. With that said, it’s best to think about CBD oil prices on a per-milligram basis.
For example, let’s look at CBD oil tinctures. Along with CBD, tinctures only contain a couple of other inexpensive ingredients. So above anything else, the price of a tincture relates directly to the CBD content. Higher concentrations usually provide a better price per milligram, even if the total cost is higher than lower concentrations.
There are high-quality CBD oil options available for as little as $0.05 per milligram. And many experts agree that well-made CBD products priced at $0.10 per milligram and below represent excellent value for consumers. However, some brands place a much higher price on their goods without explanation.
There are specialized products for pain.
Manufacturers and retailers cannot legally advertise CBD oil for pain. As a result, special pain relief formulas usually contain approved pain relievers alongside CBD.
With that said, adults can use CBD oil how they see fit. But the prevailing wisdom says that individuals should consult a doctor before using any new supplement. Advice from a qualified physician becomes especially important if you have any health concerns or take prescription medication.
Final Thoughts on Pain, CBD Oil, and Hemp Oil
CBD oil and hemp oil are two very different substances. As discussed above, CBD oil derives from mature hemp plants and often contains a complex spectrum of substances. On the other hand, hemp oil is chemically simpler and derives from hemp seeds.
Researchers have started to study the possibilities of using CBD oil for pain, but government agencies do not currently approve CBD for pain relief. Hemp seed oil may be useful for a balanced diet and skincare, but there is no interest in hemp oil for pain relief.
If you would like to learn more about hemp-derived products, you can find dozens of articles about CBD, and how you can incorporate CBD oil into your daily routine on the cbdMD blog. You can also follow cbdMD on social media at our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages.