Medically Reviewed by
Jason Crawford

Article Last Updated on December 23, 2022

CBD (cannabidiol) is quickly becoming one of the most popular plant-derived extracts due to its therapeutic effects. The variety of CBD products on the cannabis market, like tinctures, oils, edibles, and topicals, is continuously expanding and allowing even more people to get familiar with it.

However, even though CBD has been researched extensively and talked about a lot, there is still a lot of confusion as to where it’s sourced from. Many people are aware that it’s extracted from the cannabis plant, but often don’t know much other than that, like what type of cannabis plant or what part of it.

In this article, we’ll try to clear up the confusion about where CBD is extracted from, and talk a little about the most widely used CBD product – CBD oil, and touch upon its health benefits.

Cannabis 101: What Is the Hemp Plant?

What a lot of people don’t know is that CBD is extracted from the hemp plant. Just like marijuana, hemp is a variety of the cannabis plant and they both share some common characteristics. To be more specific, the hemp plant is an industrial variety of the Cannabis sativa L. species, while the marijuana plant can belong to either the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica species (or both if the strain is a hybrid). 

They’re both rich in terpenes that give them their specific aroma, and they’re both abundant in cannabinoids that produce the characteristic effects that industrial hemp and marijuana are known for. However, the key difference between them is the ratio between the two major phytocannabinoids which are CBD (cannabidiol), the non-intoxication compound, and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive compound.

The Difference in Cannabinoid Ratio

Hemp naturally contains a high CBD content (about 20%), while it only has trace amounts of THC. In the United States, the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the federal list of controlled substances and legalized the commercial cultivation of hemp as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC in dry weight. Marijuana, on the other hand, has a much higher THC content (sometimes it can reach up to 30%), which is why it produces psychoactive effects.

That said, you can’t get high on hemp as its levels of THC just aren’t high enough to intoxicate you. The THC content is, in fact, the main reason why the legalization of marijuana is still an issue, but hemp finally got a free pass.

Hemp is a wonderful plant. It’s not only a great source of CBD, but parts of the whole plant can be used for different purposes. Its stalks can be used to make industrial materials and commercial hemp products, while its seeds are a nutritious powerhouse and are used to make hemp seed oil.

What is CBD and in What Part of Hemp Is it Found In?

CBD is one of the major cannabinoids found in the hemp plant. As an important constituent of cannabis, it has long been overshadowed by THC simply because it’s not intoxicating. But the health benefits of CBD are being increasingly recognized. Proof of this is the first U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved CBD prescription solution for the treatment of epilepsy.

Additionally, CBD has also been found to help depression and anxiety, chronic pain, and inflammation. Crohn’s disease and arthritis are some of the medical conditions whose symptoms can be managed with CBD.

CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system in the body, which is a network of cannabinoid receptors that is naturally found in our bodies. The endocannabinoid system plays a significant part in many processes, such as mood regulation, immune system activity, inflammatory response, memory, pain management, and others. This is how CBD can affect certain bodily functions and responses.

In hemp, CBD is not only found in the aerial parts of the plant, or mainly the flowers (trichomes), but also the stems and leaves. The flowers and stems contain the most concentrated amount, while the leaves contain a little less.

CBD is extracted from the raw plant using several different techniques, but the most commonly used extraction processes are solvent-based. This means that different kinds of solvents, such as ethanol, propane, and butane, can be used to extract CBD.

What Is CBD Oil Made Of

CBD oil is probably the most well-known and most widely used hemp product. The oil is made by infusing the hemp extract with an edible carrier oil, such as coconut oil or olive oil in different ratios, depending on the desired strength of the final product.

Types of CBD Oil

Depending on the contents of the hemp extract, there are three types of CBD hemp oil:

  • CBD isolate, which is 100% pure CBD extract and it doesn’t contain any other cannabinoids, including THC;
  • Broad-spectrum CBD oil includes other cannabinoids, but it has no THC content;
  • Full-spectrum CBD oil contains all the cannabinoids present in hemp, including THC at 0.3%. This allows for the cannabinoids to work synergistically, also known as the “entourage effect.”

Hemp Seed Oil vs. CBD Oil

There is often confusion when it comes to the oil products derived from hemp. Very often, the terms “hemp oil” and “CBD oil” are used synonymously, which is not completely false, except that at the same time, the term “hemp oil” is also used to refer to hemp seed oil. This is where a lot of the confusion comes in because a lot of people don’t know that these are two entirely different products.

Like we said previously, CBD oil is made by infusing a carrier oil with a CBD extract that’s derived from the flowers, stalks, and leaves of the hemp plant. Additionally, although not common practice, CBD can also be extracted from the marijuana plant, so technically, it would be wrong to refer to it as hemp oil if the extract was not sourced from hemp.

Hemp seed oil, as the full name implies, is made by cold pressing the seeds of the hemp plant. Hemp seeds naturally don’t contain any cannabinoids, including CBD. However, they are very nutritious and rich in vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and protein.

Knowing the clear difference between these two products is crucial when you go to a dispensary to make a purchase. While both hemp products have their own health benefits, the intended use is different.

In a Nutshell

CBD is a popular plant extract used for the production of various different products. It is most commonly extracted from the hemp plant, which belongs to the Cannabis sativa family. Hemp is an abundant source of CBD, but at the same time its THC content is negligible, making it non-intoxicating.

The most popular hemp product is CBD oil, made by infusing a carrier oil with a pure CBD extract. CBD oil can contain the CBD extract alone or other cannabinoids, including THC.

CBD oil and hemp seed oil are often used interchangeably, but they’re two different products made from different parts of the plant. While CBD oil is made from the flowers, stems, and leaves, hemp seed oil is made by processing the hemp seeds, which is why it has no CBD whatsoever. Still, even though hemp seeds don’t contain any cannabinoids, they’re very nutritious.

A passionate advocate for the benefits of cannabis. Fraser Horton, who has a background in botany and a strong love of nature, has spent years researching how cannabis affects the body and mind. He established Leaf Nation in 2020, where he has devoted himself to educating people about the legalisation of marijuana and its safe and responsible use. Fraser is committed to highlighting cannabis’ potential for improving wellness and working to dispel the stigma associated with its use.


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