Since the US finally caught up and legalised hemp-derived products in 2018, there’s been an explosion of new, new hemp-based oils on the market. From these oils being used in cooking, as part of people’s beauty and wellness routine, or even as a type of herbal medicine, you can’t doubt the versatility of these hemp products – and their popularity is picking up for good reason. The therapeutic and healing properties of the hemp plant have been shown to benefit the health and wellbeing of people in a spectrum of different ways, from helping people sleep and soothing pain to improving skin conditions and encouraging hair growth.
However, the many names that these products come under, such as CBD oil, hemp-seed oil and broad-spectrum hemp oil are bound to cause some confusion. So, what does it all mean? What benefits does each of these oils bring? And, how do you know you are using the right oil for the right purpose? Join us while we give you a conclusive rundown on what the hemp plant is, the many benefits it can afford us, and the differences between hemp-oil, hemp-seed oil, and CBD oil, so you’re able to get the most out of hemp and be a more informed consumer.
An overview of the hemp plant
Hemp, often referred to as industrial hemp, is a member of the cannabis Sativa plant species. Despite its recent shift into the spheres of wellness and alternative therapy, hemp has been serving humans for more than 50,000 years, namely because of its strong fibres which were used to make materials like clothing and rope. It’s also one of the fastest-growing plants in existence, which makes it a very sustainable alternative to other types of crops.
Although it shares a lot of the same attributes with it’s more commonly recognised cousin, cannabis, they are both separate strains that share different characteristics. For instance, hemp contains a much lower quantity of the psychoactive cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and much higher amounts of the therapeutic cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD), which makes it more suitable for use in commercial products. Also, since THC isn’t legal under UK law as it can often elicit side effects such as lethargy and mental fogginess, most hemp-derived products don’t include the cannabinoid. On the contrary, cannabidiol doesn’t bring about any mind-altering effects, and it’s calming and therapeutic properties make it an extremely valuable substance to use in a variety of products.
What’s in the hemp plant?
Hemp is also widely used in wellness products due to all of the other wonderful compounds it contains. Some of the main compounds it contains include cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, but what exactly are they?
Cannabinoids – Cannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds found within the cannabis and hemp plants. The most famous and commonly occurring cannabinoids are undoubtedly CBD and THC – but in total there around 66 cannabinoids situated within the ancient herb, all coming with their own therapeutic benefits. Other noteworthy cannabinoids include CBC, CBN, and CBE.
CBD and many of the other cannabinoids have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties that make them tremendously effective at improving a range of health conditions – specifically those that arise as a result of over inflammation. For these same reasons, many use CBD oil for pain, improving certain skin conditions, and reducing feelings of anxiety, making their presence in hemp-derived products very valuable.
Terpenes – Often overshadowed by cannabinoids like CBD, terpenes are important and often overlooked molecules that are responsible for the distinct aromas of thousands of plants. Simply put, they’re why flowers smell amazing and why fruit tastes delicious, and they also elicit positive effects on our health too.
When we smell the specific aromas from these terpenes, receptors are activated in our olfactory system, and this system then communicates to areas of our brain such as our amygdala, thalamus, and hippocampus. When the molecules react with these areas of our brain, they can affect our emotions, memory recall and stress regulation, and this is how terpenes can increase our physical and mental feelings of wellbeing.
Flavonoids – Similarly to terpenes, flavonoids are naturally found within many fruits and vegetables. They make up around 10% of all biological compounds found in the hemp plant, and their natural role is to ward pests away from plants. But aside from their evolutionary function, flavonoids’ antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal qualities also bring their own health benefits. Also, among other things, they have been shown to improve cardiovascular function.
What is hemp-seed oil?
As the name suggests, hemp-seed oil is extracted specifically from the seeds of the hemp plant. Since it only contains nutrients from the seed of the herb, it doesn’t contain any active CBD, terpenes or flavonoids. And this means it misses out on many of the advantages of broad-spectrum hemp products.
Nonetheless, hemp-seed oil is still extremely healthy and contains a lot of nutrients. Over half of its contents is made up of essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6, and it’s also high in alpha-linolenic acid, making it very effective at preventing coronary heart diseases and improving cardiovascular function.
The rich fats it contains, alongside its anti-inflammatory properties, also make it a very effective ingredient in the world of skincare. And, unlike other types of hemp oil, hemp-seed oil doesn’t have a low flash point so it’s able to be cooked with and used as a substitute for other types of oils that are higher in saturated fats.
It’s nutty, earthy flavour is another reason it’s popular in the kitchen, and aside for using it to cook with, hemp-seed oil is delicious when it’s added to salad dressings, soups, or just about any savoury dish.
What is CBD oil?
Likely to be the most widely available hemp-derived oil on the market, CBD oil is typically made from an isolated extract of cannabidiol. It is usually extracted from the hemp plant without the accompaniment of other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, so, therefore, lacks their benefit. Once the CBD has been extracted from the hemp plant it is put back together through a chemical process and then is then usually placed into a carrier liquid such as coconut oil or hemp-seed oil.
Despite CBD oil usually containing low quantities of other compounds found within the hemp plant, it is a reliable way to ensure you’re buying a product with a high cannabinoid count. The high levels of cannabidiol that are found within CBD oil make the product attractive to those who exclusively seek the benefits of CBD without the other compounds found in hemp. For instance, in broad and full-spectrum hemp products, it is hard to completely eradicate traces of THC, and this means that they may pose a risk to consumers who are particularly averse to the effects of the mind-altering cannabinoid.
CBD isolate oil can be used for a variety of different purposes. Due to the abundance of fatty acids and anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, it’s an effective ingredient in skincare as it balances out oil production and nourishes dry and cracked skin. Its anti-inflammatory and therapeutic qualities also help it to be effective at soothing chronic health conditions that are caused by over inflammation, as well as remedying the muscular pain that can often come alongside them.
However, it is important to note that even though by definition, CBD oil is a product that is made from CBD isolate, the term is often used to refer to a variety of hemp oils, such as broad and full-spectrum oils. For this reason, it is important to check the product’s packaging first to avoid confusion and to ensure you’re fully aware of what you’re buying.
Broad-spectrum hemp oil
Broad-spectrum hemp oil is extracted from every part of the hemp plant, from the seed, through to the flower. This means that it’s packed full of wonderfully beneficial flavonoids and terpenes, as well as CBD and it’s accompanying cannabinoids. Similar to CBD oil, these extracts are usually placed in a carrying liquid like coconut oil or hemp-seed oil, and it can be used for an extremely wide range of functions.
The special thing about broad-spectrum products is that when a host of cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids are present together in one product, they produce something called the entourage effect. This means that all of these compounds work synergistically together, to further each other’s effects and enhance each other’s benefits. This is significant because it makes the compounds like CBD work much harder, and this subsequently enhances their therapeutic and medicinal effects.
Another benefit of broad-spectrum oil is that it extracts ingredients from the hemp plant in the way that nature intended it. The reason why cannabis has come to be such a significant cultural staple is because of the powerful and unique effect it elicits within the body and mind. This effect is so unique because of the interplay of all of the various agents it contains. So, by harnessing all of these benefits but tweaking the product so it doesn’t contain THC, it retains what makes it so effective while making it accessible to a wider audience.
Broad-spectrum oil can be used in the same way that CBD isolate is, but due to the synergistic relationship of the compounds it contains, it is likely to evoke clearer, and more tangible results. The therapeutic property of the terpenes it contains also makes broad-spectrum oil particularly beneficial if you’re taking CBD oil for anxiety or stress.
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