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CBD Oil vs Cannabis Oil – Exploring the Differences, Benefits, and Uses

Written By Ellese Symons Aug 23rd 2023
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Survey results suggest 91% of US adults support the legalization of marijuana, 74% have access to cannabis (Julia, 2023b), and industry experts predict that 35% of our population will be using products made with CBD oil by 2024 (Julia, 2023a). The demand is so strong that analysts expect the medical cannabis oil market alone will be valued at more than $7 billion by 2030 (Market Watch, 2023). 

If you've been investigating your options, you've likely discovered that "CBD oil" and "cannabis oil" are often used interchangeably. Should they be? Although CBD is an active plant element in cannabis, there are a few distinctions you need to be aware of before purchasing an oil in a dispensary, vape shop, or convenience store. In this user guide, we'll explore their similarities and differences, potential benefits, and some of the reasons you might prefer using one over the other. 

Understanding CBD Oil – Defining the Parameters  

CBD (cannabidiol) is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid in cannabis, just one of more than 113. There are two potential sources. A side-by-side comparison of their extracts will show that one type of cannabis produces high concentrations of CBD with levels of THC not generally high enough to cause intoxication. The other has high concentrations of THC and varying amounts of CBD. The first example describes industrial hemp, the second, marijuana 

Although both cannabis plants are legitimate sources of CBD oil, extracting enough CBD from marijuana to keep up with demand isn't all that cost-effective. There are also regulatory guidelines and legal issues to consider. In states where medicinal cannabis use is legal, physicians can recommend cannabis oil as part of a treatment plan. But only people diagnosed with specific medical conditions qualify. 

Even in states where recreational use is permitted, cannabis oil sourced from marijuana must be purchased through a licensed dispensary. CBD oil extracted from the flowers of industrial hemp can be purchased just about anywhere, including convenience stores, specialty shops, gas stations, and fitness centers, provided the THC content remains below 0.3%. 

Exploring Cannabis Oil – Cannabinoid Extraction Methods  

Whether you're most interested in CBD oil sourced from hemp or marijuana, you're choosing between products that are made quite similarly. Once a cannabis crop matures, the plant parts used to obtain the oil are harvested and dried. After the moisture is eliminated, the plant's cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, fatty acids, and other phytonutrients are separated from the unwanted components. There are multiple ways to achieve that goal, but some can produce sub-optimal results. 

Depending on the manufacturer, you could be purchasing a product made with a plant oil extracted with solvents that can leave chemical residue behind, butane or propane, for example. Non-solvent, mechanical separation methods can include anything from steam to lipid infusion. But high temperatures can cause cannabinoid degradation, and oil infusions may not be all that effective. 

For cannabis, hemp and marijuana, supercritical CO2 extraction is considered the gold standard because it's non-flammable, non-toxic, cost-effective, and renewable (Lazarjani et al., 2021). The CO2 liquefies under pressure and is released from the plant extract once the pressure and temperature normalize (Wilcox, 2019). 

CBD Oil vs Cannabis Oil: Why the Terminology Can Get So Confusing  

For decades, "cannabis," "hemp," and "marijuana" were used interchangeably. The revival of the hemp industry made it necessary to clarify the distinctions. But when pilot programs first brought hemp back into the conversation, many people were hesitant to try hemp-derived tinctures, capsules, gummies, and topicals because of the "stigma" associated with cannabis use. Back in 2018, at least 40% of the population still believed CBD and marijuana were one and the same (Lake, 2019). 

Today, it's more common for people to use "cannabis oil" when referring to products made from THC-dominant marijuana strains and "CBD oil" for products made with hemp extract. Although many cannabis oil users enjoy the "recreational" effect of every serving, CBD oil users generally appreciate knowing their hemp-derived products are unlikely to cause intoxication. With minimal effort, you'll find numerous reports of a wide range of possible benefits for CBD and THC. With intoxication removed from the equation, the health and wellness potential of hemp and marijuana are impressively similar. 

Why CBD Oil and Cannabis Oil Have Different Effects on Your Body and Brain 

When you use hemp-derived CBD oil, the cannabinoid interacts with multiple molecular targets throughout your body and brain, including your serotonin, dopamine, GABA, and endocannabinoid system (ECS) receptors. Since ECS signaling is involved in nearly every crucial function in the human body, cannabis researchers believe CBD's impact helps support ECS function in a way that promotes homeostasis (Sallaberry & Astern, 2018).   

The THC in cannabis oil interacts with the same ECS receptors, but in a different way. CBD's interaction is indirect. THC binds with a specific ECS receptor in the brain, CB1. When THC binds with CB1, it typically produces a sedating yet euphoric effect (Iversen, 2003). Its impact on this ECS receptor also inhibits presynaptic neurons in a way that alters the natural flow of information while releasing dopamine into the brain (Currin, 2020). Since CBD inhibits THC's ability to bind with CB1 (Alger, 2013), many cannabis oil users find that marijuana strains with higher concentrations of CBD temper THC's effect. 

Cannabis Oil vs CBD Oil: Safety & Side Effects  

Selective breeding gives cannabis oil users the opportunity to choose strains that have been fine-tuned to enhance specific attributes. Some oils can be energizing or uplifting, others more relaxing. Although cannabis oil is prescribed in many states for specific medical conditions, ingesting too much THC can cause impaired motor function, sedation, a rapid heart rate, anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations. Some people eventually become chemically dependent. The nausea, irritability, anxiety, weight loss, and poor sleep caused by THC withdrawal can linger for weeks (Budney et al., 2004).    

CBD oil, on the other hand, carries an impressively low risk of adverse effects. Since the cannabinoid does not bind with CB1 receptors, there's no risk of chemical dependency or withdrawal symptoms. According to a 2020 report published by the World Health Organization, hemp-derived CBD poses no "risk to public health" (WHO, 2020). However, some people have reported mild side effects that can include fatigue, dry mouth, nausea, diarrhea, or changes in appetite (Chesney et al., 2020). 

Other Factors to Consider – Quality Control Standards & Third Party Test Results  

Most cannabis dispensaries can only sell products certified by a state-regulated testing facility. Those tests are used to verify THC levels, cannabinoid concentrations, and terpene profiles. Many states also expect products to be screened for heavy metals, pesticides, foreign matter, mold, bacteria, mycotoxins, and residual solvents (Valdes-Donaso-et al., 2020). When purchasing CBD oil, you should expect the same level of quality assurance. 

The best CBD oils are made by companies that rely on natural farming practices, clean extraction methods, and rigorous third-party lab testing. Since only 13% of the companies claiming their products are third-party tested routinely batch-test at least 90% of their products (Harrington, 2021), a verifiable Certificate of Analysis (COA) is essential. If the manufacturer can't produce this vital documentation, shop elsewhere. CBD concentrations can vary by crop, some extraction methods leave solvent residue behind, and contamination can occur at any phase of production. 

Shopping for CBD Oil – Recommended CBDistillery® Products  

When you choose CBDistillery® CBD oil, you can shop with confidence. You're investing in a hemp-derived product from a vertically integrated company, a distinction that allows us to oversee every aspect of production, from initial soil testing to distribution. Our hemp-derived products are manufactured in an A-rated cGMP registered facility, third-party tested, and backed by a 60-day satisfaction guarantee. 

Based on the results of a 2019 CBDistillery® customer survey into CBD use, adults of all ages report positive results using our hemp-derived CBD products for relaxation, better sleep, mild or temporary anxiety, pain, stiffness, and inflammation after physical activity, and more. If you could benefit from adding the health and wellness potential of this non-intoxicating cannabinoid to your daily routine, consider choosing one of the following products. 

Full Spectrum CBD Oil 

Full spectrum CBD oil gives you all the potentially beneficial cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other phytonutrients in hemp in the same ratios produced in the plant. The less than 0.3% THC contributes to overall potency, but the CBD to THC ratio prevents intoxication. CBDistillery® Full Spectrum CBD Oil Tinctures are available with 500mg, 1000mg, 2500mg, or 5000mg of CBD per 30ml bottle. You'll find the amount of CBD per serving printed on the label. 

Broad Spectrum CBD Oil  

Broad spectrum CBD oil tinctures have many of the same minor cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other phytonutrients as full spectrum, but the THC is reduced to non-detectable levels (<0.01%) during extraction and processing. CBDistillery® Broad Spectrum CBD Oil Tinctures are available in potencies ranging from 500mg to 2500mg of CBD per bottle. The bulbed dropper makes it easy to adjust your serving sizes as needed. 

Pure CBD Oil Tinctures  

Our 0% THC CBD isolate tinctures are made with CBD isolate powder. Since CBD isolate is flavorless and odorless, our THC-Free Pure CBD Oil Tinctures are most often favored by CBD users who want to add the cannabinoid's health and wellness potential to snacks, beverages, and their favorite recipes. You might also prefer using one of our 0% THC CBD tinctures if you don't care for the distinctive flavor and aroma of cannabis. They're available in 500mg, 1000mg, and 2500mg bottles. 

Sleep Synergy CBN + CBD Oil Tinctures  

CBDistillery® Sleep Synergy CBN +CBD Oil Tinctures are made with full spectrum hemp extract and enhanced concentrations of CBN (cannabinol), a minor cannabinoid known for promoting relaxation and restful sleep. Our regular strength CBN + CBD Oil Tincture has 150mg of CBN and 450mg of CBD per bottle. With the extra strength version, the cannabinoid content is increased to 300mg of CBN and 900mg of CBD. 

Microdose Synergy+ THC & CBD Oil Tincture   

Microdosing is the practice of using a potentially intoxicating substance in small enough amounts to appreciate its benefits without feeling intoxicated. CBDistillery® Microdose Synergy+ THC & CBD Oil Tincture is made with full spectrum hemp extract. The product is enhanced with just enough naturally occurring, hemp-derived Delta-9 THC to maximize its "entourage effect." You'll get 2mg of THC and 30mg of CBD per serving. When using any CBD product for the first time, we recommend starting with a partial serving. If you don't get the desired effect, gradually increase the amount you're using in small increments.   

Discover Why So Many CBD Users Choose CBDistillery® CBD Oil  

CBDistillery® is a respected leader in the hemp industry. We founded our company on the belief that everyone deserves high-quality, fairly priced hemp-derived products. Today, we have more than 2 million satisfied customers, and our products have more than 40,000 5-star reviews. You can verify our commitment to quality by viewing the Certificate of Analysis on our product pages or scanning the QR code on every label. 

As you browse our website, you'll see an impressive assortment of full spectrum, broad spectrum, and 0% THC CBD products. In our Synergy and Synergy+ Collections, you'll also find full spectrum (and broad spectrum) products made with enhanced concentrations of CBDA, CBC, CBN, CBG, and THC. If you could benefit from adding CBD oil to your daily routine, but aren't quite sure where to start, consider taking our 3-minute CBD Product Quiz or scheduling a personal consultation.   

Resources:  

Alger B, Ph.D. (2013) Getting High on the Endocannabinoid System. 14, Cerebrum. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3997295/ 

Budney A, Hughes J, et al. (2004) Review of the Validity and Significance of Cannabis Withdrawal Syndrome. 161(11) Am J Psychiatry 1967-77. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.161.11.1967 

Chesney E, Oliver D, et al. (2020) Adverse Effects of Cannabidiol: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. Neuropsychopharmacol. 45, 1799-806. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41386-020-0667-2 

Currin, G. (2020) How Does Cannabis Get You High? Live Science. https://www.livescience.com/how-cannabis-high-works.html 

Harrington A. (2021) 25% of CBD Products Are Not Tested for Purity. Forbes. 

Iversen L. (2009) Cannabis and the Brain. 126(6) Brain: A Journal of Neurology 1252-70. https://doi.org/10.1093/brain/awg143 

Julia N. (2023a) CBD Statistics: Usage Data & Demographics (2023 Update). CFAH 

Julia N (2023b) Marijuana Statistics in the US: Cannabis Use & Abuse (2023 Update). CFAH. 

Lake L. (2019) New Research on CBD Highlights Immense Consumer Confusion and Erroneous Assumptions. Consumer Brands Association. 

Lazarjani M, Young O, et al. (2021) Processing and Extraction Methods of Medicinal Cannabis: A Narrative Review. 3(1) J Cannabis Res 32. https://doi.org/10.1186/s42238-021-00087-9 

Press Release. (2023) Medical Cannabis Oil Market Growth Statistics 2023, Industry Trends, Size Share, Players Analysis, Demand Status and Forecast 2031. Market Watch. 

Sallaberry C, Astern L. (2018) The Endocannabinoid System, Our Universal Regulator. 34(6) JYI 48-55. https://www.jyi.org/2018-june/2018/6/1/the-endocannabinoid-system-our-universal-regulator 

Valdes-Donoso P, Sumner D, et al. (2020) Costs of Cannabis Testing Compliance: Assessing Mandatory Testing in the California Cannabis Market. 15(4) PLoS One. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0232041 

World Health Organization. (2020) Cannabidiol (CBD) Critical Review Report. PDF https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/controlled-substances/whocbdreportmay2018-2.pdf?sfvrsn=f78db177_2 

Wilcox A. (2019) Ethanol Extraction vs CO2 Extraction: What Is the Best Way to Make Hemp Oil? Herb.