Hemp is one of nature’s most versatile plants. A variety of cannabis plant that contains less than 0.3% of THC (the psychoactive component in marijuana that makes you feel “high”) industrial hemp is now legal in the U.S. The fact that the plant grows quickly, can adapt to many different climates, and has a high nutrient count means that the wellness world is all over it. Here are three of the most popular forms of hemp oil and what each one is used for.
Hemp oil extract, also referred to as just hemp oil or hemp extract, is an oil that’s extracted from the stalk of a hemp plant using either CO2 gas, ethanol, or another oil. This extraction method keeps the plant’s beneficial phytocannabinoids intact. When consumed, these compounds promote feelings of relaxation because of the way they bind to receptors in our endocannabinoid system.*
If you want to ease stress and anxiousness, this form of hemp is your best bet.* It is often packaged as a liquid tincture or a capsule supplement. Be sure to look for a product that’s labeled “full-spectrum,” as it contains a wider variety of phytocannabinoids than an isolate product like CBD oil.* (The distinction between these two can be a little confusing: Hemp oil contains CBD, but CBD oil does not contain all the phytocannabinoid goodness of a full-spectrum product.)
Full-spectrum hemp oil is what you’ll find in mindbodygreen’s hemp multi supplement, which combines the powerful plant extract with other ingredients clinically shown to promote feelings of calm, such as rosemary, clove, and black pepper.*
Hemp seed oil is extracted from—you guessed it—the seeds of a hemp plant. The seeds do not contain the same beneficial phytocannabinoids that the stems do. However, they’re super nutrient-dense and a great source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
You should be able to find hemp seeds (which have a semi-crunchy outer shell and soft inside), hemp hearts (which have the outer shell removed), and hemp seed oil (hemp seeds in a cold-pressed liquid form) in most food stores, and they are all great for cooking. Hemp seed oil can also be incorporated into your beauty routine as a nourishing treatment for your hair or skin. But again, this one won’t help you stress less.
Hemp essential oil isn’t super popular, likely because it’s expensive and time-consuming to produce. It is made by steam distilling the upper leaves and flowers of the hemp plant. Like hemp seed oil, it does not contain cannabinoids like CBD. Instead, the intensely earthy oil is prized primarily for its smell. Some perfumers are starting to layer hemp essential oil into blends with other fragrant favorites like lavender and frankincense, and home aromatherapy buffs can now buy the oil too (though it tends to be on the pricier side).
Like many essential oils, hemp essential oil should not be consumed orally and should be diluted in a carrier oil before topical application. Adding a few drops to your diffuser and reveling in the resulting scent, though, is fair game.
When someone says “hemp oil” they could be talking about a few different things: Hemp oil extract is the only one that eases stress and promotes calm. Hemp seed oil is a good source of healthy fat to keep in your kitchen, while hemp essential oil is used primarily for aromatherapy.