What is CBD Oil?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of many compounds found in the cannabis plant. Most CBD can be found in a strain of the cannabis sativa plant, commonly known as hemp. You’ve probably heard of the THC compound (commonly associated with marijuana), which is also found in the cannabis sativa plant. This is the most commonly known cannabis compound, and the one that produces a mind-altering “high” when broken down by heat, such as by smoking it or cooking it into food.
Unlike THC, CBD does not produce a high, and has several potential benefits, including alleviating discomfort and body aches, promoting skin health as well as a variety of other health benefits. Now, cannabis sativa plants that are bred for their fiber or seeds are considered hemp plants, and they usually have a rich amount of CBD with only trace amounts of THC. On the other hand, marijuana is the strain of cannabis sativa that is bred to have higher amounts of THC.
CBD oil—also known as full spectrum CBD or hemp oil—is extracted from the hemp plant, and as the name implies, has high levels of CBD. By U.S. regulations, full spectrum CBD must contain less than 0.3% THC.
What is an Essential Oil?
Essential oils are volatile aromatic compounds found in parts of plants and are responsible for giving plants their distinctive smells. They are usually used in aromatherapy to help with a variety of conditions. Essential oils are primarily harvested through steam distillation or expression (“cold-pressing”).
In contrast, solvent extraction is perhaps the most common method for extracting CBD, since some plant material is fragile and needs another method for distilling the essential oil. This method uses a solvent (e.g., methanol or hexane) to pull the aromatic compound from the plant. It will also take out chlorophyll and other plant tissue, leaving an extract known as concrete. The concrete is mixed with alcohol, which brings out the aromatic properties of the substance. This product is known as an absolute.
So, strictly speaking, CBD oil is not an essential oil, but an extract or absolute. This is not just a semantic difference: essential oils, extracts, and absolutes all have different chemical compositions and different effects on the body. While all three substances are different, they do all require some experimenting to determine what works best for you, and, of course, we recommend that you speak with your physician about using these products.