As interest grows in industrial hemp, thanks in large part to some U.S. states pushing for locally grown hemp, industry advocates are warning interested manufacturers not to get certain hemp products confused with others. In particular, the Hemp Industries Association (HIA; Summerland, CA) is advising against the marketing of hemp cannabidiol (CBD) extracts as ‘hemp oil.’
Hemp oil has enjoyed a long history of use for culinary applications and even cosmetic ones, such as the production of lotions, soaps, and balms. The ingredient is derived from the crushing of hemp seeds. Hemp CBD, on the other hand, is a whole different animal. While also available in oil format, the HIA says that hemp CBD extracts should not be confused with the former ingredient, which consumers around the world already know commonly as ‘hemp oil.’
CBD is one of dozens of cannabinoids found in both hemp and its close relative marijuana. The compound is similar in chemical structure to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), for which there exists the medicinal marijuana market, but it does not have THC’s psychotropic effects. A health supplement market is, thus, opening up for CBD-rich extracts and their potential health benefits.
“While CBD has thus far skirted control by the FDA, it holds promise for several neuropsychiatric disorders,” says Wesley Ryan, MD, a board-eligible psychiatrist in Los Angeles. “Studies have demonstrated successful treatment of intractable epilepsy, as well as short-term treatment of psychotic disorders. Current studies are largely preliminary, but these initial favorable results beg further investigation, especially given the better safety profile of CBD over both THC and many of the accepted first-line prescription drug treatments.”
The differences between ‘hemp oil’ and CBD oil are quite clear. While hemp oil is obtained from crushed hemp seeds, CBD-rich oil extracts are best obtained from hemp flowers, leaves, and stalks. The HIA notes that hemp seeds typically contain less than 25 parts per million of CBD, whereas these other parts of the hemp plant may be rife with as much as 150,000 parts per million of CBD. Fortunately, both CBD oil and conventional hemp oil can be made without a real presence of THC. Manufacturers can go on safely making hemp oil, and they can also venture into CBD oil, an ingredient for which there is great market potential. The HIA, however, warns that marketing of CBD extracts is still a “legal gray area” under federal law, and manufacturers should be careful in making any health claims.
So far, 39 U.S. states have introduced pro-hemp legislation of which 22 have already passed theirs.
[UPDATE: Existing federal regulations for industrial hemp production do not address CBD content in finished hemp oil. A distinction is made, however, for a THC threshold under 0.3%. Both CBD-rich and CBD-poor hemp oils can be procured with very little THC, so either hemp oil from seeds should be called ‘hemp seed oil’ or CBD-rich oil from elsewhere in the plant should be called ‘CBD oil.’ Something should be done to clarify the two from each other.]
Nutritional Outlook magazine