With more than 50,000 different uses to its name, hemp is a multipurpose wonder plant. From clothing and rope to building materials and body care, every part of the plant from leaves to seeds to roots have been harvested to our benefit for thousands of years. We have hemp to thank for CBD, as cannabidiol is extracted from this purposeful plant.
There are some common misperceptions about hemp as a plant and subsequently, hemp extract. Here we’ll dig into the roots of the confusion by exploring what exactly hemp extract is – and isn’t.
What is Extraction?
Extraction is a process that isolates a compound from a mixture. If you are a coffee or tea drinker, you perform an extraction every day, as the process of creating the perfect cup requires dissolving soluble flavors from coffee grounds in water. Another familiar example is the baking companion, vanilla extract. This is made by macerating and percolating vanilla pods in a solution of ethanol and water.
Hemp extract, then, is the process that pulls out active ingredients from the plant into a concentrated form that are then used to create your favorite products, including CBD tinctures, oils, lotions and gummies.
Same Family, Different Uses
For decades, despite being a cornerstone of ancient agriculture, hemp was outlawed in the United States due to its status as a member of the Cannabis family, and more specifically, marijuana. It’s true that hemp and marijuana both stem from the Cannabis plant, but they are different strains, making them genetically unique with each of their own attributes, benefits and effects.
A real world example to compare it to is vegetables. The wild mustard plant (brassica oleracea) is the parent to broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and kale. Each of these have their own unique look, feel, color, smell and taste. So, saying hemp and marijuana are the same is like saying broccoli and brussel sprouts are the same, which they are not.
Fortunately, the passing of the Farm Bill in 2018 made it hemp legal at the federal level, which is reflected in the influx of hemp-based products on the market. Hemp cannot contain more than 0.3% THC, meaning it’s non-intoxicating and can’t get you high. CBD made from hemp extract has been associated with benefits including reducing anxiety, pain relief, antioxidant, muscle relaxation and more.
Hemp Extract vs. Hemp Seed Oil
Buyer beware: not all hemp products are equal and some do not actually contain CBD! One we’d like to point out is the misunderstanding that hemp extract and hemp seed oil is the same. (Hint: they are not.)
Hemp extracts are derived from the cannabidiol-rich flowers, seeds, and stems of the hemp plant. These good-for-you oils contain a range of flavonoids, fatty acids and terpenes that make hemp extract products so popular as a supplement to your healthy lifestyle.
Hemp seed oil comes exclusively from the seeds of the plant, which contain little to no cannabidiol. It is wonderful for cooking and some cosmetic products, due to its richness of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. It adds great support to your skin and when cooking is like using coconut or avocado oils. It certainly has its benefits but if CBD is what you are after, hemp seed oil is not the answer.
One good way to ensure that you are getting a hemp extract vs. a hemp seed oil is to check your ingredient list. Seed oils are not required to denote that they are not CBD products on their front label, but the back label will be more specific. For products that do contain whole plant extracts, you’ll see terms like “CBD isolate” or “CBD distillate.” If you don’t see CBD or cannabidiol specifically referenced, then it’s not in there.
Why Buy Hemp Extract?
Research has shown that cannabinoids play a vital part in our body’s natural endocannabinoid system, which helps us regulate pain responses, sleep cycles, memory, mood, and even our appetite.
By attaching to receptors along this system, hemp extracts can help our bodies regulate responses more efficiently, effectively reducing inflammation and pain. These properties also help our bodies limit anxiety, sleep soundly, and feel more at peace, all without the high associated with THC.
Tinctures, gummies, and balms that contain hemp extract are popular with people (and pets!) because of its ability to help with a range of concerns. Whether applied topically to sore muscles or taken as a tincture to help you focus on your mile-long to-do list, hemp extract is a great tool to have in your healthy lifestyle toolbox.