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is cbd an essential oil

CBD Oil vs. Essential Oils

By Meredith Summers | June 13, 2018

When aromatherapy started to make waves amongst the public, it was partially because it promised so many distinct benefits. “All you have to do is take a whiff of lavender, and your stress will be gone!” “Feeling that cold that’s been going around the office start to creep up on you? Try some oregano oil and you’ll cure the ailment on the spot!”

CBD oil is another health-trend many people seem to claim has benefits similar to or better than essential oils. They both seem to provide a sense of health and well-being, but what are the differences and similarities between these two oils? Read more to see the details on how they compare to one another.

What is Essential Oil?

Aromatherapy, also known as essential oil therapy, is a holistic healing method that utilizes plant compounds to promote and enhance health. The plant compounds used for aromatherapy are called essential oils. These oils capture the plant’s scents and flavors, or the essence of the plant. Aroma oil is a diluted version of essential oils, as it sometimes only contains 2% plant extract and base oils. Essential oils typically contain 93% plant extract and base oils. These oils are used in a number of ways to improve health.

Aromatherapy works through skin absorption and smelling the oil through the following methods:

Diffusers or humidifiers

Body creams, oils, or topical application

Hot or cold compresses

Facial steamers or treatments

Essential oils are not meant to be consumed, unlike CBD oils. Inhaling the scents from essential oils interacts with the limbic system in the brain that contributes to human behavior, emotions, memory, and smell. When applied to the skin, some of the oil is absorbed into the skin, but the research on the benefits of essential oils being absorbed into the skin are lacking. Applying concentrated essential oils to the skin can sometimes cause irritation, like burning, itching, and redness. It’s important to use essential oils that contain other base oils, creams or lotions that are meant for skin use to avoid irritations.

There are over 90 types of essential oils extracted from different plants. These essential oils have different uses and benefits. Some popular essential oils include peppermint used to boost energy, lavender used to relax, and rose used to improve mood.

What is CBD Oil?

CBD is short for cannabidiol, which is a compound naturally found in the cannabis plant family. CBD is extracted from hemp plants because it contains high levels of CBD and low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. For full spectrum oil, the CBD compound is extracted from the plant in a meticulous way in order to extract the CBD and terpene and flavonoid compounds. Terpenes are the plant’s scent molecules, and flavonoids are the flavor molecules, which enhance the benefits of CBD. After the CBD is isolated, it’s a thick and bitter substance that is refined and tested for purity and potency standards. The CBD is then added to a carrier oil or water and flavoring to make it pleasant and easy to use or consume.

CBD oil comes in various forms and can be used in different ways, including:

Consumed in edible CBD products

Taken in pill or capsule form

Vaped with vapable CBD oils

Topical products applied to the skin

CBD oil tinctures or water solubles taken orally

Since everyone’s body’s and needs are different, the best method of use and the best dosage varies by person. CBD oils come in a variety of forms, flavors, scents, and dosages. Just like essential oils, some companies offer high-quality oils while others do not. When purchasing CBD oil, it is important to make sure you are purchasing CBD products from a reliable, reputable source.

What is the Difference Between Essential Oil and CBD Oil?

CBD oil is similar to essential oils, as they are both extracted from plants, but the ways in which they are made and used are different. But the biggest difference between the two is the ways in which CBD interacts with the body.

Unlike essential oils, CBD can be consumed and this is where the benefits of CBD oils come into play. Once CBD enters the body, it works with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which is a set of receptors that help regulate many of the body’s functions. These receptors are activated when cannabinoids are introduced and give the endocannabinoid system a boost to help regulate its functions. The endocannabinoid system helps regulate sleep, mood, everyday stress, joint function, appetite, and more. When CBD oil is taken regularly, it can help minimize discomfort, boost energy, and improve overall health.

Since CBD oil and essential oils work differently, there are different benefits someone might be seeking that one oil offers over another. CBD oil works within the body to help regulate and support the body’s health, while essential oils work primarily through smell to help improve functions in the brain.

Both of these remedies have a lot in common when it comes to the available studies and hard evidence: the research is still lacking for both. One reason is likely because aromatherapy is somewhat limited in terms of what it can do for a person, but the biggest reason is that cannabis is still controversial when it comes to government regulations.

Can CBD Oil Be Used as an Essential Oil?

Since CBD oil is made of hemp plant extract, carrier oils, and flavors or scents, it can be used as an essential oil. Since they both contain a plant extract of some kind and additive oils, CBD oil can be used instead of essential oils or in addition to your essential oil regiment. It is important to note that essential oils are not meant to be consumed like CBD oils.

CBD can be used in a diffuser or humidifier to offer an aromatic atmosphere for a room. Some CBD oils already contain other essential oils to offer added benefits when used as an aromatherapy. However, when CBD is used in a diffuser, this will only vaporize the oil to make for an aromatic smell and won’t inherently lead to the significant health benefits one might get from consuming the CBD oil or using it on the skin.

CBD can be used as a topical essential oil by applying it to the skin for absorption. Many CBD companies already offer products specifically geared towards topical use, like serums, creams, lotions, and body oils. Using CBD oil topically provides more benefits than essential oils as it can help improve muscle, joint, and skin relaxation.

There are some people who can try both essential oil and CBD oil and claim that neither of them did anything. This phenomenon could be for any number of different reasons. Perhaps a person’s body chemistry wasn’t suited for CBD oil, maybe they didn’t take enough of it, or maybe they took the wrong kind of CBD product. Not everyone has the same experience with CBD oil and essential oils because everyone’s body is different.

The content on this site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. While research has shown that CBD has the potential to help provide beneficial outcomes for several complaints, it is advisable to seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider when you have questions regarding any medical condition and when starting, augmenting or discontinuing any existing health routine.

CBD Oil vs. Essential Oils

What Are Essential Oils (and How is CBD Different)?

What Are Essential Oils (and How is CBD Different)?

There’s an oil rush in the health and wellness circle. No, not the type that will fuel your cars (although hemp fuel is a thing). We’re talking about plant-based oils, specifically CBD and essential oils. These products often look alike and are extracted in similar ways. With these notable comparisons, it may have you wondering, “Is CBD an essential oil?”

While many of the principles behind essential oils and CBD oil are similar, these two types of products interact with our systems differently — but both can benefit you. Before we celebrate the differences of these plant-based products, let’s discuss the similarities. They begin with the extraction process.

How Are CBD Oil and Essential Oils Extracted?

High-quality CBD and essential oils are extracted in a similar manner. Both involve an extraction process where pressure is applied to the exterior of a plant. The most reputable CBD oil and essential oil companies will use a process known as supercritical CO2 extraction.

This process uses pressurized carbon dioxide. When the CO2 is introduced to the plant molecules, they bind to it. The temperatures in the controlled chamber begin to rise.

The oils within the plant are released into the surrounding atmosphere. From there, the oils can be collected.

What Are Essential Oils?


Essential oils are found within plants, such as fruits, vegetables and herbs. They are made of several chemical compounds found within their plant’s genetic makeup. Plants have evolved to develop thick, protective layers around their essential oils. That’s why you must extract them.

You can find essential oils in different parts of plants including:

  • Bark
  • Flowers
  • Leaves
  • Peels
  • Roots
  • Seeds
  • Stems
  • Wood

A majority of these oils contain fragrant molecules known as terpenes. Terpenes are believed to provide the wellness benefits experienced by those who practice aromatherapy.

These viscous liquids are highly volatile, meaning they dissipate as soon as they hit the open air. This is why diffusers are so popular for essential oil users. Molecules in water will trap the essential oils as the diffuser turns the water-oil mixture into a vapor.

What is CBD Oil?

CBD oil extracted from hemp

Like essential oils, CBD is also extracted from a plant. Most CBD oil is extracted from hemp, and it also contains a terpene profile of its own. When you purchase broad spectrum or full spectrum hemp extract, many of these terpenes will be present in the formula.

CBD Oil With Terpenes

Some of the terpenes found in hemp that are also present in other essential oils include:

  • a-Pinene and b-Pinene (Rosemary, clary sage, eucalyptus)
  • Limonene (Lemon, grapefruit, orange)
  • Linalool (Lavender, basil, coriander seed)
  • Myrcene (Lemongrass, juniper, mango)
  • Beta-caryophyllene (Black pepper, clove bud, cottonseed)

While there are plenty of terpenes found in premium CBD, terpenes aren’t what put CBD products on the map. The most significant difference between CBD oil and essential oils comes down to cannabinoids.

Cannabinoids in CBD Oil

What sets CBD oil apart from essential oils is that hemp is rich in cannabinoids. There are over 100 known cannabinoids found in hemp. Not many other plants are known to have these compounds in their genetic makeup. Because of the superior benefits of these unique compounds, the answer to “Is CBD an essential oil?” would have to be, “No, it’s even better.”

How Does CBD Oil Work?

CBD products have a unique interaction with our system that essential oils can’t claim. That’s because cannabinoids found in hemp complement, and in many ways mirror, the cannabinoids our body creates on its own. These internal cannabinoids are known as endocannabinoids. They are critical components in the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

As endocannabinoids enter the system, they interact with cannabinoid receptors, which in turn helps the ECS regulate the body and mind. Unfortunately, the body has a lot to contend with when it comes to factors that influence these receptors. That’s when CBD oil comes in handy.

When we use CBD oil, cannabinoids indirectly interact with the ECS. This extra bit of plant-based support can help the ECS do what it does best. Therefore, CBD oil promotes homeostasis in a way that essential oils don’t.

How Do Essential Oils Work?

There’s a reason why essential oils are so prevalent in aromatherapy circles. Terpenes in the essential oils activate an area in our body known as the olfactory system. The olfactory system is regulated by the olfactory bulb, which is responsible for your sense of smell.

When you open a bottle of essential oils, you can smell the enticing aromas. These aromatic chemicals contain terpenes that essential oil users depend upon.

As the terpenes enter the nostrils, these plant compounds stimulate thin neural tissues attached to the olfactory bulb. The olfactory bulb will relay this signal to the central nervous system to produce some wellness-promoting effects. For instance, the terpene linalool, found in lavender essential oil, is credited by many as a way to help you feel sleepy.

Why Use CBD Oil and Essential Oils Together?

CBD and Essential oils

While CBD isn’t an essential oil, it doesn’t mean that both can’t be part of your everyday wellness routine. In fact, CBD oil and essential oils might even complement one another.

What sets CBD oil and essential oils apart is the presence of cannabinoids in CBD. The cannabinoid content can also set one CBD product apart from another.

When you purchase full spectrum or broad spectrum CBD oil, it means that these products have more cannabinoids in the formula than just CBD. These products elicit an act of synergy within the body known as the entourage effect.

When there are more cannabinoids in the formula, it increases the benefits. Cannabinoids aren’t the only plant compounds that enrich broad spectrum and full spectrum formulas. Terpenes play a big role in the entourage effect as well.

As we mentioned, hemp naturally contains terpenes. Therefore, integrating essential oils into your CBD wellness routine may impact your experience.

Differences in Using Essential Oils and CBD Oil

While CBD oil and essential oils complement one another, you can’t necessarily use them in the same way. The most common way to use CBD oil is in the form of a tincture.

CBD tinctures are formulated by adding the CBD oil extracted from hemp to a fatty oil that’s safe for consumption. At Joy Organics, we use either organic extra-virgin olive oil or medium-chain triglycerides derived from organic coconut oil.

CBD extracts are highly concentrated. Adding this oil to a carrier oil cuts down the intensity of the hemp flavor while healthy fats assist your body in the absorption of plant molecules.

Most CBD products already include a carrier oil so that you can consume them straight from the bottle. The same can’t be said for essential oils. Bottles of essential oils are highly concentrated. Making direct contact with your skin or ingesting pure essential oils can actually lead to burns, allergic reactions or worse.

If you are going to use essential oils for your body, make sure to read up on any particular oil’s effects. If you want to add essential oils to your skincare routine, make sure they are mixed well with a thicker carrier oil. Some of the best carrier oils for cosmetic purposes include jojoba oil, hemp seed oil and sweet almond oil.

How to Use CBD Oil and Essential Oils Together

CBD lotion mixed with essential oils

What’s so great about plant-based care is how customizable it can be. Now it’s easier than ever to integrate CBD oil and essential oils into your wellness routine. Just add CBD and essential oils into the following:

  • Soaps
  • DIY shampoos and lotions
  • Teas
  • Bath
  • Sleep masks
  • Baked goods and frostings

Of course, you can always add essential oils to a diffuser. Water in the diffuser helps cut the intensity of highly concentrated molecules. It also allows for timed release of these particles. You can diffuse your essential oils while you apply your CBD cream or take your CBD softgels for ultimate relaxation!

Do you use CBD and essential oils in your wellness routines? How so? Let us know in the comments below!

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Joy Smith

Joy Smith is Joy Organics Co-founder and visionary. After her own life-changing experience with CBD, Joy started Joy Organics to create a line of sustainable and premium CBD products consumers could trust. Before founding Joy Organics, Joy worked as an itinerant speaker, traveling to over four continents to empower women across the globe.

CBD and essential oils: these products often look alike and are extracted in similar ways. It may have you wondering, “Is CBD an essential oil?” Read on!