Hemp has been part of our culture for thousands of years. It is believed that Buddha used to eat one hemp seed per day while fasting. The Chinese emperor, Sheng Nung, famously used hemp to treat his rheumatism and constipation.
It was the hemp paper on which the American Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution were published. Romans used hemp fibers to make ropes and sails. Nîmes weavers of France were the first to use hemp to manufacture the first denim jeans.
Oprah Winfrey considers hemp a superfood, and Gwyneth Paltrow swears by hemp seeds and oil as a good dietary supplement for the vegans. Hemp seed oil is also being hailed as the wonder oil by the cosmetics industry.
Hemp is a tall weed that grows worldwide. It does not need pesticides or fertilizers to grow. It’s a perfectly natural, cost-efficient, and environment-friendly plant.
Hemp seed oil is edible and has one of the highest levels of EFAs found in seed oils. Let’s see how hemp oil can help us improve our health and get glowing skin.
Hemp seed oil is extracted from hemp seeds (or the Cannabis sativa plant). The cold pressing technique is used to extract the oil.
It is the same as extracting the oil from black onion seeds. You need to de-shell hempseeds, remove their outer husk, and then chill and squeeze them to extract the oil.
Hemp seed oil is green in color and unrefined. The cold pressing method preserves all its nutritional properties.
In the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, the authors noted that we can only extract the hemp seed oil from the food-grain strains of hemp. Legally, these strains must contain less than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the substance that gives you ‘high’ when you use marijuana.
Hence, hemp oil is not psychoactive in nature. It is as harmless as other seed oils we use, such as jojoba oil or sunflower seed oil. It’s often considered a ‘superfood’ and s an excellent moisturizer and skin softener. It ranks ‘0’ on the comedogenic scale, which means it is good for oily skin as it does not clog pores.
The important thing to note here is that hemp seed oil has neither THC nor CBD or any other cannabinoids.
CBD (Cannabidiol) oil is extracted from the whole hemp plant, including its stalks, leaves, and flowers. The CBD oil is also extracted from a specific type of hemp which has high CBD and low THC. It is not psychoactive. Research has found that CBD has anti-inflammatory properties and might be good for the treatment of cancer.
For centuries, CBD oil has been used to relieve the pain of:
You can also apply it topically to cure bug bites, sunburn, and other skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea. Multiple studies show that the CBD is a powerful antioxidant too. It reduces the lipid product from the sebaceous glands which can prevent the breakout of acne.
Good For Skin
The hemp seed oil has essential fatty acids (EFAs) which is crucial for cell membranes. A 1989 study by Horrobin as well as a 1991 study by Wright confirmed that the deficiency of EFAs can lead to severe consequences for our skin. Skin diseases, such as:
Thinning and Discoloration of Hair
Poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are crucial to converting enzymes in EFAs to the form that can be transported to the skin by the blood. Hence, they are crucial to prevent the skin problems that happen due to aging, stress or not-so-good diet.
The hemp seed oil has 18% Omega 3 fats, 58% Omega 6 fats which constitute 76% PUFA. It also has a perfect balance of four essential fatty acids for the skin:
Linoleic Acid (LA),
Gamma-Linoleic Acid (GLA),
Linolenic Acid (LNA), and
Stearidonic Acid (SDA).
A study by Callaway, Tennil, and Pate confirmed that the 3:1 ratio of LA to LNA in hempseed oil is optimal for the healthy human adipose tissue. This ratio is inverted in the flaxseed oil – which is why the latter is only good for short-term deficiency of LNA. Hemp seed oil is more suitable for the skin as a long-term dietary staple.
Hemp Seed Oil In Cosmetics
The unique texture of hemp seed oil makes it excellent for the skin. It is highly fluid, a good lubricant, non-greasy, and gets absorbed in the skin quickly. Hence, it is popularly used in skin products for mature, dry, or sensitive skin types.
Hemp oil has high levels of Vitamin E. This vitamin has antioxidant properties which make our skin glow. Many people use hemp seed oil to concoct their own CBD tinctures, even though it does not contain cannabinoids.
Hand, foot or body creams often have up to 3% hemp oil while lipsticks, lip balms, nail treatments, and after-sun products may have up to 10% of the seed oil.
You also find hemp seed oil in hair conditioners, liquid makeup, cosmetic powder, and massage oils.
Good For Brain
The brain requires plenty of healthy fats to function in a proper manner. Hemp seeds are rich in essential amino acids and fatty acids. Hence, hemp-seed oil is good for our brain.
A 2018 study found that the polyphenols found in the oil may protect the brain from inflammation.
In her book ‘Rhythms of Recovery’, Leslie E. Korn claims that organic hemp oil, raw hemp seeds, and hemp milk helps:
the brain to focus,
balance the mood, and
The book also suggests that having one tablespoon of culinary hemp oil a day prevents:
hormonal disbalances, and
caused by menopause.
Ethan Russo, a neurologist, advocates that CBD-rich hemp oil (or hemp oil with cannabidiol) can help in treating several mental health disorders, including eating disorders.
Good For Heart
The nutrient profile of hemp seed oil makes it likely to be good for your heart. A study published in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism noted that hemp seeds are related to cannabis. It also noted hemp seeds do not contain psychotropic properties, but they are very good for the heart. Hempseeds are good for:
controlling cholesterol levels,
high blood pressure, and
atherosclerosis in animals.
More research is going on to confirm the therapeutic effects of the seeds and the oil on the human heart.
Hemp seeds have high amounts of an amino acid called arginine. This amino acid produces nitric oxide in our body which dilates and relaxes our blood vessels. This is the reason that they lower our blood pressure, and decrease the levels of C-reactive protein (CRP). An increased level shows a direct relation to an increased risk of heart disease.
In 2014, a study revealed that alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) found in hemp oil can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. However, more clinical trials are needed to confirm this.
It’s A Superfood!
Hemp foods are called ‘superfood’ for good reason. Hemp seeds contain many of the nutrients that are part of a healthy diet. They contain:
A perfect balance of omega 3 to omega 6 (two essential fatty acids)
All of the essential amino acids
GLA linked to several health benefits
Minerals (such as phosphorus, sulfur, magnesium, potassium, and sodium)
Over 25% high-quality protein (more than chia seeds and flax seeds)
These seeds have a mild, nutty flavor. You can eat them raw, cook them or roast them. They have 20% soluble fiber and 80% insoluble fiber which are good for our digestive system. The proteins, EFAs, and fiber together make you feel full and satiated. Hence, hemp seeds can also be a good weight loss food.
Hemp seed oil retains many of these health benefits (except for the fiber). Presence of EFAs also means that this oil a good alternative to oily fishes for the vegans and vegetarians. Small amounts of magnesium and zinc in the oil boosts our energy levels and regulate our hormonal balance. You can use it as salad dressings and smoothies to add to their flavor and nutritional value.
Isn’t Cannabis Oil Illegal?
You are right. Cannabis oil is illegal in certain parts of the world, such as the UK. But, hemp seed oil is NOT cannabis oil. Cannabis oil is extracted from the strains of the Cannabis sativa plant that is high in THC. Hempseed oil comes from strains with no or negligible THC levels.
THC is the chemical that gives you a ‘high’. People use it for substance abuse. There is an ongoing movement to allow the use of THC for medicinal use (in the form of oils or capsules).
Hemp seed oil is perfectly legal because it has 0% THC.
President Donald Trump legalized industrial hemp in the US in December 2018. The CBD is still not allowed in food and health products without the approval of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But, hemp seed oil, hemp seed protein, and hulled hemp seeds can be added to the food without FDA approvals.
The industrial hemp is defined as the cannabis plant with less than 0.3% THC.
The growth of industrial hemp has been legal in Canada since 1998. In the UK, industrial hemp can be grown under license. Oils extracted from the cannabis plants can be sold in the UL if they contain a maximum of 0.2% THC. CBD oil can also be extracted and sold in the UK. Hemp seed oil with no THC is legal here too.
So, this oil is considered safe all over the world.
What About Cannabinoids Present In Hemp Seed Oil?
A recent study in Italy revealed that the health benefits of the hemp seed oil may vary. Its quality depends on:
the hemp variety from which it is derived
the manufacturing method used to extract it
The scientists analyzed ten different brands of organic hemp seed oils using:
the liquid chromatography method
the high-resolution mass spectrometry
They found that though the hemp seeds do not contain cannabinoids inside. But the resin oil that sticks to their surface may contain cannabinoids. The types of cannabinoids depend on a variety of cannabis. The traces of cannabinoids remain negligible if the seeds are cleaned properly before extraction of the hemp oil.
The study also highlighted that the curative properties of different cannabinoids such as:
The World Health Organization (WHO) report states:
“In humans, CBD (Cannabidiol) exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential.”
It also states:
“To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”
It does not cause a ‘high’. FDA has approved the first-ever cannabis-derived medicine for childhood epilepsy. The medicine is called Epidiolex and contains CBD.
CBD also helps insomniacs to fall asleep. Studies on animals also suggest that CBD might be able to provide relief from inflammatory and neuropathic pains. This is a significant discovery as these chronic pain types are most difficult to treat.
CBN has anti-convulsant properties
Cannabinol or CBN was the first cannabinoid that was identified. Scientists are not sure whether CBN is psychoactive or not. Some say that it is not psychoactive while others say that it has ‘very mild’ psychoactive effects. It is a powerful sedative though.
It can help in controlling mood and energy levels. CBN stimulates appetite and positively influences our immune function, focus, and cognition. It also helps with pain management and improving sleep quality.
The latest research indicates that CBN may be helpful in:
fighting harmful bacteria
CBG has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties
Cannabigerol or CBG is non-psychotropic in nature. It is found abundantly in some industrial hemp varieties. The 2013 research on mice found that the CBG might attenuate the symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), which is considered incurable till now.
CBG also stimulates appetite without neuromotor effects. Hence, it may be used to treat anorexia, wasting of muscles and metabolic dysregulation caused due to chemotherapy.
CBC has anti-bacterial properties.
Cannabichromene or CBC is one of the four major cannabinoids found in the Cannabis sativa plant. A study found it to have strong antibacterial activity and mild to moderate antifungal activity.
CBC is a non-intoxicating substance. Its interaction with ‘anandamide‘ (found in our body) suggests that it might be a powerful cancer-fighting agent. It also:
inhibits the growth of new cancer cells
blocks pain and inflammation caused by osteoarthritis
An animal study in 2013 also found that CBC keeps brain cells called ‘Neural Stem Progenitor Cells (NSPCs)’ healthy. Hence, it might be useful in treating brain diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.
Do note that the acidic and neutral forms of cannabinoids are quite different in nature. For example, the THC has psychotropic effects while the THCA does not have such effects. In fact, the THCA does not cross the blood-brain barrier.
The THCA found in the hemp seed oil only gets converted to THC if it is heated. Hence, hemp seed oil consumed without heating is safe and beneficial for our health.
Is Hemp Seed Oil a Fad that will Fade Soon?
Hemp is not a ‘new’ item in the markets. Chinese have been using hemp foods, seeds, and oil for more than 3,000 years. George Washington thought that hemp is a crop that can grow anywhere. In a letter written to the farm manager William Pearce in 1794, he wrote,
“Make the most you can of the Indian Hemp seed and sow it everywhere.”
Thomas Jefferson also grew it on his lands. So, we can say that hemp is here to stay.
Traditionally, we have been using hemp as paper and clothing material. The hemp seed oil is extracted from the seeds of the plant (and not the buds and leaves that contain THC). Given the extreme health benefits it offers, it can be said that its use would be growing in the near future.
What to Keep in Mind While Using the Hemp Seed Oil?
Hemp oil does not contain THC or CBD. It is legal and it does not give you a ‘high’. It also does not make you test positive on any drug test.
People generally tolerate oral consumption of the oil pretty well. Still, it is a good idea to start with a small dose and gradually, increase it to one tablespoon a day. If your stomach is upset, avoid taking the hempseed oil for a day or two.
Hempseed oil is quite a common ingredient in skin care products. But it is always a good idea to do a skin patch test first. Place a small amount of the inside of your arm, and wait for 24 hours to check for allergic reactions.
When you shop for hemp seed oil, you must also note that it is prone to rancidity. Hence, it is always packed in dark glass bottles and stored in cool, dark places.
High temperature may make it go bad. It has a low smoke point of 330 °F/ 166°C, which means that it should not be used as cooking oil. You can add it as a supplement to salad dressing, green smoothies, or mayonnaise for the nutty flavor.