Hemp Oil

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Hemp oil is the oil extracted from seeds of the Cannabis plant. That is why, it is also called hempseed oil, as it taken solely from the seeds. For making this oil, tall growing varieties of cannabis. However, hemp oil does not contain THC, the chief psychoactive compound in Cannabis. The oil which contains THC is called hash oil, or cannabis oil. So, these two oils should not be confused.

Most of the health benefits of hemp seed oil come from its excellent ratio of omega -6 to omega – 3. which is similar to what the body needs. Hempseed oil provides powerful nutrition and can be used topically as well as internally. It is one of the best sources of omega fatty acids.

Hemp Oil
Hemp Oil (Image:Shutterstock)

The stark fact that hemp oil comes from cannabis plant, which is immensely controversial in many countries of the world because of its psychoactive capabilities has led to significant masking of data regarding hemp oil. Most countries now have regulations set in to determine what deserves to be called hemp oil. There is often a cap on the highest detectable limit of THC in hemp oil.

There is lot of speculation about the use of Hemp oil for cancer, and even AIDS. This has escalated the popularity and worldwide know how about this wonderful oil.

Source

Hempseed oil comes from the seeds of select species of Cannabis. These are tall growing and have low concentration of THC. Hemp trees have been used since ancient times to produce cloth and paper. Hemp fibers have good strength, both in tension and shear. Ropes made with hemp fibers have incredible strength.  It is also used to produce the oil. Its seeds have been used as food, mainly for animals.

This oil has been extracted for many centuries. But it is always shrouded in controversy because of its association with Cannabis species.

Properties

Not much is known clearly about the health benefits and therapeutic properties of hempseed oil. These are some of the properties that it exerts.

  • Anibacterial
  • Antiviral
  • Antifungal
  • Antioxidant
  • Anti – inflammatory
  • Skin regenerative
  • Cardioprotective

Hemp Oil Color, Taste and Odor

Hemp oil can be of various types depending on ways in which it is processed. Cold pressed but unfiltered hemp oil is dark green  and unclear liquid. It has an nut like flavor, somewhat grassy. The refined hemp oil is however colorless and lacks much of the original flavor of unrefined hemp oil. The refined version also lacks in many nutrients that are present in hemp seeds naturally.

So, from a nutrition point of view, one should go with unrefined hemp oil. For topical application purposes, refined oil is more suited as it feels less greasy and earthy in texture.

The odor of this oil can be slightly pungent. The taste resembles other nut oils.

Uses and Health Benefits

Hemp seed oil has tremendous application for personal use, much of which has been understood only recently. These are some of the most prominent health benefits of using hemp oil.

Hemp Oil For Eczema

This study[1] found out that people taking hempseed oil internally benefitted in their symptoms of atopic dermatitis ( eczema
). Hempseed oil is very rich in PUFAs ( polyunsaturated fatty acids ) which have been noted to be extremely healthy and strongly anti-inflammatory. Within about 20 weeks, the plasma lipid profiles of patients changed considerably. Their blood now contained more of healthy fats, which was doing their skin good.  Omega – 3 and omega – 6 fatty acids in hempseed oil were responsible for such an effect.

How much hempseed oil to take daily for this effect ?

Well, one should take about 1 – 2 tablespoon of hemp oil daily. This provides significant amount of healthy PUFAs.

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis is a dangerous and rare condition in which nervous system degenrates. The exact cause and mechanism of this condition is still not fully known. It mostly affects young adults. A recent study [2] finds that supplementation of diet with hempseed oil and evening primrose oil improves the health of MS patients. These people were kept on a special diet containing “heating” foods, like black pepper etc. This may have something to do with the bioavailability of nutrients from these oils.

Hempseed oil for Inflammation

People who suffer from chronic inflammatory diseases whould really try hempseed oil. Its so rich in omega -3 and omega – 6 fatty acids, which are strongly anti-inflammatory. These essential fatty acids are required by the body to lower systemic inflammation. With regular use, one can clearly see an improvement in inflammation and even pain in conditions like arthritis.

Taking 1 tablespoon of hempseed oil daily is good enough to start seeing its effects.

For Acne

Using hempseed oil in diet has a beneficial effect on acne. Its omega – 3 fatty acid content aids the body in reducing inflammation of the skin. This reduces the redness of pimples and may also prevent future breakouts.  Preventing breakouts with topical solutions can be very tough, as many products, even many natural oils are comedogenic ( block pores ) and lead to breakouts.

Hemp Oil for Skin

Filtered hemp oil can be applied directly ( undiluted ) to the skin. This topical application has the following effects.

  • Moisturizer – Hemp oil acts as a good natural moisturizer which doesn’t feel and look too oily in comparison to something like olive oil.
  • Drying effect – This oil dries up after some time, making your skin look normal and natural.
  • Anti-aging – Hemp oil can have anti-aing effects on skin. It improves the composition of epidural lipids ( fats in the outermost kin layer ) and improve the overall functioning of skin.
  • Inmprove water resistance – hemp oil protects the skin from reverse osmosis effects of water which causes skin to lose its nutrients. This explains why your skin looks dull after a shower, especially in places where the TDS in water is high.

If the oil feels too dry, mix it with olive oil for a better “oily” feel. This is helpful when doing a massage. In that case, you don’t want the oil to get absorbed so quickly.

Hemp oil for Hair

Hempseed oil can also be used in hair and scalp treatments. It can be used to reduce the oiliness of oil based shampoo. Using hemp oil on scalp doesn’t lead to hair fall. On the other hand, it improves scalp health by providing EFA ( essential fatty acids ) directly to the skin.

Omega – 3 in hemp seed oil improves the texture of hair, making them look shinier and stronger.  These fats are good for the health of hair follicle.

Hemp oil also provides the scalp with many vital amino acids.

Hemp Oil Benefits

Nutritional Information

Hemp oil is a powerhouse of nutrition when it comes to healthy fats. And it is better than flaxseed oil, which in itself is a reputed source of omega – 3. Hempseed oil is more than 40 % oils , and 80 % of these are essential fatty acids ( EFA ). These are healthy fats which are required by the body but are not synthesized inside. So, these need to be obtained from food.

Among the EFAs,

  • 55 % of it is Omega – 6 ( Linoleic Acid LA)
  • 22 % is  Omega – 3 ( Alpha Linolenic Acid ALA )
  • 1 – 4 % Gamma Linolenic Acid GLAwhich is also Omega – 6
  • 0 – 4 % Stearidonic Acid which is Omega – 3

Health Benefits of Omega – 3

Omega – 3s are required for proper organ functioning. They are also required for the brain. Omega – 3s help to lower systemic inflammation, prevent excessive cognitive decline and they are great for heart health. [3] They are essential for normal metabolism.

Health Benefits of Omega – 6

LA performs a host of functions in the body. It is essential for alerting the immune system in response to a stressor or pathogen. This leads to inflammation, but this necessary. Omega – 6 is also required for energy production, safeguarding from allergies. It also keeps the heart tissue functioning properly. Omega – 6 also helps the body recover from fatigue.

However, a high concentration of omega – 6 in coparison to omega – 3 can lead to pro-inflammatory behavior. This is believed to set the seeds for inflammatory diseases.

What is the healthy omega – 3 to omega – 6 in diet ?

Our body doesn’t like too much of omega – 6 , especially when Omega – 3 is low. The ideal ratio of omega – 6 to omega -3 is 3 : 1. This is exactly the ratio of these essential fatty acids in hemp oil. This makes hemp oil the best balanced oil in terms of EFAs. The ratio of EFAs is really very important to health. [4] The average American diet can have omega – 6 as many as 30 times more than omega – 3. This is very low amount of omega – 3 to counter the negative effects of omega – 6.

Hemp Seeds
Hemp Seeds ( Photo credit : rubyran2626  )

Hemp Oil :  A complete protein ?

Hemp seed oil also contains some amount of protein in it. This is because the seeds themselves are an excellent source of protein. That is why they are used to make hemp protein powders. The good thing about this protein is that it is a complete protein, that is, it contains all the amino acids required by the human body. This protein content in hemp seed oil is about 20 %.

This amazing protein content makes this oil very healpful for all protein related health issues of the body. It can help the body recover faster after workout, build muscle and tone the musculoskeletal system.

Nutritional Data For Hempseed Oil

Chemical composition of the fatty acids in weight % of the total fat content

Nutrient Percentage
Linoleic Acid  52-62 %
α-Linolenic Acid  12-23 %
Oleic Acid  8-13
Palmitic Acid  5-7
Stearic Acid  1-2
γ-Linolenic Acid 3-4
Eicosanoic Acid  0.39-0.79
Eicosenoic Acid  0.51
Eicosadienoic Acid  0.00

Other Compounds Found in Hempseed Oil

Nutrient Nutrient Concentration
Cannabidiol  50 %
tetrahydrocannabinol THC  ND
Myrcene  160 mg/L
Caryophyllene  740 mg/L
Sitosterol  100-148 g/L
γ- tocopherol  468 mg/L

Data taken from Source [5] . ND stands for not detected.

Safe Dosage and Toxicity Issues

Hemp oil is safe to be applied topically, as well as when taken internally. The recommended dosage of hempseed oil is about 2 tablespoons daily. One should however avoid taking more than this amount daily. It starts to become toxic in large quantities.

Hemp oil may have some anticoagulant effect. So, people who are about to undergo surgery should stop taking hemp oil two weeks prior to surgery.

Hemp oil should also not be used for frying purposes. Otherwise it is a good cooking oil. It is a healthy ingredient in salads because it is mostly PUFA fats.

References

1. Efficacy of dietary hempseed oil in patients with atopic dermatitis. Callaway J, Schwab U, Harvima I, Halonen P, Mykkänen O, Hyvönen P, Järvinen T. NCBI
2. Association of Expanded Disability Status Scale and Cytokines after Intervention with Co-supplemented Hemp Seed, Evening Primrose Oils and Hot-natured Diet in Multiple Sclerosis Patients. Soheila Rezapour-Firouzi,  ,  Seyed Rafie Arefhosseini, Mehdi Farhoudi, Mehrangiz Ebrahimi-Mamaghani, Mohammad-Reza Rashidi, Mohammad-Ali Torbati, and Behzad Baradaran. NCBI.
3. The cardiac and haemostatic effects of dietary hempseed. Delfin Rodriguez-Leyva and Grant N Pierce. Nutrition and Metabolism
4. The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids.Simopoulos AP. NCBI.
5. The Composition of Hemp Seed Oiland Its Potential as an Important Source.of Nutrition. Cary Leizer David Ribnicky Alexander Poulev Slavik Dushenkov Ilya Raskin

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