People are exclaiming that we are in middle of a cannabis revolution in the U.S. And that does seem to be true, with the popularity of cbd oil and CBD products growing and becoming much more widespread across the country. But long before the legality of certain cannabis products, hemp seeds and hemp oil have been available in your local health food store.
Yes, hemp seed oil comes from the cannabis plant. But it can be used without fear of experiencing any psychoactive effects, as it only contains trace amounts of THC. In fact, hemp seed oil serves as an excellent source of nutrients and has been used internally and topically in Eastern cultures for hundreds of years.
Curious about the possible hemp oil benefits? You need to remember three important words: essential fatty acids. Hempseed oil is packed with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that boost the health of your brain, heart, skin and more. By adding just a tablespoon or two to your meals or apply it topically to reverse signs of aging and reduce inflammation.
What Is Hemp Oil?
Hemp oil is harvested by cold-pressing hemp seeds. Although it comes from the cannabis plant, hemp oil (also called hempseed oil) contains only trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive element in cannabis.
Hemp and marijuana both come from the Cannabis sativa species, but the amount of THC present in the plant is what makes them different. When it contains less than 0.3 percent THC, it’s considered hemp. And when it has more THC, it’s considered marijuana. This means that you can use hemp oil and eat hemp seeds without feeling “high” afterwards, unlike using marijuana.
So what’s so special about hemp oil? It serves as a natural source of important nutrients, including polyunsaturated fatty acids (including omega-6s and omega-3s), terpenes and proteins. It does not contain THC or CBD, so the main appeal of hemp oil is its fatty acid profile and other beneficial nutrients.
There’s confusion about the compounds in hemp oil for good reason. Some products labeled as “hemp oil” do actually include cannabinoids like CBD. These kind of superfoods with cannabinoids are also beneficial to your health because they act on receptors of the endocannabinoid system.
But if you are focused on increasing your intake of healthy fats, reducing inflammation and reversing signs of aging, you’re likely looking for oils extracted from hemp seeds, so go for products labeled as “hempseed oil.”
Hemp Oil vs. CBD Oil
Hemp seed oil is extracted from the seeds of the cannabis plant, and it contains little to no THC or CBD. But you may have seen “CBD hemp oil” on the market and aren’t sure about the difference.
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is created by extracting CBD from the cannabis or hemp plant and then diluting it with a carrier oil, like coconut oil or even hemp seed oil. Most CBD oil products come from industrial hemp, which can only have trace amounts of THC. These products are gaining popularity for the many known CBD benefits and because it doesn’t make you “high,” as it doesn’t affect the same receptors as the psychoactive agent THC.
Meanwhile, unlike both hemp oil and cbd oil, cannabis oil contains THC and is psychoactive.
9 Hemp Oil Benefits & Uses
1. Improves Skin Health
Hempseed oil is commonly used to improve skin health because it works as a natural moisturizer, nourishes your skin and helps to reduce inflammation. You’ll see it as an ingredient in many cosmetic products, lotions and soaps. It works as an antioxidant and may help to protect the skin against signs of aging when used internally and topically.
A study conducted in Finland analyzed the benefits of hempseed oil in treating eczema symptoms. Researchers found that dietary hemp oil increased levels of both essential fatty acids, linoleic acid, alpha-linolenic acid and GLA. Skin dryness and itchiness improved, and dermal medication usage decreased after hemp oil intervention. It’s believed that these positive changes were the result of an abundant supply of polyunsaturated fatty acids provided by hemp oil ingestion.
2. Boosts Hair Health and Appearance
If your hair is dry and brittle, try applying a small amount of hemp oil while conditioning your hair or after showering. The fatty acids in hempseed will moisturize your hair and scalp, replenishing your own natural oils. This is exactly why fatty acids are often used in hair cleaners and serums. The omega-3s in hemp oil will also help to add shine, tame unruly hair and give it strength.
3. Helps to Relieve Arthritis Symptoms
Hempseed oil is rich in GLA, or gamma-linolenic acid, a type of omega-6 fatty acid that helps to relieve chronic inflammatory disorders like rheumatoid arthritis. Although more research is needed to determine whether or not hempseed oil specifically works to relieve arthritis symptoms, studies have found that other oils high in GLA, like borage oil and primrose seed oil, help to “reduce disease activity.” Using GLA-rich oils for nine months allowed study patients to reduce their use of anti-rheumatic drugs.
4. Supports Cardiovascular Health
Because hempseed oil is an excellent source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, ingesting it may help to improve the health of your heart. Two fatty acids, ALA and LA, are found in hemp oil and in a ratio that’s ideal for cardiovascular health.
According to a scientific review published in Nutrition & Metabolism, hemp seeds and hempseed oil have the potential to beneficially influence heart disease because of their nutrition profile. Researchers point out that more research is needed to fully understand the hemp oil benefits associated with the cardiovascular system, but the oil’s fatty acid content may help to prevent issues such as high blood pressure, atherosclerosis and inflammation.
Hempseed oil also contains high levels of arginine, an amino acid that plays an important role in blood flow and circulation. Arginine improves the health of your blood vessels, helps to prevent high blood pressure and clogged arteries, and works to lower high cholesterol levels.
5. May Promote Healthy Brain Function
Due to hemp oil’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, and its omega-3 and omega-6 content, it may help to prevent or improve symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases.
Research published in Molecules and Cells indicates that ingesting linoleic acid found in hempseed may help to improve symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. When animal models ingested hempseed meal, it had a profound antioxidant effect.
6. May Help to Balance Hormones
Because hemp oil contains vitamin E, it may help to balance your hormones naturally and alleviate PMS symptoms. Vitamin E plays an important role in balancing your endocrine and nervous systems. The essential fatty acids found in hempseed oil, especially GLA, also play a role in hormone balance.
In a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study published in Reproductive Health, researchers evaluated the effectiveness of polyunsaturated fatty acids for the treatment of PMS symptoms. 120 women with PMS were divided into three groups: one treated with 1 gram of PUFA medication, one treated with 2 grams of PUFA medication and one receiving the placebo. After six months of treatment, symptoms were assessed and measured using the same guidelines.
Researchers found that those receiving 1 gram of medication has a significant reduction of symptoms, and those on 2 grams of medication showed improvements that were even more significant.
7. Provides Chlorophyll
Hemp oil is rich in chlorophyll, a substance in plants that allow them to make food from carbon dioxide and water. This plant pigment has been linked to natural cancer prevention, as it’s believed to block carcinogenic effects within the body and protect our DNA from damage that’s caused by toxic molds.
Chlorophyll is also known for its ability to improve liver detoxification and liver health. Consuming foods high in chlorophyll increases enzymes that promote optimal liver health and the body’s ability to naturally eliminate potentially harmful toxins.
8. Contains All Essential Amino Acids
Hemp oil contains all nine of the essential amino acids that our bodies cannot produce on their own. Your body needs all amino acids to function properly and consuming foods high in essential amino acids can help to enhance preserve muscle mass, improve exercise performance, boost your mood and promote better sleep. Plus, hemp oil may help with weight loss because of its amino acid content.
Eating foods high in amino acids, like hempseed oil, and keeping up an exercise regime can help to enhance fat loss, and increase lean body mass and muscle strength, according to a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
9. Reduces Inflammation and Pain
Many studies have pointed to inflammation as the culprit for many life-threatening diseases, including heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Chronic inflammation can negatively impact your health greatly, but there are natural ways to decrease inflammatory markers.
Consuming polyunsaturated fatty acids, like GLA and other fats found in hempseed oil, may help to reduce inflammation that leads to chronic disease and inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and Crohn’s disease.
Where to Buy Hemp Oil & How to Use
Hemp seed oil is legal across the U.S. because it does not contain THC and can be used without experiencing psychoactive effects. Hemp oil products come from the Cannabis sativa plant. Pure hemp seed oil is extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant, but you can also find products that are made with hemp extract, which comes from the entire plant including its stem and leaves. It’s also common for hemp seed oil products to contain MCT oil or vegetable glycerine.
There are many hemp oil products on the market today and knowing what exactly is in the oil can be confusing. Some oils do contain CBD because hemp extract is used in the product, while others contain none. But hemp oil should never contain THC, as it’s not categorized as “hemp” unless the THC levels are under 0.3 percent.
If you’re looking to purchase an oil that contains little or no CBD or THC, then look for “hempseed oil” and read the label carefully. You can find pure hemp seed oil for internal and topical use, or as soft capsules.
Ingesting one to two tablespoons of hempseed oil can help to increase your intake of essential fatty acids and antioxidants. Hemp oil can be added to smoothies and many recipes, as it has a pleasant nutty flavor. Hempseed oil should not be heated above 300 degrees Fahrenheit, so instead of using it for cooking, it can added to salads, dips, spreads and veggie dishes as a flavor enhancer.
If you are looking for oil that contains CBD and can be used for the many CBD benefits, from supporting sleep to relieving anxiety and pain, then opt for products that are labeled as “hemp oil,” “CBD hemp oil” or “hemp extract.” Again, read the label carefully and always start with a smaller dose to determine how your body reacts to the product.
Hemp Oil Side Effects & Precautions
With so many hemp products on the market today, knowing exactly what you’re getting can be confusing. If you are looking to increase your intake of essential fatty acids in order to boost the health of your brain, heart, skin and hair, then hempseed oil is a great choice. Other hemp products, which are often labeled as “hemp oil,” “CBD hemp oil” or “hemp extract” typically contain CBD, but do not contain THC.
Hemp seed oil is known to be safe for internal and topical use. It can be added to food or applied directly to the skin and hair. Keep in mind that hemp seed oil has a smoke point of 330 degrees Fahrenheit, which means that it will oxidize when used at high temperatures for cooking. That’s why it’s best to use hemp oil to add flavor (and nutrients) to your favorite recipes.
If you notice any adverse reactions after applying hempseed oil topically, stop using it immediately. The recommended daily dose of hempseed oil is about 1–2 tablespoons per day. If you plan to ingest more than that, consult your healthcare provider beforehand. And if you are on anticoagulant medications, check with your healthcare provider to be sure that it’s safe to use hempseed oil.
- Hemp oil is harvested by cold-pressing hemp seeds. In its pure form, it contains little or no CBD or THC, two well-known compounds of the cannabis plant, and it’s completely legal in the U.S.
- Hempseed oil benefits your health because of its impressive nutrient profile. It is high in essential fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, all essential amino acids and terpenes.
- The top benefits of hempseed oil include its ability to:
- Improve skin health
- Boost hair health and appearance
- Help to relieve arthritis symptoms
- Support cardiovascular health
- Help to balance hormones
- Provide chlorophyll
- Provide all essential amino acids
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