The Truth About Hemp Seed Oil
Hemp. No doubt you’ve heard of it. Maybe you’ve heard it in reference to textiles or paper. Or maybe all you know is that it’s related to cannabis. Often talked of and often misunderstood, we’re going to get to the bottom of things. What is hemp, and why is it good for you?
What are we talking about?
Hemp is a derivative of the Cannabis plant that has been refined into useful products including rope, cloth, paper and food. Other than its heritage, hemp shares very little with its psychoactive cousin, marijuana.
Hemp is significantly different from marijuana in that it has a much lower concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the substance in marijuana that induces an altered state of consciousness. Unfortunately, hemp’s relationship with marijuana breeds a lot of misunderstanding. If you examine the research, you’ll find that hemp is harmless and actually highly beneficial.
Know the History
As one of the oldest domesticated plants known to man, hemp has been utilized in many different ways throughout the ages. In fact, there is evidence of the weaving of hemp beginning over 10,000 years ago! It has been found on every continent in the northern hemisphere.
We know that it was cultivated in China from 4000 BC. Often considered a ceremonial substance, it was frequently burned as incense, or woven and adorned in the sacred ceremonies of different cultures.
The health benefits of hemp have been readily acknowledged throughout history: the Chinese herbalists wrote of its usefulness in treating malaria; Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy openly heralded hemp as a treatment for what we now call clinical depression; in parts of Africa, hemp was even regarded as a relief for dysentery.
America in particular has a colorful history with this versatile plant. In the 1700s, farmers in Virginia were required by law to grow hempseed. Thomas Jefferson himself was quoted as saying hemp was of the “greatest importance to our nation.” Since then, America has classified hemp as a narcotic due to trace amounts of THC. As such, farmers in the United States now require a DEA permit to grow hempseed.
How Can Hemp Benefit My Health?
In addition to the benefits of hemp oil for pain relief, there is evidence of significant overall health benefits stemming from the consumption of hempseed and hemp seed oil. When we think of healthy sources of protein we think of grains, nuts, and pulses. But research undertaken by the Canadian Department of Human Nutritional Sciences in 2010 backed hemp seed’s nutrition impact, concluding that hemp seed products can contain just as much, if not more, digestible protein than traditional sources.
In addition to containing almost as much protein as soybean, hempseed is saturated with Vitamin E, along with a wide array of minerals. Among these minerals are calcium, iron, potassium, and zinc. In addition to this, hempseed has an abundance of sulfur, which has been found to relieve age related ailments such as stiff joints, sore muscles and even the wrinkling of skin.
As if that wasn’t enough, hemp has been proven to contain significant amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These super useful compounds do wonders for overall cardiovascular health, helping safeguard against heart disease. A study published in 2013 found that laboratory rats with a history of high blood pressure experienced a lower resting heart rate after hempseed protein meal diets over a period of four weeks.
Hemp seed oil is a staple amongst Chinese and Korean medicines. Both cultures regularly employ hempseed to treat dermatitis, inflammation and rheumatoid arthritis, and have done so for centuries. Researchers at Konkuk University in Korea tested the validity of hemp’s effectiveness against these ailments. It was found to effectively help assist in relieving all three of these conditions. The benefits of hemp oil for pain relief and overall health have already been championed for many years, and science is now starting to serve up some conclusive evidence.
Exhaustion is something that many people are looking to eradicate, and when striving to be at the top of the game, every gain counts. A study carried out in 2008 found that hemp seed has anti-fatigue properties. Mice administered with hempseed were found to have a distinctly improved swimming time. The results also showed a reduced amount of lactic acid in the blood.
Though not conclusive, these early experiments could lead the way for hempseed being recognized as a legitimate performance enhancer.
So what’s the takeaway?
Science is only just beginning to uncover a small part of what hemp has to offer. The health benefits certainly aren’t thin on the ground. Here are just some of the many benefits of hemp and hemp seed oil:
- Hemp offers a high amount of digestible protein
- It contains an array of beneficial minerals, as well as being a source of Vitamin E
- It has copious amounts of omega-3 and 6
- It can help lower cholesterol levels
- It can lower the resting heart rate
- It can treat dermatitis, inflammation and arthritis
- It can reduce fatigue and lower the levels of lactic acid in the blood
- It contains essential amino acids (good for the mind as well as general body regulation)
- It’s rich in fiber and is therefore beneficial to the digestive system
- It may control the occurrence of epileptic seizures
The story of hemp has also been one of polarity. With its fluctuating state of legality, research into its benefits has been slower than it should have been, but we are turning a corner. With its undisputable heath advantages becoming more and more recognized, hemp seed’s popularity and range of uses is set to grow exponentially.
As we move away from emotionally charged judgments and instead look at the substance through the lens of scientific analysis, we can begin to separate myth from reality. From a health perspective, we need to see more human trials and studies. This will give us more information as well as more confidence in the benefits the ancients have always preached.