Although words like, “hemp” or even “hemp oil” often strikes fear in the hearts of those who want nothing to do with psychoactive drugs, the truth is that not all hemp is created equal. There is a safe and sane hemp that does not promote funny feelings of any sort and is even healthy! Here’s what you need to know so you can reap the hemp oil benefits.
I used to have knee-jerk reactions whenever the word “hemp” was mentioned. Even when reading Moby Dick, where hemp ropes are mentioned. Or maybe that was in Two Years Before the Mast. Either way, I remember being slightly horrified at the main character in the novel (whichever one it was) nonchalantly mentioning hemp ropes in his narrative.
Hemp ropes? I thought, aghast. But…but…that would mean that POT was being grown in this country as far back as the 1830s! LEGALLY!
Well now. If only this straight-laced rube had known.
A Brief History – or, Were they Potheads Back in the Day?
Hemp has probably been used to make clothing since shortly after the Fall in the Garden of Eden, when some of Adam and Eve’s grandkids suddenly became woke and decided wearing animal skins was definitely uncool.
But seriously, there is archaeological evidence of items such as hemp ropes, clothing, shoes, and even paper having been around in parts of Asia and the Middle East thousands of years ago. At some point, it spread throughout Europe, and the Spaniards brought it to Chile around 1545.
In the U.S., the Puritans were the first to cultivate it waay back in 1645, growing the imported Cannabis sativa, the plant we know and love (or hate) today. In fact, in 1632, the Virginia Assembly issued an order stating that, “every planter as soone as he may, provide seede of flaxe and hempe and sowe the same.” (My Word editor is going crazy with its red under-liner right now)
This was because a naval fleet couldn’t sail without it, as hemp was used for the lines and sailcloth.
And even before that, several Native American tribes were known to have used a wild, indigenous species of hemp for clothing, known as Apocynum cannabinum.
In its long history, hemp has been used for everything from textiles to jewelry, rope, food, biofuels, building materials, weed control, water purification, animal bedding, medicine, and much more. Yes, including as a recreational mental escape from reality.
But THC is not what we’re here for. We want hemp oil benefits!
Okay. But first, you need to know the difference between generic hemp oil and hemp seed oil.
Hemp oil benefits can be a bit confusing because of these differences.
Please note: As with all my health-related posts, this is in no way intended as a means for self-diagnosis of any condition or medical advice. If you have a medical issue, see a doctor. If you think hemp products may be helpful for a condition, you might want to see a holistic doctor or herbalist.
Hemp Oil vs Hemp Seed Oil vs CBD Hemp Oil vs…
Yikes! Could anything make your head spin any faster than trying to figure all this out? Well, maybe for those imbibing the stuff with THC.
First off, all these oils come from the Cannabis sativa plant. The same plant that back in the day, many a teen planted in a pot at home and got Mom to water it because she was told it was a tomato plant.
But nowadays they breed hemp plants with only trace amounts of THC, which yields up perfectly legal, non-psychoactive, healthy oil and seeds. It must contain no more than 0.3% THC. The oil could come from the entire plant or might be cold-pressed from the seeds only.
A caveat here: some products that are labeled as hemp oil contain cannabinoids such as CBD oil. But don’t worry, neither hemp or CBD oil won’t make you fly like Peter Pan or raid the fridge in the middle of the night. This is because CBD and other cannabinoids act on different receptors in your brain than the ones THC makes a beeline to. Hitting these receptors won’t cause the Peter Pan effect.
If you simply want to reduce inflammation, delay or even reverse the signs of aging, or consume more healthy fats, then look for products labeled as hempseed oil. And don’t forget to read the labels!
A Bit About Hemp Seeds
You may have noticed I mentioned that hemp seed oil can help reduce inflammation. This is because hemp seeds are a superfood – meaning for one, that these tiny gems contain a near-perfect balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids in a ratio of about 3:1. I should note here that some anti-aging experts claim that a ratio closer to 1:1 is best. I have no idea if this is true or not, but one could always add more fish oil or other sources of omega 3 to the mix if one were concerned about that.
The other things that give hemp seeds the distinction of being a superfood are that they are a wonderful source of vitamin E and minerals, like iron, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium (the healthy kind), zinc, sulfur, calcium and all the essential amino acids. Some claim that hemp seeds are the most nutritionally complete food source in the world.
Hemp seeds can be eaten whole or shelled, raw or toasted, plain or flavored. You can sprinkle them into cereal, yogurt, and smoothies. You can bake with them. Use your imagination!
But I said I was going to talk about the hemp oil benefits. And I am! Because what you get from the seeds you will also get from the oil. And you would have to eat a lot of seeds to get the same benefits as you’d get from a very small amount of oil.
But I went off on that little seed tangent because I think it’s important to know how and why our healthy foods end up being so healthy and besides, I might point out that a benefit you get from the seeds that you don’t get from the oil is good old fiber.
Hemp Oil Benefits
Now, back to the hemp seed oil and benefit number one: All those awesome things that make it (and the seeds) a superfood – especially the fatty acids – are what make it good for helping to reduce inflammation. And when it comes to conditions from Alzheimer’s to zits and points in between, inflammation is often one of the usual suspects.
Besides being anti-inflammatory, the other hemp oil benefits are numerous. Too many to get into here, but I will list a few:
- Contains all nine of the essential amino acids – these are the amino acids that can only come from food. Which means hemp seeds and oil are a complete source of protein — great news for vegans. Aminos help with exercise and recovery, help build and preserve muscle mass, can help you to sleep better, and can even help with weight loss.
- May help balance hormones – this is because of its Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), the same fatty acid found in plant seed oils like borage oil and evening primrose oil. Gamma linolenic acid (GLA) is used for conditions that affect the skin including systemic sclerosis, psoriasis, and eczema.
- Nourishes skin – the essential fatty acids (EFA’s), GLA’s, and other linolenic acids have been shown to be effective in treating atopic dermatitis, a.k.a. eczema. It’s an excellent moisturizer, and because it is anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant, it can help clear up and heal the skin, plus delay or reduce signs of aging.
- Nourishes and moisturizes dry hair and scalp – due to the fatty acids, which are also reputed to help strengthen hair and tame frizz. Many commercial hair products claim to contain fatty acids, but why use ones created in a lab when you can get them from nature?
- Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties – which have been shown to help treat arthritis, support cardiovascular health, and improve brain function. You can read more about that in this post.
- Contains arginine – which may help prevent hypertension, high cholesterol, and clogged arteries, because arginine helps to improve blood vessel health.
And there you have it. Not an exhaustive list to be sure, but it should be enough to give you a good idea of the benefits of hemp oil, as well as the powerhouse hiding in those little seeds.
Stop by next week, when I’ll let you in on another amazing component of the Cannabis sativa, or hemp, plant: CBD oil! In the meantime, stay grounded [wink] and please, share the love by sharing this post!