Hemp Oil: Is It Good for You?
In this Article
In this Article
In this Article
- Nutrition Information
- Potential Health Benefits of Hemp Oil
- Potential Risks of Hemp Oil
Hemp oil, also known as hemp seed oil, is made from hemp, a cannabis plant like the drug marijuana but containing little to no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical that gets people “high.” Instead of THC, hemp contains cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical that has been used to treat everything from epilepsy to anxiety.
Hemp is increasingly popular as a remedy for a range of conditions including skin issues and stress. It may contain properties that contribute to reduced risks of illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease and cardiovascular disease, though additional research is necessary. Hemp oil may also reduce inflammation in the body.
In addition to CBD, Hemp oil contains large amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 fats, which are two types of unsaturated fat s, or “good fats,” and all nine essential amino acids, the materials your body uses to make protein. Here’s more information about nutrients in hemp seed oil and how they may benefit your health.
Hemp oil is made from hemp seeds. In one serving of hemp seeds (3 tablespoons), you’ll find the following:
- Calories: 170
- Calories from fat: 108
- Total fat: 12 grams
- Saturated fat: 1 grams
- Trans fat: 0 grams
- Cholesterol: 0 grams
- Sodium: 0 grams
- Total carbohydrates: 5 grams
- Sugars: 1 grams
- Protein: 10 grams
Hemp seeds also contain these minerals and hemp nutrients:
- Vitamin C
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Gamma linolenic acid
- B vitamins
Many of these nutrients provide the body necessary minerals and also contribute to overall health. Note that hemp seeds contain a significant amount of iron (20 % of your recommended daily diet). This helps prevent iron deficiency, or anemia.
Potential Health Benefits of Hemp Oil
Hemp seed oil is used as a remedy for a range of conditions. Some studies show that its nutrients and minerals can contribute to better skin and heart health as well as reduced inflammation. Here’s a deeper look at what the research says about the potential health benefits of hemp oil:
Improved Cardiovascular Health
The amino acid arginine is present in hempseed oil. Studies have shown that this ingredient contributes to a healthy cardiovascular system. Consuming foods with high arginine levels can help decrease the risk of heart disease.
In studies, the CBD in hemp oil has been shown to reduce seizures in rare types of childhood epilepsy that are resistant to other treatments, Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Regularly taking CBD can also reduce the number of seizures brought on by tuberous sclerosis complex, a condition that causes tumors to form throughout the body.
Over time, excess inflammation in your body can contribute to a variety of diseases including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and asthma. It has been suggested that gamma linolenic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid found in hemp, acts as an anti-inflammatory. Studies have also linked the omega-3 fatty acids in hemp with reductions in inflammation.
Spreading hemp oil on your skin as a topical application can also reduce symptoms and provide relief for several types of skin disorders. One study showed that hemp oil can act as an effective acne treatment, though more research is needed in this area. In addition, consuming hemp seed oil was found to improve symptoms of atopic dermatitis, or eczema, due to the presence of the “good” polyunsaturated fats in the oil.
Potential Risks of Hemp Oil
Although hemp and marijuana come from the same species of cannabis plant, hemp has little to no THC. This means that consuming hemp is legal in the U.S. and will not cause you to become intoxicated or impaired.
In general, hemp seed oil is safe to ingest or use topically, but there are a few things to note if you decide to start taking hemp oil. Pay attention to the following potential risks of hemp oil:
Some people experience skin irritation when using topical oils containing CBD, possibly due to an allergy. Start with using a small amount to see how your skin reacts to it, and keep an eye on any changes.
It’s possible that ingesting CBD-containing oils like hemp oil can cause an upset stomach or diarrhea. Again, when you’re first introducing hemp oil into your diet, start small to see how it impacts you. Reactions may be different from person to person.
Brain, Behavior, and Immunity: “Omega-3 Supplementation Lowers Inflammation and Anxiety in Medical Students: A Randomized Controlled Trial.”
Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment: “Scoping paper on the potential adverse effects of CBD products.”
Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports: “Cannabis for the Treatment of Epilepsy: an Update.”
Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology: “Gamma linolenic acid: an antiinflammatory omega-6 fatty acid.”
ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon: “Hemp Oil.”
GW Research Ltd.: “A Randomized Controlled Trial of Cannabidiol (GWP42003-P, CBD) for Seizures in Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (GWPCARE6).”
Harvard Men’s Health Watch: “Iron and your health.”
Journal of Clinical Investigation: “Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and antiinflammatory effects on human sebocytes.”
Journal of Dermatological Treatment: “Efficacy of dietary hempseed oil in patients with atopic dermatitis.”
Mayo Clinic Proceedings: “Clinicians’ Guide to Cannabidiol and Hemp Oils.”
Nutrition & Metabolism: “The cardiac and haemostatic effects of dietary hempseed.”
StatPearls: “Chronic Inflammation.”
The Whole U: “Super seeds: Power up with flax, hemp, & chia.”
USDA FoodData Central: “HEMP OIL.”
World Health Organization: “CANNABIDIOL (CBD) Pre-Review Report.”
Find out what the research says about hemp oil, who should avoid it, and how it may affect your health.
HSM shows a strong antioxidant effect, which was tested by rearing flies on either HSM or cornmeal-soybean standard media, together with H2O2, and then comparing their survival rates (Lee et al., 2011).
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- Multiple Sclerosis
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Hempseed Oil as a Nutritional Resource
Hempseed (HS) or C. sativa L has been an important source of nutrition for thousands of years in Old World cultures. 129–132 HS typically contains over 30% oil and about 25% protein, with considerable amounts of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. HS has been used to treat various disorders for thousands of years in traditional oriental medicine. Clinical trials have identified HSO as a functional food. 133 HSO has been used as a food/medicine in China for at least 3000 years. 131 HSO is over 80% in PUFAs, and is an exceptionally rich source of the two EFAs (LA and ALA). The ω6/ω3 ratio in HSO is normally between 2:1 and 3:1, which is considered optimal for human health. 35 The ω6/ω3 ratio in most commercial HSOs is typically near 2.5:1. 134,135 The presence of both GLA and SDA in HSO, typically at a favorable ω6/ω3 ratio of 2:1, allows this enzymatic step with D6D to be efficiently bypassed ( Table 24.4 ). 136
Table 24.4 . Fatty Acid Profiles (%) of Hempseed and Evening Primrose Oils
|Seed Oil||Palmitic Acid||Stearic Acid||Oleic Acid||Linoleic||ALA||GLA||SDA||% PUFA||n-6/n-3 Ratio|
From a nutritional point of view, up to 7% GLA and 2.5% SDA are very interesting. Due to the high amount of USFAs, HSO is very susceptible to oxidative deterioration, which results in a fast impairment of the oil during storage. The result is a product with an intensive green color, because of the high amounts of chlorophyll coextracted with the oil. Virgin HSO is characterized by a nutty taste with a slightly bitter aftertaste. The use of virgin HSO is recommended during mild processing of food without heat. 137 One published report has described the application of HS porridge, from folk medicine, in the treatment of tuberculosis without antibiotics. 138 The FA profile of HSO is remarkably similar to that of black currant seed oil, which also seems to have a beneficial impact on immunological vigor. 139,140
Vegetable Oils: Types and Properties
Hempseed oil (Cannabis sativa)
Global hempseed oil production is around 10 000 tonnes per annum. Most seed is grown in China and Canada In the US, the cultivation of industrial hemp crops was indiscriminately lumped into the same legal category as drug – Cannabis but nowadays, more and more states allow hemp and cannabis to be grown for industrial, medicinal, and recreational purposes. The oil content of the seed is about 35%.
When discussing hempseed oil processing, Callaway and Pate stressed the necessity to maintain an inert atmosphere throughout the processing, and when discussing hempseed oil stability, they ascribed the poor stability of hempseed oil to its high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids. However, when listing typical nutritional values for vitamins and minerals in hempseed, they mentioned an iron content of 14 mg per 100 g or 140 ppm and a copper content of 2 mg per 100 g or 20 ppm. Even if a small fraction of these metals ended up in the oil, for instance, as phosphatidate, that would already explain the poor shelf life of the oil. The statement that ‘defatted meal resulting from solvent extraction is not suitable for human food because residual solvents (typically hexanes) contaminate the final product’ will most certainly be disputed by those skilled in the art.
Development & Modification of Bioactivity
Arno Hazekamp , . Renee L. Ruhaak , in Comprehensive Natural Products II , 2010
220.127.116.11 Hemp Oil
When Cannabis is cultivated for the production of fiber or seeds, only specially selected varieties with a very low THC content are legally allowed to be used. In that case, it is usual to use the term hemp instead of Cannabis (see Section 18.104.22.168 ). In recent years, scientific knowledge on the composition and benefits of hemp oil has increased significantly. The oil of Cannabis seeds has been promoted as a good source of the healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids, and may be considered a sustainable alternative to fish oil. It is widely used in body care products, lubricants, paints, and for other industrial uses, while its antimicrobial properties and emollient effect make it a useful ingredient for soaps, shampoos, and detergents.
Hemp oil is obtained from mature hemp seeds , grown outdoors. 273 After harvest, the seed is dried to reduce its moisture content, which also prevents sprouting during storage. Hemp seed contains about 30–35% oil by weight. 273,274 Because hemp oil is considered to be a relatively unstable product, it is not extracted by means of steam or organic solvents, but mainly by cold-pressing methods. Cold-pressed, unrefined hemp oil is light green, with a nutty, grassy flavor, whereas refined hemp oil is clear with little flavor. Chlorophyll and the carotenoid pigments found in mature seeds provide the natural dark green color to the oil.
22.214.171.124.1 Composition of hemp oil
Hemp seed typically contains about 25% high-quality protein and 35% fat in the form of an excellent quality oil. It has a remarkable fatty acid profile, being high in the desirable omega-3 fatty acids and also delivering some γ-linolenic acid (GLA), which is deficient in the average Western diet. 275 Although work by Ross et al. 276 showed no significant difference in the fatty acid composition of the oil generated from drug- or fiber-type seeds, the content of such higher fatty acids may vary considerably with variety, climate, and growing conditions.
Hemp oil typically contains 50–70% linoleic acid (LA; C18:2, an omega-6 fatty acid) and 15–25% α-linolenic acid (ALA; C18:3, an omega-3 fatty acid), 273 which is roughly in the 3:1 ratio that matches our nutritional needs (see Section 126.96.36.199.3 ). Furthermore, hemp oil provides significant amounts of some higher fatty acids such as GLA (C18:3; omega-6) and stearidonic acid (SDA; C18:4; omega-3). 273 Oleic acid (C18:1) and saturated fatty acids (mainly palmitic, stearic acids) both make up about another 10% of the oil. 27 In some hemp varieties, the omega-9 fatty acid eicosenoic acid (EA; C20:1) is present in amounts up to 0.5%; 273,277 however, most varieties typically contain much less.
Because hemp oil contains a high proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids, 278 the double bonds that provide such unsaturation may be degraded because of oxidation by exposure to air, light, and/or elevated temperatures. At temperatures above 200 °C, undesirable trans-fatty acids are gradually formed, which may lead to the formation of aldehydes, causing the oil to become rancid. As a result, it is generally recommended that hemp oil should not be used for frying or baking, but preferably should be consumed cold. 273,275 However, results obtained by Molleken and Theimer, 277 who subjected hemp oil to a series of heat treatments before analyzing the fatty acid composition, showed that the stability of hemp oil is much better than generally assumed: trans-fatty acids were not formed under normal cooking conditions, and heated native hemp oils were quite stable under high-temperature conditions (up to 250 °C), presumably because of the presence of significant amounts of the antioxidant γ-tocopherol. In general, extra addition of tocopherols is recommended as preservative for hemp oil. 279
Besides fatty acids, moderate to high concentrations of the vitamin E are present in hemp oil as well as small amounts of phytosterols, phospholipids, chlorophyll, carotenes, and several minerals. 27
188.8.131.52.2 Therapeutic potential
Many edible oils (e.g., hemp, sunflower, soybean, pumpkin, and canola) contain significant amounts of the health-promoting omega-6 fatty acid LA. However, only some of these oils simultaneously provide significant amounts of the omega-3 ALA ( Figure 13 ). It is important to notice that only hemp oil provides a ratio of LA to ALA close to 3:1, which is suggested as optimal for human nutrition. 273,280,281 Furthermore, hemp oil contains GLA and SDA. No other edible plant oil has these nutritional advantages.
Figure 13 . Typical fatty acid composition of vegetable oils. Reproduced with permission from G. Leson; P. Pless; J. Roulac, Hemp Foods and Oils for Health; Hemptech: Sebastopol, CA, 1999.
The unbalanced intake of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids is associated with many chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity, autoimmune diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and depression. 282 The average Western diet provides a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 of about 15:1. An increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids, through their eicosanoid metabolites, has been shown to result in lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, playing an important role in the prevention and treatment of coronary artery disease, cancer, and hypertension. Moreover, it helps normalize fat metabolism and decreases insulin dependence in diabetics. Omega-3 fatty acids also increase overall metabolic rate and membrane fluidity, and exhibit anti-inflammatory properties, specifically with regard to relieving arthritis. 281,283
Nutritionists suggest that daily requirements should range from 9 to 18 g of LA and 6 to 7 g of ALA, which would be equivalent to the consumption of three to five tablespoons of hemp oil. However, individuals who consume a diet high in saturated fatty acids or trans-fatty acids will require more, as well as people who are overweight or under great stress. 220,281
184.108.40.206.3 Cannabinoid contamination of hemp oil products
Because hemp oil is produced for applications in food, the fear exists that the oil may be contaminated with significant amounts of the psychoactive component THC. Although no cannabinoids are metabolically produced by the hemp seed itself, they may be detected in hemp oil because cannabinoids as well as other components present in the resin may be transferred from the flowers and leaves onto the seeds, and subsequently to the oil during pressing. Thorough cleaning of the seeds, including the removal of the seed coat (dehulling), and the use of varieties with a certified low THC content (or more accurately: THCA content, see Section 220.127.116.11 ) are ways of preventing such contamination. 27 Certified low-THC hemp seed is currently available from Canada, Europe, and China and is under development in Australia and the United States. Today, hemp is grown throughout the world – except in the United States, where it is illegal to grow the plant but allowed to import, manufacture, and sell products made from it.
In order to ensure the safety of hemp products (oil and other), strict legal limits have been set for the level of THC allowed, ranging from 10 ppm in Canada to 50 ppm in Switzerland. 284 Nowadays, THC quantities observed in hemp oil are usually so small that there is no possibility of intoxication and hence no potential negative effects on human health. Use of cosmetics based on hemp oil typically does not result in positive urine tests for marijuana use. The minimal amounts of THC in hemp oil are probably not absorbed through the skin and/or do not cause any relevant uptake into the bloodstream.
Lipids and Lipid Signaling in Drosophila Models of Neurodegenerative Diseases
Effects of PUFA and Cholesterol Levels on Drosophila AD Models Expressing Human Aβ42
The effects of hempseed meal (HSM) intake and linoleic acid on the human Aβ42-expressing Drosophila AD model were studied ( Lee et al., 2011 ). Hempseed is a rich source of oil, composed of more than 80% polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). The fatty acids in hempseed oil include a variety of essential fatty acids, including linoleic acid (LA, 18:2n6) and α-linolenic acid (ALA, 18:3n3), as well as γ-linolenic acid (GLA, 18:3n6) ( Callaway, 2004 ).
HSM shows a strong antioxidant effect, which was tested by rearing flies on either HSM or cornmeal-soybean standard media, together with H2O2, and then comparing their survival rates ( Lee et al., 2011 ). Intriguingly, the survival rates of flies reared on HSM were much higher, indicating that HSM exerts a protective effect from the toxicity of H2O2, which suggests that HSM has antioxidant properties. LA, a major non-polar component of hempseed, also showed a protective effect against the toxicity of H2O2 when supplemented in standard medium containing H2O2. However, because the degree of increase in the survival rate of LA-fed flies was lower than that observed in the flies fed on HSM, the antioxidant activity of HSM is probably not caused solely by LA, but rather, a result of the complex effects of various HSM components, such as other PUFAs and phytosterols.
HSM intake also showed a protective effect against the cytotoxicity of Aβ42. When Aβ42 was ectopically expressed in the fly eye, it induced profound eye degeneration. The defective eyes could be divided into 2 groups (mild and severe) according to their size ( Lee et al., 2011 ). Eighty percent of the flies reared in standard medium showed severe phenotypes. However, feeding with HSM reduced the rate of occurrence of the severe defects to 50%, indicating that HSM intake suppressed Aβ42 cytotoxicity. In an effort to find the molecular components of hempseed that mediate the protective effect against eye degeneration, four major components of HSM – LA, ALA, GLA, and campesterol – were tested in the fly AD model. Interestingly, LA and ALA, but not GLA or campesterol, ameliorated the eye degeneration phenotypes in a dose-dependent manner.
At the moment, the molecular mechanism by which HSM, LA, and ALA exert their protective effects have yet to be clarified. As oxidative stress is an important mediator of Aβ42 toxicity, the antioxidant property of the HSM and fatty acids could be the main factor for the protective effects. Indeed, some studies have shown that the supplementation with PUFAs decreased oxidant parameters such as lipid peroxide and reactive oxygen species levels in mammalian animal models including the rat AD model ( Hashimoto et al., 2002; Sarsilmaz et al., 2003 ). However, other studies reported that PUFA treatment does not prevent amyloid-β-mediated oxidative stress ( Florent et al., 2006; Florent-Béchard et al., 2009 ). Consistently, HSM feeding does not affect the disease-like phenotypes of the Drosophila model of PD and HD, two diseases that have been extensively associated with oxidative stress. Therefore, it is unlikely that the suppression of oxidative stress is a plausible way to explain the protective effect of HSM against Aβ42 cytotoxicity. Alternatively, HSM and PUFAs could exert their protective activity by regulating cholesterol level ( Figure 26.4 ). Although its role in AD pathology is still not fully understood, cholesterol has been implicated in AD at various aspects of pathology. Aβ42 is produced from APP through the amyloidogenic pathway, which occurs in the cholesterol-enriched lipid rafts, while APP is alternatively cleaved by α-secretase in the non-raft region ( Florent-Béchard et al., 2009 ). Accordingly, cholesterol depletion has been found to suppress Aβ42 production in hippocampal neurons ( Simons et al., 1998 ). In Drosophila, a screening of genetic modifiers of Aβ42 cytotoxicity identified loechrig mutants, in which the cholesterol homeostasis-associated protein AMP kinase γ is deficient ( Cao et al., 2008 ). HSM and LA intake reduced the cholesterol uptake level in Drosophila. When flies were reared in high-cholesterol food with HSM or LA, the body cholesterol level was reduced to a nearly normal level; on the contrary, the body cholesterol level of control flies reared on high-cholesterol food without HSM and LA was greatly increased ( Lee et al., 2011 ). Consistently, LA intake affects Drosophila development by decreasing the cholesterol level ( Figure 26.5 ), which is crucial for metamorphosis, as cholesterol is a precursor of the molting hormone ecdysone. Drosophila larval growth is delayed by intake of a PUFA mixture or LA, and is enhanced by cholesterol. Interestingly, the delayed larval growth induced by LA feeding is almost completely rescued by an intake of cholesterol. These results suggest that linoleic acid can act antagonistically with cholesterol during Drosophila development. Therefore, PUFAs may exert their beneficial effects on Drosophila AD models by reducing the brain’s cholesterol level, which causes the deleterious effects of AD at high levels.
Figure 26.4 . The molecular mechanisms of the lipid functions in Drosophila models of neurodegenerative diseases. C, carboxyl terminus; DAG, diacylglycerol; DGK ε, diacylglycerol kinase ε; Htt, huntingtin; IP3, inositol trisphosphate; N, amino terminus; OCB, open channel block; PA, phosphatidic acid; PE, phosphatidylethanolamine; PIP, phosphatidylinositol monophosphate; PIP2, phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate; Poly Q, polyglutamine; PUFA, polyunsaturated fatty acid; sAPPβ, soluble beta amyloid precursor protein.
Figure 26.5 . The effect of linoleic acid on Drosophila development.
Adapted with permission from Lee et al. 2011 .
Hemp Seed HSM shows a strong antioxidant effect, which was tested by rearing flies on either HSM or cornmeal-soybean standard media, together with H2O2, and then comparing their survival rates