Hemp oil is becoming the new organic, all-natural remedy. It is a great source of protein and essential high-quality nutrients. In the history of the Eastern culture, hemp oil has been used as a remedy since ancient times. However, the prejudices associated with it have kept it from becoming the true remedy it is in the West. But all of that is changing now. Amidst the cannabis revolution that the world is witnessing, education, awareness, and demand for hemp oil is prevailing in the market.
Hemp oil is increasingly being used as an ingredient in food, medicine, and skincare. New and advanced scientific researches and studies are revealing the many benefits and effects of hemp oil every day. Among this fast-paced change, there is a need for people to educate themselves about the plant.
This article is your guide to the basics of hemp oil. From understanding what hemp oil is, how is it extracted, etc. to traversing through its wonderful effects on the human body, this article will educate you about the rudiments of this new, organic, and all-natural product.
What is hemp?
In the simplest of words, hemp is a plant. It is a variety of the cannabis sativa plant which is, and has been, grown specifically for industrial purposes. The term hemp includes all varieties of the cannabis plant which contain minimal or negligible amounts of THC, the chemical that causes the high in the human body.
Let’s break it down. The cannabis plant species hosts a variety of plants in its family all having a different chemical and structural make up than the others. Two of the most prominent cannabis varieties have been marijuana and hemp. Both these plants are used for contrastingly different purposes owing to their hugely different chemical structure.
Marijuana contains a high percentage of a chemical called THC which evokes psychoactive behaviour in people. Hemp contains a high percentage of another chemical called CBD which evokes healing effects on the human body. In the past decade or so, researchers have vigorously studied the hemp plant and its constituents. It is precisely these science-based studies that have increased the popularity of the hemp plant.
What is hemp oil?
Hemp oil is oil derived from the hemp plant. Different parts of the hemp plant are processed using different chemical procedures to yield different hemp-based oils. More often than not, hemp oil is obtained by pressing the seeds of the hemp plant.
Hemp oil is extracted from those varieties of cannabis plant which contain significantly low amounts of THC. That is, in fact, a defining value for differentiating hemp and hemp oil from marijuana. Hemp oil must contain no more than 0.3% of THC failing which it becomes an illegal product.
Nutrition from Hemp Oil
Hemp oil contains approximately 76% of all essential fatty acids. That refers to omega-6 fatty acids including linoleic acid (LA, 54%) and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA, 3%), omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA, 17%). This is in addition to the stearidonic acid (2%) and the mono-saturated fat (5% to 11%). Hemp oil also contains about 5-7% of saturated fatty acids.
Hemp oil has a relatively low smoke point is therefore used primarily as food oil and/or dietary supplement.
Types of hemp oil
It is possible to extract oil from different parts of a hemp plant. Based on that, sometimes in the industry, different nomenclature is used to identify different types of hemp oil.
- Hemp oil: Hemp oil refers to oil that has been extracted from the stalk of the hemp plant. More often than not, the target in this method of extraction is the high CBD content present in the stalk.
- Hemp seed oil: The oil that has been extracted purely from hemp seeds is called hemp seed oil. Hemp seed oil does not contain significant amounts of either THC or CBD and is primarily extracted for its healthy fatty acid profile.
- CBD oil: CBD oil refers to the oil that is extracted from the leaves, flowers, and buds of the hemp plant. These parts of the hemp plant are rich in CBD and are targeted to make high-quality CBD oil which in itself has multiple benefits for the human body.
- Phytocannabinoid-rich hemp oil: This type of oil is also extracted from the leaves, stalks, buds, and flowers of the hemp plant but from those which contain high levels of phytocannabinoids. This type of oil is sometimes known as a full-spectrum hemp oil and offer a wide range of therapeutic benefits in addition to being a rich source of vital minerals, nutrients, and vitamins.
Phytocannabinoid-rich oil is different than CBD oil
While they may appear to be the same from the definition and properties, there is a difference between CBD oil and phytocannabinoid-rich oil. The hemp plant contains more than 100 cannabinoids out of which CBD is one. CBD oil, therefore, refers to an isolated compound derived from the hemp oil. Phytocannabinoid-rich oil, on the other hand, refers to oil which contains other cannabinoids in addition to CBD. That is to say, that this type of oil can contain minor traces of THC as well which are naturally present in the hemp plant.
In any case, the difference between these types are subtle and rest on the edges of a very thin line. In the broader sense, hemp oil can refer to any oil whose extraction process involves the hemp plant. But in the industry jargon, hemp oil refers to the oil derived from the seeds and the stalk of the hemp plant.
While both hemp oil and CBD oil are good products used for their many benefits, hemp seed oil is the most common household ingredient. It is increasingly used as a cooking alternative for olive oil, vegetable oil etc.
How is hemp oil made?
There are different chemical procedures to extract oil from different parts of the hemp plant. Some of these processes are fairly similar to the processes of extracting CBD oil. The difference majorly lies in the rudiment ingredient and its quantity.
- CO2 Extraction: This method of extraction is perhaps the most precise, most expensive, and most preferred method of extraction. In this method, the hemp plant, or parts of it, is exposed to high-pressure, low-temperature CO2 This helps in isolating and preserving the cannabinoids (constituent chemical compounds such as THC and CBD) and in the oil. Once they are isolated, they are stored separately and refined.
- Olive Oil Extraction: This is an extraction method where another chemical compound is used as a solvent. The solvent is responsible for pulling the necessary cannabinoids from the plant which are then separated and what remains is a pure, finished hemp oil product. In the olive oil extraction, olive oil is used as a solvent. The hemp oil extracted using olive oil should be stored in a cool, dark, and dry place.
- Ethanol Extraction: Also known as alcohol extraction, ethanol extraction uses ethanol as an extraction solvent which pulls the THC, terpenes, and other cannabinoids from the plant leaving only a CBD-rich extract.
- Hexane or Butane Extraction: The same process where either hexane or butane are used as solvents to extract the desired cannabinoids from the plant.
Uses of hemp oil
Hemp oil has been used for multiple purposes since the ancient times. Hemp is among the earliest known domesticated crops. Its use as a viscous liquid spreads to a varied range of delivery forms. Hemp oil can be used as a medicine, as beauty supplement, and as food oil and dietary supplement as well. It has varied properties which cater to the diverse needs of the human body all at once. It is to be kept in mind that when we talk about the benefits of hemp oil, it refers to the benefits of the CBD present within the hemp oil. It is the chemical compound CBD which works wonder on the body.
Hemp Oil as Medicine
One of the most prominent uses of hemp oil is as a medicinal supplement. At present, there are a limited number of researches available on these benefits. However, these limited researches are quite compelling and present a strong case in favour of hemp oil.
The CBD present in hemp oil has shown to help patients with epilepsy. A recent study carried by scientists from Israel revealed that CBD-enriched medical cannabis can significantly reduce seizure activity in patients with epilepsy.
A 2011 study shows that CBD present in hemp oil (or CBD oil) can decrease activity in the limbic part of the human brain. This is the part which is responsible for the fight-or-flight response and CBD can considerably reduce this anxiety as compared to placebo.
Both hemp and CBD have anti-inflammation properties which make them a great, all-natural treatment for curing chronic pain. This claim is also backed by some studies. However, more recent studies show that chronic pain is better battled with a combination of CBD and THC.
A 2014 study shows that CBD oil can prevent the development of social recognition deficit. This deficit is a common occurrence in Alzheimer’s disease. However, more research is needed to back this claim.
A part of the immune system of the human body depends on the balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Hemp oil is a rich source of essential fatty acids as well as polyunsaturated fatty acids. The 3:1 optimal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in the hemp oil improves the blood level of essential fatty acids. This can potentially benefit the skin diseases and provide relief from conditions such as eczema. Moreover, the anti-inflammation properties of hemp provide relief from dry skin improving itchiness and reducing the need for skin medication.
PMS and Menopause
Hemp seed oil contains the gamma-linolenic acid. This acid produces prostaglandin E1 which curtails the effects of prolactin. This reaction helps in reducing the symptoms of menopause and potentially regulates hormonal imbalances in the body thus helping with PMS.
Hemp seed oil is a rich source of both soluble and insoluble fibre. It contains approximately 20% of the former and 80% of the latter. Fibre, in the human body, is an imperative part of a healthy digestive system. The soluble fibre present in hemp oil is a valuable source of nutrients for the good bacteria in the stomach and helps in reducing blood sugar level spikes and regulating cholesterol levels.
Hemp Oil as Skin Care Supplement
Hemp oil naturally contains a plethora of vitamins and minerals needed for maintaining a healthy skin. Also, the hemp plant has anti-oxidant properties which help in naturally purifying and healing the skin. Hemp seed oil acts a natural moisturizer and its anti-inflammation properties prevent the skin from becoming dry and breaking. When regularly used, hemp oil keeps the skin soft, fresh, and hydrated.
In addition, hemp oil does clog the pores of the skin. A lack of linoleic acid in the body leads to decreased sebum production which can clog the pores giving rise to blackheads, ance, lesions, and whiteheads. The linoleic acid present in hemp oil regulates the sebum production and thus protects the skin.
In the present time, there is a wide range of hemp-based beauty products to choose from. Hemp oil is being added as a prime ingredient in lotions, creams, shampoos, conditioners, serums, etc. Exciting news? Hemp oil-based make up products are on their way.
Hemp Oil as Food
Hemp seed oil is increasingly replacing the other cooking oils in the kitchen. This is owed not only to its organic, natural, and vegan nature but also to the many health benefits it provides to the body because of its nutritional power. Hemp seed oil contains everything from protein and vitamins to essential fatty acids and minerals. As a dietary supplement, this oil offers a plethora of benefits to different parts and systems of the human body.
Hemp oil works wonders on the heart, the brain, eyes as well as on the digestive system. It is also good for boosting the immune and the endocrine system.
What are the possible side effects of hemp oil?
Though the demand for hemp oil is increasing at a fast pace, the science behind it is still in the nascent stages. Because hemp is an organic, chemical-free plant, it usually does not have side-effects. But, even rarely, some side-effects of hemp oil are reported.
General, harmless side-effects include dry mouth, low blood pressure, slower thought process, sedation, and light-headedness. Some more intense side-effects are:
- Digestive Issues: the hemp plant contains really high amounts of fibre and while this is good for the digestive system, an overdose of these fibres might actually lead to constipation, acidity, and/or diarrhoea.
- Interaction with Blood Thinners: Hemp oil can slow down the process of blood clotting and lead to bleeding. So, if you are on blood thinners, you should probably not take hemp oil.
- THC effects: There are a number of different products and manufacturers in the market and checking the manufacturing process of each is practically impossible for an average consumer. If the oil has not been extracted properly or a wrong source plant has been used, you can experience THC-related effects. Therefore, it is advised that you always check the labels, do your research, and only opt for trusted brands.
How to choose a hemp oil product?
Different products cater to different needs and therefore the choice of a hemp oil product is very consumer-specific. However, there is a general set of criteria that you can follow to choose the optimally beneficial hemp oil product:
- The hemp plants used to extract the oil should be completely, 100% organically grown. Organically grown hemp does not require pesticides and is thus chemical-free.
- The extraction process of the hemp oil must be either CO2, olive oil, or ethanol.
- Does the hemp oil come with a third-party certificate of analysis? This is necessary to verify the chemical composition of hemp oil. This helps in checking if there are any unwanted contaminants present in the product.
Monitoring hemp oil dosages
Yes, hemp oil is an all-natural, all-organic supplement. But each person’s genetic and chemical makeup is different. Therefore, the first most basic thing to remember is to consult with your physician to monitor an initial dose.
Some other things to be kept in mind include:
- Start on a low dosage and increase it slowly.
- Spread the dose into smaller does taken throughout the course of the day.
- Remember that more is not always better.
The Bottom Line
The benefits of hemp oil for the human body are being backed by science which in turn is increasing its use. Though the study on the plant and its medicinal and therapeutic benefits are fairly in the nascent stage, and more in-depth studies are needed, they are compelling and make a strong case. Hemp oil is rising as the new dietary, medicinal, and cosmetic supplement and we are all going to embrace it, sooner or later.