The hemp plant, a member of the cannabis family, has been proven to provide better health without the risk of addiction. One way to reap its benefits is by using hemp oil. Looking past hemp's bad reputation and seeing how this essential oil can yield positive impacts on your wellbeing.
What Is Hemp Oil?
Hemp oil, also known as hemp seed oil, comes from the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa), which is produced for industrial purposes.1,2,3 The finished product is either a rich, nutty-flavored oil with a green hue (if it's cold pressed), or a colorless oil with minimal flavor (after refinement).4
Uses of Hemp Oil
The use of hemp oil was already prevalent in the 20th century. In fact, prior to the passage of the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act in the U.S., which led to a decline in hemp farming in the country, hemp oil was already being used in lamps, drying oils for paints, wood varnish, and even printer inks.5 Today, hemp oil is used for:
Medicine: it can help treat eczema, psoriasis, and other skin ailments, and reduce symptoms for various chronic diseases6
Cosmetics: It's used as an emollient and moisturizer, and incorporated in products like shampoos, massage oils, and lip balm
Food: This oil is added as an ingredient for salads and cooked vegetables7
Hemp oil is also non-toxic and environment-friendly, and can be used as a petroleum substitute in making paints, biodiesel and plastic.8
Composition of Hemp Oil
Hemp oil has low tetrahydrocannabinol content and high cannabidiol content. Tetrahydrocannabinol is the psychoactive component of the hemp plant that causes you to feel "stoned," while cannabidiol is another component that has medicinal properties.
Hemp oil is rich in fatty acids, and has a 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3.9 It contains oleic acids, gamma linoleic acids, stearidonic acids, saturated oils, antioxidants like vitamin E, carotene, phytosterols, phospholipids, chlorophyll, and minerals like iron, zinc, calcium, and magnesium.10
Benefits of Hemp Oil
Hemp oil does not scrimp on the health benefits. If you have dry skin, hemp oil may help nourish it. This essential oil may also detoxify and get rid of blotches and lesions on your skin, assist in thickening and softening hair, prevent dandruff and hair loss, and give you stronger nails.
Hemp oil may help reduce symptoms of atopic dermatitis and other similar skin conditions due to the presence of gamma-linoleic acid and stearidonic acid. Hemp oil can do all of this because the oil goes into the cells and "lubricates" the surfaces between them.11
This essential oil may also aid in moderating blood sugar levels because of its low carbohydrate and sugar content. The presence of omega-3 fatty acids in the oil leads to lowered blood pressure, platelet stickiness, and fibrinogen levels (a vital marker in atherosclerosis).
Apart from working wonders on your skin, hemp oil may reduce your risk of certain diseases. According to research from the University of Maryland Medical Center, hemp oil can help prevent heart disease, arthritis, and depression.
The fatty acids in the oil are able to lessen symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and inhibit osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, schizophrenic psychosis, and even cancer.12
Hemp oil may be useful for your cardiovascular health, since it can lower your body's low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, or "bad" cholesterol. The alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) in hemp oil also assists in proper organ function.
How to Make Hemp Oil
To make hemp oil, the seeds of the hemp plant are extracted through a press, which consists of a slowly rotating worm-shaft. This device "squeezes" out the majority of the oil and separates the "seed cake," the remaining seed matter of the plant.13
How Does Hemp Oil Work?
If you want to try using hemp oil, you can do so:
Topically: Apply unrefined hemp oil on eczema, psoriasis, or rashes or combine a few drops with other essential oils to use as moisturizers and cleansers.14 You can add 40 to 60 drops of your essential oil of choice to about 4 ounces of hemp oil.15
Internally: Due to the oil's potency, make sure to start small — try combining three drops of hemp oil with one drop of olive oil and drink it thrice a day. Increase your dosage gradually after four days to build up your body's tolerance to the oil.16
Is Hemp Oil Safe?
To ensure your body responds to hemp oil well, consult your physician first and/or take an allergen patch test before using it.
Unlike marijuana, hemp oil has low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content and won't make you feel "high." However, avoid using oxidized hemp oil at all costs. Always store it in a dark, airtight container in the refrigerator to prevent oxidation.17
While hemp oil is certainly not recommended for pregnant women,18 there are cases that prove hemp oil can be effective on children. Tanya Dyer, whose story was published in The Daily Mail, had eczema since she was a year old, but it worsened when she was 11.
Upon recommendation from an herbalist, she started taking hemp oil and applying hemp oil-based creams, which resulted in smoother skin and overall relief from eczema pain.19
While Tanya's case is certainly remarkable, I advise that parents should still be cautious on using hemp oil to heal their child's health problems.
Side Effects of Hemp Oil
Hemp oil has been proven to be safe, but there are side effects that you should watch out for. It can affect your digestive system by softening stools, and may lead to diarrhea or abdominal cramps. This essential oil can also limit production of blood platelets and influence their anticoagulant properties.
Hallucinations, euphoria, and/or high anxiety are major side effects of hemp oil, so don't ingest hemp oil prior to driving or operating heavy machinery. You might feel sleepy or tired, so lie down for an hour after taking the dosage.20