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Hemp oil is popular amongst many natural product-loving individuals due to its well-tolerated nature, versatility, affordability, and ease of use. Hemp oil can be used for a range of purposes, spanning skincare to food. While much of the research is still in its infancy, hemp oil benefits make it a key player to keep an eye out for in the natural plant-based scene.
What is Hemp Oil?
Hemp oil, short for hemp seed oil, is made from hemp seeds and harvested by cold-pressing them until oil is produced. This oil is often clear or slightly green, unrefined, and nutty in flavour.
Hemp oil is often mixed up with CBD oil. However, while hemp seed oil and CBD belong in the same family, they are very different. CBD is produced from cannabis, and cannabis and hemp are two distinct varieties of the same plant species: Cannabis sativa.
Hemp seeds contain 0% THC, the psychoactive compound found in cannabis that results in a “high” feeling, and only contain trace amounts of CBD. While hemp oil also provides a range of health benefits, the oil is usually utilised in food products, as an addition to cooking, and even in skincare or beauty products.
Because of its versatility, hemp oil is one of the most used plant oils available on the market. Despite this, many people are still unsure of the exact hemp oil benefits and how it can improve their health and wellbeing.
Benefits of Hemp Oil
Here are some possible benefits of hemp oil that can improve your wellbeing. You can get these benefits from topical application or consumption.
1. Improves Heart Health
Because hemp seeds are packed full of nutrients, the hemp oil extracted from the seeds provides many heart-friendly benefits. Heart disease is the number one cause of death globally, and the rate continues to rise.
Researchers have suggested hemp oil to have a protective effect on the heart. Several compounds found in hemp seeds play an important role in lowering inflammation and relaxing blood pressure. These include Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA), arginine, an amino acid, and omega fatty acids.
GLA is a fatty acid found in many seed oils. GLA has been linked to reducing inflammation levels across your body, which may decrease your risk of developing heart disease. Hemp seeds also contain high levels of a type of amino acid called arginine. Arginine can contribute to nitric oxide production, which helps dilate blood vessels leading to reduced blood pressure.
Also, Hemp seeds contain adequate amounts of omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, which can help reduce cholesterol levels. Because high cholesterol can lead to plaque buildup in artery walls, consuming hemp seed oil can be a great way to reduce your risk of heart disease and generally improve your heart health!
2. Improves Brain Health
While omega fatty acids present in hemp seeds can help lower the risk of heart disease, they can also work wonders for our brains’ health. Hemp seeds are considered one of the highest plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids, making hemp oil a great oil choice for vegetarians or vegans.
Omega-3 fatty acids have many roles in the body, especially building cell membranes throughout the brain. Researchers also found omega-3’s anti-inflammatory effects to promote healthy brain cell formation while reducing the deterioration of the brain.
Our brain thrives off fatty acid molecules for keeping optimum function and health. Because the body cannot make fatty acids like omega-3’s by itself, many people rely on food sources of omega-3’s like fish or seeds and seed oils.
While hemp oil contains omega-3’s called ALA, the body can convert some ALA to DHA and EPA. DHA is essential for brain development and function due to being involved with the neurons and chemical messengers. Alongside this, EPA has shown promising results in preventing and treating depression and anxiety due to its interaction with receptors in the brain.
3. Improves Digestion
Keeping our digestion healthy is vital as poor digestive health has been seen to affect everything from our mood to weight management. Anti-inflammatory hemp oil’s benefits have shown promising results in easing many digestive discomfort symptoms, including bloating, gas, and irregular bowel movements.
Inflammation in the gut can lead to many symptoms. These include:
- Changes in bowel movements
- Constant fatigue or interrupted sleep routine
- Changes in mood (more irritable)
- Unintentional weight loss or weight gain
- Bloating and gas
- Disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Hemp oil contains excellent amounts of fatty acids like Omega-3, which helps fight inflammation across the body. Some studies have also shown Omega-3 to be helpful in keeping bowel movements regular, especially for some common digestive disorders including Crohn’s disease.
4. Helps Weight Management
As explained earlier, hemp oil can help improve digestion and how your body processes nutrients for energy. Keeping your digestive system healthy can also impact weight management as studies have continually linked your gut’s health and, in particular, the gut microbiome to your appetite, hormones, and therefore your weight.
Weight management has more to do with how many calories you’re consuming and expanding rather than anything else. However, hemp oil’s jam-packed nutrient profile may help you regulate your appetite and shed some extra kilos if weight loss is your goal.
Hemp oil processed from hemp seeds is incredibly nutritious and mainly consists of polyunsaturated fatty acids, which is considered a healthy fat compared to saturated or trans fatty acids. Adding hemp oil into your diet creates a highly satiating effect, meaning you can feel fuller for longer, great if you’re trying to cut down on portion sizes!
While more research is still needed to analyse the weight-loss benefits of omega-3’s in humans, mice studies have been promising. Recently, researchers gave mice subjects omega-3 supplements and analysed their metabolic activity. Metabolism was shown to increase with a strong “anti-obesity” effect also observed.
5. Provides Relief for Skin (Acne)
Hemp oil has many skin-loving benefits that you can experience by applying directly to your skin or consuming it. The benefits of hemp seed oil include:
- Moisturises and soothes skin
- Strengthens skin
- Combats acne
- Anti-ageing properties
- It can help ease skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis
- Enhances the skin’s ability to resist fungal and bacterial infections
Hemp oil contains high amounts of GLA, one of the omega-6 fatty acids. GLA can help fight inflammation while encouraging skin renewal and the growth of healthy cells. Because of this, hemp oil is a popular natural remedy for skin conditions with high inflammation or irritation, including eczema and psoriasis.
Applying hemp oil topically can be very nourishing and moisturizing for the skin. Did you know that dry skin can increase acne production? When the skin is too dry, the body will overcompensate by producing more oil, encouraging acne growth.
Applying hemp oil on your body can prevent dry skin without clogging pores, which often makes acne worse. In addition to this, linoleic acid found in hemp seeds acts as a powerful anti-ageing compound, minimising the production of wrinkles.
6. Highly Nutritious
Hemp oil is considered one of the most nutritious plant oils, and for a good reason. Usually, foods that have undergone processing from natural food sources are stripped of many nutrients and health benefits. However, hemp oil still retains most of the nutritional profile from hemp seeds.
Hemp oil has a pleasant, nutty taste making it a popular choice for cooking oil or condiments, but it also boasts a high level of healthy nutrients. These include proteins, essential fatty acids like polyunsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants, and a whole range of minerals.
Getting enough essential minerals from your diet is necessary for general health. Our body needs specific vitamins and minerals to keep bones healthy and carry out many body processes. Some of the more essential minerals include calcium, iron, and potassium.
Luckily, hemp oil contains adequate amounts of the essential minerals plus others, including zinc and magnesium, making it a great daily addition to your eating regime for a healthier lifestyle.
7. Helps Ease Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and Menopause Symptoms
Hemp oil can improve hormone health, crucial for regulating PMS and menopause symptoms. In women of reproductive age, the majority (up to 80%) experience physical and emotional symptoms due to PMS, often caused by the hormone prolactin. Luckily, hemp oil contains GLA, which produces prostaglandins that reduce the effects of prolactin.
The relationship between GLA and easing PMS symptoms is so strong as studies continually support this. Researchers investigated a group of women with PMS symptoms who took 1g of essential fatty acids containing around 200mg of GLA per day to see if PMS symptoms eased. They found a significant decrease. Other studies found GLA effective in decreasing breast tenderness, depression, and mood changes related to PMS.
GLA not only eases PMS symptoms but can also help with menopause! Menopause is often associated with drastic changes in hormone levels, leading to inflammation, depression, and hot flashes.
While the research is still in the early stages, studies have suggested hemp oil effectively regulates hormone balances in menopausal women while decreasing common symptoms.
How to Use Hemp Oil?
Hemp oil is very versatile. The two main ways of getting the benefits of hemp oil are topical application and consuming it orally. Topical application, or direct application to the skin, is useful when you need to quickly moisturise skin areas or soothe irritation and inflammation. Topical application can be carried out as follows:
- Before applying over your body, a patch test is recommended. You can do the patch test somewhere on your upper arm.
- For the patch test: apply a small amount of hemp oil on cleaned and dried skin. Then leave it in place for up to 24 hours. If redness, burning, or itching occurs, you shouldn’t use it. Remove it immediately and wash the area.
- If no reaction occurs, you can assume the hemp oil is safe to use.
- Continually apply hemp oil to your skin whenever you need it. There are no adverse side effects to consistent topical application!
Some people like to ingest hemp oil, which is an excellent choice if you want internal hemp seed oil’s benefits, like improved digestion or heart health. It can be useful to talk to your doctor before consuming hemp oil, especially if you’re worried or trying it out for the first time.
The dosage will depend on your health concerns, but a typical amount to take is 1-2 teaspoons daily. Hemp oil can have a strong taste initially, so a popular way to take it is incorporating hemp oil into smoothies, soups, and other dishes. While hemp oil is generally well-tolerated, some people have experienced brief digestive discomfort in the initial stages as their body gets used to it.
The Bottom Line
Hemp oil is a popular plant oil that comes with many benefits that span your internal and external body. Due to hemp oil’s versatility, how you use it will depend on your individual needs and health concerns. Are you ready to enjoy the benefits of hemp seed oil?
Disclaimer – medicinal cannabis and CBD oil are unapproved medicines in NZ which means that there is no conclusive evidence for their effect, apart from Sativex. Many doctors do not routinely prescribe cannabis medicines. The above article was written for general educational purposes and does not intend to suggest that medicinal cannabis can be used to treat any health condition. Please consult with your healthcare provider.