Given the toxic burden humans experience and the state of our environment, it’s important to seek out products that are non-toxic, earth-friendly, and biodegradable. Hemp seed oil fits all these categories in addition to its impressive nutritional and health-related benefits.
Hemp seed oil is produced when the ripe seeds of the hemp plant, (Cannabis sativa), are cold-pressed. While it can contain trace amounts of the psychoactive compound THC, it does not produce any psychoactive side effects and is safe for use in a variety of applications including pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and functional foods.
What Nutrients are Found in Hemp Seed Oil?
As reported in Molecules, hemp seed oil is a rich source of polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3, omega-6, alpha-linolenic acid, and gamma-linolenic acid), tocopherols, tocotrienols, phytosterols, phospholipids, carotenes, and minerals.
What are the Health Benefits of Hemp Seed Oil?
The polyunsaturated fat content of hemp seed oil is reported to be optimal in that it provides the perfect 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids for the human body. The typical Western diet contains an abundance of omega-6 fats (a ratio of 15:1, on average) and this imbalance between omega-6 and omega-3 fats has been associated with the development of chronic diseases. In fact, as reported in Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, excessive omega-6 fatty acids in the diet with deficient omega-3 fats has been found to promote the development of inflammation, which is a root cause of most chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and autoimmune disease. However, a lower omega-6 to omega-3 ratio can have the opposite effect. More specifically, a lower omega-6/omega-3 ratio has been associated with significantly reduced risk of death in cardiovascular disease, decreased cell growth in colorectal cancer, decreased breast cancer risk, and reduced inflammation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. With the optimal fatty acid profile, hemp seed oil, added to functional foods and nutritional supplements, may be beneficial in the prevention and treatment of the above-mentioned chronic diseases.
In addition to the optimal omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, the gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) found in hemp seed oil (and often deficient in the Western diet) has been found to have a positive health impact related to its’ anti-inflammatory effects, but it also has cholesterol-lowering potential, may improve blood pressure, and helps to maintain the integrity of the mitochondrial membrane (the mitochondria are responsible for creating energy in the body). As reported in Alternative Medicine Review, research on GLA-containing oils, like hemp seed oil, have shown promising results with regard to rheumatoid arthritis, atopic dermatitis, acute respiratory distress syndrome, asthma, pre-menstrual syndrome, cardiovascular disease, ulcerative colitis, ADHD, cancer, dry eye syndrome, and diabetes complications.
How is Hemp Seed Oil Used?
Hemp seed oil is used in a variety of ways. In the culinary application, it has a nutty flavor and is great in smoothies, as a dressing for salads, but can also enhance the flavor of dips and sandwich spreads. Hemp seed oil is great drizzled over rice and cooked vegetables as well. Some simply like to consume pure hemp seed oil by the tablespoon to take advantage of its’ nutritional benefits and hemp seed oil can be found in a variety of nutritional supplements.
It should be noted that hemp seed oil has a low smoke point, so it’s best to avoid heating it. Once oils with a low smoke point are heated, their healthy anti-inflammatory fat can be changed to one that promotes inflammation in the body.
Hemp seed oil is also used in a variety of personal care products. It is a safe, non-toxic, environment-friendly option that has been shown to moisturize and improve dry skin and hair.
Is Hemp Seed Oil Safe?
Hemp seed oil has a great safety profile and there are no known contraindications. However, if you are taking medication, it’s best to speak to your provider before adding hemp seed oil supplements.
**This information is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition.**
Written by Kellie Blake RDN, LD, IFNCP
- Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). Monograph. Altern Med Rev. 2004;9(1):70-78. Retrieved from: http://archive.foundationalmedicinereview.com/publications/9/1/70.pdf
- Mikulcová V, Kašpárková V, Humpolíček P, Buňková L. Formulation, Characterization and Properties of Hemp Seed Oil and Its Emulsions. Molecules. 2017;22(5):700. Published 2017 Apr 27. doi:10.3390/molecules22050700 Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6154611/
Simopoulos AP. The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. Biomed Pharmacother. 2002;56(8):365-379. doi:10.1016/s0753-3322(02)00253-6 Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12442909/