November 12, 2009 – Hemp Oil has long been recognized as one of the most versatile and beneficial substances known to man. Derived from hemp seeds (a member of the achene family of fruits) it has been regarded as a superfood due to its high essential fatty acid content and the unique ratio of omega3 to omega6 and gamma linolenic acid (GLA) – 2:5:1.
It is this ratio that is believed to be optimal in terms of improving skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and acne. It has been reported that those using hemp oil as a supplement begin to experience noticeably softer skin, stronger nails and thicker, smoother hair after only a few weeks.
The oil is approximately 57% linoleic (LA) and 19% linolenic (LNA) acids, the EFAs known as omega6 and omega3 respectively. EFAs are the building blocks of the fatty acids known as eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which are of course associated with the health benefits as noted above, alongside their benefits to almost every cell in the body and are widely accepted as beneficial in warding off and treating degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Hemp oil is also the only food oil that contains not only omega3, omega6, but also GLA. This GLA content means that hemp is a rival to Evening Primrose Oil as well as flax seed oil, as GLA is the chief EFA that is believed to relieve symptoms of pre-menstrual tension (PMT).
Hemp oil is also ideal for those who are concerned about taking fish supplements due to the reported contamination of fish with mercury and other toxins. This is particularly prevalent for pregnant women and nursing mothers who are looking to reduce their fish intake but still maintain a desired level of EFAs.
EFAs can also be obtained from eating hemp seeds. These seeds also pack a significant protein punch, which rivals that of soy. Hemp seeds contain many essential amino acids, have high fibre content and are also high in Vitamin E, Vitamin C and chlorophyll.
The added benefit of hemp seeds is that there has been no known genetic modification of hemp plants, unlike with other sources of protein and antioxidants. Hemp also grows in such a way that no pesticides or chemicals are needed to grow the crops. The growing of hemp plants creates almost zero waste and the byproducts of these crops are also useful in other commercial applications.
Hemp Oil Preparation
As with all essential fatty acids, hemp oil must not be heated or fried and it is very susceptible to heat and light. The oil is extracted from the seed by a slowly rotating press. The pressure from this press squeezes the oil from the seed and leaves only the remaining ‘seed-cake’. This is always done in an oxygen-free environment, as exposure to oxygen can rapidly depreciate the value of the oil.
Always ensure that your oils are prepared in such a way (i.e. without excessive heat, light and oxygen) and always store hemp oil in the refrigerator, use quickly, and never heat.
Is it Illegal?
In short, no. The Latin name Cannabis sativa actually translates as ‘useful hemp’!
The confusion and concern frequently arises due to the fact that hemp seed/oil is derived from the plant Cannabis sativa, which is often incorrectly linked to the psychoactive substance, marijuana. The psychoactive ingredient of marijuana is the chemical THC, however the quantities of THC in hemp oil are so small that they are regarded as insignificant. In fact, for commercial hemp oil products to comply with Government regulations, they must contain less than 10ppm THC, which is very, very little. However, in the majority of products absolutely none can be detected. It would be almost impossible for this level of THC intake to measure even close to illegal levels during a drug urine test.
Although the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced a worldwide ban on the sale of all hemp based foods and oils in 2001, this decision was condemned as illegal in 2004 following a successful appeal to the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.