Hemp benefits are impressive. Hemp has recently made headlines, mostly due to CBD. But, there's more to it than just the effects that cannabidiol may provide.April 11, 2019 2:05 pm
There are endless stories about the intense healing that hemp seed has bestowed onto people who have tried remedy after remedy, medicine after medicine to combat everything from eczema to PMT to gut and bowel issues. This is not to mention the wide range of products that are made from hemp – rope, oil, plastic, building materials, bread… even ice cream!
As a cultivated crop, hemp has been around for many, many thousands of years, with carbon dating suggesting that use can be traced at least to 8,000 BC, while hemp seed oil has been used in China as food and medicine for at least 3,000 years. The history of hemp as a cash crop is intriguingly peppered with manipulations, fascinating detail and lost opportunities. The sixteenth century saw Henry VIII push for hemp to be grown widely in Britain to support the ships of its Navy as they explored and, indeed, defined, the world as we know it. Everything from riggings and sails to maps and the pages of the sailors’ sustaining Bibles were made using hemp oil and fibres. The emphasis on hemp as a central crop for farmers continued in the New World, with colonial Americans even being able to pay their taxes with hemp.
When Rudolph Diesel invented his eponymous engine in 1896, he envisioned it being powered by hemp oil and other vegetable and seed oils, an assumption that was shared by Henry Ford of the Ford Motor Company, a producer of hemp fuel. From this fuel, Ford extracted many forms of energy for industrial use, from methanol to creosote. Today, of course, we commonly use fossil fuels for all of these. This change of perspective was allegedly due to the manipulations of rival businesses, which pushed for a change of laws and public opinion by blurring the very real distinction between hemp and its cousin, the marijuana plant.
The recent resurgence of hemp products in the West is due to a return to the commercial farming of hemp in Europe in the 1990s. This comeback has encouraged scientists to examine the data behind these tales of hemp as a restorative.
Healing hemp in the modern day
Studies taking place at the Departments of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Clinical Nutrition at the University of Kuopio in Finland found that hemp seed oil greatly increased the levels of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) in the blood. This omega-6 fatty acid is vigorously effective at reducing inflammation, which supports those tales about hemp seed oil working beautifully for eczema sufferers.
Dr. Jace Callaway of the University expanded, “Increased serum levels of GLA might help explain some of the numerous anecdotal reports of seemingly miraculous cures from people taking hemp seed oil, particularly those suffering from chronic health problems such as allergies, dry skin, slow wound healing and even rheumatoid arthritis.”(1)
Hemp seed oil has an extremely beneficial 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. It contains about 56 grams of linoleic acid (omega-6) and 20 grams of alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3) per 100 grams. A dietary imbalance of these fatty acids could be behind many of the diseases plaguing Western society today. The diet of the average American features a 15:1 to 16.5:1 proportion of these fatty acids. A healthier balance has had a beneficial effect on several types of cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma.(2) These acids being present in exactly the right ratio in hemp seed oil means that the human body can absorb their nutritional value in an optimum manner.
Hemp is a source of vitamin D.
Hemp seed oil is also a rich source of vitamin D, useful for overall well-being and sound bones. Confusingly, Vitamin D is not actually a vitamin, but a hormone which keeps calcium, magnesium, and phosphate in balance within the body. The essential substances which, as a group, compose Vitamin D as we know it are only present in a few foods. For your body to use them, your kidney and liver need to convert them first. A lack of Vitamin D may lead to rickets, or soft and malformed bones; disturbingly, this ails children throughout the world. Although sunlight is a good source of Vitamin D, nutritionally obtained Vitamin D is necessary to prevent rickets. When a deficiency of Vitamin D affects the bones of elderly people, it is known as osteomalacia. It is another global problem. Vitamin D is also valuable for regulating immunity and normalising blood pressure.
“Increased serum levels of GLA might help explain some of the numerous anecdotal reports of seemingly miraculous cures from people taking hemp seed oil"
Shelled hemp seeds are also known as hemp hearts. This is an especially lovely thing considering that hemp seed oil may support a healthy heart. Researchers who looked at the effects of hemp seed oil when regularly administered to rats found that the previously mentioned ratio of fatty acids might help prevent heart attacks and cancer. Plant chemicals found in hemp seed oil, including beta-sitosterol and campesterol, have also been connected to a reduction in coronaries.(3) The heart really loves some hemp! And what is good for the heart is good for the brain.
When ground down into a fine dust, hemp hearts become hemp powder. Rich in protein, fibre and Vitamin D, hemp powder is lovely in protein shakes. You can also use it in baking. Erbology produces both raw hemp powder and hemp seed oil.
Fatty acids and the immune system
Today, we know much more about how our body works to ward off the endless germs, bacteria, viruses, and fungi that waft around in the world, not to mention minimise the damage done by environmental toxins. Our new understanding, fed by science, tells us that the immune system is reliant on the unsaturated fatty acids in order to function. Research has backed that up with solid data.(4)(5)(6)
This would be why a Western diet where the balance of these acids is so crazily out of whack leads to a whole host of diseases and shortcomings in individual health. It’s then a short step towards clarity about why hemp seed oil has been believed for years and years to help the immune system work at its optimal level.
Hemp benefits for the skin and hair
Some dermatologists recommend patients ingest hemp seed oil regularly so that skin glows from inside out. How does this come around? Yet again, we come back to that incredibly beneficial arrangement of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. Think of this proportionality as acting to lubricate your entire system. The skin is of course our biggest organ. Many skin complaints, including eczema, centre on dry, itchy, and flaky skin. It isn’t hard to see why anointing your insides with fatty acids, courtesy of hemp seed oil, would dissolve these complaints and bring a radiance that wasn’t only skin-deep.(7)(8)
Hemp oil is an excellent hair cream as well. Omega-3 fatty acids nourish hair follicles and scalp, leaving your hair looking stronger and shinier and your poor overworked, overexposed, and often neglected scalp well cared for.
How are hemp seed oil and hemp seed powder made?
Erbology Hemp Seed Oil is cold-pressed, but what does a cold press for hemp seed look like? The surprising answer is: a worm! A revolving worm drive gently presses out the precious oil; we call what is left over the seed cake. This retains an optimal level of vitamins and minerals and is then made into hemp seed powder. All of this production happens in an oxygen-free setting, preventing oxidation.
The flavour of hemp
But what does it taste like? Like the smell of ripe wheat on a hot, dry day; it brings body. We recommend using this oil in salad dressings and as finishing oil on soups and pastas. A tablespoon or two of hemp oil a day will bring you all of its optimum benefits. Some people find hemp seed quite strong in flavour and blend with olive oil to balance it.
Erbology hemp seed oil and hemp seed powder
Erbology Cold-pressed Hemp Seed Oil is organic. This preparation method means that valuable chemical compounds native to the oil will remain wholly intact. It is extremely rich in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and in Vitamin D.
Erbology Hemp Seed Powder is also organic and cold-pressed. We keep it raw for optimal absorption of all the valuable minerals it contains, including magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.
Both Erbology hemp seed oil and hemp seed powder are vegan, gluten-free and clean of any preservatives or genetic modifications.
Key hemp benefits
- Optimum ratio of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids
- Rich source of Vitamin D
- Deeply moisturises hair and skin
- Hemp hearts for the heart and brain!
- Strengthens the immune system
Porridge topped with seeds and honey or maple syrup is a long-time winter staple dish for us; it insulates from the cold and provides fuel to venture strongly out into the frosty wet.
As timeless as this dish is, sometimes we need something different to enliven the taste buds and the spirit. We love adding this oat, seed, hemp and chia powder bread to our repertoire. It brings all the comforts and benefits of porridge, but with a more condensed texture. We especially love the unusual mixture of sesame seeds, hazelnuts, and pumpkin and sunflower seeds scattered throughout the bread.
(1) Jourdan, Thea, “Hempseed oil does a power of good”, The Telegraph, 2001, https://bit.ly/2WSMilj.
(2) Simopoulos, AP, “The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids”, Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, 2002, https://bit.ly/2tyr7H1.
(3) Fernandez-Arche et al, “Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) Seed Oil: Analytical and Phytochemical Characterization of the Unsaponifiable Fraction”, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2014, https://bit.ly/2Srmkqm.
(4) Ziboh, VA et al, “Metabolism of polyunsaturated fatty acids by skin epidermal enzymes: generation of antiinflammatory and antiproliferative metabolites”, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2000,https://bit.ly/2SJOHPW.
(5) Harbige, LS, “Dietary n-6 and n-3 fatty acids in immunity and autoimmune disease”, Proceedings of the Nutritional Society, 1998, https://bit.ly/2WZEnT2.
(6) Harbige, LS, “Fatty acids, the immune response, and autoimmunity: a question of n-6 essentiality and the balance between n-6 and n-3”, Lipids, 2003, https://bit.ly/2SJ4rmo.
(7) Callaway, J et al, “Efficacy of dietary hempseed oil in patients with atopic dermatitis”, Journal of Dermatology Treatment, 2005, https://bit.ly/2N3NiOK.
(8) Tabassum, N and Hamdani, M, “Plants used to treat skin diseases”, Pharmacognosy Review, 2014, https://bit.ly/2SFxC9S.
(9) Rocha Filho EA et al, “Essential fatty acids for premenstrual syndrome and their effect on prolactin and total cholesterol levels: a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study”, Reproductive Health, 2011, https://bit.ly/2MZpV9h.