The global industrial hemp market reached an estimated $4.71 billion in 2019, with an anticipated annual growth rate of 15.8%. Increased awareness associated with the dietary advantages of hemp oil, as well as growing demand from the personal care industry will continue to drive growth.
The dietary industry is pushing hemp seeds as a rich source of nutrition, particularly protein and essential fatty acids. Their nutty flavor and high versatility make them an excellent substitute for meat and dairy products. Offered raw, roasted, cold-pressed, or shelled, you can now find everything from organic hemp hearts to non-dairy hemp milk and hemp cheese.
How can hemp benefit your health? Here’s what you need to know.
Is Hemp Legal?
In December 2018, the Farm Bill was signed. Hemp, defined as cannabis and derivatives with no more than 0.3% THC, was removed from the definition of “marijuana” in the Controlled Substances Act with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. The European Union’s THC limit is 0.2%, and in the UK the limit is 0.01%..
Depending on the desired use, hemp varieties are chosen based on:
- Hemp oil content
- Resistance to disease
- Cannabinoid content
- Stem quality
- Time to harvest
They are then processed using various techniques, which depend on the purpose of the final product.
How Is Hemp Derived?
Austria, Canada, Australia, China, the United States, France, Spain, and Great Britain are among the most significant agricultural producers of hemp seed.
This crop has been grown for thousands of years and was used to make clothes, sails, rope, food, and more. Although hemp is used to make clothes, oils, and nutrient-dense food products, the leaves and flowers are also used to make CBD products.
Does Hemp Have Healing Properties?
Researchers continue to investigate the potential healing properties of hemp. Being an excellent source of plant-based protein, hemp is ideal for vegetarians, vegans, or anyone seeking a more balanced, nutrient-dense diet.
Hemp seeds are also a complete protein, meaning they contain all eight essential amino acids. This is incredibly important, as most plant-based proteins are incomplete. Your body needs all eight essential amino acids in order to function properly.
Some of the possible health benefits of hemp include:
- Hemp helps improve your heart health because of its magnesium and linoleic acid content. Studies show that magnesium and linoleic acid may help prevent heart disease by reducing your blood pressure and cholesterol.
- The omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in hemp seeds may offer anti-inflammatory properties and support cardiovascular health. The ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 may also boost immune function and help regulate your metabolism.
- Hemp oil is often used topically to relieve symptoms of dry skin and eczema. Hemp extracts may also help treat acne because of their anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and collagen-promoting properties.
- Being an excellent source of fiber, hemp seeds may help stabilize blood sugar levels and support weight management. To get the most out of hemp seeds’ fiber content, opt for seeds with the hulls intact.
- Hemp also contains an impressive variety of vitamins and minerals, including potassium, vitamin E, folate, zinc, and iron– all of which support optimal wellness.
Healing with Hemp – What the Research Says
As discussed, hemp seed oil is derived from the small seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant. Although these seeds do not contain the same levels of compounds as the plant, they still contain a wide spectrum of fatty acids, nutrients, and potentially healing bioactive compounds.
For centuries, claims were made regarding the healing power of hemp. Today, clinical trials have explored these claims, uncovering many beneficial properties. The studies and reviews include the following.
- A 2014 study found that hemp oil is abundant in fatty acids, including linoleic (55%) and oleic (11%). These compounds are of particular interest for nourishing the skin, for their anti-aging properties, and their ability to reduce inflammation. The same year, a review was published, reporting that hemp seed oil may help strengthen the skin, reducing your susceptibility to infection. It was also listed as a potential remedy for eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, and acne rosacea.
- A more recent study found that hemp seed oil protects the brains of mice. This is due to the essential fatty acids and essential amino acids present in hemp seed oil. By protecting the brain against inflammation, hemp seed oil could help prevent learning and memory damage.
- A 2010 review, published in Nutrition and Metabolism, stated that hemp seed has been part of the human diet for hundreds of years, yet until now, little research was done on its physiological effects. Offering an excellent source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, hemp seeds may provide beneficial effects on your cardiovascular health. Hemp seeds also contain high amounts of the amino acid arginine, which produces nitric oxide, a molecule that helps your blood vessels relax, leading to lowered blood pressure.
Is hemp the same thing as marijuana?
No. Hemp itself is a plant. Although they are both Cannabis sativa L., hemp is the low-THC, non-psychoactive, oil, seed, and fiber varieties of the cannabis plant. Hemp has no use as a recreational drug. Instead, hemp seed is used as a highly nutritious source of food.
Is hemp used for medical purposes?
In addition to using hemp food products to nourish your body, you can also seek hemp-derived CBD products. For example, the FDA has approved a CBD-based drug to help treat epilepsy.
Researchers continue to investigate the benefits of CBD oil extracted from hemp, which may potentially ease symptoms of sleep disorders, pain, mental health disorders, inflammation, and neurodegenerative conditions.
Remember, not all products are created equal. Choose hemp food and oil products from reputable, quality sources.