Hemp seed oil is extracted from seeds of the hemp plant. The extraction occurs through cold-pressing, similar to the way that olives are cold-pressed to make olive oil.
Although the hemp and the cannabis (marijuana) plant belong to the same plant family, Cannabis sativa L, they are two different plants and have different compositions. The most notable difference is the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) present in each plant. THC is the psychoactive portion of the cannabis plant. It’s the chemical that makes you feel “high”.
While the cannabis plant has high THC levels (up to 28%), the hemp plant’s THC concentration does not exceed 0.3%. Thus, products derived from the hemp plant are unlikely to create a “high” and are mainly used for medicinal purposes.
The many health benefits of hemp seed oil come from its high content of three polyunsaturated fatty acids: linoleic acid, alpha-linolenic acid, and gamma-linolenic acid. Additionally, its ratio of omega-6 (linoleic acid) to omega-3 (alpha-linolenic acid) fatty acids is 3:1.
Experts agree that this 3:1 fatty acid ratio is ideal for health benefits in humans.
Hemp seed oil provides the following health benefits:
A dermatology study found that oral consumption of hemp seed oil improves symptoms of atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema. Researchers attribute these results to the fatty acids found in hemp seed oil.
Lower Blood Pressure
Omega-3 fatty acids abundant in hemp seed oil can help lower blood pressure in people with hypertension (high blood pressure). Research recommends using omega-3 fatty acid supplements along with blood pressure medicine to lower blood pressure.
Promotes Heart Health
Hemp seed oil is rich in linoleic acid. Studies have shown that eating a diet high in linoleic acid significantly reduces total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol.
Hemp seed oil’s anti-inflammatory properties help to reduce pain. You can apply hemp seed oil directly to the painful area for natural pain relief.
Gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) present in hemp seed oil has been shown to reduce inflammation. A review of studies suggests that natural herbs rich in GLA are effective in relieving symptoms of inflammatory conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and multiple sclerosis (MS).
Supports a Healthy Pregnancy
Hemp seed oil’s high omega-3 fatty acid content makes it a beneficial supplement for women who are pregnant. Studies found that omega-3 fatty acids are vital during pregnancy. They support healthy brain and eye development for the baby and may also help prevent maternal depression.
Although hemp seed oil offers many health benefits, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks.
Lower Blood Pressure
Hemp seed oil’s ability to lower blood pressure may cause issues for people who have chronically low blood pressure. Low blood pressure (hypotension) can occur for a variety of reasons, including:
- Prolonged bed rest
- Significant blood loss
- Heart problems
- Endocrine problems (hormone imbalances)
- Septic shock (a severe infection)
- Allergic reaction
- Neurally mediated hypotension (miscommunication between the heart and the brain)
- Nutritional deficiencies
If you’re experiencing any of the health conditions listed above, speak to your doctor before using hemp seed oil.
Low blood pressure also increases the risk of complications and death during surgery. Your doctor may recommend you stop using hemp seed oil for a period of time before and after surgery.
Amounts and Dosage
While the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t provide a recommended daily allowance (RDA) for hemp seed oil, you may wish to consume hemp seed oil to receive its beneficial health effects.
The amount of hemp seed oil you take depends on how you use it and what health benefits you would like to obtain. Researchers estimate that three tablespoons of hemp seed oil per day can provide the amount of 3:1 fatty acid ratio needed for a healthy diet.
You can drink hemp seed oil straight or mix it into salad dressings or other foods. You can also use hemp seed oil in place of olive oil for cooking.
One tablespoon (15 milliliters) of hemp seed oil contains:
- Calories: 125
- Total fat: 14 grams
- Saturated fatty acids: 1 gram
- Monounsaturated fatty acids: 2 grams
- Polyunsaturated fatty acids: 11 grams
As with any oral supplement, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before consuming hemp seed oil.
If you are using hemp seed oil topically, be sure to try a small amount first to test for skin irritation. Hemp seed oil can also be used as a carrier oil for an essential oil mixture.