AOCS advances the science and technology of oils, fats, proteins, surfactants, and related materials, enriching the lives of people everywhere. If you have problem skin, cannabis might be the surprising answer. In our Kiehl’s guide, learn about hemp seed oil and how to use it for healthier-looking skin. Hemp seed oil get you "high" but it does have plenty of benefits. Here is your hemp seed oil guide.
Hempseed oil in a nutshell
Industrial hemp is as a class of non-drug Cannabis sativa varieties, and hempseed is technically an achene, or nut. Both the seed and hemp’s tall stalk provide significant carbohydrate feedstocks for a wide variety of industrial purposes in several countries. The oil pressed from hempseed, in particular, is a rich source of polyunsaturated omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are essential for human health. These same fatty acids in hempseed oil make it a fine drying oil that is used in the production of paints, varnishes, and other coating materials. Plastic flooring such as linoleum and similar materials have been made from hempseed oil, and other non-food uses of hempseed oil are similar to those of linseed oil (flaxseed oil). Flax, of course, also has a long history as a companion species that parallels hemp in the founding of our civilizations.
Unfortunately, when one reads the Latin words Cannabis sativa these days, the first thoughts that come to mind may not be of hemp, or its nutritious seed, or useful oil products, or even the durable outer bast (stem) fiber or the cellulose core from the stalk of this old-world plant. These lesser-known features of Cannabis were certainly well known to Carl Linneaus when he assigned its name in 1753. The words “canvas” and “cannabis,” for example, both derive from similar-sounding words in Greek, Latin, and Arabic for the fabric and the plant from which it is made. The second part of the Linnean binomial, sativa, comes from the Latin word sativus, which means “sown” or “cultivated.” Cannabis sativa is one of the oldest cultivated crops, and no other plants can provide such easily available food, oil, fiber, and even medicine. The largest obstacle that currently prevents hemp from fully participating in modern industrial agriculture is its botanical association with the drug cannabis. In fact, the production of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and other cannabinoids is under genetic control, so it would take an ambitious breeding project to convert a hemp variety into a drug variety, much like converting a dachshund into a Doberman pinscher. In other words, it would be much easier just to start with drug Cannabis seeds, if that were the objective.
Our historic foundations were built on the fibers of hemp
Ancient Asian mariners and more recent trans-Atlantic voyagers made good use of sturdy canvas sails made from hemp fiber. Fine linens were once made from both flax and hemp, as the fibers from the male hemp plants were well known to produce the finest linens. The oldest known paper from China was made from hemp, and many historical documents have been written and printed on paper made from hemp fibers. Even today, hemp fibers are found in such common products as tea bags, cigarette papers, and other specialty papers as well as paper currency.
The connection between Cannabis and its misuse as a drug gained official traction when the US Congress passed the Marihuana Tax Act on June 14, 1937; the Act included no practical exemption for hemp production. By that time, the United States was already importing most of its hempseed and fiber from countries with cheaper labor, and the timber and paper industries in the United States were completely invested in the Kraft process for making newsprint. In 1937, commercial wild bird feed was primarily made from hempseed, and hempseed was also pressed for oil used in the manufacture of paints, varnishes, and other coatings. Industrial-scale hemp production mostly continued in the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) and China until modern petroleum products slowly began to replace products previously made from hempseed oil and hemp fiber. At least in the days of the USSR, hempseed oil for human consumption was called “black oil,” because of its high chlorophyll content, which was especially used by those who were too poor to afford butter. Hempseed appears as an ingredient in many spices and ethnic foods from Eastern Europe, India, and most parts of Asia. A fine tofu can be easily made from just hempseed, water, and heat.
The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 had very little impact on the use of marijuana as a narcotic in the United States, if for no other reason than the Act did not penalize the possession or use of hemp, cannabis, or marijuana. It did, though, penalize persons dealing commercially in these products. Thus, the Act effectively brought all industrial hemp production in the United States to a grinding halt by the next year. Subsequently, the United States re-introduced hemp production in 1942 for the war effort, after the Japanese had cut off hemp supplies from the Philippines and East India. (After the war, US hemp production was shut down yet again.) Petroleum-based polymers quickly replaced hemp and other natural fibers in many common products such as sacks, tarps, and ropes. In just a short time, a carbohydrate culture based on agriculture quickly shifted into a culture dependent on petroleum-derived hydrocarbons. Since then, hempseed and hemp fiber production have been excluded from the technological developments enjoyed by other industrial crops. Nor have there been any advances in nutritional research pertaining to hempseed oil. This prohibition on hemp cultivation continues to this day in the United States, even as remarkable advances are being made with medical marijuana. The irony deepens when one realizes that the main psychoactive component of drug Cannabis, THC, has been available as a synthetic pharmaceutical in the United States as Marinol® (dronabinol) since 1972.
In Canada marijuana is already available to registered patients for medical purposes. After years of prohibition, hemp cultivation was cautiously restarted there under heavy licensing in 1998. With eager markets in both Canada and the United States, hempseed oil and other hempseed food products remain in high demand, and the area devoted to oilseed hemp cultivation in Canada has continued to expand accordingly during this time. The Finola oilseed variety of hemp continues to form the cornerstone of the Canadian hempseed production because of its short stature (average plant height: 1.5 m), which allows for mechanical harvesting by a grain combine, and because of its exceptionally high seed yield (over 2000 kg per hectare, under irrigation).
Hempseed as an exceptional food and oil SOURCE
Hempseed is a rich source of easily digestible protein (ca. 20-25%) and highly unsaturated food oil (ca. 30-35%). The remainder consists of dietary fiber, mostly from the hull, various phytosterols, oil-soluble vitamins, and trace minerals (Table 1).
Aside from being extremely low in saturated fats, hempseed oil is interesting in other ways. For example, hempseed oil has a higher content of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) than most other industrial food oils (Table 2). This has been known for quite a long time, as the essential omega-6 linoleic acid (18:2n-6) was first identified in hempseed oil as “sativic acid” by German chemists in 1887. More recently, presence of omega-3 stearidonic acid (SDA, 18:4n-3) has been detected in hempseed oil (Callaway et al., 1997).
Good amounts of the other essential fatty acid (EFA), α-linolenic acid (18:3n-3), and omega-6 γ-linolenic acid (GLA, 18:4n-6) are also found in this oil. Not only are both of the essential fatty acids (EFA) well represented in hempseed oil, but their direct human metabolic products, GLA and SDA, are too; the latter are not found in any other industrial oilseed crop. This is significant because both dietary EFA must compete for the enzymatic activity of ∆6 desaturase to produce GLA and SDA. As these two fatty acids are already in the oil, this enzymatic step can be bypassed, so they contribute more directly to the downstream production of other omega-6 and omega-3 metabolites.
Perhaps the really good news for consumers is that good-quality cold-pressed hempseed oil has an excellent taste that resembles walnuts and sunflower seeds. When the seeds are toasted, a savory umami flavor develops somewhere between that of bacon and fried prawns.Moreover, the balance of EFA in hempseed is considerably more nearly optimal than in most other industrial food oils, in terms of having a relatively low omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. In this regard, hempseed oil is more like rapeseed oil (also known as canola oil), yet it is still much higher in polyunsaturates. Taken together, these factors at least partly explain a remarkable number of anecdotal benefits from consuming daily hempseed oil, for example, especially marked improvements in skin, hair, and nail quality, as these fatty acids are integral in cell membrane formation and functions at the molecular level. Studies at the University of Kuopio, Finland, have investigated some of the properties, and particularly the improvements in skin quality for patients that suffer from atopic dermatitis (i.e., eczema). Improvements in strength of both hair and nail thickness are also attributed to daily use of dietary hempseed oil.
The high level of PUFA in hempseed oil is certainly a plus for health, but a considerable drawback for deep frying, not only because there is an increased risk of peroxide and trans fat formation, but also because hempseed oil has a relatively low flash point and will burn well once it is ignited. Also, the shelf life of hempseed oil tends to be rather short, because this high level of unsaturation provides more opportunity for oxidation with atmospheric oxygen. Ideally, as a food, hempseed oil is cold pressed from fresh, clean, good-quality seed and then stored in a cool, dark place before, during, and after processing. Unfortunately, much of the hempseed oil that is currently available in North America is distributed in plastic containers to reduce the costs of both production and shipping of this niche crop. Oil purchased in plastic is more susceptible to degradation with time. With a small amount of effort, the interested buyer will typically find hempseed oil in glass bottles on the European markets.
To this day, the US government continues to define hemp as the stalks and fiber of the marijuana plant, and has decided not to recognize any of the varieties that are extremely low in drug content. An analogous situation exists for poppy seed, which is legal in the United States; the seed always contains some measurable amount of morphine, but these amounts are not of sufficient concentration for drug purposes.
Due to the burden of Cannabis prohibition, there has been very little development or innovation in hemp or hempseed production during the last 70 years, and almost no research on hempseed nutrition since its incorporation into Chinese medicine thousands of years ago. It is, in essence, an orphan crop when we consider the present situation of food production in Europe and North America. While this situation began to change with the reintroduction of hemp to Canadian agriculture in 1998, the subsidy scheme for hemp in the European Union continues to favor the production of hemp fiber and not hempseed. What few results we now have from hempseed research tend to contradict the politically narrow horizon that the United States has offered the world. Fortunately, hempseed oil and other hempseed food products are legally available in the United States, either from the shelves of some natural food stores or when ordered directly online from Canada. Viable hempseed, however, remains illegal in the United States.
Leaving political rhetoric aside, there is plenty of convincing scientific evidence to show that hempseed is one of the most nutritious products that can be produced by modern industrial agriculture. As a grain, it fits into the mechanized infrastructure without retooling. Apparently, the only remaining change that needs to be made is to convince US policymakers that hemp is not dangerous.
J.C. Callaway is chief executive officer of Finola ky (Kuopio, Finland; http://www.finola.com/ ). Contact him via email at [email protected] .
For further reading:
Callaway, J.C., T. Tennilä, and D.W. Pate, Occurrence of “omega-3” stearidonic acid (cis-6,9,12,15-octadecatetraenoic acid) in hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) seed, Journal of the International Hemp Association 3:61-63 (1997).
Callaway, J.C., U. Schwab, I. Harvimaa, P. Halonen, O. Mykkänen, P. Hyvönen, and T. Järvinen, Efficacy of dietary hempseed oil in patients with atopic dermatitis, Journal of Dermatological Treatment 16:87-94 (2005).
Callaway, J.C., Hempseed as a nutritional resource: An overview, Euphytica 140:65-72 (2004).
For more information about hempseed oil, see the “Hempseed Oil” chapter by J.C. Callaway and David W. Pate in the Gourmet and Health-Promoting Specialty Oils monograph, published by AOCS Press. Edited by Robert A. Moreau and Afaf Kamal-Eldin, Gourmet and Health-Promoting Specialty Oils is the third volume in the AOCS Monograph Series on Oilseeds. Learn more at http://tinyurl.com/gourmet-oils-aocs . See a review of the book on page 164.
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The Skin Benefits Of Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil
If you have problem skin, cannabis might be the surprising answer. In our Kiehl’s guide, learn about hemp seed oil and how to use it for healthier-looking skin.
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Cannabis, derived from the Cannabis sativa plant (also known as hemp), has been used since antiquity for cultural purposes. These days, the plant is best known for the drug it produces: Marijuana. However, recent research indicates that the hemp plant has legitimate uses outside of recreation. In particular, the plant’s seeds are known to be rich in antioxidants and skin-friendly oils that research shows can be beneficial in addressing a variety of complexion concerns.
Because cannabis has been known by the drug it produces for so long, there are a lot of misconceptions around what cannabis seed oil is and how it works. There’s also a ton of research on cannabis and its various compounds. To help you navigate through the deluge of information and non-facts out there, we’ve put together a Kiehl’s guide to Cannabis sativa seed oil. Ahead, learn about hemp benefits for skin, the best Kiehl’s products with this unique plant ingredient, and how to use it in your skincare routine for healthier-looking skin.
What Is Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil?
Cannabis sativa seed oil, also known as hemp seed oil, is a lightweight oil cold-pressed from the seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant. It’s been used for centuries in cooking, as well as topically to help with a wide range of skin concerns.
This plant oil is unique in its composition. Though it’s mostly devoid of THC and CBD (the active ingredients in marijuana), it does contain various other compounds, including antioxidants and phytocannabinoids. It’s also rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, including linoleic acid—a significant component of the skin’s natural moisture barrier. You’ll find it in our Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Concentrate (get the full scoop on the formula below). At Kiehl’s, our hemp seed oil is sourced primarily from Germany, with the seeds being harvested from September through October. After harvest, they’re cleaned, then pressed using a mechanical cold-pressing method before a final filtration and purification step.
Cannabis Oil Benefits For Skin
If you’re interested in trying this ingredient in your skincare routine, it’s important to look for products formulated specifically for the skin; rubbing an edible CBD oil on your face probably won’t give you the results you’re looking for. Instead, reach for skincare products with hemp seed.
Read on to learn about three benefits of cannabis for skin, plus how to use this ingredient for a clearer, healthier-looking complexion.
Cannabis Sativa Benefit #1
Hemp Oil Helps Visibly Reduce Blemishes and Oiliness
Research indicates that hemp seed oil can help reduce the appearance of blemishes. Blackheads, whiteheads, and other types of blemishes (as you probably already know) can develop when a pore gets clogged with sebum, dead skin, and other debris. Multiple studies have shown that _Cannabis sativa _seed oil can help minimize the amount of oil on your skin’s surface. And this can help reduce the amount and severity of clogged pores. Best of all, hemp oil is generally well-tolerated by all skin types.
Cannabis Sativa Benefit #2
It’s Known To Strengthen The Skin’s Natural Moisture Barrier
As we touched upon above, hemp oil is rich in various polyunsaturated fats and antioxidants, including linoleic acid and alpha-linoleic acid. Both of these compounds are abundant in the skin’s natural moisture barrier. Having an adequate amount of these fatty acids in the skin promotes a smoother, more hydrated complexion. It also helps ensure the skin’s natural moisture barrier functions properly to help defend against environmental stressors. As such, using _Cannabis sativa _seed oil topically can help ensure your skin barrier has the nutrients it needs.
Cannabis Sativa Benefit #3
It Can Help Minimize The Appearance Of Redness
Angry-looking, red skin can be difficult to address, and it isn’t always easy to hide with makeup either. If you know this dilemma all too well, it may be wise to adopt a skincare routine for sensitive skin. But you can also work hemp seed into your action plan. According to studies, Cannabis sativa seed oil may help calm the skin and visibly reduce redness.
Try It: How you use hemp seed oil on the face depends on the formula and your specific complexion concerns. To reap the three benefits above, we recommend reaching for Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Concentrate. Our non-comedogenic facial oil is formulated with 100% naturally-derived ingredients,* including hemp-derived Cannabis sativa seed oil and green oregano oil. It helps calm problem skin for a more comfortable, hydrated feel and works to strengthen your natural moisture barrier to help your skin protect itself. We recommend using the lightweight oil daily (two to three drops is the perfect amount) to visibly reduce redness and provide relief from discomfort.
*We consider ingredients to be naturally-derived if they retain more than 50% of their molecular structure after being processed from a natural source.
How To Create a Skincare Routine With Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil
To enjoy the benefits of cannabis sativa seed oil, use it in a routine that suits your skin’s needs. Below, find two simple, four-step options.
Routine For: Calm Skin
Start with Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash. The formula with calendula and glycerin helps soothe skin, in addition to gently lifting away impurities, dirt, and oil. If dark spots are a concern, follow it with Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Corrector. Next, apply Ultra Facial Cream with Squalane to give skin lasting hydration. Finally, seal everything in with a few drops of face oil.
Routine For: Hydrated Skin
If your skin needs a little more hydration, your routine only requires one tweak. Swap the above face wash for our Ultra Facial Cleanser. It stars squalane, glycerin, and avocado oil and is pH-balanced to maintain skin’s natural moisture barrier.
Next: Now that you’ve learned all about _Cannabis sativa’s _skincare benefits, read up on another one of our favorite skincare ingredients in our article The Benefits Of Coconut Oil For Hair and Skin.
Here’s Exactly What You Need to Know About Hemp Seed Oil Before You Try It
Trends come and go, but as we’ve seen with a few, there are some that just stick around, because their benefits speak for themselves. Case in point, the increased interest and discussion around hemp seed oil. While it may be known for its close relation to CBD products, it actually doesn’t contain any CBD, but does in fact contain many other health benefits. The oil is rich in healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, as well as antioxidants vitamin E and beta carotene, making it a dynamic ingredient in skincare. With benefits that range from aiding in bone health to balancing hormones, hemp’s popularity proves that there’s something to this ancient seed. Read on for our complete guide.
What Is Hemp Seed Oil?
Extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant, hemp seed oil is cold-pressed from the seeds of the cannabis sativa plant—a tall, seedy, and fibrous plant native to Eastern Asia. While it’s used in beauty products as an emollient to retain moisture, it’s also used in various products such as paper, textiles, and biodegradable plastics. All food-grade hemp seeds can be further processed to make oil, or they’re shelled and are often added to smoothies or salads as a superfood.
Like flax seed and sacha inchi oil, hemp has a high amount of omega fatty acid content. Since these oils are heat- and light-sensitive, they’re not used for cooking, and rather kept refrigerated to preserve their nutrient content and essential fatty acid structure. Look for high-quality hemp oil that is unrefined, and dark in color—the green pigment in the oil is from the small amount of chlorophyll naturally present in the skins of the seeds.
The hemp plant, seeds, and oil were treasured for generations to treat inflammation, and became popular again in the past few decades. Dr. Andrew Weil published an article titled “Therapeutic Hemp Oil” in 1993, in which he looked at the benefits. “To most people, Cannabis sativa is synonymous with marijuana, but the plant’s Latin name means the ‘useful hemp.’ Species designated sativa (useful) are usually among the most important of all crops. In fact, the utility of hemp is manifold: the plant has provided human beings with fiber, edible seeds, an edible oil, and medicine, not just a notorious mind-altering drug,” the introduction states.
What Is the Difference Between Hemp Oil and Hemp Seed Oil?
This may seem confusing but hemp oil differs from hemp seed oil. Hemp oil—aka CBD oil—is pressed from the leaves, flowers, stems, and stalks of the plant, which contains a higher concentration of CBD, and can be used to treat everything from epilepsy to anxiety. Hemp seed oil is pressed from the seeds of the plant, which don’t contain CBD, but they still have a rich profile of nutrients, fatty acids, and useful bioactive compounds that can also have health benefits.
So, Does Hemp Seed Oil Contain THC?
Often mistaken for cannabis, it does in fact belong to the same family, but they are two different plants and have different compositions. THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive portion of the cannabis plant 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%.