Learn what medical research says about the nutritional benefits of eating hemp seeds, hempseed oil, and hempseed protein powder. Why does your head hurt when you smoke marijuana? Isn't weed supposed to help you get rid of headaches – not cause them? Let's bust this conundrum. Everyone seems to be talking about the possible health applications of marijuana and products made from it, like CBD oil. Find out what we really know about the way this drug affects your body and brain.
What Is Hemp?
Nutritional Advantages of Eating Hemp Seeds and Hempseed Oil
Sherry Christiansen is a medical writer with a healthcare background. She has worked in the hospital setting and collaborated on Alzheimer’s research.
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Verywell / Anastasiia Tretiak
Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) is grown for use in many different products. Hemp is made into foods, health products, fabric, rope, natural remedies, and much more. Different parts of the hemp plant are used to make different products.
Hemp seeds are edible and highly nutritious. They have a high concentration of fiber. They also contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These fatty acids are nutrients that are important for heart and skin health.
Hemp is sometimes confused with marijuana. Hemp, however, contains only trace amounts of THC, the main chemical in the marijuana plant that makes people get “high.” Because hemp contains little THC, it is grown for non-drug use.
This article discusses some of the health benefits of hemp, its uses, and its potential side effects. It also answers some common questions about hemp and how it should be used and stored.
Also Known As
- Narrow-leaf hemp
- Bitter root
- Indian hemp
- Wild cotton
Does Hemp Offer Any Benefits?
There are three different plants in the Cannabis genus, also called the Cannabaceae family. These include Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. Hemp varieties of Cannabis contain 0.3% or less THC. Marijuana varieties have more than 0.3%. Higher amounts of THC can produce a high.
The seeds are the main edible part of the hemp plant. The leaves can be used to make tea, but most of the nutrients are in the seeds. In fact, hemp seeds are over 30% fat, including essential fatty acids. The potential health benefits of hemp, therefore, come mainly from its seeds.
Hemp seeds are, as the name implies, the seeds of the hemp plant. Hemp hearts are seeds that have had the shell removed.
Hemp seeds are high in soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water, while insoluble fiber does not. Both types of fiber are important for digestion. Because hemp hearts lack the fibrous shell, they are lower in fiber and other nutrients than whole hemp seeds.
Hemp seeds are also rich in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). GLA is an omega-6 fatty acid that has been shown to have many health benefits. A 2016 study found that GLA has strong anti-inflammatory properties.
Hemp seeds contain a 3-to-1 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. This is considered an optimal ratio for heart and brain health.
This ratio is difficult to get in the Western diet. Western diets tend to be too heavy in omega-6 fatty acids, which can be found in foods like vegetable oil. Many Western diets don’t contain enough omega-3 fatty acids. These are found in foods like salmon and other wild-caught, cold-water fish.
Hemp seeds contain many nutrients, including protein, minerals (such as magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc), and vitamins.
Whole hemp seeds contain 20% soluble and 80% insoluble fiber. The fiber in hemp seeds may help digestion. It may also help lower bad cholesterol and improve heart health. The insoluble fiber in hemp seeds has also been linked to a lower risk of diabetes.
Hemp Oil vs. CBD Oil
Hemp oil is also called hempseed oil. It is made by cold-pressing hemp seeds. Hempseed oil is different from CBD oil. CBD oil is extracted from the cannabis plant and then combined with a base oil. Examples of base oils include coconut or olive oil.
Hempseed oil comes from hemp seeds only. It is not derived from the Cannabis plant itself. Hempseed oil does not contain any psychoactive properties. You can not use it to get high. Hemp oil has unique properties and health benefits.
Hemp oil contains healthy nutrients such as:
- Essential fatty acids (EFAs), which are important for good health
- Minerals like zinc, magnesium, calcium, iron, and more
- Antioxidants like vitamin E
Hemp oil can be used as a cooking oil. Just like any other type of healthy oil, it can be added to foods such as salads, dips, and spreads.
Animal studies have suggested that hempseed oil may lower blood pressure. It may also reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack. This hasn’t been proven in human studies, though.
Hemp oil is often used as a hair conditioner or a skin moisturizer. Some studies found that hemp seed oil may improve dry, itchy skin and help symptoms of eczema, a common skin condition. When used for eczema symptoms, it may reduce the need for prescription medication.
Hemp oil is not the same as CBD oil. Hemp oil comes from the seed of the hemp plant. It can be used for cooking or as a hair conditioner or skin moisturizer.
Hemp protein is a powder made from the seeds of the hemp plant. Hemp protein contains all nine essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Some studies, though, have shown that hemp protein isn’t as good a source of one amino acid, lysine, compared to soy protein.
Hemp protein is a good choice for vegetarians or vegans because it contains essential fatty acids. Whole hemp seeds contain about 25% protein. This is higher than flax or chia seeds, which contain only around 20% and 18% protein, respectively.
Other Health Benefits
There is not enough clinical research data to back up claims that hemp is a safe or effective treatment for any condition. People still use it as a remedy for many illnesses, though, including:
- Heart problems
- Urinary conditions (increasing urine flow)
- Warts (when applied to the skin)
How It Works
Hemp contains chemicals that may affect the heart and might help reduce blood pressure. Hemp also contains terpenes. Terpenes are the compounds that give plants their distinctive odors.
Some studies suggest that terpenes may have health benefits. These benefits may include:
- Neuroprotective or brain-protective benefits
- Anti-inflammatory benefits
- Anti-tumor properties
Hemp contains more protein than seeds like chia and flaxseed. It also contains other substances that may have health effects. Some people claim it can help with certain illnesses, though this has not been proven through clinical research.
Possible Side Effects of Hemp Seed
Taking whole hemp seed by mouth can cause many side effects, including:
- Throat irritation
- Nausea and vomiting
- Bradycardia, or slow heart rate
- Hypertension, or high blood pressure
There is not enough clinical research data to prove that hemp is safe for use in people who are pregnant or breastfeeding. There is also not enough research to show it is safe to use topically on the skin.
Eating hemp seeds is not considered as unsafe as is eating hemp leaves or other parts of the plant. But because of the high fat content, the seeds can cause mild diarrhea.
Interaction with Medications
Do not ingest hemp when taking cardiac glycosides or diuretics.
Cardiac glycosides, such as Lanoxin (digoxin), help the heart beat strongly and can slow down the heart rate. They are used for treating heart failure (in which the heart can’t pump blood well enough to meet the body’s needs) and irregular heartbeats.
Hemp is also known to slow the heart rate. Taking hemp with cardiac glycosides could slow the heart rate too much. Ask your doctor before taking hemp with Lanoxin.
Diuretics are drugs that increase the amount of urine. They are used to reduce the amount of fluid in the body and lower blood pressure. Diuretics include:
- Diuril (chlorothiazide)
- Thalitone (chlorthalidone)
- Lasix (furosemide)
- Microzide (hydrochlorothiazide)
An increase in the amount of urine may lead to a loss of potassium. Hemp can also decrease potassium. Taking diuretics and hemp together may result in dangerously low potassium levels. This might cause problems with heart function.
Selection, Preparation, and Storage of Hemp Seed
Hemp seeds can be eaten raw, roasted, or cooked with other foods. In China, hemp seed oil has been used as food or made into medicine for thousands of years.
There are many ways to eat hemp protein, oil, and seeds, including:
- In a smoothie
- On oatmeal or cereal
- Sprinkled over salads
- As a nut butter
- As a form of milk called hemp milk
- On yogurt
- In meal bars or granola bars
- In salad dressing
- On casserole dishes
- Added to baked goods
- In recipes
- As a cooking oil
Hemp seeds need to be stored properly. The healthy fats in hemp seeds can degrade if they are exposed to air for long periods. Storing hemp seeds at high temperatures can have a similar effect. Hemp seeds stored this way could contain unhealthy trans fats, a type of fat especially linked to heart disease.
Store hemp seeds and hemp oil in an airtight container. Keep these products in a cool, dark place. It is best to refrigerate hemp products after opening.
Many hemp products come in different forms, including:
- Hemp oil
- Hemp milk
- Hemp protein powder
Many of these products can be purchased in health food stores or online.
Cooking hemp seeds or heating the oil to temperatures above 350 degrees F can destroy the healthy fatty acids. Hemp seeds and oil are best eaten raw. If cooking with hemp oil, use low heat.
The dosage of any herbal or natural supplement, including hemp, depends on several factors. Age and health condition are two important considerations. Never take more than the recommended dosage on the package insert.
Always ask your doctor before taking hemp or any other herb. The recommended dosage may not be right for you.
If you are going to eat hemp seeds, experts suggest starting slow. This is especially true if you have digestive problems. Start with 1 teaspoon and work up to more as tolerated.
Ask your doctor before taking hemp. Your safe dosage may be different than what is on the packaging.
Hemp seeds are grown in many different countries. Some people prefer hemp from Canada for its taste and the strict government restrictions aimed to improve quality. Look for products that have been tested in the lab for purity and potency. Consult the manufacturer if you have questions.
Regulations on hemp grown in U.S., Europe, and Canada are stricter than in other countries, such as China.
Are hemp seed hearts the same as hemp seed?
No. Hemp hearts have had the fibrous shell removed. This makes them lower in fiber and other nutrients than whole hemp seeds. Hemp hearts are not as nutritious as whole hemp seeds. However, hemp hearts are very high in healthy polyunsaturated fats.
Are hemp seeds legal to ingest in the U.S.?
Yes, hemp seeds are legal in the United States. Hemp seeds in the U.S. must contain a minimal amount of THC. THC is the psychoactive part of the cannabis plant.
According to the FDA, some hemp products are safe for food, including:
- Hemp seeds
- Hemp seed protein powder
- Hempseed oil
Can eating hemp cause a person to fail a drug test?
No. Eating moderate amounts of hempseed oil, protein powder made of hemp, or hemp seeds will not cause you to fail a drug test. Hemp contains only trace amounts of THC. Unless you are using other varieties of the Cannabis plant, such as marijuana, or you are eating large amounts of hemp, you are unlikely to fail a drug test.
Hemp hearts do not contain any THC. The shells of whole hemp seed do have trace amounts below 0.3% THC. If you are recovering from cannabis addiction or just want to avoid exposure to THC in any amount, avoid eating whole hemp seeds.
What does hemp taste like?
Hemp seeds have a mild, nutty flavor. They are similar to unsalted sunflower seeds, but the texture is not as hard.
Hemp seeds are a good source of protein and fiber. Hemp seeds may also have other health benefits, though there is not enough clinical research to say for sure. Because hemp may interact with some drugs and cause certain side effects, it is a good idea to consult your doctor before adding hemp seeds to your diet.
Why Does Your Head Hurt After You Smoke Weed?
We’ve likely all heard of some of the side effects that are possible when smoking marijuana. What is less talked about, however, are some of the milder symptoms that occur from periodic cannabis consumption.
While there is minimal evidence currently available on the matter, many cannabis users report headaches after smoking weed. Is it possible for the two to be connected in a physiological sense?
In this article, we take a look at the facts in order to try and answer this question. Can cannabis cause headaches, or are other factors at play? Here is all you need to know and more.
The Weed Hangover
If you have ever smoked a little more than you should have, you will probably understand exactly what we mean by the term ‘weed hangover.’ For those who are less in the know, let us explain.
Most of us have been there; a quiet night in with a few drinks turns into an over-indulgent party full of fun and far too much alcohol. You wake up the next day feeling miserable, with a terrible headache after smoking weed and an intense nausea from the alcohol.
Sound familiar? Well, there are many cannabis users out there that claim marijuana can do the same thing in terms of resulting in a wicked headache.
While not scientifically proven, many marijuana enthusiasts report telltale symptoms of a hangover the day after a heavy smoking session. And yes – along with things like fatigue, dry eyes, brain fog, and nausea, severe headaches are a common side effect that one might experience after heavy use.
In a general sense, we now know from years of research that cannabis is a non-toxic plant. Unlike alcohol, which can be extremely dangerous (and even lethal in high doses), there has never been a reported case of overdose or death by consuming cannabis.
Thus, even if these mythical weed hangovers were a real physiological thing, they would not compare in intensity to the hangover that results from drinking too much alcohol. Furthermore, even if we could objectively define the symptoms that result from a weed hangover, the effects would likely be greatly diluted in comparison to the physiological effects that excess alcohol has on the body.
But, is it possible that weed does, in fact, cause a migraine? Or, to a less severe extent, does it make physiological sense to get a headache after weed? Let’s dig a little deeper.
Weed Headaches: The Myth Behind Cannabis and Dehydration
It’s well-known that one of the critical causes of headaches is dehydration. But is dehydration a result of cannabis?
The evidence on cannabis usage and dehydration is inconclusive and warrants further study. Many people attribute dry mouth, or ‘cotton mouth’ to dehydration, but this is inaccurate. Studies have shown that actually, cottonmouth has to do with lack of saliva and the way that cannabis interacts with the body – namely the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system.
With that in mind, what else is there to explore when it comes to marijuana and headaches (informally known as a weed headache)?
The Facts About Cannabis and Headaches
Among the misinformed claims that cannabis can bring about a killer headache, are the many studies done on marijuana as an effective treatment for headaches and migraines.
A study published as recently as 2016 showed that across 121 adult migraine sufferers, the occurrence of migraines was more than halved after the consumption of cannabis. In another study from 2017, authors observed that patients reported fewer migraines per month after cannabis use.
Here are some of the published statistics from the studies:
- The average number of migraines reduced from 10.4 per month to 4.6
- Approximately 85% of the participants reported having fewer migraines per month using marijuana
- Only 12% of the 121 participants stated they saw no change in the frequency of their migraines
Researchers from the 2016 publication in Pharmacotherapy (see link above) remarked that “most patients used more than one form of marijuana, and used it daily for [the] prevention of migraine headache.” They also concluded that “inhaled forms of marijuana were commonly used for acute migraine treatment, and were reported to abort migraine headache.”
What Can You Do to Combat a Headache Caused by Weed?
While there is no evidence for the argument that cannabis itself brings about headaches, it is possible that other factors related to smoking marijuana can contribute. Whether you are out in the sunshine enjoying cannabis with your friends or having a heavy smoking session inside, there are a few aspects to consider if you suffer from “after weed” headaches.
If you are going to be smoking outside enjoying the summer, remember to drink plenty of water before, during, and after smoking. While there may not be evidence of cannabis causing headaches, there is plenty of scientific evidence for the sun causing dehydration, which we know brings on headaches. Keeping on top of your fluid intake and giving yourself breaks in the shade should help to combat those pesky brain pains.
The same rule is applicable if you are getting high indoors, as it can be so easy to forget to drink! Keeping water next to you will serve as a visual reminder for those occasions where you are too intoxicated to otherwise remember to hydrate.
There are of course a few other tips and tricks, such as avoiding salty foods (which may be easier said than done once the munchies kick in!), and ensuring that you don’t overdo it.
In any case, it should be fairly clear by now that cannabis itself is not the main reason for those ‘weed hangover’ symptoms – headaches included.
Final Thoughts on Marijuana and Headaches
To summarize, the answer to the question of “why does my head hurt when I smoke weed” doesn’t necessarily involve cannabis. Headaches can occur as the result of a number of different things, but too much cannabis is not likely one of them.
Using common sense when enjoying marijuana will usually be enough to see off any headaches. Perhaps a particular strain doesn’t agree with you, or maybe you simply haven’t had enough to drink that day.
What we do know is that marijuana does not cause dehydration. Furthermore, it is not conclusive that a headache after weed is caused by the cannabis itself. So for those who are concerned about headaches after smoking a joint, perhaps consider what other factors might be at play!
How Marijuana Affects Your Body
Let’s be honest: This is why most people use marijuana. THC is what causes the high. When you smoke marijuana, THC goes from your lungs to your bloodstream and then makes its way to your brain. There it connects to parts of certain cells called receptors. That’s what gives you those pleasant feelings. You can also get marijuana in things like cookies, gummies, and brownies. These are called edibles. They get into your blood through your digestive system.
You might find it harder to focus, learn, and remember things when you use marijuana. This short-term effect can last up to 24 hours after you stop smoking. Long-term use, especially in your teens, may have more permanent effects. Imaging tests that take pictures of the brain show fewer connections in areas linked to alertness, learning, and memory. Tests show lower IQ scores in some people.
Marijuana smoke can inflame your lungs. If you’re a regular user, you could have the same breathing problems as a cigarette smoker. That means a cough, sometimes long lasting, or chronic. It might produce colored mucus, or phlegm. You could also be more likely to get lung infections. Inflamed lung tissue is part of the reason, but THC also seems to affect the way some people’s immune systems work.
Your normal heart rate of 50 to 70 beats per minute can rise by 20 to 50 beats or more for up to 3 hours after you use marijuana. Scientists think that this, along with tar and other chemicals in the drug, may raise your chance of a heart attack or stroke. The risk could go up further if you’re older or you already have heart problems.
Anxiety and paranoia are common complaints among marijuana users. Clinical anxiety and depression are also more likely, but scientists aren’t yet sure exactly why. The drug can make symptoms of more serious mental illness like psychosis and schizophrenia worse. It’s also linked to a higher likelihood of substance abuse. These effects could be worse if your genes make you more likely to get a mental illness or an addiction.
Regular marijuana users often refer to this as the munchies. Some reports suggest this increased appetite might help you gain weight lost to illnesses like AIDS or cancer, or because of treatment for those diseases. Scientists are still studying when and if the treatment works or if it’s safe.
By itself, THC (marijuana’s active ingredient) seems to ease nausea, especially if your symptoms are from chemotherapy treatment for cancer. Some people say the stomach-settling effects work better when you use marijuana instead of THC alone. This may be because other chemicals enhance the effects of THC. But long-term marijuana use can have the opposite effect and cause more vomiting. Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome can occur in regular users and leads to frequent vomiting.
Some evidence suggests that marijuana, or chemicals in it, can lower the eye pressure that’s a main symptom of glaucoma. The problem is the effect only lasts 3 to 4 hours. To keep it low, you’d have to get the drug into your bloodstream 6-8 times a day. Doctors have yet to come up with a form of the drug that’s safe to use as a glaucoma treatment. And though marijuana does seem to lower eye pressure, it also might reduce the blood supply to your eye, which could make glaucoma worse.
Both marijuana and a pill version of THC called dronabinol seem to help relieve pain by attaching to parts of brain cells called cannabinoid receptors. Some studies suggest CBD oil could ease pain from arthritis, nerve damage (neuropathy), and muscle spasms, among other causes. Scientists continue to study how and when and if this works in people.
A version of THC that you spray up your nose called nabiximols is available in Canada, the U.K., and other countries. It seems to help calm muscle spasms, lessen nerve pain, and improve sleep for many people with multiple sclerosis. It may also help with other illnesses, like cancer. The FDA is working to test the drug for use in the U.S.
Though smoking marijuana can inflame your lungs, substances called cannabinoids seem to lessen the swelling in certain other tissues. Cannabidiol may be a good choice because it doesn’t cause the same high as THC. In animal tests, it shows some promise in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and conditions that inflame the digestive tract, like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
There’s good evidence that marijuana, or drugs made from it, may help lessen seizures in some people with epilepsy. The FDA has even approved a drug made with cannabidiol for that purpose (Epidiolex). But the agency only recommends it for two rare forms of childhood epilepsy called Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.
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Reviewed by Jennifer Casarella, MD on December 17, 2021
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