There is a lot of confusion about what hemp is. How closely is it related to
marijuana and can it make you high? You’re probably familiar with cannabis,
another name for marijuana. Cannabis is derived from a plant species called
Cannabis sativa, but there’s another plant in the Cannabis Sativa family called
hemp and it’s popular for its seeds and the oil that comes from them.
How do hemp and cannabis differ?
Cannabis has psychoactive properties and is a
common recreational drug. The active ingredient in cannabis that makes it
psychoactive is THC. Cannabis is around 17% THC. Therefore, eating or smoking
cannabis gives the “high”; that some people wish to achieve. However, the hemp
plant has a far lower concentration of THC.
In fact, hemp has a THC content of less than 0.3%. If it had more, it would be illegal to market it in many states.
The hemp plant has some potential health benefits. For example, seeds from the hemp
plant are quite popular in health food stores since they’re high in fiber and rich in a
healthy type of fatty acid called omega-3s, and also have significant plant-based
Some people buy the seeds to use in breakfast cereals, puddings, and to
sprinkle on salads. The seeds are particularly popular with people who eat a plant-
based diet as a source of protein. You can find them in many mainstream grocery
stores in bulk bands or packaged into bags for use as a breakfast cereal or to add
extra crunch to salads.
Hemp oil is derived from the hemp seed itself.
However, hemp oil is not the same
as CBD oil, a popular type of oil that people also buy for its potential health
benefits, although some of these benefits are unproven yet. CBD oil comes from
the same plant that hemp oil does, but to make CBD oil, manufacturers extract the
oil from the leaves, flowers, and stalks of the hemp plant whereas hemp oil comes
from the seeds.
How Hemp Oil Is Made
To make hemp oil, manufacturers press the seeds to isolate the oil. If it’s unrefined,
the process of making the oil involves no heat. The result is an oil with a light but
nutty flavor. The hemp seed itself has only trace quantities, if any, of THC, so
hemp seeds have no psychoactive properties and won’t give you a high even if you
eat them in large amounts. In fact, the seeds have earned a reputation as being
nutrient-dense and healthy.
Possible Benefits of Hemp Oil
One of the most intriguing aspects of hemp oil is the type of fat it contains. As
mentioned, hemp oil is rich in omega-3s. However, the omega-3s in hemp seeds
are the short-chain variety, whereas the omega-3s in fish and fish oil are long-chain
in structure. One such short-chain fatty acid is called alpha-linolenic acid, the same
type of omega-3 in flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts, and sesame seeds.
Some studies link short-chain omega-3s, like those in hemp oil, with
One way you can use hemp oil for its potential heart health
benefits is to make an oil-based salad dressing. Many people use olive oil for this
purpose, but hemp oil also works well.
Hemp oil is lower in saturated fat than olive oil and contains more omega-3s. In
fact, hemp oil has up to 25 times the quantity of omega-3s relative to olive oil. It
also contains omega-6 oils, including one called gamma-linolenic acid or GLA
with possible anti-inflammatory benefits. It’s best to use hemp oil at room
temperature or in recipes that require only low heat since heat can damage the
healthy omega-3s in the oil.
If you use hemp oil in recipes, be aware that it can interact with some medications,
including blood thinners. So, talk to your doctor before using hemp oil if you take
You Can Use Hemp Oil Topically Too
Because hemp oil is rich in the fatty acid GLA, it’s beneficial for the skin. GLA is
one of the components in hemp oil that has anti-inflammatory benefits. Therefore,
it may be beneficial if you suffer from inflammatory skin conditions such as
eczema or psoriasis. In fact, a double-blind, randomized trial of subjects who used
hemp oil on their skin found it improved the symptoms of eczema after 20 weeks.
As with anything you put on your skin, it’s possible to be sensitive to one or more
components in hemp oil. So, the oil to one small area and see how your skin reacts.
If you notice redness, itching, or flaking, it may not be for you.
The Bottom Line
Hemp oil is a good source of heart-healthy fatty acids, including ones with anti-
inflammatory benefits, and may be beneficial for heart health. Topically, it may
improve some skin conditions due to its anti-inflammatory properties too.
You don’t have to worry about getting high if you use it either since it contains little, if
any, of the THC in cannabis.
HealthLine.com. CBD Oil vs. Hempseed Oil: How to Know What You’re Paying
MedicalNewsToday.com. Health benefits of hemp seeds;
Primo.co. The Difference Between Cannabis, Hemp and Marijuana Explained;