One of the first plants to be cultivated by humans, cannabis has an array of beneficial uses that have been recognized at particular times in our history, and then unfortunately forgotten. Our job is to bring this fascinating herb back and give it the recognition it deserves. Hemp has long been an important source of fiber, rope, textiles, fuel, and food, and at the same time has been revered for its psychoactivity and medicinal qualities. The seed oil is particularly nutritious and its properties and potentials shall be explored here. This highly polyunsaturated oil not only has uses as soaps, detergents, and emollients in body-care products, but also as fuel for lighting, printer’s ink, and wood preservatives. The grade of the oil is categorized into nutritional, cosmetic, or technical grade depending on age and means of pressing:
- Nutritional grade hemp seed oil– The most nutritional oil available, full of essential fatty acids…use in salads, dressings, and more! Cold-pressed in an oxygen free environment, this oil better resists oxidation, giving it an extended shelf life.
- Cosmetic grade hemp seed oil– Attention soap makers! Hemp oil is here and it’s getting cheaper. Explore the many other possibilities in integrating hemp oil into body care. Examples include (but are not limited to!..) massage oil, body cream, shampoo, conditioner, lip balm, healing salves, and more!
- Technical grade hemp seed oil– Best for paints, inks, varnishes, lubricants, candle making, wood preservative, etc.
The Hemp Seed
The fruit of the hemp in not a true seed, but an “achene”, a tiny nut covered by a hard shell. These are consumed whole, used in food and folk medicinal preparations or employed as a feed for birds and fish. Whole hemp seed contains approximately 20-25% protein, 20-30% carbohydrates and 10-15% insoluble fiber, as wells as a rich array of minerals, particularly phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, sulfur and calcium, along with modest amounts of iron and zinc, the latter of which is an important enzyme co-factor of human fatty acid metabolism. It is also a fair source of carotene, a “Vitamin A” precursor, and is a potentially important contributor of dietary fiber.
A handful of seed provides the minimum daily requirement of protein for adults. This is a high quality protein containing all eight essential amino acids in the correct proportions that humans need. In the entire plant kingdom, hemp seeds are second only to soybeans in their total protein content. But unlike soybeans, the proteins in hemp are easy to digest.
Nutritional Grade Hemp Seed Oil
The potential contribution of the hemp seed to human nutrition is gaining wide recognition. Like no other plant resource, the hemp seed has both a high content of easily digestible, complete protein and a rich endowment of oil providing the most favorable ratio of Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) required for proper human nutrition. In addition, the hemp seed provides a significant contribution of gamma-linolenic acid which has potential therapeutic efficacy.
Richer in EFAs than flax, evening primrose or any other seed oil, hemp seed oil is being called “Nature’s most perfectly balanced oil.” It is truly a nutritional wonder. Hemp seed oil is said to be the most unsaturated oil derived from the vegetable kingdom. Hemp oil is 81% poly-unsaturated. These are the EFAs that are needed by, but not produced by the human body. We must get EFAs from external sources, the majority of which are of plant origin. Hemp seed oil is the ideal source.
Why is Hemp Seed Oil the Ideal Source of EFAs?
The proportions of EFAs in hemp matches the ratios that were previously determined by nutritionists to be most beneficial to human nutrition. Hemp seed oil contains omega -6 and omega-3 EFAs in an ideal long term ratio of three to one. It also provides the derivative gamma linolenic acid (GLA). Its content of GLA makes it unique among edible seed oils. No other common seed contains GLA. Hemp seed oil’s unusually well balanced profile means that one could use it for a lifetime without ever suffering an EFA deficiency.
What’s so Great about EFAs?
You need EFAs in your diet more than any other vitamin. Many researchers are linking EFA deficiencies with a variety of degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, skin afflictions, multiple sclerosis, PMS, behavioral problems, poor wound healing, arthritis, glandular atrophy, weakened immune functions, and sterility (especially males). Lack of oxygen is a key factor in degenerative diseases and EFAs help bring oxygen into our system. EFAs serve what seems to be an unending list of vital functions in the body. Here’s a sample of some of them:
- Our body uses EFAs to construct membranes, create electrical potentials, and move electric currents.
- Their tendency to disperse gives biological systems the power to carry substances such as toxins to the surface of the skin, intestinal tract, kidneys, or lungs, where these substances can be discarded.
- The chemical reactions on which life depends require a one-way movement of energy through molecules. EFAs play an important role in this function.
- EFAs facilitate the recovery of fatigued muscles after exercise.
- EFAs are precursors of prostaglandin’s, hormone-like substances that regulate many functions of cells in all tissues.
- EFAs are found around the hereditary material in our chromosomes, where they may play a part in maintaining chromosome stability, and may have functions in starting and stopping gene expression.
- EFAs help our immune system resist and fight infections, and prevent allergies from developing.
- EFAs are necessary for the development of brain and nerve cells and for healthy liver function.
Overall, EFAs are involved with producing life energy throughout our systems. They govern growth, vitality, and mental state. They hook up oxygen, electron transport, and energy in the process of oxidation. Oxidation, the central and most important moment-to-moment living process in our body, is the “burning” of food to produce the energy required for life processes. EFAs govern the life processes in our bodies. Life without them is impossible. When our foods are EFA-poor, we can expect a diversity of health problems.
Is Hemp Seed Oil legal?
YES! Hemp oil is legal. In spite of all its ecological, social, economic, nutritional, and medicinal potential, it is the actual hemp plant which is illegal to grow in North America. Sterilized hemp seeds are legal. The seeds are steam sterilized upon entering the country.
Can I get High from eating Hemp Seed Oil?
NO. Hemp seeds and hemp seed oil produce no “high” in humans or animals. Hemp seeds do not contain the intoxicating compound called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is found in the resin of the flowering part of the hemp plant in small quantities. (Hemp contains less than 1% THC, cultivated drug varieties of marijuana flowers contain an excess of 10%.) After the seeds are harvested, cleaned and ready for pressing they contain negligible amounts, if any, of THC.
Will I fail a Urine Test if I Consume Large Quantities of Hemp Seed Oil?
Although no hemp food contains anywhere near enough THC to have any psychoactive effect, it has recently been proven that some commercial products do contain enough THC to affect the very sensitive urine testing that is used for employment screening. The issue has become a rising controversy. It was recently publicized in the Wall Street Journal and verified in three articles in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology. There are several instances of individuals blaming their positive urine tests on the consumption of hemp seed oil and hemp seed products but most of these cases are just smokers who are using the hemp controversy as an excuse to keep their employment and stay out of jail.
These recent journal articles show that some commercial brands of hemp oil contain up to 1300 parts per million and that a few contain less than 50 parts per million. I am pleased to announce that our oil is now verified to contain only 33 parts per million, well below the level of THC where even heavy consumption would affect a urine or blood test. We are now positioned to let people know that our oil is safe, and that consumers can take it with confidence.
What our research has shown, and the published articles verify, is that there is almost no THC in the seeds themselves. The THC is present only on the small leaves and flower parts that are inevitably present with the seeds. THC is oil soluble and so it ends up as a contaminant in the oil, and the actual content is a good measure of the amount of foreign material in the seeds. We put our seeds through a rigorous commercial cleaning process prior to pressing them for oil. This is how we are able to get our THC levels to well below the safe level. It means that you can tell your customers that they would have to eat more pizzas than you can deliver in a month before there might be enough THC to affect a urinalyses.
Our industry is quickly reacting to this issue. It will not be long before the other hemp foods will also be able to make this claim, but so far, we are the first. This has involved several thousands of dollars in testing. We are committed to keeping this statement verified with continued testing from this point. We are also certain that we will be able to bring down the level of THC much further so that we can get it below the level that even the most modern scientific equipment will not be able to detect it.
How Does it Taste?
GREAT! Hemp seed oil has an exceptional nutty flavor. You can use it on salads, baked potatoes, or vegetables. Layer it into hummus, marinates, tabouli, and many other recipes. In order to retain the nutritional qualities of the oil, do not cook or heat the oil.
Cosmetic Grade Hemp Seed Oil
It may be the latest fad, but it’s more than the allure of the evil weed that is causing so many soapmakers and body care manufacturers to include hemp oil in their new products. The oil makes a very rich, luxurious bar of soap and has therapeutic potential. Hemp seed oil can be used as either a primary or a secondary soapmaking oil.
What are the Benefits of Using Hemp Seed Oil?
Hemp oil is known as “Nature’s Most Perfectly Balanced Oil.” It contains 81% of the hard to find polyunsaturated Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs). Aside from their unmatched nutritional value, these oils have the ability to enter directly into the lipid layers of dry skin cells and replenish the oils missing due to sun exposure, poor nutrition or other abuse. THE EFAs, vitamins, and enzymes are easily absorbed by the skin and contribute moisturizing qualities to cosmetics and soap. Saturated oils, on the other hand, only form a temporary barrier on the skin that slows transpiration from the body but does nothing for the skin cells themselves. Dermatologists claim that EFAs replenish dry skin, preventing cell loss and causing younger looking skin. Hemp seed oil has been used to soothe and heal dry skin and minor burns.
What is the Shelf Life of Hemp Seed Oil?
Hemp seed oil requires cool, dark, oxygen-free storage conditions. An unopened container can be stored in the deep freezer indefinitely, and in the refrigerator for one year; an opened container will last for ten to twelve weeks in the refrigerator; and at room temperature, an unopened container can last four to six weeks. An opened container should be used within one to two weeks. Vitamin E, A, or C act as anti-oxidants and extend the shelf life of the oil when added. Hemp seed oil’s high EFA content make it vulnerable to spoilage. Expert soap maker Susan Miller Cavitch says in her book The Soapmaker’s Companion, “It is the most unstable oil I have ever worked with and yet I consider hemp seed oil worth the fuss. Its instability is a blessing as well as a scourge; it is reactive and more vulnerable to rancidity because it contains the most fragile and the most beneficial fatty acids – the essential fatty acids.”
Where is the Hemp Seed Oil Pressed?
In 1991, The Ohio Hempery was the first company to commercialize hemp oil. Initially it was sold for massage purposes only, but by 1992 the Hempery was producing an edible grade of oil with the Spectrum Naturals Company in Petaluma, CA. This oil is cold pressed in the absence of light and oxygen and vacuumed sealed. Cosmetic grade oil is pressed at The Ohio Hempery in Guysville, OH. In the past year, the Hempery has updated the oil processing equipment with a German oil press that is specially designed for pressing fragile oil like flax and hemp. Going beyond cold pressing, this process is called flash pressing since the working area of the press is smaller than a silver dollar. This allows the oils to escape before they have a chance to heat up and degrade. This oil is being used by body care, cosmetic and soap manufacturers with much success.
Important Numerical Values for Hemp Seed Oil:
Hemp oil’s fatty acid profile:
Other numbers of interest:
|Melting Point:||-8 C|
|Specific Gravity:||0.9295@200 C|
|Smoke Point:||1650 C|
Technical grade oil comes from the same source as does the cosmetic grade oil, The Ohio Hempery. It is pressed in exactly the same manner. The only difference is the age. Once cosmetic grade is a week old, it is considered technical grade. This oil is best for candlemaking, varnishes, paints, lubricants, inks, lacquer, sealants, etc. Paint and lacquer manufacturers are especially interested in hemp oil’s ability to act as a good drying agent. The possibilities seem to be endless when it comes to using hemp seed oil as an ingredient in your creations. Experiment and explore! Let us know what you come up with.