Hemp oil is an exquisite oil with a deliciously nutty flavor and a very good fatty acid profile. The essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are present in hemp oil in an optimal ratio of one to three. Hemp oil also contains rare and anti-inflammatory gamma-linolenic acid, so hemp oil is not only suitable as a gourmet oil, but also for external skincare – especially for skin problems such as neurodermatitis or psoriasis.
Hemp oil from hemp seeds
Hemp oil is the oil from the seeds of the so-called edible hemp (Cannabis sativa). Edible hemp is – in contrast to medicinal hemp – almost free of psychoactive substances and so are its seeds and oil. You will not get high from hemp oil. While medical hemp can contain between 1 and over 20 percent THC, edible hemp has a maximum of 0.2 percent. THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol and is largely responsible for the pain-relieving and intoxicating effects of medicinal hemp.
Hemp Oil and CBD Oil: The Difference
Also, hemp oil should not be confused with CBD oil, which has been experiencing real hype for several years. CBD oil is an extract of low-THC/free but high-CBD hemp flowers dissolved in a base oil (olive oil or hemp oil). CBD oil stands for cannabidiol, another compound derived from hemp that, while not psychoactive, can still relieve anxiety, tension, and pain. You can read more about this in our numerous articles on CBD oil and below under “Does hemp oil contain cannabinoids?”
Production of hemp oil
For the production of high-quality hemp oil, the hemp seeds are cold and gently pressed. A yellow-green colored hemp oil is produced. The green comes from the chlorophyll, the golden shimmer from the carotenoids (e.g. beta-carotene) contained in hemp oil. Of course, like all oils, hemp oil also provides the antioxidant vitamin E (23 to 80 mg per 100 g – depending on the source). For comparison, sunflower oil provides around 62 mg of vitamin E and wheat germ oil around 160 mg.
Fatty acids in hemp oil
In hemp oil, the fatty acids are found in the following distribution per 100 g of hemp oil:
- Linoleic acid (omega-6 fatty acid) 50 to 65 g
- alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) (omega-3 fatty acid) 15 to 25 g
- Oleic acid (monounsaturated fatty acid) 10 to 16 g
- Gamma-linolenic acid (omega-6 fatty acid) 2 to 4 g
- saturated fat 8 to 11 g
Hemp oil with 80 percent omega fatty acids
However, hemp oil is particularly valuable due to its unique fatty acid composition. It is made up of 70 to 80 percent polyunsaturated fatty acids. That alone is nothing special. Other vegetable oils also have similarly high values, e.g. B. safflower oil, sunflower oil, poppy seed oil, or grape seed oil. However, while the polyunsaturated fatty acids in these oils consist almost exclusively of omega-6 fatty acids (linoleic acid) and contain only a small amount of omega-3 fatty acids, hemp oil has a much better omega-6-omega-3 ratio.
The omega-6-omega-3 ratio in hemp oil
The omega-6 fatty acid is also an essential and therefore very important fatty acid. But the conventional diet already provides a lot of omega-6 fatty acids but at the same time only a few omega-3 fatty acids. The reason for this omega-6 excess is the excessive consumption of omega-6-rich oils (sunflower oil, corn oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, etc.), margarine made from the oils mentioned, and high-fat animal products such as chicken fat, eggs, lard, bacon, and Sausage.
A healthy fat supply is therefore initially about reducing omega-6 fatty acids and increasing omega-3 fatty acids. If, for example, the previously used sunflower oil in the salad is replaced by hemp oil, you are already on the right track. Because hemp oil has an omega-6-omega-3 ratio of 2 to 3:1, it only provides three times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids. With sunflower oil, on the other hand, we have a ratio of 120 to 270:
Omega-6 excess promotes inflammation
The excess of linoleic acid that is common today can lead to two problems: On the one hand, linoleic acid (omega 6) can be converted in the body to pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid, which can promote the development of chronic inflammatory diseases ( 2) or exacerbate existing diseases (e.g Arthritis, periodontitis, chronic inflammatory bowel disease, but also multiple sclerosis, diabetes, arteriosclerosis, etc.).
On the other hand, the alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3) in the human body should actually be converted into the long-chain fatty acids EPA and DHA. EPA in particular provides clear anti-inflammatory effects and could well compensate for the pro-inflammatory effect of linoleic acid. However, this does not work to the desired extent if there is an omega-6 excess. Because then the omega-6 fatty acids block the conversion of omega-3 fatty acids into the anti-inflammatory fatty acid EPA.
The optimal fatty acid ratio for humans should be around 3:1 — and that’s exactly the ratio found in hemp oil.
Effects of omega-3 fatty acids
In addition to the anti-inflammatory effect, omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid, EPA, DHA) have other health benefits: they are considered important protection against heart disease, lower cholesterol levels, stimulate the metabolism, improve oxygen uptake, regulate the hormone balance, support cell structure, prevent cancer and arthritis and support the breakdown of excess fat.
They are also said to protect against infectious diseases, as they strengthen the immune system and can even cause depression and Alzheimer’s. Omega-3 fatty acids are also indispensable for the development of the brain during the growth phase of children, as well as in the prevention and therapy of ADHD. But omega-3 fatty acids are also indispensable for adults for optimal brain and nerve functions.
Hemp oil – Internally and externally for skin problems
But hemp oil also provides two other fatty acids that are extremely important and helpful for humans. With the rare gamma-linolenic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid) and stearidonic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid).
Gamma-linolenic acid is particularly well known from evening primrose or borage seed oil, two oils that are found e.g. B. in neurodermatitis or psoriasis can be used both internally and externally.
Hemp oil for hormonal imbalances and high blood pressure
The gamma-linolenic acid also helps with hormonal disorders (e.g. PMS or during menopause) in restoring a harmonious hormone balance. In addition, it has been known since a study from the 1990s that gamma-linolenic acid has an antihypertensive effect.
Hemp oil is among the few oils that contain gamma-linolenic acid, at 2 to 4 percent. Compared to evening primrose and borage seed oil, hemp oil also tastes very fine, so it is much more suitable for supplying gamma-linolenic acid.
For the above-mentioned complaints, hemp oil can therefore be used both internally and externally. For sensitive and stressed skin or inflammatory skin problems, it is used as a care oil that is quickly absorbed and has an anti-itching and calming effect.
Hemp oil for chronic inflammation of all kinds
Stearidonic acid, like alpha-linolenic acid, is an omega-3 fatty acid, just not nearly as well known as this. What is extremely practical about stearidonic acid is that it can be converted into the anti-inflammatory fatty acid EPA in the body much more effectively than alpha-linolenic acid. Together with gamma-linolenic acid, stearidonic acid forms a good team. With combined forces, the two fatty acids prevent the conversion of linoleic acid into pro-inflammatory substances.
Hemp oil, therefore, counteracts chronic inflammation via multiple mechanisms and can turn the fatty acid disharmony that is common today into a healthy opposite.
Does hemp oil contain cannabinoids?
You can read again and again that hemp seed oil does not contain any cannabinoids. These are the main active ingredients in the hemp plant, which have numerous medicinal properties. However, analyses conducted at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia in 2019 clearly showed that cannabinoids are also found in hemp seed oil.
The Italian researchers took a close look at commercially available hemp oils and, in addition to THC and CBD, discovered 30 other cannabinoids for the first time. When we asked the manufacturers Rapunzel and Hanfland, we received confirmation that their products are not free of these substances either.
According to the analysis, there is an average of only 0.8 micrograms of CBD in 10 milliliters of hemp seed oil. In comparison, the same amount of CBD oil taken drop by drop contains a whopping 1,000 to 2,000 micrograms of CBD. However, scientists are convinced that even trace amounts of cannabinoids are enough to contribute to the health effects of hemp oil.
Use of hemp oil
Cold-pressed organic hemp oil is now available in many health food stores, organic supermarkets, and conventional supermarkets. Its nutty taste brings variety to healthy cuisine. Hemp oil is only suitable for raw vegetables, such as salad dressings and dips, as it must not be heated. However, you can add it to the vegetables after cooking if you want to enhance the dish with it. A good dose is 2 to 4 teaspoons of hemp oil daily.