The hemp revolution
Hemp oil is a powerhouse of plant cholesterol, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that is a fabulous and relatively new natural beauty product. The linoleic acid and oleic acids found in hemp oil can play a crucial role in skin health and anti-ageing.
Hemp seed oil is being touted as a revolutionary new natural beauty and healthcare product. But is the hype about hemp for real?
Hemp seed oil is derived from the hemp plant, which is the same plant genus as marijuana (Cannabis sativa). They are close cousins, but unlike marijuana, eating the seeds or ingesting the oil derived from them won’t make you high.
The difference between the two is the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels. Plants with more than 0.3 per cent THC are of the marijuana variety. According to Lara Lagano, author of The CBD Oil Miracle, there are over 400 chemicals in cannabis, including more than 100 phytocannabinoids such as THC and cannabidiol (CBD).
Just to add another layer of complexity to the hemp conundrum, there is some confusion over hemp oil (which is also called CBD oil) and hemp seed oil. They are two different things, although they are often mistakenly referred to as one and the same.
Hemp or CBD oil is derived from the crushed leaves and stalks of the hemp plant, whereas hemp seed oil is derived by crushing or cold-pressing the seeds of the plant, which contain only minute trace amounts of CBD.
The word hemp is basically used to describe any cannabis plant that is cultivated for its flowers, leaves or seeds, which has been a source of food, fibre and medicine for many thousands of years. There are many examples of its uses in ancient times.
CBD oil is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant and neuroprotective compound that is used for medicinal purposes.
Archaeologists discovered a remnant of hemp cloth in ancient Mesopotamia from 8000 BCE. Ancient mariners sailed the seas with robust canvas sails made from hemp. Cannabis was also used as an anaesthetic by Huo Tuo, a Chinese physician in the Eastern Han dynasty in the second century.
In November 2017, hemp was legalised for consumption in Australia, and the market has gone from strength to strength — with a diverse range of hemp consumables and hemp products. These days you’ll find hemp clothing, building materials, bioplastics, shoes, ropes, foods, beauty products and more.
Both hemp seed oil and CBD oil have a broad range of health-giving benefits. CBD oil is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant and neuroprotective compound that is used for medicinal purposes. It’s used to treat conditions such as seizures, cancer and chronic pain, asthma, arthritis, migraine, MS and more. It can be used to treat both humans and companion animals.
CBD oil has been legalised in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), but only for medicinal purposes.
According to the Australian government’s Office of Drug Control, it can only be accessed by prescription from your doctor who has been granted Special Access Scheme approval or is an Authorised Prescriber.
Caveat emptor — let the buyer beware
Any product that is in demand will always catch the eye of unscrupulous traders, and there are stockists mistakenly labelling hemp seed oil products as CBD oil. If you want to buy CBD oil be aware that it is illegal for individuals to purchase in Australia and also to buy online. In the USA it’s been able to be purchased in 30 states since 2018. You can buy it in the UK, Italy, Germany and many other countries. In New Zealand, like Australia, it is a prescription medication only.
If you are looking to buy hemp seed oil, also tread with a measure of care. There is a plethora of products laying claim to the green credentials of hemp seed oil. Before you buy cosmetics labelled hemp seed oil, hemp oil or cannabis oil, check the ingredients list; if it’s not high on the list, don’t buy it, as some oils will contain only trace amounts.
Nibble some seeds
Hemp seeds when consumed have a subtle nutty flavour; they are a bit like sunflower seeds to taste. They are a nutritional superfood with an impressive nutrient profile.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, hemp seeds are very nutrient-dense with high levels of protein and fat. In a 100g serve there is 31 per cent protein and 48 grams of fat. They’re also high in calcium (70mg), iron (7.5mg), magnesium (700mg), phosphorus (1650mg), potassium (1200mg) and many other elements.
Hemp seeds also contain phytosterols, which helps with high cholesterol levels. A study by ACS Omega showed the potential of hemp seed from a neuroprotective perspective. In other words, researchers show it may have an impact on brain health.
Add a few spoonfuls to a salad for a little extra crunch, mix with your breakfast yoghurt, or bake them into muffins and muesli slice for a heathy snack. You can also toast them to snack on or mix into a smoothie.
The good oil
You can eat hemp seed oil, but you can’t cook with it as such — it has a low smoke point and once heated to high temperatures the flavours are a lot less palatable. Add it to salads, cold soups and pesto for a healthy flavour boost.
Hemp seed oil can improve skin conditions and it has an antioxidant effect and can help to balance hormones.
Hemp seed oil can be processed in two different ways. Unrefined hemp seed oil is green in colour and it has a grassy odour. The oil is cold-pressed to protect its integrity, but being unrefined, it doesn’t have a long shelf life. It needs to be kept cool, so store it in the fridge. Refined hemp seed oil won’t have the same flavour and it’s basically clear. This oil has a longer shelf life but has been stripped of many of its natural antioxidants and therapeutic goodness.
Hemp seed oil has a vast array of holistic health benefits. It can improve skin conditions and it has an antioxidant effect and can help to balance hormones. It contains linoleic acid and oleic acids, so it has an anti-ageing effect on the skin.
Hemp seed oil is food for your skin. A little bit goes a long way, and it’s smooth and non-greasy to apply. It won’t clog your pores, and unlike some other natural beauty oils, it can be used on any skin type. You’ll find hemp seed oil as an ingredient in many cosmetic products, including soaps and other bath products, lip balms and body butters, as well as hair and facial products.
Treating skin issues
A Pharmacognosy Reviews review of plants used to treat skin diseases by researchers Nahida Tabassum and Mariya Hamdani showed hemp seed oil has a multitude of uses including the treatment of eczema, dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis/cradle cap, varicose eczema, psoriasis, lichen planus and acne rosacea. The authors note that the skin is strengthened and made better able to resist bacterial, viral and fungal infections.
One of the reasons hemp seed oil is so effective as an anti-inflammatory is because it contains gamma linolenic acid (GLA). This can help to calm skin irritations while also working to keep the skin well hydrated. Try rubbing a little hemp oil warmed between your fingers on problem areas of psoriasis or cradle cap.
Note: Hemp seed oil is generally considered very safe to use. However, as with trying any new product, always just apply to a small area of skin, and if redness or itching results then discontinue use.
Hemp hemp hooray
So, while hemp seed oil won’t get you high, it will put a smile on your face for a host of reasons. As a naturally sourced beauty product it has a diverse range of applications — from top to toe your body will benefit.
It’s a wonderful balm for the skin, which is the body’s largest organ. The skin serves as a thermal and protective barrier against bacteria, viruses and toxic substances. When applied to the skin, hemp seed oil locks in hydration. It’s also effective in attracting water and moisture to the skin, so it plumps up the skin, removing the appearance of fine wrinkles. It’s non-comedogenic so it doesn’t leave a heavy oily residue behind.
If you try hemp seed oil, you’ll definitely love the skin you are in. Hemp seed oil is very rich in omega-3, 6 and 9 which are all fatty acids that are very beneficial to the skin. These fatty acids help to strengthen, soothe and heal. They also counter photodamage and photoageing which are caused by prolonged exposure to UV rays over time.
Hemp seed oil for healthy hair
For luxurious shiny hair, try hemp seed oil. It locks in moisture to prevent splitting and breakage over time. Blend a little hemp seed oil with your regular hair conditioner and rinse out as normal. Can you feel the difference? Or you can create a nourishing hair mask by mixing a little honey with some hemp seed oil. Massage into your scalp and then rub gently through to the ends of your hair. Find a sunny spot in the garden to sit in for 10 to 15 minutes and practise some mindful meditation. Then gently rinse.
Hemp seed oil as a massage oil
Given that hemp seed oil is light, it works well as a carrier oil, and you don’t need a lot of it. It also takes a little while to be absorbed into the skin, so it’s gaining popularity in the massage therapy industry. Add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to hemp seed oil, and try it next time you need a relaxing massage. Hemp seed oil is a natural humectant — it draws moisture into the skin, so your skin will feel smooth and supple after a massage.
A gentle soothing all-purpose skin balm
Try rubbing a little hemp seed oil into rough patches on your elbows and knees. If you have dry or cracked heels, or aching feet after a long day, indulge in a gentle foot soak, and rub a little hemp seed oil on your heels and feet. Don’t just give your tired and sore feet a treat — rub a little hemp seed oil into your cuticles and nails too. It can also work well as a gentle all-natural make-up remover.
If you’ve never considered making your own natural beauty products now could be a good time to start. Hemp seed oil is readily available at supermarkets, health food stores and outlets, or you can buy it online. It’s also very affordable.
Hemp Seed Oil & Coffee Facial Scrub
- ¼ cup organic ground coffee
- 1 cup raw brown sugar
- Zest 1 organic orange
- ⅔ cup hemp seed oil
- 15 drops orange essential oil
- Add hemp hearts if desired for extra exfoliant
Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until smooth. Put into an airtight container, making sure no moisture or air can enter. With clean, dry hands apply the scrub, and massage in a circular motion. Pat yourself dry with a towel. The oily residue will disappear within minutes. It will leave your skin feeling soft and supple.
(Recipe from CBD/Hemp Oil for Skin, Beauty and Hair by John Leggette MD)
Green Tea & Hemp Face Mask
- ¼ cup hemp seed oil
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- 1 tbsp green tea
Brew a cup of green tea using tea leaves. If using a teabag let it soak for an hour and remove the leaves from the bag. Add all ingredients to a blender and process until well blended.
Apply the mask to a clean, slightly damp face. You can store the hemp mask in a glass jar in the fridge for up to two weeks.
(Recipe from Green Hemp Australia)
Vegan Hemp Body Butter
- 50g unrefined hemp seed oil
- 4g bayberry wax
- 6g candelilla wax
- 2 drops dark patchouli essential oil (optional)
- 2 drops lavender essential oil (optional)
Weigh out the unrefined hemp seed oil and waxes into a double boiler, and melt together. Remove from the heat and stir in the essential oils. Decant into a 60mL tin and let it set for at least three days before using (the candelilla wax takes three days to come to its full hardness).
(Recipe from Marie Rayma, creator of HumblebeeandMe.com and author of Make It Up: the Essential DIY Guide to Makeup & Skin Care)
The Sustainable Diet
With our world expanding by 82 million new individuals a year, we need to switch to a more equitable, healthier...