Hemp oil can refer to a full-spectrum oil from the Cannabis sativa plant or hemp seed oil, which is the oil that comes from just the seeds of the hemp plant.
There is very little risk of intoxication from hemp oil as all forms of hemp oil come from food-grain strains of hemp. The authors of a study in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research note that food-grain strains of hemp must contain less than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the compound that causes the so-called "high" of marijuana.
Hemp oil is not the same as cannabidiol (CBD) oil. The production of CBD oil uses the stalks, leaves, and flowers of the hemp plant, which contain a higher concentration of CBD, another potentially beneficial compound in the plant.
Hemp seed oil comes from the small seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant. The seeds do not contain the same levels of compounds as the plant itself, but they still have a rich profile of nutrients, fatty acids, and useful bioactive compounds.
Full-spectrum hemp oil that also contains plant matter may add other effective compounds, which may help with certain health issues, such as inflammation.
Hemp oil in glass bottle next to hemp seeds and leaves on wooden table
Hemp oil contains fatty acids that can benefit skin health.
The oil from the hemp seed is highly nutritious and may be especially helpful for the skin.
The vitamins and fatty acids in this oil may help keep the skin healthy and prevent breakouts.
A 2014 study looking at the lipid profile of hemp seed oil found that it is rich in healthful oils and fatty acids.
The abundance of fatty acids may make the oil an excellent choice for nourishing the skin and protecting it from inflammation, oxidation, and other causes of aging.
The authors of a 2014 review note that the topical application of hemp seed oil strengthens the skin and makes it better able to resist infection. The authors also suggest that hemp seed oil may be a helpful treatment for a range of skin issues, including:
- varicose eczema
- lichen planus, an inflammatory skin condition
- acne rosacea
- These benefits are likely to be due to the high quantity of beneficial fats and other helpful compounds in the oil.
The fatty acid content of hemp seed oil may also be good for the brain, which requires plenty of healthful fats to operate properly. Hemp seed oil is also rich in other compounds that may help protect the brain.
A recent study in mice found that a hemp seed extract containing these active compounds was able to help protect the brain against inflammation. The authors note that hemp seed oil contains polyphenols, which may play a role in protecting the brain.
Although these initial results look promising, scientists need to carry out studies in humans to confirm the benefits of this oil.
Everything you need to know about CBD oil
Everything you need to know about CBD oil
Another nonpsychoactive component of the cannabis plant that offers many potential health benefits is CBD oil.
The comprehensive nutrient profile of hemp seed oil means that it may also be good for the heart. However, much of the information that is currently available comes from older studies or research that uses animal models.
An older study in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism highlights the nutrient profile of hemp seeds and notes that they might have a positive effect on various health issues, such as high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, and cholesterol levels.
A 2014 review concludes that an increase in alpha-linolenic acid, one of the fatty acids in hemp oil, appears to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. This fatty acid, which doctors call linolenic acid, is also present in fish oils and flaxseed oil. However, the researchers call for more clinical trials to confirm these results.
Full-spectrum hemp oil benefits
Full-spectrum hemp oil also includes plant matter, which adds additional compounds, such as CBD.
Although hemp seeds contain small amounts of these compounds, a higher concentration may bring some additional benefits to the body.
Natural pain relief Essential oil dropper
A person can use hemp oil to relieve inflammation pain.
Many people use hemp or CBD oil as a form of natural pain relief, especially if the pain is a result of inflammation.
Those who do not want to take over-the-counter or prescription pain medications may turn to high-quality hemp oil for relief.
A 2018 review notes that CBD, one of the main compounds in full-spectrum hemp oil, and other cannabinoids show promise for the treatment of many types of pain.
However, most of the research to date is on mice.
While the current research suggests that CBD may be a helpful natural treatment for pain, more human studies could give these results more credibility.
The fatty acids in hemp seed oil may help balance the skin and prevent inflammation that can result in acne. The addition of CBD from the plant matter may also help clear acne.
A study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that CBD may affect the sebum glands in people with chronic acne, leading to reduced sebum production and potentially helping clear or prevent acne breakouts.
Full-spectrum hemp oil that contains CBD may also help with general stress and tension in the muscles.
Like fatty acids, CBD has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body, which may help relieve the tension that many people carry from stress and promote recovery from exercise.
Rubbing a bit of hemp seed oil or full-spectrum hemp oil into tight muscles may help release tension and relax them.
Takeaway and future research
The research on hemp oil is still relatively new, particularly in the United States and other places where restrictive laws have prevented researchers from fully exploring the potential of cannabis plants until recently.
As CBD comes into more common use in an increasing number of areas, research into the potential benefits of full-spectrum hemp oil may expand. As a result, scientists may find more evidence to support the potential benefits of the plant or even reveal new benefits. In any case, the future of research on hemp oil looks promising.
There is also still a small risk of THC getting into the system, even from hemp seeds, which normally contain no THC. The THC could be present as a result of contamination with other plant matter. The results of a 2017 study show that some commercial brands of food-grade hemp seeds can have a THC concentration that is as much as 1,250 percent higher than the legal limit.
It is essential to ensure that hemp seed oil comes from a reliable manufacturer. The seeds and oil should be free of plant matter that may add additional compounds, such as THC.