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Hemp oil: how to use it and why

Hemp oil: how to use it and why

Cannabis sativa is a plant native to Central and Western Asia and widely cultivated in India and in many tropical and temperate regions in particular for its fibers and its seeds from which the oil is obtained and was already known since time of the Neolithic! Hemp can be used in all its parts and can be nutraceutical, excellent quality paper, excellent material for green building; it can create different types of biodegradable bioplastic; it can become a green fuel and even be used for car bodies. The plant is also grown for the psychoactive, but quite toxic properties of its drug.

Cannabis sativa: what it is and how to recognize it

Cannabis sativa is an annual cycle herbaceous plant that reaches an average height of 1.5-2 m. It has a long taproot root and an erect or branched stem, with resinous growths, petiolate and palmate leaves composed of 5 to 13 lanceolate leaflets with a serrated-serrated margin. The plants can be male or female, even if the sex is indistinguishable until maturity and flowering. The male flowers are organized in panicle inflorescences with axillary racemes. The female inflorescence is much more compact and leafy than the male and looks like a false spike, large, straight and tufted. The fruit, surrounded by the pericarp, is a closed achene that looks like a small walnut, although it is called hemp "seed".

The seeds produce plants of both sexes in similar quantities. The active ingredients are contained in the resin secreted by the hair glands which are very numerous in the upper part of the female sex plants. The resin secreted by the hair glands is obtained by rubbing the flowers and scraping off a dark-colored solid amorphous solid or semi-solid that makes up the hemp resin. The amount of resin produced by good quality hemp flowers is around 20%. Extracting the latter with alcohol, hemp oil is obtained, much more powerful. The best drug (ganja) is obtained by harvesting the flowers (with small leaves) of the female plant.

Over the years, based on the intended use, a selection of the most suitable cannabis sativa plants has been made:

- tall plants with low pharmacological activity suitable for the production of fiber and hemp seed oil;

- small plants that form a bush more suitable for therapeutic purposes as they are rich in non-narcotic cannabidiols (CBD) and rich in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD and THC are cannabinoids, a class of structurally related terpenophenolic compounds contained in all parts of the male and female plants of cannabis sativa, and especially in the large leaves. In particular, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), contained up to 14-25% in the resin and 60% in the oil, has a psychoactive effect; in comparable qualities there are also cannabinols and cannabidiols (CBD), which do not have the psychoactive effects of THC.

Hemp oil: how it is obtained and which one to use

There are several ways to extract the oil from the hemp plant. The three most common are extraction with carbon dioxide, that with solvent (ethanol), and the technique of cold pressing (usually used for seed oil). If hemp grown to high quality standards is used in these methods, the result should be a clear oil.

When buying hemp oil it is important to know if it is a hemp seed oil or a hemp cannabidiol oil and which hemp variety the product was made from (e.g. hemp sativa seems most used for seed oil and CBD, hemp indicates for its high THC content).

Hemp seed oil is a brownish yellow fluid with a strong nutty flavor, obtained by cold pressing the seeds. This type of oil contains 75-80% polyunsaturated fatty acids and only 5-10% saturated fatty acids. These percentages make it one of the healthiest oils known. Refined or pure hemp seed oil can be found on the market.

Cannabidiol hemp oil, extracted from therapeutic varieties of cannabis, unrefined, is a potent inhibitor of COX-2 and 15-LOX, which means that it can be used as an anti-inflammatory for systemic inflammations, i.e. for soreness muscle caused by physical exertion and rheumatoid arthritis. 

Hemp seed oil as a food

Hemp seed oil, obtained from the seeds of Cannabis sativa L., is known for its nutritional and healthful properties, and for its bioactivity and its effects on health and nutrition are well documented. The food grade oil contains neither THC nor CBD and comes from the cold pressing of the seeds. The quality one is not refined but pure and once opened it should be consumed in a short time. Compared to other vegetable oils, hemp seed oil is a particularly rich source of both n-3 and n-6 ​​essential fatty acids, namely linoleic acid (18: 2 n-6, at 55% by weight) and alpha-linolenic acid (18: 3 n-3, 20% by weight); the content of gamma-linolenic acid (18: 3 n-6) is equal to about 1-4% by weight (precious acid deficient in the average Western diet), while that of stearidonic acids (18: 4 n-3) varies from 0.5-2% by weight. Hemp seed oil also contains a fairly high amount of tocopherols and tocotrienols (100 to 150 mg per 100 g of oil), phytosterols, phospholipids, carotenes and minerals. The health benefits of hemp seed oil are mainly attributed to its desirable ratio of n-3 and n-6 ​​fatty acids, 3: 1, optimal ratio for human nutrition and especially to promote cholesterol lowering, and hypertension lowering. The unbalanced intake of n-3 and n-6 ​​fatty acids has been shown to be associated with many diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. This unique composition of hemp seed oil differs from other common seed oils and offers opportunities for the development of special nutritional formulations.

Hemp oil in dermatology

In the cosmetic field, cold-pressed hemp oil is appreciated for its good restorative and emollient properties, it has an anti-aging effect that slows down skin aging and the formation of expression lines. It is valuable because it promotes the synthesis of ceramides, essential fatty acids important for the integrity of the skin barrier and therefore to ensure the maintenance of the right degree of hydration, thus also favoring the eventual restoration of skin elasticity. For these reasons it is generally used in products dedicated to aged, chapped and dry skin. As always, Erboristeriacomo.it's advice is to choose a pure, organic, 100% natural and unrefined hemp oil. We recommend this pure hemp oil to our customers, Made in Italy excellence.

Due to its properties, hemp oil finds application both in body care products and in hair care products. Here are some tips on how to use pure hemp oil as a cosmetic: for face and body just place a small amount of product on the hands and gently massage the face and body until completely absorbed, morning and evening; hemp oil on hair is recommended both as a pre-wash pack (oily hair) and as a leave-in for brittle hair and split ends. It gives silky and nourished hair. It is not greasy and should preferably be applied to damp hair.

Hemp oil is also cited by some as an anti-inflammatory of the skin and for the treatment of acne and psoriasis and pain, for example: this seems to be due to the action of the cannabinoids contained above all in hemp CBD oil.

Dr. Laura Comollo

Visit our herbal department for any clarification or for more information.

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