Hemp Oil – Pros and Cons

Depending on where you live, hemp, marijuana’s non-intoxicating cousin, is legal again. There are all kinds of advocates out there for the use of this plant for just about everything. Apparently Ford Motor Co. even made a car body out of hemp back in the day which was stronger than steel.

More importantly for this website, hemp oil has got a lot of attention in the last couple of years due to its purported health benefits. I have a couple of bottles in the cupboard and use them on salads from time-to-time. It’s not my “go to” fat for salads; that’s olive oil. Once or twice, I’ve used the oil on my roast chicken to help the seasoning stick. I’ve stopped that due to its low smoke point.

Before I go into the supposed benefits, one thing on taste. I tend to drink a few tablespoons of olive oil and avocado oil each week. I was doing that to a lesser extent with hemp but have fallen off on that somewhat. Why? It’s got a bit of an aftertaste that I find disagreeable. It’s sort of nutty, but for some reason it doesn’t agree with my taste buds. I only use it on salads now sporadically.

The Benefits

There are a lot of lists out there that talk about using hemp oil for your hair and skin. I’m not interested in that. This is simply about consuming the oil.

  • Hemp oil contains essential fatty acids such as linoleic acid (54%) and alpha-linolenic acid (17%).
  • The 3:1 ratio of linoleic to alpha-linolenic acid may be ideal for promoting good health.
  • It has some monounsaturated fat (11%). Mark Sisson has a good article on the importance of monunsaturates.
  • It contains cannabidiol (CBD) which may help with anxiety, sleep and mental health; however, it is early days when it comes to research. It may also be an anti-inflammatory. N.B., When I got my first delivery of hemp oil, I took a tablespoon before bed for three nights in a a row. I didn’t notice any improvement in my sleep; however, I’m a good sleeper anyway, so I don’t know what the oil would have done for me in any case.
  • The oil contains sitosterol, which has hypocholesterolemic properties, and tocopherols, which have both antioxidant and anticancer activities. Both are present in “sufficient efficacious quantities” according to a study in the Journal of Nutraceuticals, Functional & Medical Foods.

The Negatives

  • Linoleic acid when it comes from canola/rapeseed and other highly processed foods can be very inflammatory and hence unhealthy. There is an argument that linoleic acid coming from natural, non-industrialised sources have health benefits, however. The jury may still be out here.
  • Low smoke point so it’s not good for cooking.
  • CBD oil in high doses caused reproductive toxicity in mice according to this study. CBD affected testosterone production and the sperm quality.

Conclusion

Hemp oil seems like a bit of a mixed bag to me with the scale tipping towards positivity overall. My guess is that more research needs to be done on the health benefits and potential negatives of this oil. I’ll still use it on salads from time-to-time but will mainly stick with olive and avocado oils.

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