Learn what medical research says about the nutritional benefits of eating hemp seeds, hempseed oil, and hempseed protein powder. CBD oil is made from hemp plants. It may help treat pain, anxiety, and seizures. Here is what you should know before trying it. Hemp oil has a 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, which may help improve cholesterol levels and heart health.
What Is Hemp?
Nutritional Advantages of Eating Hemp Seeds and Hempseed Oil
Sherry Christiansen is a medical writer with a healthcare background. She has worked in the hospital setting and collaborated on Alzheimer’s research.
Verywell Health articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and healthcare professionals. These medical reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.
Lana Butner, ND, LAc, is a board-certified naturopathic doctor and licensed acupuncturist in private practice in New York City .
Verywell Health content is rigorously reviewed by a team of qualified and experienced fact checkers. Fact checkers review articles for factual accuracy, relevance, and timeliness. We rely on the most current and reputable sources, which are cited in the text and listed at the bottom of each article. Content is fact checked after it has been edited and before publication. Learn more.
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Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) is grown for use in many different products. Hemp is made into foods, health products, fabric, rope, natural remedies, and much more. Different parts of the hemp plant are used to make different products.
Hemp seeds are edible and highly nutritious. They have a high concentration of fiber. They also contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These fatty acids are nutrients that are important for heart and skin health.
Hemp is sometimes confused with marijuana. Hemp, however, contains only trace amounts of THC, the main chemical in the marijuana plant that makes people get “high.” Because hemp contains little THC, it is grown for non-drug use.
This article discusses some of the health benefits of hemp, its uses, and its potential side effects. It also answers some common questions about hemp and how it should be used and stored.
Also Known As
- Narrow-leaf hemp
- Bitter root
- Indian hemp
- Wild cotton
Does Hemp Offer Any Benefits?
There are three different plants in the Cannabis genus, also called the Cannabaceae family. These include Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. Hemp varieties of Cannabis contain 0.3% or less THC. Marijuana varieties have more than 0.3%. Higher amounts of THC can produce a high.
The seeds are the main edible part of the hemp plant. The leaves can be used to make tea, but most of the nutrients are in the seeds. In fact, hemp seeds are over 30% fat, including essential fatty acids. The potential health benefits of hemp, therefore, come mainly from its seeds.
Hemp seeds are, as the name implies, the seeds of the hemp plant. Hemp hearts are seeds that have had the shell removed.
Hemp seeds are high in soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water, while insoluble fiber does not. Both types of fiber are important for digestion. Because hemp hearts lack the fibrous shell, they are lower in fiber and other nutrients than whole hemp seeds.
Hemp seeds are also rich in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). GLA is an omega-6 fatty acid that has been shown to have many health benefits. A 2016 study found that GLA has strong anti-inflammatory properties.
Hemp seeds contain a 3-to-1 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. This is considered an optimal ratio for heart and brain health.
This ratio is difficult to get in the Western diet. Western diets tend to be too heavy in omega-6 fatty acids, which can be found in foods like vegetable oil. Many Western diets don’t contain enough omega-3 fatty acids. These are found in foods like salmon and other wild-caught, cold-water fish.
Hemp seeds contain many nutrients, including protein, minerals (such as magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc), and vitamins.
Whole hemp seeds contain 20% soluble and 80% insoluble fiber. The fiber in hemp seeds may help digestion. It may also help lower bad cholesterol and improve heart health. The insoluble fiber in hemp seeds has also been linked to a lower risk of diabetes.
Hemp Oil vs. CBD Oil
Hemp oil is also called hempseed oil. It is made by cold-pressing hemp seeds. Hempseed oil is different from CBD oil. CBD oil is extracted from the cannabis plant and then combined with a base oil. Examples of base oils include coconut or olive oil.
Hempseed oil comes from hemp seeds only. It is not derived from the Cannabis plant itself. Hempseed oil does not contain any psychoactive properties. You can not use it to get high. Hemp oil has unique properties and health benefits.
Hemp oil contains healthy nutrients such as:
- Essential fatty acids (EFAs), which are important for good health
- Minerals like zinc, magnesium, calcium, iron, and more
- Antioxidants like vitamin E
Hemp oil can be used as a cooking oil. Just like any other type of healthy oil, it can be added to foods such as salads, dips, and spreads.
Animal studies have suggested that hempseed oil may lower blood pressure. It may also reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack. This hasn’t been proven in human studies, though.
Hemp oil is often used as a hair conditioner or a skin moisturizer. Some studies found that hemp seed oil may improve dry, itchy skin and help symptoms of eczema, a common skin condition. When used for eczema symptoms, it may reduce the need for prescription medication.
Hemp oil is not the same as CBD oil. Hemp oil comes from the seed of the hemp plant. It can be used for cooking or as a hair conditioner or skin moisturizer.
Hemp protein is a powder made from the seeds of the hemp plant. Hemp protein contains all nine essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Some studies, though, have shown that hemp protein isn’t as good a source of one amino acid, lysine, compared to soy protein.
Hemp protein is a good choice for vegetarians or vegans because it contains essential fatty acids. Whole hemp seeds contain about 25% protein. This is higher than flax or chia seeds, which contain only around 20% and 18% protein, respectively.
Other Health Benefits
There is not enough clinical research data to back up claims that hemp is a safe or effective treatment for any condition. People still use it as a remedy for many illnesses, though, including:
- Heart problems
- Urinary conditions (increasing urine flow)
- Warts (when applied to the skin)
How It Works
Hemp contains chemicals that may affect the heart and might help reduce blood pressure. Hemp also contains terpenes. Terpenes are the compounds that give plants their distinctive odors.
Some studies suggest that terpenes may have health benefits. These benefits may include:
- Neuroprotective or brain-protective benefits
- Anti-inflammatory benefits
- Anti-tumor properties
Hemp contains more protein than seeds like chia and flaxseed. It also contains other substances that may have health effects. Some people claim it can help with certain illnesses, though this has not been proven through clinical research.
Possible Side Effects of Hemp Seed
Taking whole hemp seed by mouth can cause many side effects, including:
- Throat irritation
- Nausea and vomiting
- Bradycardia, or slow heart rate
- Hypertension, or high blood pressure
There is not enough clinical research data to prove that hemp is safe for use in people who are pregnant or breastfeeding. There is also not enough research to show it is safe to use topically on the skin.
Eating hemp seeds is not considered as unsafe as is eating hemp leaves or other parts of the plant. But because of the high fat content, the seeds can cause mild diarrhea.
Interaction with Medications
Do not ingest hemp when taking cardiac glycosides or diuretics.
Cardiac glycosides, such as Lanoxin (digoxin), help the heart beat strongly and can slow down the heart rate. They are used for treating heart failure (in which the heart can’t pump blood well enough to meet the body’s needs) and irregular heartbeats.
Hemp is also known to slow the heart rate. Taking hemp with cardiac glycosides could slow the heart rate too much. Ask your doctor before taking hemp with Lanoxin.
Diuretics are drugs that increase the amount of urine. They are used to reduce the amount of fluid in the body and lower blood pressure. Diuretics include:
- Diuril (chlorothiazide)
- Thalitone (chlorthalidone)
- Lasix (furosemide)
- Microzide (hydrochlorothiazide)
An increase in the amount of urine may lead to a loss of potassium. Hemp can also decrease potassium. Taking diuretics and hemp together may result in dangerously low potassium levels. This might cause problems with heart function.
Selection, Preparation, and Storage of Hemp Seed
Hemp seeds can be eaten raw, roasted, or cooked with other foods. In China, hemp seed oil has been used as food or made into medicine for thousands of years.
There are many ways to eat hemp protein, oil, and seeds, including:
- In a smoothie
- On oatmeal or cereal
- Sprinkled over salads
- As a nut butter
- As a form of milk called hemp milk
- On yogurt
- In meal bars or granola bars
- In salad dressing
- On casserole dishes
- Added to baked goods
- In recipes
- As a cooking oil
Hemp seeds need to be stored properly. The healthy fats in hemp seeds can degrade if they are exposed to air for long periods. Storing hemp seeds at high temperatures can have a similar effect. Hemp seeds stored this way could contain unhealthy trans fats, a type of fat especially linked to heart disease.
Store hemp seeds and hemp oil in an airtight container. Keep these products in a cool, dark place. It is best to refrigerate hemp products after opening.
Many hemp products come in different forms, including:
- Hemp oil
- Hemp milk
- Hemp protein powder
Many of these products can be purchased in health food stores or online.
Cooking hemp seeds or heating the oil to temperatures above 350 degrees F can destroy the healthy fatty acids. Hemp seeds and oil are best eaten raw. If cooking with hemp oil, use low heat.
The dosage of any herbal or natural supplement, including hemp, depends on several factors. Age and health condition are two important considerations. Never take more than the recommended dosage on the package insert.
Always ask your doctor before taking hemp or any other herb. The recommended dosage may not be right for you.
If you are going to eat hemp seeds, experts suggest starting slow. This is especially true if you have digestive problems. Start with 1 teaspoon and work up to more as tolerated.
Ask your doctor before taking hemp. Your safe dosage may be different than what is on the packaging.
Hemp seeds are grown in many different countries. Some people prefer hemp from Canada for its taste and the strict government restrictions aimed to improve quality. Look for products that have been tested in the lab for purity and potency. Consult the manufacturer if you have questions.
Regulations on hemp grown in U.S., Europe, and Canada are stricter than in other countries, such as China.
Are hemp seed hearts the same as hemp seed?
No. Hemp hearts have had the fibrous shell removed. This makes them lower in fiber and other nutrients than whole hemp seeds. Hemp hearts are not as nutritious as whole hemp seeds. However, hemp hearts are very high in healthy polyunsaturated fats.
Are hemp seeds legal to ingest in the U.S.?
Yes, hemp seeds are legal in the United States. Hemp seeds in the U.S. must contain a minimal amount of THC. THC is the psychoactive part of the cannabis plant.
According to the FDA, some hemp products are safe for food, including:
- Hemp seeds
- Hemp seed protein powder
- Hempseed oil
Can eating hemp cause a person to fail a drug test?
No. Eating moderate amounts of hempseed oil, protein powder made of hemp, or hemp seeds will not cause you to fail a drug test. Hemp contains only trace amounts of THC. Unless you are using other varieties of the Cannabis plant, such as marijuana, or you are eating large amounts of hemp, you are unlikely to fail a drug test.
Hemp hearts do not contain any THC. The shells of whole hemp seed do have trace amounts below 0.3% THC. If you are recovering from cannabis addiction or just want to avoid exposure to THC in any amount, avoid eating whole hemp seeds.
What does hemp taste like?
Hemp seeds have a mild, nutty flavor. They are similar to unsalted sunflower seeds, but the texture is not as hard.
Hemp seeds are a good source of protein and fiber. Hemp seeds may also have other health benefits, though there is not enough clinical research to say for sure. Because hemp may interact with some drugs and cause certain side effects, it is a good idea to consult your doctor before adding hemp seeds to your diet.
CBD Oil Benefits vs. Side Effects
While it may be helpful, it may not be safe for all
Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman’s World, and Natural Health.
Verywell Health articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and healthcare professionals. These medical reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.
Meredith Bull, ND, is a licensed naturopathic doctor with a private practice in Los Angeles. She helped co-author the first integrative geriatrics textbook, “Integrative Geriatric Medicine.”
CBD oil is said to have a variety of possible health benefits. It is used as an appetite stimulant, a sleep aid, a treatment for skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, for relief of pain, to prevent seizures, and much more.
Though derived from cannabis, the same plants grown for marijuana, CBD oil is not he same as pot. But that doesn’t mean that CBD oil is 100% safe. Some possible side effects, like dry mouth, may be fairly minor. Others, like anxiety, are potentially more significant. And certain potential side effects may even make using CBD oil inadvisable for some people.
This article goes over what CBD is used for, the possible side effects, and what you should look for if you choose to buy CBD.
What Exactly Is CBD Oil?
CBD oil is a hemp plant extract known as cannabidiol mixed with a base (carrier) oil like coconut oil or hemp seed oil. CBD oil comes from Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa plants.
CBD Oil Benefits
People who support the use of CBD claim that CBD oil benefits people with a variety of health problems. CBD oil is said to be good for:
- Drug use and withdrawal
- High blood pressure
- Muscle spasms
- Poor appetite
- Skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis
As CBD has gained popularity, researchers have been trying to study it more. Still, there has not yet been a lot of clinical research focused on finding evidence to back up these health claims.
Here’s a deeper dive into what is known about a few of the purported health benefits of CBD oil.
A 2015 review of research that was published in the journal Neurotherapeutics suggested that CBD might help treat anxiety disorders.
The study authors reported that CBD had previously shown powerful anxiety-relieving effects in animal research—and the results were kind of surprising.
In most of the studies, lower doses of CBD (10 milligrams per kilogram, mg/kg, or less) improved some symptoms of anxiety, while higher doses (100 mg/kg or more) had almost no effect.
The way that CBD acts in the brain could explain why this happens. In low doses, CBD might act the same as the surrounding molecules that normally bind to the receptor that “turns up” their signaling. However, at higher doses, too much activity at this receptor site could produce the opposite effect.
There have not been many trials to look at CBD’s anxiety-relieving effects in humans. However, one was a 2019 study published in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry.
For the study, 57 men took either CBD oil or a sugar pill with no CBD in it (placebo) before a public-speaking event.
The researchers assessed the participants’ anxiety levels using measures like blood pressure and heart rate. The researchers also used a reliable test for mood states called the Visual Analog Mood Scale (VAMS).
The men who took 300 milligrams (mg) of CBD oil reported less anxiety than the men who were given a placebo; however, the men who took 100 mg or 600 mg of CBD oil did not experience the same effects.
CBD oil might help people with substance use disorder, according to a 2015 review published in the journal Substance Abuse.
The review looked at the findings from 14 published studies. Nine of the studies looked at the effects of CBD on animals and five looked at the effects on humans.
The researchers reported that CBD showed promise for treating people with opioid, cocaine, or psychostimulant use disorders.
However, the effects of CBD were quite different depending on the substance. For example, CBD without THC did not decrease withdrawal symptoms related to opioid use.
On the other hand, it did reduce drug-seeking behaviors in people using cocaine, methamphetamine, and other similar drugs.
Some experts suggest that CBD could help treat cannabis and nicotine dependence, but more research is needed to provide this theory.
Some studies have suggested that CBD oil may benefit the skin.
A 2020 paper, for example, found that CBD oil may help reduce inflammation, which could be useful for treating a variety of skin conditions including allergic dermatitis, acne, and psoriasis.
Proponents say CBD oil has benefits for people with cancer. Although some studies have shown promise, there have been no large studies proving the benefits of CBD oil as a cancer treatment.
Other studies suggest that CBD might interact with cancer drugs.
If you have cancer and are considering CBD, talk to your oncologist first about whether or not it is safe for you to use.
High Blood Pressure
A 2017 study found that CBD oil may reduce the risk of heart disease because it can lower high blood pressure in some people.
For the study, nine healthy men took either 600 mg of CBD or the same dose of a placebo. The men who took CBD had lower blood pressure before and after experiencing stressors like exercise or extreme cold.
The study also looked at the amount of blood remaining in the heart after a heartbeat (stroke volume). The stroke volume in the men who took CBD was lower than in was in the placebo group, meaning their hearts were pumping more efficiently.
The study suggested that CBD oil could be a complementary therapy for people with high blood pressure that is affected by stress and anxiety.
However, there is no evidence that CBD oil can treat high blood pressure on its own or prevent it in people at risk. While stress can complicate high blood pressure, it does not cause it.
Proponents say CBD oil has benefits as a sleep aid, but research so far is inconclusive.
A 2017 review pointed out that many studies have been small and limited. However, the authors also noted that because cannabinoids seem to have an effect on the sleep-wake cycle, their potential as a sleep aid is worthy of additional research.
In June 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a CBD oral solution called Epidiolex.
Epidiolex is used to treat two rare forms of epilepsy in children under the age of 2: Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. These are very rare genetic disorders that cause lifelong seizures starting in the first year of life.
Other than for these two disorders, CBD’s effectiveness for treating seizures is not known. Even with Epidiolex, it’s not clear if the anti-seizure effects are from CBD or another factor.
However, there is some evidence that CBD interacts with seizure medicines like Onfi (clobazam) and raises their concentration in the blood. More research is needed to understand the link.
Possible CBD Oil Side Effects
Clinical research has shown that CBD oil can cause side effects. The specific side effects and their severity varies from one person to the next and from one type of CBD to another.
Some common CBD side effects people report include:
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in mood
- Dizziness or fatigue
- Dry mouth
Do not drive or use heavy machinery when taking CBD oil—especially when you first start using it or switch to a new brand. Remember that some products do contain THC, even in small amounts.
Your healthcare practitioner may advise against using CBD oil if you:
- Have liver disease: CBD oil may increase liver enzymes, which is a marker of liver inflammation. Talk with your healthcare provider before taking CBD oil. You may need to have your liver enzymes checked regularly if you decide to use it.
- Have eye issues: CBD oil may also cause eye-related side effects. A 2018 study found that it may increase pressure inside the eyes. For people with glaucoma, this can make the condition worse. Some people also report dry eyes as a side effect of CBD oil.
- Are pregnant or nursing: You should not use CBD oil if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Even though the effects of CBD are not fully understood, it does pass through the placenta.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) further states that pregnant people should not use marijuana because of the potential risks to a developing fetus.
Can CBD Oil Get You High?
CBD oil does not get you high. Although it is from a plant that is in the same family as the marijuana plant, it does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound responsible for this feeling.
|A component of the hemp plant||Separate plant in the hemp family that contains CBD and hundreds of other compounds.|
|No or trace amounts of THC||Significant amounts of THC|
|Works receptors in the brain, but not those that induce psychoactive effects (e.g., opioid receptors that help control pain, glycine receptors that impact mood control)||THC binds to cannabinoid receptors in the brain to create “high” feeling|
What CBD Oil Can Interact With
CBD oil can interact with medications, including many that are used to treat epilepsy. One of the reasons for this has to do with how your body breaks down (metabolizes) drugs.
Cytochrome P450 (CYP450) is an enzyme your body uses to break down some drugs. CBD oil can block CYP450. That means that taking CBD oil with these drugs could make them have a stronger effect than you need or make them not work at all.
Drugs that could potentially interact with CBD include:
- Anti-arrhythmia drugs like quinidine
- Anticonvulsants like Tegretol (carbamazepine) and Trileptal (oxcarbazepine)
- Antifungal drugs like Nizoral (ketoconazole) and Vfend (voriconazole)
- Antipsychotic drugs like Orap (pimozide)
- Atypical antidepressants like Remeron (mirtazapine)
- Benzodiazepine sedatives like Klonopin (clonazepam) and Halcion (triazolam)
- Immune-suppressive drugs like Sandimmune (cyclosporine)
- Macrolide antibiotics like clarithromycin and telithromycin
- Migraine medicine like Ergomar (ergotamine)
- Opioid painkillers like Duragesic (fentanyl) and alfentanil
- Rifampin-based drugs used to treat tuberculosis
Always tell your healthcare provider and pharmacist about all the medicines you take, including prescription, over-the-counter (OTC), herbal, or recreational drugs.
The interactions between these medications and CBD are often mild and you might not have to change your treatment. However, in some cases, you might have to change medications or space out your doses to avoid a reaction. Never change or stop medication without talking to your provider.
What’s a Safe Dosage of CBD Oil?
There are no guidelines for use, nor is there a “correct” dose of CBD oil. That said, the average dose range is from 5 mg to 25 mg.
Available forms include:
- Tinctures (CBD oil mixed with a base oil)
Which you choose largely comes down to your preference and what you hope to get in terms of effects. For example, putting the oil under your tongue can produce effects more quickly than swallowing a capsule that needs to be digested.
Each product works a bit differently, depending on the form, so it’s important to follow the provided directions.
How to Calculate a CBD Dose
Sprays, gummies, and capsules are easy to use because their doses are pre-measured.
Tinctures are a bit more challenging. Most oils come in 30-milliliter (mL) bottles and include a dropper cap to help you measure.
But some tinctures have concentrations of 1,500 mg per 30 mL, while others have 3,000 mg per mL or more. That means figuring out the exact amount of CBD per milliliter of oil requires a little math.
To determine an exact dose of CBD, remember that each drop of oil equals 0.05 mL of fluid. This means that a 30-mL bottle of CBD oil will have about 600 drops in it.
If the concentration of the tincture is 1,500 mg per mL, one drop would have 2.5 mg of CBD in it (1,500 mg ÷ 600 drops = 2.5 mg).
Safer Buying Practices
Remember that CBD oils are unregulated. There’s no guarantee that a product is what it claims to be on its packaging. You also can’t know for sure that it’s safe and effective.
A 2017 study reported that only 31% of CBD products sold online were correctly labeled. Most had less CBD in them than was advertised, and 21% had significant amounts of THC.
If you are interested in buying CBD products, here are a few tips that can help you make the best choice:
- Buy American: Domestically produced CBD oil might be a safer option than those that have been imported.
- Go organic: Brands certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are less likely to expose you to pesticides and other harmful chemicals.
- Read the product label: Don’t assume that every ingredient on the product label is natural. CBD products can also have preservatives, flavorings, or thinning agents in them. If you don’t recognize an ingredient, ask the dispenser what it is or check online.
Frequently Asked Questions
CBD oil comes in different forms:
- Isolates contain only CBD.
- Broad-spectrum oils have nearly all of the components of the plant (e.g., proteins, flavonoids, terpenes, and chlorophyll), but do not have THC. oils have all the compounds including THC (up to 0.3%)
Alternative medicine practitioners believe that the compounds provide more health benefits, but the is a lack of evidence to support these claims.
Not necessarily. While the names are sometimes used interchangeably, hemp oil can also refer to hemp seed oil, which is used for cooking, food production, and skincare products. CBD oil is made from the leaves, stems, buds, and flowers of the Cannabis indica or Cannabis sativa plant. It should contain less than 0.3% THC. Hemp oil is made from the seeds of Cannabis sativa and does not have TCH in it.
It would be hard to overdose on CBD oil. Research has shown that human tolerance for CBD is very high. One study reported the toxic dose would be about 20,000 mg taken at one time.
It depends on where you live, the type of product, how it was sourced, and its intended purpose (medical or recreational). In many states, you must be 18 or 21 to buy CBD oil. Check your state’s laws.
Hemp oil is packed with healthy fatty acids — here’s why that’s great news for your skin and heart
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This article was medically reviewed by Zlatin Ivanov, MD, who is certified in psychiatry and addiction psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology at Psychiatrist NYC.
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- Hemp oil comes from seeds that grow on Cannabis sativa, the same plant species that yield marijuana.
- Hemp oil has a healthy balance of fatty acids that may help boost skin and heart health.
- One tbsp of hemp oil offers over twice your daily value of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid.
Hemp oil comes from the same species of Cannabis sativa plants that yield marijuana and CBD oil, but it’s a decidedly different product.
Hemp oil, aka hemp seed oil, is produced by cold-pressing the seeds from hemp plants, similar to how olive oil is made by pressing olives.
However, hemp seeds have little to no THC or CBD, says Jeffrey Chen, MD, co-founder and CEO of Radicle Science, a health-tech company that offers research and validation services for CBD products.
Note: Hemp oil is not the same as CBD oil — sometimes referred to as hemp CBD oil — which is a thick, oily resin extracted from the flowers, leaves, and stems of cannabis plants. Moreover, hemp seed oil won’t get you high, like marijuana, says Chen.
Instead, many of hemp oil’s purported health benefits come down to its nutrients: Hemp oil is a rich source of minerals and healthy omega fatty acids, which may help with skin, hair, and nail health among other things. However, research is still in the early stages.
One tablespoon of hemp oil contains roughly 125 calories and 14 grams of fat (18% DV). In addition, hemp seeds are a rich source of other nutrients, including:
- Polyunsaturated fats such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. In particular, hemp oil contains alpha-linolenic and gamma-linolenic fatty acids, which help fight inflammation. That’s important since persistent inflammation can lead to chronic health conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
- Protein: Hemp seeds are a complete protein because they contain all the essential amino acids that your body cannot produce on its own.
- Minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and phosphorus. Minerals play an important role in heart, brain, and muscle function.
- Vitamins A, C, E, and B vitamins, which are essential for immunity and disease prevention.
- Dietary fiber, which keeps your digestive system working smoothly.
Researchers attribute most of hemp oil’s benefits to its healthy balance of fatty acids. Below are some of the science-backed benefits of hemp oil.
Helps treat skin conditions like acne and eczema
Studies suggest that the omega fatty acids in hemp oil can help improve inflammatory skin conditions like acne, eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis, says Chen. Here’s what some of the research has found so far:
- A small 2005 study that included 20 participants with eczema noted significant improvements in their skin upon taking two tablespoons of hemp oil for eight weeks. The participants reported less skin dryness and itching, and some found that they no longer needed as much medication to manage their condition.
- According to a 2014 review, the omega fatty acids in hemp oil strengthen cell membranes, making the skin more resistant to viral, bacterial, and fungal infections. The review also notes that applying crushed hemp leaves to your skin can help treat a skin condition known as scabies.
- There is also anecdotal evidence that consuming hemp oil daily can help strengthen your skin, hair, and nails, by fortifying your cell membranes; however, further research is required to substantiate these claims.
May improve heart health
Hemp oil doesn’t just have an abundance of healthy omega fatty acids — it contains them in the “perfect” balance. Chen says hemp oil has a 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, which is potentially an optimal ratio for improved cholesterol levels and heart health.
By comparison, other oils such as vegetable oils, have more omega-6 and fewer omega-3 fatty acids, which could contribute to inflammation and heart disease.
However, it’s important to note that while hemp oil contains the fatty acids associated with improved heart health, Chen says there isn’t sufficient evidence yet to prove that hemp oil, specifically, can prevent or improve heart disease. Studies conducted in insects and animals show promise, but further research is required in humans.
Other benefits include pain relief and improved brain health
Some other potential benefits of hemp seed oil include:
- Pain relief, due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
- Reduced muscle tension. Some full-spectrum hemp oils can contain enough CBD to help relieve muscle soreness and tension. But it’s the CBD, not the hemp, that is likely responsible for this.
- Benefits for pregnant people, as omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for fetal development.
- Improved brain health and prevention of neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, since omega-3 acids support healthy brain function.
Like with heart disease, Chen says there are theoretical benefits of hemp oil for these conditions due to its omega-3 fatty acid content, but he says there are virtually no human clinical trials that have directly investigated the benefits of hemp oil for these conditions.
Hemp oil side effects
“There are generally very few side effects associated with hemp oil. It does contain a lot of fat, and thus may cause diarrhea if consumed in excess,” says Chen.
Hemp seeds cannot technically get you high, says Chen, because unlike other parts of the cannabis plant, hemp seeds contain negligible amounts of cannabinoid compounds like THC, if any.
Hemp oil is therefore legal and has fewer regulatory restrictions than marijuana and CBD oil, says Chen. The FDA requires that cannabis products like hemp and CBD oils have a THC content lower than 0.3%.
That said, a 2019 study notes that many hemp and CBD oil products are in violation of FDA guidelines because they have a significantly higher THC percentage than legally permitted.
While there isn’t a recommended dosage for hemp oil, Chen says a few grams or tablespoons of hemp oil a day is the dosage typically used in clinical trials for conditions like skin disorders. This dosage is sufficient to fulfill your daily omega-3 requirement, says Chen.
One tablespoon of hemp seed oil provides more than double — a little over 3 grams — of your daily requirement of alpha linolenic acid, an essential omega-3 fatty acid.
Tip: Apart from hemp seed oil, another way to add hemp to your diet is by eating hemp seeds. Hemp seeds contain omega-3 acids, and unlike hemp seed oil, they also contain protein and fiber, says Chen. You can sprinkle hemp seeds over yogurt, salad, or oatmeal. They have a mild, nutty flavor and add a crunchy texture to your meal.
Hemp seed oil contains nutrients like healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and nutrients like vitamin E that may help keep your heart, skin, and brain healthy. However, more human trials are needed to determine how effective it is for everyone.
Sanjana has been a health writer and editor since 2014. She has written extensively for platforms like Livestrong.com, Verywell Mind, and Times Internet. Her work spans various health-related topics, including fitness, nutrition, mental health, and wellness. Sanjana balances her love for chocolate with a penchant for fun workouts like aerial yoga and kickboxing.