Many people are familiar with marijuana and the stereotypes around it, but hemp, which is derived from the same cannabis sativa plant, is a lesser-known substance that holds a lot of benefits itself!
Hemp is a different strain entirely, which dates back as far as eight thousand years to Mesopotamia, where it was used for making fabric. While marijuana, with its many medical benefits, may be the more famed sibling, hemp’s potential has made its presence known throughout the ages in a variety of different products.
Both strains have their similarities, but the higher concentration of cannabidiol and the lower concentrations of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in hemp make it a product with less psychoactive qualities than marijuana. As a result, according to the Hemp Industries Association (HIA), the total retail sales in the United States for hemp products in 2015 was $600 million, a number that includes everything from food and body products to clothing and auto parts.
Marijuana comes with more than its fair share of cultural baggage, from its reputation as a stoner drug to its Schedule 1 status. Fortunately, with a lower concentration of THC, it’s possible that hemp will become more mainstream as research into the cannabis plant heats up. For those who are curious about inhalation, edibles, and marijuana seeds, here are some of the health and medical benefits of the powerful hemp seed.
Full of Nutrients
Hemp may be a lot less prominent than marijuana, but it has a lengthy history for good reason. With cultivation of the plant going back thousands of years, hemp has long been used as a food and a medicine, particularly in ancient Chinese culture. Not only is it high in fiber, it’s rich in minerals like potassium, magnesium, and calcium, which are responsible for its status as a superfood.
Helps Prevent Heart Disease
In addition to their bevy of benefits, hemp seeds also contain the amino acid arginine, which produces nitric oxide and leads to lower blood pressure and reduced heart disease risk. According to a 2005 study of more than 13,000 people posted by the National Centre for Biotechnology, this amino acid led to decreased levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a protein that can lead to heart disease.
Because hemp seeds also contain gamma-linolenic acid, which has been proven to reduce inflammation, it is suggested that this plant can assist in fighting the causes of disease and age. Given the presence of plant sterols and alcohols in hemp, there are many ways hemp seed and CBD oil benefit the body!
Rich in Antioxidants
From blueberries to pecans to decadent dark chocolate, there are a variety of foods that are rich in antioxidants, which protect the body from damaging free radicals. Fortunately, you can add hemp seeds to this list of foods, too! With a high concentration of vitamin E and phenolic acid, hemp is ideal when it comes to getting in much-needed antioxidants!
Improves Skin Issues
Hemp seeds may be rich in many vital minerals, but the presence of omega-3 fatty acids also means that they can work to improve problem skin and conditions like eczema. According to a 2005 study, “Dietary hempseed oil caused significant changes in plasma fatty acid profiles and improved clinical symptoms of atopic dermatitis,” a claim which is backed up by the presence of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in hempseed oil.
Balances Bad Cholesterol
We already know that omega-3 fatty acids are found in hemp seeds, but so are omega-6 fatty acids, and this balance actually assists in speeding up your metabolism. Hemp seeds contain more than 30% fat from both linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3). As a result, there’s less of an
opportunity for cholesterol to build up on the arteries.
Combats Degenerative Disease
According to the American Chemical Society, hemp seed contains a high concentration of a-linolenic acid, which “provides it with a high pharmaceutical value for degenerative chronic diseases.” Potentially, this means that hemp seed can be ideal when it comes to treating cancer, cardiovascular ailments, and even debilitating illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease.
Provides Plant-Based Protein
When it comes to protein, hemp seeds actually contain a high amount, with 2-3 tablespoons providing about 11 grams of protein per serving. Surprisingly, hemp seeds are one of few protein sources that are plant based and still manage to provide all of the amino acids the body needs to maintain health.
Helps with Digestion
Fiber may be found in foods like beans and brown rice, but it also has quite a high concentration in hemp seeds, which makes them ideal for maintaining digestion. Because hemp seeds contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, they are a good dietary solution for providing balance to the body. It’s just important to ensure that you’re keeping the shell on if you’re eating hemp seeds for digestive issues, because this is where the proteins are found!
While it may not get as much press as its psychoactive cousin, the hemp plant is a miracle in its own right. With uses that span from the industrial to the medical, hemp has proven itself over the millennia to be a hardy and helpful plant for the cultures that cultivate it. The next time you pick up a few grams of crystalline buds, consider grabbing a bag of hemp seeds or CBD oil and see what else this plant has to offer.