General info about hemp oil
Hemp is the common name for Cannabis Sativa. The Chinese cultivated hemp over 6,000 years ago, but it travelled to Europe around 1,000 years ago, where peasants cultivated it further. The oil is currently popular as a foodstuff, but hemp can also be used to produce the textiles, rope, paper, biofuel, bedding for horses, hemp plastic, and as a housing construction material.
This cultivated hemp contains less than 0.02% T.H.C. (tetrahydrocannabolis), which is the substance that makes you “high.” The other species or subspecies of hemp (the classification of varieties is disputed) is the one that is used to make marijuana or hashish.
The Soviet Union was the world’s largest producer of hemp from the 1950s - 1980s, it is also grown in China, North Korea, and much of Europe. Cultivation licenses may be issued in the European Union and Canada. However, it is still illegal to grow hemp freely in the USA.
Hemp is being promoted as an environmentally friendly alternative to paper made from wood (it produces four times as much paper as trees, and does not need to be bleached) and cotton (25% of the pesticides used in the world are used on cotton crops: hemp does not need pesticides).
Ways to prepare and serve with the hemp oil
Hemp can be used in place of olive oil in cooking. It can be used hot or cold (for roasting and frying, or as a dressing, drizzled over noodles, pizza / pasta or salad). You get the greatest amount of omega oil when it is not heated above 150˚C. It is suggested to heat at low temperature (<20˚C) for no more than 10 minutes; gentle stir frying as opposed to frying.
Hemp seeds can be crushed or ground, and used as salad sprinkles or in granola. They can be baked into bread or cookies, and flavour them slightly.
Health Benefits and Warnings of consuming hemp oil
Hemp contains Omega 3, 6 and 9 (unsaturated Fatty Acids), and is the only oil to contain them in the same proportions as the human body (3:1:1).
Hemp oil contains GLA, the active component in Evening Primrose & Borage Oil
Hemp is also a good source of protein; its amino acid composition is closer to that of meat, milk and eggs than all other oil seeds except soy.
Hemp oil is reported to have been successful in helping with
- cardiovascular disease
- rheumatoid arthritus and osteoperosis
- ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder)
- premenstrual syndrome
- eczema and psorisis
- reducing stress
- aiding childrens’ concentration and behaviour
- acne, and improving the skin’s moisture retention.
Hemp is also high in Vitamin E and Iron.
Hemp seed is a fruit and not a nut. The Anaphylaxis society has no reported cases of Hemp seed or Hemp Seed oil causing reactions to people with nut allergies, though people with nut allergies are advised to try a small amount first, to test for a reaction.
For most people there are no side effects, except sometimes loosening of the stool. However, some people may experience hallucinations or euphoria if they are particularly sensitive to THC or if they happen to use a brand that has somewhat higher THC levels.
As the oils in hemp seed are known to inhibit platelets, anyone taking hemp seed oil with anticoagulant drugs should be aware that there is a theoretical possibility that bleeding could occur. At present, there is no known drug interaction with hemp [www.pccnaturalmarkets.com]
There are concerns that using hemp products may cause you to falsely test positive for marijuana use. Ingesting Hemp oil with a THC concentration over 20ppm could cause this over time, but a concentration this high should not be for sale on the open market. [testpledge.com/PDF/MROUpdate.pdf]
Hemp seed oil should never be used for frying. Gentle stir frying is preferable. At high temperatures trans-fatty acids are formed as a by-product.
Shelled hemp seeds and hemp oil can go rancid quickly. Seeds should be stored in a cool, dark, dry place. The oil should be kept refridgerated.
Cold-pressed, unrefined hemp oil is light green, with a nutty, grassy flavour.
Not to be confused with refined hemp oil (used in bodycare products and industrial uses), and an essential oil made from the flowers (used in perfumes, and as a food flavouring NB you should always check if essential oils are edible).
You can also buy shelled hemp seeds for baking.
Powdered hemp protein is available, as an alternative to the whey and soy isolate powders used by athletes and body-builders. You can buy ready made hemp bars, and hemp milk and cheese alternatives. Some cosmetics and tanning oils use hemp oil.
Recipes made mainly with this oil
Traditionally, hemp butter was made by grinding the seeds.
Today, hemp oil is marketed as an alternative to olive oil, and suggested uses include drizzling over salads, pasta and pizza, dipping bread in it, and using to roast potatoes.
Hemp Milk, made from hemp seeds, is becoming a popular alternative to milk: Yaoh stock a hemp milk kit. Alternatively, it can be made in a blender: