Frankly Speaking Friday- Hemp and Hemp Seed Oil

This weeks Franky Speaking Friday is all about the weed, the doobie, the blunt, and for you, um, slightly older folks, the J, the Mary Jane (now that's a dater isn't it?). Okay, the Pot plant, there I said it! Lol. We are going to learn all about the cannabis plant! Why? Because the cannabis plant seed oil is our next exotic oil! 

Commonly referred to as the marijuana plant, hemp seed oil is derived from the seeds of cannabis sativa. What everyone needs to understand, is that there is a difference between the hemp that is grown and the hemp that is smoked to get high. The cannabis sativa is the variety grown for industrial use, while cannabis sativa indica is what is smoked. The indica variety generally has poor fiber quality, and is primarily used for the production of recreational and medicinal drugs. While the difference between the two types of plants can be seen microscopically, the major difference is the amount of tetrahydrocannaninol that they possess. Commonly referred to as THC, this is the stuff that gets you high. The oil seed and fiber varieties of Cannabis, the ones that are approved for industrial hemp production, only produce minute amounts of THC, typically below 0.3% of the psychoactive drug that gets you high. While cultivars of Cannabis that are grown for smoking, called marijuana,  can contain anywhere from 6 to over 20% of THC.

The world's leading producer of hemp is  China, with smaller production in Europe, Chili, and Korea. In fact, hemp is legally grown in just about every country of the world, except for the USA. Yet, more hemp is exported to the United States, than to any other country in the world. The reason being, the US government does not consistently distinguish between the cultivars of cannabis, rather, it treats all cannabis plants the same, assuming they all are  high in THC.
Hemp has a tremendous commercial value. Aside from making a great food and cosmetic grade oil, hemp is also used to create sewing material, paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, construction materials, alternative fuel, health food, and medical products. 

As a crop, hemp is very environmentally friendly. It requires little to no pesticides, no herbicides, and no fertilizers. It is extremely low maintenance, growing just about anywhere. It is an ideal crop for organic sustainable farming, unlike cotton, especially because it is so quick and easy to grow. Also,  it does not require pesticides or a warm climate, nor does it require much rainfall to produce a good crop. It is said that growing just a few acres of this plant yields 8 times more paper producing material than 2 acres of trees. Additionally, hemp grows to maturity within 4 months of its planting, where trees take many, many years. 

The seeds of the cannabis sativa plant, hemp seed, contain all the essential amino acids and essential fatty acids necessary to maintain a healthy, human life. No other single plant source has the essential amino acids in such an easily digestible form, nor has the essential fatty acids in as perfect of a ratio to meet human nutritional needs. This oil has the lowest amount of saturated fatty acids at 8%, and the highest amount of the polyunsaturated essential fatty acids at 80%, of any other oil. (Flax seed oil comes in second at 72% combined total essential fatty acids.) Hemp's nutritional advantage over other sources of fats and protein lies in this highly desirable balance of basic nutrients. Simply put, when eating hemp seed, nut and/or oil, our body obtains much of what it needs without the caloric ballast of non-essential nutrients. Yet, unlike fish and flax oil supplements and assorted protein powders, properly processed hemp seed offers these benefits with the additional bonus of a nice flavor profile. Simply stated, hemp tastes good! Fresh, cold pressed hemp oil, and hemp nuts, particularly when toasted, add a nice, nutty flavor to many dishes and pre- packaged food products.

Its seeds can be eaten raw, ground into a meal, sprouted, made into hemp milk (akin to soy milk), prepared as tea, and used in baking. The fresh leaves can also be eaten in salads. Products include cereals, frozen waffles, hemp tofu, and nut butters, to name a few. A few companies produce value added hemp seed items that include the seed oils, whole hemp grain (which is sterilized by law in the United States, where they import it from China and Canada), de-hulled hemp seed (the whole seed without the mineral rich outer shell), hemp flour, hemp cake (a by-product of pressing the seed for oil) and hemp protein powder. Hemp is also used in some organic cereals, for non-dairy milk, somewhat similar to soy and nut milks, and for non-dairy hemp "ice cream." Hempseed is an adequate source of dietary fiber, calcium, and iron, and contains antioxidants and chlorophyll. Whole hemp seeds are also a good source of phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, copper and manganese. In fact, hemp seed oil has specifically been shown to help with the following medical conditions;  Osteoporosis, Menopause, Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Premenstrual Symptoms, High cholesterol, high blood pressure, Weight loss, Poor circulation, Crohn's disease, Cardiovascular disease, Gall stones, Kidney degeneration, Immune deficiency, Irregular hormone levels, HIV virus, Tuberculosis, Low energy levels, and Low metabolism. And, in studies, adult users of hemp seed oil have also reported softer skin, stronger nails and hair after only a few weeks of using 1-2 Tablespoons of oil per day. 

Hemp seed and hemp seed oil is usually very safe for those unable to tolerate nuts, gluten, lactose, and sugar. In fact, there are no known allergies to hemp foods. However, in order to avoid conversion of the polyunsaturated fatty acids to unhealthy peroxides, which occur at higher temperatures, hemp oil and the hemp nut are both best used cold, it should never be fried. It may be easily added  to salad dressings, pasta, vegetables, smoothies, soups, sauces, hummus, guacamole, pesto, or other foods, after the heating/baking has been completed. If you must heat the oil, it may be gently heated for a short period of time.

Hemp seed oil is cold pressed and semi-refined by straining methods only (not heat methods), so the color is pretty light, similar to sweet almond oil. It holds a natural, medium (to light) odor that is distinctive, yet not unpleasant. As a cosmetic oil, hemp seed oil can be added to any body care or cosmetic product, including creams, lotions, facial or body oils, massage oils, shampoo, conditioner, shaving products, lip balms, soap, and just about any other product you can think of. The good percentage of proteins, natural fatty acids, vitamins and enzymes which the hemp seed oil possess, are easily absorbed through the skin, and as a result, any skin care formula made with this oil, will provide a more vitamin and mineral enriched product. Its anti-oxidants and moisture balancing properties help to heal and rejuvenate the skin, leaving it soft and non-greasy. It fights inflammation and protects the skin from moisture loss, acting as an emollient, all of which make it a great choice for any type of skin, but especially for sensitive skin issues. This oil is specifically known to help eczema, psoriasis, and acne, as well as dry scalp, and dry and/or damaged hair. 

When added to your cold process soap, the hemp seed oil will help to produce a stable lather, and  will leave the skin silky and smooth, even when only used to superfat a batch. As a base oil, you will need to keep its use to less than 40% of your total batch, in order to avoid too soft of a bar, but really, 20-30% is a better amount. Just keep in mind that, because of its low amount of saturated fats, hemp seed oil will spoil fairly quickly, keeping only for about 6-8 months. It is a sensitive oil that will degrade under excessive light exposure, and any fluctuation in temperature, therefore it must be kept in the refrigerator.

*See the Reference Link at the top of the page for references and bibliography for this and other posts.


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