Hemp is a commonly used term for varieties of the Cannabis plants. Hemp grows almost anywhere and requires no pesticides or fertiliser. The potential for Hemp is vast – including sustainable bio-mass (power) and bio-diesel (fuel). Its uses are many and varied; of particular value to humans are the nutritional and healing properties of Hemp seed and its oil.
Hemp seeds contain the most balanced and richest natural single source of essential oils for human consumption. Whole hemp seed contains approximately 20-25% protein, 20-30% carbohydrates and 10-15% insoluble fibre as well as a rich array of minerals, particularly phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, sulfur and calcium, along with modest amounts of iron and zinc the latter of which is an important enzyme co-factor for human fatty acid metabolism.
Hemp oil has long been recognised as one of the most versatile and beneficial substances known to man. The oil contains fatty acids. Saturated fats and monounsaturated fats are not necessary in our diet as our bodies can make them. But there are two polyunsaturated fatty acids that our body cannot make – linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid. These fatty acids must be included in the diet and are therefore known as ‘essential fatty acids’. For thousands of years, the hemp plant has been used in elixirs and medicinal teas because of its healing properties.
Non-refined hemp seed oil extracted by cold-pressing methods varies from off-yellow to dark green and has a pleasant nutty taste, sometimes accompanied by a touch of bitterness. This “cold pressing” does not allow an extraction yield equal to that of techniques employing solvents or high temperatures, but it has the advantage of minimizing degrading changes in the oil. A small amount of oil is also lost during the subsequent filtration process. Further refining procedures should be avoided in order to preserve the native qualities of this product.
Origin and history
Hemp is thought to originate in the Himalayas, from where it was spread by animals and people. The Aryans who invaded India are known to have taken hemp seed with them to sow for fibre throughout the Middle East and Europe.
From at least the 5th Century BC until the late 19th Century ship sails and riggings were made from hemp. Hemp is still used on some ships because of its resistance to mildew and weathering and because it remains pliable in extreme conditions where plastic based ropes become brittle and crack.
Nutrition and health benefits
- Hemp oil contains fatty acids(omega-3 fatty acids- reduce the clotting tendency of the blood and improve cholesterol profiles and omega-6), which are essential for the formation of healthy cell membranes, the proper development and functioning of the brain and nervous system.
- It could provide all of our Essential Fatty Acid requirements for life, due to the balanced 80% EFA(improve damaged immune systems) content of the oil.
- Hemp Oil also contains antioxidants, phytosterols, and nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, sulphur, potassium, phosphorus, and modest amounts of iron and zinc. It’s also an excellent source of chlorophyll. Hemp seed oil is known to contain up to 5% of pure GLA, a much higher concentration than any other plant.
- The optimal balance of Omega 3, 6 & 9 plus all essential amino acids present in hemp seed oil have been shown to:
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