Hemp Seed Oil
This is a fantastic oil and one that everyone should include in their diet. I personally think it tastes like dirt and can only choke it down, but, when you read my friend Stuart Fitzsimmons article about it, you will learn that whether you like the way it tastes or not, its something we should be using.
Article, “Hemp Seed Oil: Fountain of Youth? By Stuart Fitzsimmons”
Hemp Seed Oil: Fountain of Youth?
By Stuart Fitzsimmons
Modern living is fast, very fast and it seems to be getting faster. Most of us put in long hours and rarely do any physical work. Our diets consist of pre-packaged, processed junk and our water is full of chemicals. Most of us live in polluted cities. Modern life for all its advantages, is destroying us. More and more patients arrive in the surgery simply worn out by modern life.
Nowhere better is this degradation more apparent than with the human immune system. If you imagine modern day immune disorders to be a great ‘iceberg’, the tip, the bit above the water, is HIV and AIDS. Under the surface of the water lies the bulk of the iceberg. Conditions like ME, post-viral syndrome, allergies, eczema and asthma are the part we do not see. We have an increasing number of people with auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and SLE. Never before has immune dysregulation been so problematic or prolific. This must be due to modern living.
The immune system in not the only body system suffering at the hands of modern living. The cardiovascular system, the respiratory system, and even the reproductive system are faltering under the present strain. Reproduction; one of the basic functions of the body, is increasingly alluding modern people, a sad statement indeed.
Though the situation is dire, there is hope in sight. The solution, as is often the case, is to be found in the past. In centuries that came before, people worked physically hard and food was scarce. Stress in those days meant things like famines or epidemics. To counter the effects of these stresses, people looked to the plant world to find support for their bodies.
Regardless of geographical location every town had a group of medicines that would be used as tonics. Tonic plants did not have one specific action, but rather a general ability to restore health and vitality. They were said to add strength to the body which was having a hard time standing up to the strain.
Tonic herbs were the lynchpins of traditional systems of medicine. One tonic substance was hemp seed oil., (Cannabis sativa). Hemp seed has been used for generations for its powerful nutritive and tonic effects. The was seen to contain the vitality inducing essence of the nutritive seed.
Contemporary research has revealed hemp seed oil as being the most balanced source of essential fatty acids on Earth. We have learned how these fatty acids are essential for the formation of every cell membrane in the body and how these fatty acids promote the formation of substances essential to health.
This oil is a tonic in the ultimate sense of the word, an easily digestible food and powerful medicine in one. It effects positive changes on the whole body and is particularly able to counter the effects of modern day stresses. Our ancestors could not analyse the seed, but they observed the positive effects that the oil had on people. Every culture using hemp seed oil came to revere it as a ‘fountain of youth’. It was said to rejuvenate the body, slow ageing and even confer immortality upon users.
Having found how useful hemp was, our ancestors spread it all over the world. It is only in this century, when governments became obsessed with the drug issue, that we forgot this vital ally from the plant kingdom. As we will see, hemp seed oil is the perfect remedy to combat some of the worse effects modern living can have on us. For the sake of our health, it is time to bring hemp seed oil to the frontline of ‘lifestyle’ medicine. We need to use hemp seed oil to counter act the effects of modern living.
The History of Hemp Seed Oil
The story of hemp is the story of man. Thought to be of Asian origin, the hemp (Cannabis sativa) plant has spread the world over. In the earliest medical texts We find reference to use of every part of the plant. Authors, such as the scientist Carl Sagan, have even suggested that agriculture was developed by mankind in response to the need for a steady supply of useful plants like hemp.
An interesting point emerging from the study of hemp use in the past, is that although the Cannabis plant was used as a psychoactive drug, this use was limited and insignificant compared to the use of its seed and oil in medicine. This reflects the fact that our ancestors were far more concerned with the need for life sustaining foods and medicines than recreational drugs.
From the Egyptian Ebers Papyrus dating from the sixteenth century B.C., we have information relating to the use of hemp. The Egyptians were adept at pressing oils from seeds and would have been aware of the benefits of hemp seed oil.
In the Indian tradition of medicine, hemp seed was held in high esteem. There are many ayurvedic formulas incorporating hemp seed, many of these formulas are said to be rejuvenating and able to delay ageing. Some authors even claim immortality can be achieved by taking hemp seed formulas with regularity. Whilst immortality may seem a little far fetched to us, our forebear’s were noting the positive and visible benefits of the ingestion of hemp seed and its expressed oil.
The early Chinese materia medicas, the Divine Husbandmans Classic of The Materia Medica, which is ascribed to emperor Shen Nong and dating from the first century AD, contains in-depth information on the cultivation and processing of hemp for its use in fibre production, seed and drug production. Over the centuries the use of hemp seed in the Chinese system of medicine was continued and in the sixteenth century Li Shih- Chen, in his materia medica, the Pen T’saoKang Mu, states that hemp seed can be used to: Increase chi, slow ageing, stimulate and enhance the circulation helping to overcome obstructions to blood flow and restore the arteries and veins. It helps treat the paralysis and neurologic impairment due to stroke. Milk flow is increased in nursing mothers and if the hair is washed with the oil, its growth accelerates.
We also find reference made to the beneficial effects of hemp seed preparations on painful joints, inflammations, burns and wound healing. The Chinese saw hemp seed as a source of health.
The European physicians such as Dioscorides, the emperor Nero’s private physician, described the multitudinous uses of hemp seed, he is the man responsible for naming it Cannabis Sativa, which means ‘useful hemp’. The usefulness being only too obvious to our own King Henry the Eighth, who passed a law making it compulsory to plant all spare land with hemp, such was it’s nutritional and commercial importance.
It is interesting to note that in 1937, The National Institute of Oilseed products of the United States, reported to Congress that: “Hemp seed is used in all the oriental nations and Russia as food. It is grown in their fields and used as oatmeal. Millions of people every day are using hemp seed in the Orient as food. They have been doing this for many generations, especially in times of famine.”
The Composition of Hemp Seed Oil
Certain cultures so revered hemp seed oil that it was used in religious rituals. A substance being of such value was seen as given by God and needed no further examination and explanation. With contemporary techniques of analysis, we can reveal just what it is God has given us.
Hemp seed oil is the most balanced source of fatty acids known to man. Most modern authorities agree on this point. Patrick Holford, nutritionist and founder of the Institute of Optimum Nutrition, is one of them. In his latest book, The Optimum Nutrition Bible, the author said hemp seed oil “Is the most balanced source of essential fatty acids available”.
For those unfamiliar with essential fatty acid containing oils, different plant seeds are made up chemicals called fatty acids. Each particular oil having its own blend of fatty acids which gives it its own characteristic properties. The analysis of hemp seed oil below, gives you an idea of the complex make up of seed oils and the balanced nature of this oil.
Composition of Hemp Seed Oil. Pressed in Switzerland. Initial analysis done 26.3.96
Peroxidation value 3.18
Palmitic acid C16 5.8%
Palmitoleic acid C16:1 0.1%
Heptadecanolenic Acid C17.1 0.04%
Stearic acid C18 2.33%
Oleic Acid C18:1w9 11.12%
Linoleic Acid C18:2w6 56.53%
alpha-Linolenic acid C18:3aw3 18.75%
gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) C18:3gw3 2.67%
Stearidonic acid C18:4 1.06%
Eicosanoic acid C20:1 0.31%
Behenic acid C22 0.24%
Lignoceric acid C24 0.24%
Trace elements 0.07%
Taking a step back might make this table more interesting. Firstly, fatty acids are basically long chains of carbon atoms surrounded by hydrogen atoms. The carbon atoms have four bonding sites. In saturated fatty acids, each carbon atom is joined to the next carbon by a single bond and every other available bond is with a hydrogen atom. In unsaturated fatty acids some of the carbons have double bonds between them.
If there is one double bond, the fatty acid is referred to as a mono-unsaturated fatty acid. If more than one double bond exists in the molecule, it is called a polyunsaturated fatty acid. Saturated fatty acids, like those found in animal fats and dairy products, are detrimental to health whilst the unsaturated fatty acids are beneficial to health. This small molecular difference makes a vast difference! In the above analysis of hemp seed oil, I have underlined the unsaturated fatty acids. Hemp seed oil contains around 90% unsaturated fatty acids. This makes it the plant oil with the highest total unsaturated fatty acid content in nature.
There are two essential fatty acids, a -linolenic acid (an Omega –3 fatty acid) and linoleic acid (an Omega-6 fatty acid). These particular fatty acids are termed essential because the body cannot make them and we have to get them from our diet. Without them we suffer deficiency symptoms such as, dry, scaly skin, poor wound healing, increased susceptibility to infections and children fail to grow properly.
Hemp seed oil also has both the essential fatty acids present. If we look at the figures for these essential fatty acids in hemp seed oil, we see that they exist in a ratio of 3 linoleic to 1 a -linolenic. This thought to be the optimum balance for the human digestion and metabolism. No other commonly used vegetable oil has this ratio. Some supplement manufacturers have actually tried to create this balance artificially by blending different oils. In terms of composition then, hemp seed oil is the only naturally balanced source of fatty acids available.
The Modern Problem: Essential Fatty Acid Deficiency
We all know that modern living is hard on the body and mind. What is not always obvious is that our diet represents additional stress on the body. The food we eat may be plentiful, but it does not always contain that which we need. Empty food is a contemporary plague. This can be seen when one examines essential fatty acids.
When the average Western diet is analysed, some interesting points arise. The essential fatty acid linolenic acid (Omega-6) is found in a wide variety of plant seed oils that are used in food preparation such as corn oil, olive oil, rape seed oil, sesame seed oil, sunflower seed oil and soya oil.
a -linolenic acid however, is not so common in nature, being found in green leafy plants. It is easy to get linoleic acid (Omega-6 fatty acids) in the diet but not so easy to obtain a -linolenic acid (Omega-3 fatty acids). By the way, a -linolenic acid was first isolated in 1887 from hemp seed oil. People do not eat as many leafy vegetables as they once did and thus do not get the a -linolenic acid (Omega-3 fatty acids)
Adding to the difficulty; modern farming methods lead to the production of foods with less Omega-3 fatty acids. Wild plants are good sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, whilst cultivated plants are extremely low in these essential fatty acids. Interestingly the fat contained in red meat derived from farmed animals, contains little or no Omega-3 fatty acids due to the fact the animals have been fed on grain very high in Omega-6 fatty acids (e.g. corn) and low in Omega 3 fatty acids. The fat of free range animals that forage on wild plants high in Omega-3 fatty acids, can contain up to 4% more Omega-3 fatty acids, whilst the overall fat content of the animal is much lower than their intensively raised cousins.
Another example of the same can be found in the free range eggs. Free range chickens of course forage freely, naturally ingesting sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, whilst the battery chicken is fed a diet high in grains, like corn, containing high amounts of Omega-6 fatty acids. These eggs are then passed on through the food chain to the consumer who ends up deficient in Omega-3 fatty acids.
It is important to remember that mankind evolved in a world where we used to eat wild plants, wild animals and fish from the rivers and sea. These food sources provided us with the naturally high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids that modern, intensively farmed foods no not. Modern life is depriving us of our essential Omega-3 fatty acids and this is creating problems.
This is not theory. I have seen patients, particularly children, in my clinical work, whose blood assays reveal serious deficiencies in essential fatty acids. As you will see, the imbalance in our diet, resulting in a shortfall of essential fatty acids, is bound to have an effect on our bodies.
The Human Body and Essential Fatty Acids
Early on nutritionists thought that growth and development of the human body relied primarily upon the quantity of protein in the diet. While protein is essential, in the early 1980′s, it was shown that fats and particularly the essential fatty acids (linoleic.acid and a -linolenic acid) were just as important to human growth and development, if not more important than protein itself, particularly during foetal development and early childhood.
Today, nutritionists recommend that we should get 30% of our calories from fat. Of this fat, 70-80% should be in the form of unsaturated fats. In other words, the fat we eat should consist mainly of unsaturated fats. Vegetable seed oils provide the bulk of our unsaturated fat intake. Examples being corn, sunflower, olive, and rape (canola). oils. In the western diet, there are very few additional sources of these unsaturated fats. As research has continued on the essential fatty acids, it has been revealed just how “essential” these fatty acids are. Let’s summarise why they are so essential.
The Cell Membrane
Every cell in the body has a membrane or a wall around it consisting of two layers composed of phospholipids. Lipid is another word for fat and the essential fatty acids are the type of fats found incorporated into the structure of the cell membranes. So we can see that the essential fatty acids are important to integration of every cell in the body. They are like the cement holding together the bricks that make us up.
Beyond this structured feature, these lipids have a functional element. If you look at the cell membrane under the microscope, you will see that it is not just a smooth layer of lipids but looks more like a forest with molecules projecting from the surface like trees. These tree like projections are molecules designed for specific tasks. Being on the outer surface of the cell, they are bathed in the fluids of the body. Some of these projecting molecules are receptor sites for hormones or nervous impulses that once picked up, influence the functions of the cell. Some of these surface molecules are involved in signalling to the cells of immune systems when an infection is occurring. The cell membrane is like a sensory surface constantly in touch with the body fluids able to take what it needs to grow and develop. They help the cells adapt to changes in the internal environment of the body. The cell membrane does more than lend structure, it is highly functional. Without enough essential fatty acids the cell membrane cannot function properly and in the composite, the body cannot function properly.
Life starts on a cellular level. The essential fatty acids are integral players in the fundament of life and health. An example of when the surface molecules of the cell membrane become defective is when cells become cancerous. Abnormalities develop in the molecular structure on the surface of the cancer cell membrane resulting in it acting differently to normal cells. It is thought that these molecular abnormalities may be one of the reasons why cancer cells do not stay together, as cells in a normal tissue do.
Taking in adequate quantities of essential fatty acids in the diet has been associated with protection from cancer. When you think how important essential fatty acids are to the structural integrity of the cell membrane, this fact should come as no surprise. As cells go through their life cycle of growth, division and death the essential fatty acids are required. If we fall short, cellular abnormalities result. Cellular abnormalities are synonymous with cancer.
Fetal and Infant Development
One of the most important findings in recent times is as follows. As a baby develops in the womb, the Omega-3 fatty acid DHA, which is made in the body from a -linolenic acid, accumulates in the brain between the 26 th and 40 th weeks of pregnancy. If there is an insufficient supply, the brain cannot develop normally. In fact, this is the one instance where fatty acids may well prove to be more important to growth than protein.
The human brain develops during pregnancy and the first two years after birth. The mothers dietary intake of a balanced ratio of essential fatty acids and feeding of the child in the first two years is of critical importance to the intellectual and behavioural development of the child. If it does not occur, the brain cannot develop.
Maintenance of a Healthy Internal Environment
Apart from the pivotal role in the growth and function of all cells, the essential fatty acids are converted into substances called eicosanoids. Eicosanoids are short lived, hormone like chemicals found throughout the body that influence many important functions of the body. Bodily functions controlled by these substances include:
* Blood pressure control
* White blood cell function and the immune response
* Regulation of inflammation
* Stomach acid production
* Blood clotting
* The sexual response
* Pregnancy and childbirth
* Control of the muscles in the heart, gut and airways of the lungs
Eicosanoids are produced from Essential Fatty Acids and are used continuously by the body. As eicosanoids are essential to body function, and they are built upon Essential Fatty Acids, again we see the necessity for a steady dietary intake of these oils. Homeostasis depends upon the eicosanoids!
Some eicosanoids have beneficial effects on the body, others have effects which are harmful to health if present in excess. For example some eicosanoids cause the blood to clot while others stop the blood from clotting. Some eicosanoids promote inflammation others reduce inflammation. To simplify, most eicosanoids exist as coupled pairs. One eicosanoid will have positive effect while its partner will have a negative effect. In conditions of perfect health, a balance of eicosanoids exists.
There are three different types of eicosanoids. These different groups are known as series 1, series 2 and series 3. What we know is that the series 1 and 3 eicosanoids have beneficial effects on the body, whilst those in series 2 are bad for health. Series 1 eicosanoids are made in the body from linoleic acid (Omega-6 fatty acids). Series 3 eicosanoids are made from a -linoleic acid (Omega-3 fatty acids). Series 2 eicosanoids, the bad series, are made from saturated fats and animal fats in our diet.
Further to this, it has now been shown quite clearly, that we can adjust the levels of the different groups of eicosanoids by simply altering the types of fat consumed in our diet. As we need a balance between the series, we should ensure intake of a balanced portfolio of Essential Fatty Acids.
Dietary manipulation works both ways. We in the Western world are unwittingly adjusting eicosanoid levels toward the detrimental series 2 eicosanoids. We are doing this by eating a diet high in saturated fats derived from animal sources such as red meat, and by ingesting artificially hardened or saturated fats that are found in margarine. Eating these kinds of fats promotes formation of the series 2 eicosanoids with their potentially detrimental effects on our health.
On the positive side, using essential fatty acids such as hemp seed oil one can tip the scale in the favour of health. As they are so essential to health, there are very few conditions indeed which are not improved with a shift in the balance.
Why the Modern Western Diet Fails to Provide a Balance of Essential Fatty Acids. The Reasons Why We Need to Supplement Our Diet With Hemp Seed Oil
When the average Western diet is analysed, some interesting points arise. The essential fatty acid linolenic acid (Omega-6) is found in a wide variety of plant seed oils that are used in food preparation such as corn oil, olive oil, rape seed oil (commonly known in the U.K. as vegetable oil or canola oil in the U.S.A.), sesame seed oil, sunflower seed oil and soya oil.
However a -linolenic acid is not so common in nature, being found in green leafy plants. So in other words, it is easy to get linoleic acid (Omega-6 fatty acids) in the diet but not so easy to obtain a -linolenic acid (Omega-3 fatty acids). a -linolenic acid was first isolated in 1887 from hemp seed oil, but it is only in the last 15 years that the importance of this Omega-3 fatty acid has been realised.
Adding to the difficulty, modern farming methods lead to the production of food with even less Omega-3 fatty acids. Wild plants are good sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, whilst cultivated plants are extremely low in these essential fatty acids. Interestingly the fat contained in red meat derived from farmed animals, contains little or no Omega-3 fatty acids due to the fact the animals have been fed on grain very high in Omega-6 fatty acids (e.g. corn) and low in Omega 3 fatty acids. The fat of free range animals that forage on wild plants high in Omega-3 fatty acids, can contain up to 4% Omega-3 fatty acids, whilst the overall fat content of the animal is much lower than their domestic cousins.
Another example of the same can be found in the free range eggs. Free range chickens of course forage freely, naturally ingesting sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, whilst the battery chicken is fed a diet high in grains, like corn, containing high amounts of Omega-6 fatty acids. These eggs are then passed on through the food chain to the consumer who ends up deficient in Omega-3 fatty acids.
It is important to remember that mankind evolved in a world where we used to eat wild plants, wild animals and fish from the rivers and sea. These food sources provided us with the naturally high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids that modern, intensive farming robs us of. Modern life is depriving us of our essential Omega-3 fatty acids.
This is not theory. I have seen patients, particularly children, in my clinical work, whole blood assays reveal deficiencies in essential fatty acids. The imbalance in our diet is effecting the way our bodies do business.
In the body, a -linolenic acid is converted into eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and doscoso-hexanoic acid (DHA) which are then the direct precursors of the beneficial series-3 eico-sanoids. This connection between a -linolenic acid, EPA, DHA and the production of the eicosanoids of series 3, was first made in 1979.
Following this discovery, intense work began, until in 1985 the connection between series 3 eicosanoids and the protection they offer against heart disease was officially recognised. During 1985 there was a series of papers that appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine, showing how people with a diet high in Omega-3 fatty acids, were protected from heart disease, because they were able to make lots of series 3 eicosanoids, which lowered blood pressure, reduced blood clotting and lowered blood fats. Also it was shown that high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids in the diet helped reduce inflammatory response in the body allowing the body to form anti-inflammatory eicosanoids and were useful adjuncts in the treatment of such conditions as:
• Rheumatoid arthritis;
• Psoriasis; and
On top of this, the role of Omega-3 fatty acids in the prevention on cancer came to be realised.
EPA and DHA are also found in fish oils, but again modern man is not getting the benefit. This is because are best sources are Pacific herring, King mackerel, Chinook salmon and sea mammals like whales and seals, all of which are pretty scarce in our diet. Also the most popular fish, cod is low in Omega-3 fatty acids and our farmed salmon is high in Omega-6 fatty acids because they are fed grain high in Omega-6 fatty acids. Again farming and mass production is leading to deficiency of Omega-3 fatty acids in the food
chain. Putting all the dietary factors above together, it is not difficult to see why it is now thought that most people in the Western world are deficient in Omega-3 fatty acids and we could all top up our levels with hemp seed oil .
Using Hemp Seed Oil For Health
What we are witnessing at the moment a slow but steady rise in the numbers of various practitioners using hemp seed oil. In the main, it is used now by nutritionists and slowly but surely good results are being reported them and their patients.
As we have seen, hemp seed oil works by providing the body with high levels of the essential fatty acids a -linolenic acid and linoleic acid. These fatty acids are then converted by the body into the beneficial series 1 and series 3 eicosanoids which then exert a multitude of positive effects on the body. I will now mention a few situations in which hemp seed oil can improve.
The Cardiovascular System
In the body, a -linolenic acid is converted into eicosapentonoic acid (EPA) and doscosohexanoic acid (DHA) which are then the direct precursors of the beneficial series-3 eicosanoids. The connection between a -linolenic acid, EPA, DHA and the production of the eicosanoids of series 3, was first made in 1979. Following this discovery, intense work began. In 1985, the connection between series 3 eicosanoids and the protection they offer against heart disease became clear. In 1985 there was a series of papers that appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine. In these articles, it was demonstrated that people with a diet high in Omega 3 fatty acids were protected from heart disease. This was thought to be the case , because they were able to make lots of series 3 eicosanoids, which lowered blood pressure, reduced blood clotting and lowered blood fats.
This is the system where most research and clinical studies have been carried out with the essential fatty acids. The essential fatty acids of hemp seed oil have been shown to lead to the following effects;
*Lower blood pressure
*Relax blood vessel walls
*Decrease blood clotting/thin the blood
*Decrease LDL and VLDL levels whilst raising HDL levels
(VLDL,LDL and HDL are carriers for cholesterol, moving it around the body via the blood stream. Research has shown that high HDL levels and low LDL and VLDL levels are indicators of a healthy cardiovascular system and vice versa).
*Lower triglyceride levels (Triglyceride is a bad fat and the lower the levels of it are in the blood, the healthier you are).
*Reduce platelet stickiness. (Platelets are the major blood component involved in the clotting process and hardening of the arteries. The more sticky they are the more the blood clots and vice versa).
What this means is that these essential fatty acids clean fat out of the blood vessels, reduce blood pressure, slow blood pressure, slow blood clotting and reduce the tendency to hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis). Hemp seed oil can be seen as the anti-vascular disease oil. It can of course be used to stop these conditions from occurring in the first place and be used to treat these conditions once they have appeared. I have seen a major benefit derived from increasing essential fatty acid intake in the patients suffering from the following: angina, high blood pressure, intermittent claudification, varicose veins and thrombosis, Raynaud’s disease.
What is more, it is never too late to start taking the essential fatty acids. People who have had heart attacks for example are prone to heart rhythm abnormalities which are often fatal. It has been shown that essential fatty acids, particularly after a heart attack actually reduces the chances of these heart irregularities occurring. On top of this, it has been shown that people having operations on blood vessels after heart attacks, are far more successful if the patient is given high doses of essential fatty acids.
It is interesting to note that hemp seed oil also contains oleic acid, an Omega-9 fatty acid that is also found in olive oil. Oleic acid is thought to contribute to the thinning of the blood and may well explain why Mediterranean people have lower levels of heart disease. The allopaths give blood thinners to heart attack patients Why not give hemp seed oil which has so many beneficial activities.
The Nervous System
As we saw earlier development of the brain during foetal life and for the first two years of life requires high levels of essential fatty acids. Low levels of essential fatty acids during this phase of development is now being linked with intellectual and behavioural disturbances in the child.
In my clinic I have come across many children who have hyperactivity and or attention deficit disorder. These children generally respond well to treatment with balanced essential fatty acids, hemp seed oil as an example. Interestingly, giving children oils which are not balanced can have a detrimental effect. I have noticed that oils like linseed, which has high levels of Omega-3 and no Omega-6 fatty acids, or evening primrose oil, which is high in Omega-6 fatty and has no Omega-3 fatty acids, can actually make the child appear worse. This is an interesting statement in regards using a balanced oil versus an oil which is not balanced.
Another use for the essential fatty acid is as a treatment for depression. Nerve cells need high quantities of fatty acids for their membranes to operate properly. Nerve cells communicate with each other by numerous junctions where the membranes join. Cell membrane integrity therefore, is of the utmost importance in nerve impulse transmission. I have found patients suffering from depression feel much better after taking hemp seed oil for a period of time.
The Immune System
I have found the addition of hemp seed oil in a wide range of immune related diseases to be highly effective. This includes hypersensitivity (allergies), auto-immune diseases, and conditions based on hypo-immunity.
The effects of essential fatty acids in allergic disorders (eczema, asthma, hay fever, urticaria, angiodema, etc.) have been well studied. These conditions all share the same underlying reaction. Basically, certain cells of the immune system, such as mast cells are hypersensitive to various allergens. In the presence of such an allergen, these cells release various eicosaniods of the series 2 variety which leads to inflammation and the classic signs of these conditions. By taking hemp seed oil, you elevate levels of the series 1 and 3 eicosanoids, which are powerfully anti-inflammatory. Thus the addition of the hemp seed oil helps to overcome the allergic response.
As we saw earlier it is thought, due to modern food processing etc. that most people are in fact deficient in the Omega-3 fatty acids. Allergic disorders have never been more common. This has led some authorities to suggest that the deficiency of Omega-3′s, particularly during childhood, leads to a predominance of the series 2 eicosanoids in the body. This is said to increase the chance of allergic reactions. Another good reason to add hemp seed oil to the diet!
In auto-immune disease, the immune system is actually attacking its own tissues. There are a large number of auto-immune diseases and most have an inflammatory nature. Many of the auto-immune diseases I treat respond favourably to hemp seed oil.
Of particular interest is the condition systematic lupus erythematosus. It responds well to hemp seed oil and as it is pretty difficult to treat otherwise. This is probably down to the increase in series 1 and 3 eicosanoids.
Immuno-deficiency it seems is the modern scourge. Not only from the point of view of well defined diseases like HIV and AIDS but in terms of post viral syndrome, ME and the like. Modern living seems to be running our immune systems down. Don’t forget, one of the signs of an essential fatty acid deficiency is an increased susceptibility to infections! Cells of the immune system are high turnover cells, continuously being replaced, carrying out their job and dying. To replenish these vitally important cells, you must have adequate quantities of essential fatty acids in the diet. In all cases of lowered immunity, hemp seed oil is excellent addition to the regimen.
The essential fatty acids have a pivotal role in the health of the skin. Skin cells are turned over at a rapid rate and therefore, like all rapidly dividing cells, they need a constant supply of the essential fatty acids. When a person becomes deficient in the essential fatty acids, particularly Omega-6 fatty acids, one of the first and obvious symptoms is a dry, scaly skin disorder. This also extends to the skin appendages. The nails and hair also become weak and brittle. This shows how directly involved in the health of the skin the essential fatty acids are. People with poor diets often complain of dry skin and in my experience, hemp seed oil is the answer.
I have found that eczema, of the dry and scaling variety responds favourably to hemp seed oil, used internally and externally. Hemp seed oil is certainly good for eczema and a host of other skin diseases. I have used it in eczema/dermatitis, seborrhoeic dermatitis/cradle cap, varicose eczema, psoriasis, lichen planus, and acne roseacea.
In almost all cases I have obtained good results. As a lot of skin diseases have an inflammatory component, this is no great surprise.
Do not forget that by using hemp seed oil, the skin is strengthened therefore made better able to resist bacterial, viral and fungal infection.
The Digestive System
Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are both chronic inflammatory diseases of the bowel. Once again, hemp seed oil with its capacity to generate the anti-inflammatory eicosanoids, can make a big difference. I now automatically put my patients with these conditions on hemp seed oil. I do this not only for the anti-inflammatory effect but also because these patients often suffer mal-absorption. They and are desperate for nutrient rich foods like hemp seed oil. It is important to note that hemp seed oil is well tolerated by the gut in these patients.
The Female Reproductive System
This is the one area of medicine where the essential fatty acids have become a standard treatment by both orthodox and complimentary practitioners. Unfortunately, the major fatty acid source used in this instance has been evening primrose oil with its high GLA content and borage oil with its even higher GLA content. Pure GLA capsules have entered the market based on the popularity of evening primrose oil.
Whilst these oils are great for the quick fix, they should never to taken for extended periods of time. The reason for this is that although they are high in GLA and linoleic acid, they may actually depress the metabolism of Omega-3 fatty acids. Research is now showing that long term abuse of GLA may actually contribute to the development of breast cancer. What is required is a balanced oil and neither of these oils offers that balance.
The advantage of using Hemp seed oil is that it can be taken on a continual basis. Evening primrose and borage should be used on an 8 weeks on 4 weeks off schedule. Having said that, the best application for the essential fatty acids with regard to the menstrual cycle is dysmenorrhoea, period pains and menstrual cramps.
Womb pain is caused by contraction of the uterine muscles in response to the presence of a series 2 eicosanoids. Overcoming this series 2 eicosanoid with the good series 1 and 3 is easy with hemp seed oil and greatly reduces the severity of the cramps.
Another benefit of hemp seed oil is reduction of breast inflammation and tenderness that often happens around the time of menstruation. Again, if a woman is thinking of getting pregnant, is already pregnant, or breast-feeding, not only can she take hemp seed oil, she should take hemp seed oil. Some women suffer extreme problems after birth with exhaustion and hair loss and even full blown depression, here again hemp seed oil proves of immense benefit.
The Musculo-Skeletal System
Arthritis and other joint problems are probably some of the commonest problems to present to us as herbalists. This is another area where the benefits of essential fatty acids have been shown and an area where you can see results in your patients. Whilst arthritis (of all kinds) is not totally curable; relief of pain, inflammation and stiffness can improve the quality of life immensely.
Hemp seed oil is a perfect daily supplement for arthritics, providing a continuous supply of the anti-inflammatory eicosanoids. Clinical trials have been carried out on arthritics who have been given essential fatty acids. Results specifically show improvement in pain and the number of joints swollen. The types of articular problems that benefit from hemp seed oil include rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, and juvenile arthritis.
These are disorders where the persons immune system is actually attacking their own tissues. There are a large number of auto-immune diseases and most have an inflammatory nature.
Of particular interest is the condition systematic lupus erythematosus, which responds well to hemp seed oil and as it is pretty difficult to treat otherwise, it is nice to know there is something that helps. Apart from SLE, any auto-immune condition can be approached with hemp seed oil.
Whilst essential fatty acids are certainly not a cure, there are a number of trials that have been carried out on various types of cancer, where it has been shown that regular protection against cells turning malignant.
The mechanism for this protection is in the essential fatty acids ability to enhance the integrity of cell membranes and cell structure, which reduces the likelihood of them mutating.
Diabetes and Its Complications
It has been shown that the essential fatty acids, particularly GLA, help protect the nerves and blood vessels from the complications of diabetes and this could prove to an area of fertile research in future. In the meantime, it is certainly worth recommending hemp seed oil to your diabetic patients.
Having specialised in this area for some years now, I can report that hemp seed oil helps in the treatment of male impotence. The mechanism of action appears to have to do with the prostaglandin PGEI, a series 1-Omega-6 Group. PGEI is now actually a prescription drug, powerful endorsement indeed for its use in impotence.
Life Benefit from Hemp Seed Oil Intake
As we have seen, many pathologies are improved with its use. Before closing I would like to point out several groups that I have found especially helped with the addition of hemp seed oil to the daily regimen. Certain people, because of the way they live require more essential fatty acids than others. Obviously people with poor diets qualify.
• Alcohol limits the conversion of essential fatty acids to eicosanoids; so if you drink heavily, you will need more essential fatty acids.
• Athletes need high intakes of essential fatty acids to ensure repair and strengthening of muscle tissue.
• People on weight loss diets should be careful not to eliminate the essential fatty acids from their diet. If unsure, take hemp seed oil. This may actually help you lose weight, as when your body has adequate supplies of essential fatty acids it is happy to let go of the storage.
Though these previously mentioned groups can be helped by hemp seed oil, indeed most people could use a dose of this daily tonic. The stresses and strains of modern living effects some more than others. Some develop obvious pathologies that demand attention, others do not manifest the effects of this strain so obviously. The demanding nature of life as we approach the year 2000 is hard on everyone and therefore, everyone is a candidate for hemp seed oil.
As we age, the enzymes that convert the essential fatty acids to eicosanoids become less effective. To overcome this, take hemp seed oil.
Also, it has been shown, that as we age, the retina in the eye gradually loses its supply of essential fatty acids, which may be responsible for age related visual decline. Again taking hemp seed oil helps maintain essential fatty acid levels in the retina.
Immuno-deficiency is it seems the modern scourge. Not only from the point of view of well defined diseases like HIV and AIDS but in terms of post viral syndrome, ME and the like. Modern living seems to be running our immune systems down. Don’t forget, one of the signs of an essential fatty acid deficiency is an increased susceptibility to infections.
Cells of the immune system are high turnover cells, continuously being reproduced, carrying out their job and dying. To replenish these vitally important cells you must have adequate quantities of essential fatty acids in the diet. In all cases of lowered immunity, hemp seed oil is excellent.
Combining Hemp Seed Oil with Drugs
The essential fatty acids are powerful therapeutic agents. Modern research is looking at how essential fatty acids combine with drugs.
From the above, we can see that these fatty acids can lower blood pressure, stop blood clotting, reduce inflammation etc. Treatment of a patient with hemp seed oil should therefore take account of the drugs that a person is taking. The conditions in which the essential fatty acids have been shown to have synergistic effects with drugs are:
• Ulcerative colitis; and
• Auto-immune disorders.
This effect can actually be taken advantage of to reduce drug intake and therefore limit potential side effects of orthodox medications. One area where this is particularly useful is in the patient who takes NSAID’s for arthritis and may be getting stomach upsets from them. Hemp seed oil can step in to reduce the burden on the stomach, whilst exerting its own anti-inflammatory benefits.
The Effective Dosage of Hemp Seed Oil
The oil is available in liquid form. As a granular supplement 5 ml, (one teaspoonful) is all that is required. This is best taken with food. It has a pleasant nutty taste and is therefore easy to administer to children.
For the treatment of the above conditions, you take 5 ml three time daily. This may be taken all at once or divided into three 5ml doses. Again taken with food. The highest daily dose I have used with patients is 40 ml daily. Even high dosages are well tolerated and no side effects have ever been observed.
Why Hemp Seed Oil is Better Than Evening Primrose Oil, Borage Oil and Other Fatty Acid Supplements
In response to the discovery of the pivotal role of essential fatty acids in human development and the prevention of disease, drug companies and the manufacturers of health food products began making capsules containing oils pressed from seeds with concentrations of essential fatty acids. The first popular supplement to get the publics attention was evening primrose oil.
Evening primrose oil is indeed high in essential fatty acids, being a particularly rich source of linoleic and other acids. Both Omega-6 fatty acids are essential to health. However, evening primrose oil is startlingly low in a -linolenic acid. Borage oil, a more recent addition to the shelves is even higher in Omega-6 fatty acids, but again deficient in Omega-3 fatty acid. Cod liver oil has EPA and DHA, but has no linoleic acid and high levels of vitamins A and D, making this supplement potential toxic in high doses.
Fish oil supplements, which are oils pressed from the flesh of certain fish like salmon or obtained from certain shellfish, are also available and are high in Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) but have no Omega-6 fatty acids (linoleic acid). However, these supplements are much more expensive and are certainly not acceptable to everyone as a source of Omega-3 fatty acids. They are of no use to vegetarians or those with an allergy to fish or shellfish. Incidentally, vegetarians and the children of vegetarian mothers are at a potentially higher risk of Omega-3 fatty acid deficiency than omnivores because most commercial grains in the diet of vegetarians are high in Omega-6 fatty acids and startlingly low in Omega-3 fatty acids. Hemp seed oil is the vegetarian cod liver oil – and more besides.
What has happened with the marketing of these seed oil supplements is that consumers of them have been taking vast amounts of
Omega-6 fatty acids or vast amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids, with no thought given to balance. Certain individuals are taking well over the required amounts linoleic and gamma-linolenic acid. Some researchers now even point out the detrimental effects of long term intake of high levels of Omega-6 fatty acids particularly gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). What has been forgotten in all the hype surrounding these supplements is that we need a balance of of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids . We need to have the raw materials for production of series 3 as well as series 1 eicosanoids. It is now thought that taking high amounts of Omega-6 fatty acids (as in high doses of evening primrose oil) actually inhibits the metabolism of the Omega-3 fatty acids; which again tells us that we should be looking for a natural balance .
Over the last few years, it is the Omega-6 fatty acids that have had centre stage commercially and in the mind of the consumer, but modern research is gradually pushing the Omega-3 fatty acids to the forefront as their powerful health benefits are proved and the importance of balancing Omega-6 fatty acid intake with the Omega-3 fatty acids is realised.
The Future of Hemp Seed Oil
As we have seen in the historical perspective above, hemp seed oil is certainly not a new idea, it has been around for the millennia. It has only be forgotten about in the modern day clamp down on Cannabis. However, research into the essential fatty acids and hemp seed oil itself, is bringing this, the most balanced source of essential fatty acids to the publics attention once again. As we have seen it has the perfect balance between Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids for human needs and that is unique in the seed oil world, blowing evening primrose, borage and linseed out of the water. I have shown how modern man through food processing and poor dietary habits has become deficient in Omega-3 fatty acids and how hemp seed is the only oil able to fill this need adequately and right our dietary wrongs which leave us susceptible to illnesses ranging from hyperactivity to auto-immunity.
This modern appreciation of the pivotal role of essential fatty acid in human health, goes hand in hand with government legislation that once again allows farmers to grow hemp under license in the U.K. and abroad (giving us fresh seed). Of course in the eastern block and China no such impediment to hemp was ever experienced, as the peoples in these poorer economies could never afford to do away with such a vital commodity.
I have spent many years researching hemp seed oil, and prescribing it to my patients; now the time has come to take it to a wider audience.
It is important to state that the hemp oil described above is derived from crops that are grown under government license and contain no psychoactive drugs or illegal substances at any time.
History: A traditional health source for many ancient cultures
Science:Made active by high levels of essential fatty acids
Practitioners’ Opinion: An excellent dietary addition for whatever ails
Disclaimer: The author makes no guarantees as to the the curative effect of any herb or tonic on this website, and no visitor should attempt to use any of the information herein provided as treatment for any illness, weakness, or disease without first consulting a physician or health care provider. Pregnant women should always consult first with a health care professional before taking any treatment.