What's the real reason that nutritious hemp and hemp seed oil have a checkered past? Find out if the benefits of hemp outweigh its historical stigma.
Hemp seeds are a nutty food source considered by leading researchers to be one of the most nutritious superfoods on the planet...but US farmers are not allowed to grow them.
So what is all the buzz about hemp seeds and hemp seed oil?
Hemp seeds come from the plant Cannibus sativa L. Sound kind of familiar? In fact, the hemp plant is often confused with the marijuana plant because they are of the same family (Cannibus) and closely resemble one another.
Because of this, hemp has had a checkered past and the debate continues even today.
The hemp "seed" is actually an achene: a simple dry fruit with a hard shell, just like sunflower seeds. It is considered one of the most versatile and economical plants, with many uses from food to biofuel.
Here are just some of hemp's many uses:
Historically, the most famous hemp seed consumer was Buddha himself, who ate them during his fast of enlightenment.
In fact, hemp was the fabric used in the original Levis jeans, but the fabric had to be abandoned by Levis due to lack of supply.
Hemp seeds are nutrient-powerhouses containing:
Eating hemp seeds in any form could aid, if not heal, people suffering from immune deficiency diseases. This conclusion is supported by the fact that hemp seed has been used to treat nutritional deficiencies brought on by tuberculosis, a severe nutrition blocking disease that causes the body to waste away.3
Hemp seed oil has been attributed to helping: increase energy, soften skin, relieve arthritis and normalize blood cholesterol.
So why does hemp carry a stigma?
It's all about the Cannibus species...the controversy is over how much THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient responsible for the "high" from smoking marijuana) is in hemp.
According to the hemp growers industry, industrial hemp grown for food, fuel and natural fibers contains virtually no THC (less than .3%).
In fact, when hemp is processed into hemp seed oil and hemp seed milk, for example, it further reduces the minute amount of THC in hemp.
And yet, there's still a stigma due to the long-standing idea that hemp and marijuana are one in the same. Hemp is actually categorized with marijuana as part of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 and is therefore illegal to grow in the US.
A few years ago, because of issues with drug testing, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) actually tried to pass a law banning the sale of hemp products (that were ingested or applied) in the US. This caused health food stores, like Whole Foods, to pull hemp products off the shelves. After additional research from Canada, it was found that drug tests did not confuse hemp and marijuana, nor did hemp products create the "high" associated with marijuana.
So where do we get our hemp?
Imports...industrial hemp is legal to grow in just about every industrialized country, so the US relies on imported hemp seeds from countries like Canada.
Whether you choose to consume hemp products or not, one thing's for sure: there's nothing that creates a better "high" than optimal health.