by guest blogger Lisa Bronner, writer of the blog Going Green with a Bronner Mom
There are a lot of superlative claims about hemp oil: most unsaturated oil, best essential fatty acids (EFA) ratio and combination, highest amino acid variety, only plant source of vitamin D. Can one oil be all that? In short, yes.
Before we go further, let me address that unspoken question, “Will hemp oil make me high?” No, it won’t. Hemp oil is pressed from the seed of the hemp plant, and this seed does not contain THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the psychoactive component of marijuana. However, because of this concern, many hemp oil suppliers provide transparent certifications to assure buyers of the lack of THC content in their products. Test Pledge is one such resource, wherein “producers and processors of hemp oil and hemp nut must commission THC tests on each and every lot of hemp nut and oil, performed by a properly accredited laboratory according to the official Health Canada protocol.”
In their assessment of hemp cosmetics on workplace drug testing, Petra Pless, DEnv, and Gero Leson, D Env, state, “In case of the highly unlikely full-body application of pure hemp oil with a 10 ppm THC content on partially compromised skin THC uptake could conceivably be raised to 11 µg/day. Even this higher rate is only a fraction of the 450 µg/day of oral THC intake, found not to result in a positive screening test for marijuana.”
Don’t judge hemp because it may have a kooky cousin. That’s hardly fair. Who doesn’t have an offbeat family member or two?
Hemp oil contains unsurpassed essential fatty acids (EFAs). As we are increasingly learning, there are good fats and there are bad fats. What makes a good fat good has much to do with these EFAs, specifically omega-3 and omega-6, which are present in hemp oil in the perfect ratio of 1:3. Plus, hemp oil contains the anti-inflammatory gamma linoleic acid (GLA) as well as omega-9. Its fatty acid profile is better than fish oil’s, better than flaxseed oil’s—it is the best. Among many benefits, these EFAs provide for more elastic skin and shiny, stronger hair.
Hemp oil contains a power-packed punch of additional nutrients, including calcium, potassium, magnesium, copper, vitamin A, vitamin B1 (thiamin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5, vitamin B9 (folate), and vitamin D (of which it is the only plant source), along with a useful dose of the antioxidant vitamin E (tocopherols) as well as all 10 amino acids for protein building. Add to that list chlorophyll (that’s why it’s green), phytosterols, phospholipids, magnesium, sulfur, potassium, phosphorus, and a bit of iron and zinc.
Hemp oil is extremely non-comodogenic. In other words, it doesn’t clog pores. And because its lipids mirror the lipids that our skin produces naturally, it works in sync with our body to soothe and cleanse. Healthy skin produces linoleic acid. If, for whatever reason, the skin can’t produce linoleic acid, it alternatively produces oleic acid, a thick and sticky pore blocker. Hemp oil contains the good linoleic acid.
Hemp oil is also a natural humectant, which means it draws moisture into the skin. Instead of sitting on top of the skin the way less-effective oils do, it’s able to penetrate the skin, moisturizing between cells and strengthening the cell matrix. It can get to hair roots, as well, strengthening the scalp and reducing dry flaking or dandruff. It evens out skin tone and reduces blotchiness.
How to Use It
Hemp oil is inexpensive—especially when you think of all the products it replaces: acne treatments, makeup to cover problem areas, moisturizers, and makeup removers, for instance. Here are just a few ways you can use this effective oil in your daily skin and hair care routines.
- Alleviate dry skin. Rub the oil directly onto dry, cracked skin. For a deep conditioning treatment for hands and feet, massage in the oil then wear socks or gloves overnight to let it work its magic.
- Strengthen nails and heal cuticles. Massage a small amount of hemp oil directly into nails and cuticles—great for both fingernails and toenails.
- Remove makeup. Oil follows the “like dissolves like” rule, which means that hemp oil will dissolve the oils and waxes in makeup, especially in stubborn eye makeup. Gently rub a small amount of oil into the makeup and wipe with a cotton ball or a soft tissue.
- Mask overnight. Massage hemp oil into cleansed facial skin before bedtime.
- Steam facial skin. Massage a tablespoon of oil into the skin on your dry, clean face, massaging for several minutes. Then lay a hot (not scalding) damp washcloth over your face and let it sit until it cools. Wipe with the washcloth. Repeat with another hot washcloth until all the oil is wiped off. Washing your face afterwards is optional.
- Condition hair. Before shampooing, massage a tablespoon or so of hemp oil into your scalp and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Afterwards, shampoo as normal. You might find you don’t need conditioner.
- Reduce acne. This may sound crazy, but this oil actually reduces acne. Massage hemp oil into problem areas and work it in gently for several minutes. The oil will actually draw out sebum plugs that cause whiteheads, blackheads, and even cysts. Do this daily during breakouts.
- Relieve eczema. A 2005 study found that 2 tablespoons of dietary hemp seed oil consumed daily may help relieve the effects of atopic dermatitis, or eczema.
- Support overall health. Eat it. You can eat it straight and enjoy its nutty flavor or you can put it in salad dressings, as a butter replacement on toast, rice, potatoes, vegetables…it’s delicious! Keep in mind that pure hemp seed oil cannot be used for high-heat cooking. It has a low smoke point and will totally break down even at a moderate heat, at which point all nutritional benefits are lost.
Just remember, pure hemp seed oil goes rancid easily. It needs to be kept in the fridge. However, you can look for it as a shelf-stable ingredient in other personal care products.
Lisa Bronner is the writer of the blog Going Green with a Bronner Mom, in connection with her family’s company, Dr. Bronner’s, makers of best-selling organic personal care products. Through her writing and public speaking, Lisa guides consumers through the quagmire of the organic marketplace and simplifies the process of green living at home. Embracing the concept of stewardship, she recognizes individuals’ ability to make a world of difference by how they live their every day. A stay-at-home mom to three, she believes that regularly gathering with them around the family dinner table is the single most important parenting act in her day.