Heard about CBD or Hemp oil but don’t believe the hype? Want to get the real picture on what health benefits hemp oil actually provides? Well look no further. We’ve put together a complete walkthrough so you can get the run down:
- Introduction – why does CBD benefit our health
- History of hemp oil for therapeutic purposes
- What does the scientific research say about hemp oil’s therapeutic benefits?
- How does hemp extract deliver its benefits
- Mental health benefits
- Physical health benefits
- Mood and well being boosts
- Conclusion on how hemp can boost your health
Why does hemp oil benefit our health?
You’ve probably heard about CBD (‘Cannabidiol’) oil and the wide range of health benefits its advocate’s promote. But are the claims true? Let’s take a look at what the real effects of hemp oil’s health benefits and what it can really deliver.
Historical use of hemp oil for its benefits
Firstly – a quick overview of its historical use for therapeutic purposes. A number of societies across the world have used hemp oil since ancient times. These cultures understood its potential as an agent of restoration and inflammation reduction, employing it as a tool to help manage ailments.
How Ancient Rome Used Hemp Oil Therapeutically
Archaeologists and historians uncovered a number of surprising discoveries about the use of hemp in ancient roman society. Like many other cultures around the world, the romans understood (likely through trial or error, or by learning from other cultures and travellers) that hemp had an ability to reduce the impact or help alleviate ailments like body aches and pains in different areas like the head or stomach.
Ancient Greece – Early Users of Hemp Oil
The Greeks and Romans had numerous interactions over history in ancient times, often learning and developing from the knowledge or experience of their neighbours. This knowledge also came from travellers and traders from surrounding regions and states which brought new and useful tools or products.
One of these was hemp – the Greeks realised it had properties that could help with inflammation, anxiety and sleep. They also came to learn that many of these benefits applied to animals too and administered the product to horses and dogs to help with their pain.
Hemp’s application as a means of healing was written about numerous times in Greek scripts. In fact the oldest ever reference to hemp being used to treat the body and mind is when Herodotus wrote of the Scythians (a nomadic Central Asian horse warrior tribe similar to the Mongols) who would use it with their baths in steam to relax and cleanse.
Middle East and Egypt’s Use of Hemp Extract
Thousands of years before even the Greeks and Romans had encountered CBD oil, the substance was well known and used through the middle east. Hemp and hemp extract has its origins in the middle east, where hemp grows naturally in the high mountain peaks that link Europe and Asian between Turkey and Afghanistan.
As Herodotus outlined, the ancient Scythians were firm proponents of hemp as a therapeutic substance in oil and steam form. This society was nomadic and would come to use the plant for a range of purposes, particularly to help with pains and to calm the mind from stress. Nomads like the Scythians would eventually bring the product to Europe where the Romans and Greeks found its uses.
Middle Eastern cultures knew of the plant, its oil and the real benefits it could deliver well before this though. Thousands of years before Christ the realms of the Egyptians had uncovered hemp through travellers and developed their own methods of ingesting hemp oil in addition to using it for topical pain relief. Its prolific use across the Middle East by the kingdoms in Assyria, ancient Babylon and Persia were also evidence of CBD oil’s extensive use historically by highly developed, advanced cultures.
What does the science say about the therapeutic benefits of CBD Oil?
Science has shown these ancient cultures were right. Hemp oil works. Hemp extract contains two amazing compounds which deliver a huge payload of health boosters. What are these? Cannabinoids and phytocannabinoids. The cannabinoid family provides all the mental and physical relief of hemp without getting you high as it contains no psychoactive THC.
Interest and studies on CBD began in the mid 20th century, rapidly picking up in both pace and popularity once scientists realised the powerful, pragmatic compounds they had discovered. Towards the late 20th century it was revealed that both human and many animal bodies such as dogs contain cannabinoid receptors. This was a revelation. In other words – our bodies were physically designed by nature to be able to take in and use hemp compounds for different purposes.
It was discovered that hemp oil triggers certain chemicals to release that the human body actually produces itself that result in its range of health benefits like reduced inflammation markers. Yet while much is known about hemp and its healthy payload of effects, there is still much to be uncovered and a lot that is not yet proven or known by science. Clinical and double blind trials are seeing a massive increase in focus and breadth for hemp oil and related products, with hundreds of ongoing animal and human trials currently progressing to derive deeper understanding of this product’s deep and complex interactions with the body.
How does hemp oil work in your body?
All humans (including you) have a bodily system known as the endocannabinoid system. Other important bodily systems or functions actually ‘speak’ to this system and are linked to it which is how hemp triggers different responses and benefits. In particular the brain and stomach are able to receive signals from the endocannabinoid system which help to regulate and improve mood, reduce anxiety, improve sleep and reduce stress, manage appetite and help with some types of pain.
Note that many of these effects have been shown in animals and not yet humans. There are many ongoing clinical studies happening which may eventually show the techniques used by the ancients with hemp (see above) and its oils really were helping their bodies and minds.
How exactly does hemp extract communicate with your body though? It interacts with two key receptors known as CB1 and CB2. The difference between these is that CB1 is present in the central nervous system – including the spinal cord and brain – while CB2 is located in different bodily organs like the spleen (important organ for immune system function) as well as pancreas, liver and blood.
Essentially the cannabinoid compound binds with these receptors when hemp oil is ingested, causing them to trigger and release other proteins or compounds that stimulate the renowned physical and mental benefits cbd oil is known for. There are two surprising facts about this. One is that the body already contains the ability and resources to generate these powerful effects itself through release of certain self-made chemicals. The other is that these receptors are present in every human. You’re born with them. In other words, the body is literally designed to be able to ingest and use hemp to derive benefits.
Ok – so what are the actual health improving effects this mechanism drives?
Mood enhancement and stress reduction from hemp oil
Firstly let’s start with the ‘softer’ mood effects. Hemp oil is renowned for its ability to calm the nerves and help people relax. Its warm, relaxing feeling enables many users to feel at ease even when stressed or anxious. This therapeutic property relates to its abilities for anxiety reduction.
Stress in the mind and body is caused by a hormone called Cortisol which has many triggers. It results in harm for both the body and mind, higher blood pressure and accelerated heart rates even when resting which can cause cardiovascular issues and reduce overall well being. It also can be a root cause of many anxiety conditions, particularly for people who are overworked and lacking in sleep where cortisol builds over time.
Hemp oil reduces these negative effects by relaxing the mind. Many studies have shown the efficacy of hemp in mitigating anxiety. A long term randomised trial study showed hemp oil greatly improved the anxiety measures across around 70 patients by nearly 80%.
Similarly, one of the top peer reviewed pharmacology journals (the Journal of Pharmacology) demonstrated that hemp oil can reduce anxiety at high doses significantly in double blind trials. The study revealed that against the placebo tests, the subjects given CBD oil had an anxiolytic (anxiety inhibiting) effect that helped to calm the patient.
It’s important to note that studies with higher dosages or more concentrated hemp extracts were able to deliver better results against placebo (i.e. where subjects took no substance).
Anxiety reduction and brain benefits (neuroprotection)
While not definitive or proven, there is promising studies and progress towards understanding the deeper mental and neurocognitive benefits of hemp extract. Some research is showing that the brain may receive benefits from hemp extract from animal studies (ie neuroprotective properties). The biggest evidence of this is the reduction of seizures and epilepsy in some patients from multiple studies. One study looked at a large sample group of hundreds of subjects and determined hemp extract had a very positive effect on both reducing the frequency, length of seizes and in some cases completely resolving them.
As hemp extract interacts with the brain through the signalling pathways in the endocannabinoid system and CB1 receptors, this may be the mechanism for delivering the mental neuroprotective health benefits that some preliminary studies are showing. Another key study recently done in Australia on the impact of hemp extract showed that trained medical workers in a small hospital for children had majority agreement that the product was helping out kids with epilepsy significantly.
Physical benefits – inflammation reduction
Like much of the other noted effects of hemp oil’s health benefits, the research and science behind the physical health improvements hemp oil can offer are still fairly nascent and in the early stages of being tested, verified and proved in the eyes of science. There are a number of signals that are promising in this space though.
A study a few years ago in 2017 showed that topical hemp extract applied to certain body areas helped to alleviate some of the symptoms of arthritis, reducing inflammation of the affected joint. It’s important to highlight the study was not on human subjects but mice, although it did conclude there were prophylactic and anti inflammatory therapeutic effects the product delivered into the joint. The treatment ended up creating longer term strengthening and prevention of future arthritic inflammation which is very promising for human trials and real world applications.
Hemp Oil Side effects and need to knows
Hemp extract is safe. This was the common theme across all studies we investigated and what the research in both animals and humans reveals. It has no psychoactive or psychotropic effects unlike THC which can cause mental health and anxiety risks in many people. While anecdotal, many people report being able to think and react more clearly after using hemp extract, which may also relate to its neuroprotective and anxiety reducing properties.
Hemp extract also doesn’t raise your heart rate, blood pressure or respiratory rate. It doesn’t mess with internal body regulators and homeostasis which is great for people with heart issues or other chronic health problems. While you’re sleep won’t get improved or helped by hemp oil and there’s no research that supports this, it also won’t be harmed by it and keep you awake which is great as it can be used at any hour of the day.
The key risk with the product to be careful of is its interactions and effects on other drugs. It’s known to change the serum level of some drugs in the blood which can have different outcomes depending on the individual. But at the same time you won’t get addicted to it as it has very low addictive properties and profile which is also another huge pro for its use.
Conclusion on the health benefits of hemp oil
A very clean, helpful and natural chemical products by plants, hemp extract and CBD help calm your body and mind with no harmful side effects (providing it is not mixed or taken with anything). It’s both powerful and effective at delivering a range of hemp oil health benefits – from anxiety and stress relief to neuroprotection to anti inflammation in the body and joints.
Its clear usage through both multiple ancient societies and across broad parts of the modern world that the benefits are realised whether subjectively or objectively by science and that its enhancement to wellbeing and mood is very established. Future studies and developments on the effects, interactions and benefits of hemp extract will further solidify and expand the knowledge and clarity around what its true holistic wellbeing effects are but for now we at least know its still safe, non addictive and works for some health purposes.
Note – do not use cbd oil or hemp extract without consulting your doctor, this article is not intended as medical advice.