Hemp Oil: Benefits, Uses and Side Effects (Full Guide)

benefits and uses of hemp oil

The incredible benefits of hemp oil can’t be understated.

It promotes cardiovascular, brain, skin, immune and hormonal health.

That’s because this all-natural extract from hemp is rich in various powerful phytonutrients.

These include:

  • Polyunsaturated fats like Omega-3 and 6
  • Anti-inflammatory fats like Gamma-Linolenic and Alpha-Linolenic acid
  • Essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals
  • Plant-based antioxidants like phytosterols, lignans, carotene and cannaflavins

Every drop contains these essential compounds, making the product remarkable for improving overall vigour and vitality.

hemp oil

But how is hemp oil used? There are a few ways to take it and reap the benefits.

  • It’s commonly eaten as a food for culinary and nutritional enhancement.
  • Using hemp oil capsules can be great for those who don’t enjoy its taste.
  • The topical use of hemp oil in skin care is growing in popularity.
  • As is its application as a massage medium
  • Others apply it to their hair or nails for keratin rejuvenation.

This product is vegan-friendly and entirely from plants, making it ideal for those on plant-based diets (or even keto and paleo). It also has no side effects (for those without intolerances) and is easily digested by people, plus many types of pets.

Our guide here will give you the complete rundown on the benefits of hemp oil and how it’s used. We’ll also cover side effects and any associated risks so you can stay safe.

Top Benefits of Hemp Oil

hemp oil capsules

Hemp oil’s benefits for overall health are broad due to the variety of plant-based nutrients it contains.

It’s also very versatile as a product because it can be taken both topically and dietarily.

Due to this, it has many uses and purposes, which can be tailored to an individual’s health aims. 

Hemp oil is commonly used for its benefits in:

  • Skin health and moisture
  • Hair (keratin) and nail strength
  • Combatting inflammation throughout the body
  • Improving circulation and aiding with blood pressure
  • Promoting brain health and cognitive performance
  • Supporting hormone production
  • Aiding with immunity

Let’s take a look at these uses in more detail.

Improving Skin Health

woman with healthy skin

Hemp oil benefits skin health due to its high concentrations of healthy fats.

Fats are used to build hormones. 

Many of these hormones, such as oestrogen, affect the skin due to influencing the production of sebum.

Sebum is the skin’s natural oil. It’s produced by glands within the skin that secrete it in response to hormone signals. 

The relationship between sebum levels and hormone balance means dysregulated hormones can cause dry or oily skin.

Often, this results from a need for more healthy fats in the diet. In adverse cases, hormonal dysregulation can cause conditions like acne, psoriasis or dermatitis. Getting enough fat from natural, healthy sources like hemp oil is a great way to prevent this. It provides the body with the building blocks to keep the skin’s hormones and oil in check.

Some of these fats, like omega-3, can also help restore moisture whilst providing anti-inflammatory effects. They work deep below the skin’s surface, restoring its lipid layers.

They help to lower inflammation on the skin’s surface and avoid irritation from allergens. Such fats may be vital in preventing chronic inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis. Their antioxidative properties also shield skin cells from damage and pollutants. Correspondingly, the skin becomes more resilient against environmental irritants and can better maintain its complexion. 


Research supports many of hemp oil’s potent benefits for skin health.

A 2022 study highlighted its ability to mitigate symptoms of psoriasis and dermatitis. It noted hemp oil strengthened immunity and stimulated anti-inflammatory effects within the skin’s layers. These effects were driven through skin cell cannabinoid receptors. Activating these receptors counteracted inflammatory skin conditions.

Additionally, a 2014 paper discovered hemp extract used topically had profound benefits for acne conditions. These benefits were the result of balancing skin sebum concentrations. When applied to the skin, hemp oil helps normalise sebum levels. In turn, it adds moisturise without causing excessive oiliness or pimple breakouts. The study’s topical use of hemp oil improved the skin’s natural defences against irritation, bacteria and inflammation. It appeared to act via multiple pathways to treat acne’s symptoms and underlying causes. As such, it worked both preventatively and restoratively against symptoms of the condition.

A separate review from 2005 explored whether topical use of hemp oil could help with atopic dermatitis. For 20 weeks, it was applied topically to the skin of a group of patients with the condition. Symptoms of inflamed, itchy skin characterise Dermatitis. During the experiment, subjects reported marked improvements in skin moisture, less itchiness, plus reduced irritation and redness. The researchers theorised these effects resulted from polyunsaturated fatty acids in the topical hemp oil treatment. ALA and GLA fatty acids, in particular, were responsible for significant reductions in dermatitis severity.

Strengthening Hair and Nails

Woman with healthy hair

With its unique blend of healthy fats, hemp oil helps to rejuvenate the scalp and hair.

It replenishes moisture and oil in dried-out scalps, helping to prevent dandruff.

The use of harsh shampoos or conditioners often causes dandruff. These can strip the scalp of its natural oil balance. Over time, dry, flaky skin results.

Applying hemp oil to the hair and scalp replaces these lost oils. Yet, it does so without causing excessive oiliness.

Moisturising polyunsaturated fats from hemp, like Gamma-Linolenic Acid, nourishes the hair. But they also help to regulate hormone levels and limit excess oil production.

Amino acids in hemp oil, like lysine, also help to protect and structurally reinforce hair keratin. Keratin is the protein-based substance that hair is made of. It consists of several amino acids but is also porous and can absorb oils.

Applying hemp extracts to the hair is an excellent way to help rebuild and restore keratin structures. Reinforced keratin helps to prevent the hair from splitting or fraying. It strengthens the hair strands from root to tip. Many conditioners now infuse hemp oil into their formulas for its restorative powers in the hair.

But you can use it directly on your hair or scalp for moisturisation. Try it for improved hair condition, oil balance and appearance.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Knee inflammation

A well-known benefit of hemp oil is that it’s highly anti-inflammatory.

Mitigating inflammation in the body is a great way to improve metabolic health.

But what makes it anti-inflammatory? The answer lies in its impressive content of anti-inflammatory nutrients.

Primary among these are polyunsaturated fats or ‘PUFAs’.

PUFAs include:

  • Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA)
  • Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
  • Omega-3 and 6 Fatty Acids.

Each of these has anti-inflammatory properties. They support the body in reducing oxidative stress, the primary cause of inflammation. Oxidative stress degrades the cells and causes accelerated aging, reduced recovery, and dampened immunity. 

Bolstering cellular health means greater resilience to all manner of diseases. It also improves your immune system, cardiovascular health, and brain health.

In 2016, a study showed that hemp oil proved helpful in protecting against inflammatory bowel problems like colitis. This study emphasised it was already being used by many people with IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disorders) to help reduce discomfort, lower nausea, and block inflammation.

Some of these effects may result from hemp extract stimulating CB2 cannabinoid receptors in the gut, activating the immune signalling pathways that reduce chronic inflammation. The anti-inflammatory PUFAs it provides could also play a key role in soothing irritation in the stomach. 

But prebiotics found in hemp oil from its plant fibre and chlorophyll content would also contribute. These assist with gut health by feeding healthy bacteria in the gut’s microbiome. Improved gut microbiomes are associated with lower inflammation and reduced incidence of irritable bowel disorders.

Cardiovascular and Heart Support

Woman running

Hemp oil is excellent for the heart. It contains antioxidants like Caryophyllene, which help lower blood pressure and improve blood lipid balance.

Similarly, antioxidative PUFAs such as omega-3 also reinforce circulatory health. Omega fatty acids help the body to lower triglycerides and maintain healthy cholesterol levels. They assist with the elimination of LDL cholesterol, which prevents arterial plaque from building up. LDL cholesterol is the ‘bad’ type, which can increase the risk of heart disease, hypertension and stroke.

In addition, hemp oil’s antioxidative polyphenol compounds help mitigate hypertension and blood pressure issues. Polyphenols help to protect cells in the cardiovascular system from damage. This helps maintain healthy blood vessel structure and function.

The product is also rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a long-chain fatty acid that can lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It works by combatting inflammation in the blood vessels, which counteracts blood pressure dysregulation and atherosclerosis.

The Lyon Diet Heart Study from 1994 revealed evidence for these effects. This study aimed to understand why the Mediterranean Diet was so effective for heart health and longevity.

The answer was that this diet was rich in healthy PUFAs like ALA.

In the study, subjects with heart disease were dosed with 1g of ALA per day as part of a Mediterranean Diet. The group reduced cardiac death risk and high blood pressure markers by over 60%. Incorporating healthy PUFA fats into the diet displayed profound preventative benefits for various heart diseases in subjects.

This result underscores the powerful benefits of hemp oil for heart health. Its high concentrations of ALA significantly lower cardiac risks.

Immune Defence

Immune health

It may sound surprising, but hemp oil’s usefulness for the immune system is extensive.

Its antioxidant content doesn’t only help with skin, hair and heart health. The immune system comprises cells that can also be protected using these compounds.

As mentioned, antioxidants neutralise harmful molecules called free radicals. Free radicals can weaken immune cell membranes and impair their function. This applies to immune cells like other cells in the body.

Exposure to free radicals over time can weaken immunity and reduce the body’s ability to defend itself against diseases or bacteria.

Antioxidants like carotene and cannaflavins in hemp oil prevent this. They defend immune cells from free radicals by reacting with and eliminating them before they wreak havoc.

Immune cells like macrophages, lymphocytes or T cells function better when free radicals don’t degrade them. This means they can respond to pathogens and foreign bodies more effectively to prevent you from getting sick.

Strengthening immunity by taking hemp oil can also mitigate autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis. These ailments result from the immune system attacking the body’s tissues because of dysregulated cell signalling. Keeping the entire system healthier through hemp’s antioxidants and preventing this type of dysregulation can help lower the risks of these disorders.

Cognition and Brain Health

Brain health

If you’re looking for better mental performance, hemp oil might be something to try. It helps bolster brain health in multiple ways.

Why is this? It contains helpful compounds that help the brain cells repair and function better.

Of these, the most potent is omega-3.

Intake of omega-3 is associated with better cognition, memory retention, learning ability and even blood flow to the brain.

A 2022 meta-analysis provided evidence for these effects. It explored the results from 9 studies on PUFAs like Omega-3, totalling more than 1300 test subjects. Across the experiments reviewed, the patterns were evident. Omega-3 promoted cognition and helped protect neurons against degradation, thereby enhancing brain health in subjects.

Neurorestorative Effects

You might already know about how hemp extracts help the brain to function.

But you probably didn’t know that these natural products work to assist brain cells in rebuilding and repairing.

This is a process known as ‘neurorestoration’.

Interestingly, its cognitive health benefits appeared to be accentuated amongst older people and those with dietary deficiencies in Omega-3. Researchers recommended further investigation into PUFA as a treatment option for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s due to its neuroprotective powers. It may help stave off neurodegenerative disorders by keeping neurons functioning for longer.

Similarly, ALA from hemp oil is known to preserve and protect tissue in the brain’s neurons. This fatty acid is drawing increasing levels of interest among scientists. More are investigating it as an option to help mitigate the risk of stroke, Alzheimer’s and dementia.

A study from 2015 displayed these characteristics of ALA in 71 rats with stroke-related brain damage. The rats were dosed with ALA over several weeks. Those given ALA showed increases in neurorestoration and repair of damaged neurons. Researchers theorised these effects were from the antioxidative effects of ALA, which supported brain stem cell health. It triggered stem cells to promote the growth of new neurons via progenitor cells. Omega-3 also plays a crucial role in boosting the stem cell factors that create new brain cells.

This clinical evidence proved that omega-3 and ALA in hemp oil can protect, repair, and regenerate brain cells.  

Balancing Hormone Levels

healthy man in gym

Another exciting use of hemp oil is for hormone balance.

Fats are precursors used to create crucial hormones in the body. These hormones are critical for all manner of bodily functions. They help the body regulate metabolism, sex drive, sugar levels, and stress.

Examples of hormones include:

  • Insulin, which is secreted from the pancreas
  • Sex hormones like testosterone and oestrogen (responsible for reproduction)
  • Cortisol and adrenalin, produced by the adrenal glands
  • Growth hormone, which is released by the pituitaries

The body needs the raw materials (fats and proteins) to produce the hormones in each case. These materials come from dietary sources like hemp oil.

It contains amino acids and healthy fats, critical components of hormone creation. Consuming it helps to maintain healthy hormone levels and prevent imbalances.

The downstream benefits of this in the body can be significant. Healthy hormone regulation has positive effects on the following:

  • Appetite management
  • Mood and mental energy
  • Sexual health and libido
  • Metabolism and immunity
  • Sleep regulation
  • Skin and hair

What evidence is there for the ability of extracts from hemp to assist with hormone regulation?

Hormone Research
hormone molecule

An example of this was shown in a 2021 study performed on 610 subjects suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which resulted from hormone imbalances. Omega-3 fats were given to the subjects to identify how they might help rebalance and stabilise hormone levels.

Throughout the study, patients periodically had measurements taken to assess markers of inflammation, oxidative stress, hormone regulation and blood pressure.

The results were impressive.

Omega-3 displayed therapeutically significant effects on hormone regulation across the test group. It boosted levels of luteinising hormone, serum testosterone and other vital hormones. Bolstering their production and normalising their levels in the body helped to counteract ovary syndrome in patients. In discussing the results, researchers highlighted these effects should transfer to other conditions relating to hormone dysregulation.

For instance, Omega-3 from hemp oil is likely to assist with menstrual cramps, endometriosis and premenstrual syndrome. It could also assist with symptoms of menopause by mitigating its disruption of hormone balance.

The advantages of using hemp oil for hormonal wellbeing are lesser known but remarkable.

How to Use Hemp Oil

How to use hemp oil

Depending on your preferences, there are several different ways to use hemp oil.

  • Culinary use is common. Try adding it to your regular recipes or as a finisher on dishes.
  • Hemp Capsules are a more convenient, transportable way to take the extract.
  • Topical usage on the skin as a moisturiser or balm is increasingly popular.
  • Taking advantage of hemp oil as a medium for massage therapy or essential oils is handy.
  • Applying it to the hair or nails is also a way to use it for keratin-strengthening effects.

Which you choose will come down to your own needs and preferences.

You can frequently find products infused with hemp extract as an alternative to using the oil directly.


Cooking with hemp oil

Most people use hemp oil by adding it to their daily meals. Consuming it with other foods or on its own is a simple way to take advantage of its fantastic health benefits.

The healthy fats in the oil and its mild nutty flavour boost taste while raising nutritional value.

Texturally, the oil is smooth, velvety and rich. It has a decadent mouthfeel that accentuates any savoury dish.

You can drizzle it onto roast dinners, use it as a salad dressing, blend it into bulletproof coffee, use it in smoothies, or even as a dip for bread.

If these ideas don’t appeal, consuming a spoonful of hemp oil daily to meet your healthy fat, vitamin and antioxidant needs is a great alternative. Or you might even try hemp capsules that provide you with all the same benefits without any taste.

Hemp oil is very similar to virgin olive oil in how it’s used in the kitchen. Remember that the omega-3 fats and antioxidants it contains can break down under heat. These compounds are delicate and degrade from sunlight or heat exposure.

It’s best to store your product in a cool, dark place. Doing so will also mean it will last longer on the shelf.

Avoid cooking or frying with hemp oil directly unless it’s refined. This oil type has a higher smoke point so it won’t burn as quickly.

Hemp Oil Capsules
hemp oil capsule

A different way to consume hemp oil is via capsules containing it. These look similar to fish oil capsules and have a clear, golden hue.

They also function in a similar way to fish oil capsules. You can take a few daily for potent healthy fats, antioxidants and vitamins. They’re convenient, easily transported, and let you dose accurately.

Each capsule contains a pre-measured quantity of hemp oil, which makes it straightforward to determine how much you’re consuming.

The critical advantage of hemp capsules is that they bypass the tastebuds. Many people don’t like the taste of hemp oil, which can be musky and unpalatable.

Capsules, on the other hand, don’t have any flavour. But they still provide high amounts of ALA, GLA, omega-3 and antioxidants. Try popping a few each day for your essential nutrient needs.


hemp cream

The topical application of hemp oil on the skin is an excellent way to obtain its moisturising, rejuvenating, and inflammation-reducing benefits.

Pour a few drops to your skin directly and gently rub it in. It will readily be absorbed into the skin’s layers to boost suppleness and replenish moisture.

Unlike synthetic moisturisers, hemp extracts naturally soothe the skin without causing excessive oiliness or clogging skin pores. Artificial skin products can irritate the skin or contain harsh chemicals which may trigger allergies.

In contrast, hemp balms or oils are entirely plant-based and well-tolerated.

It helps to restore balance in skin sebum levels, hormones and lipids.

Antioxidants from hemp reinforce the structural health of skin cells and help defend them from allergens like dust. Think of hemp oil as an extra defensive layer for your skin. It shields the surface from damage while nourishing each layer beneath.

Today, you can find many topical skin and hair products infused with hemp extract in stores. Using hemp cream, ointment, moisturiser, or shampoo is preferable to oil for many people. These products contain other complementary nutrients and moisturising agents that can enhance overall absorption.

Many are drawn to topical hemp oil because of its powerful ability to restore skin youth and slow aging from free radical damage. Applying it to the face as a serum or facial is also a great way to take advantage of the product’s unique anti-aging benefits.

For others, it might be the answer to combatting skin problems like acne or psoriasis.

Trying it as part of your daily skincare is worthwhile.

Massage and Aromatherapy
massage therapy

Because of its smooth texture and moisturising properties, hemp oil is excellent as a massage medium.

Try it for massage therapy by pouring a small amount onto target muscle groups and gently working it in.

Hemp oil contains compounds that help to nourish the skin, tissue and muscles.

Plus, it’s easily absorbed through the skin. Once applied, it will rapidly revitalise muscle cells and unlock tension.

Similarly, you might use it as an essential oil carrier in aromatherapy. Terpenes in hemp extracts are aromatic and fill the air with refreshing zesty scents. It’s common for essential oils to contain terpenes from hemp as a naturally calming and re-invigorating aromatherapy agent.

Hair and Nails
Woman with healthy hair

Another way to use hemp oil is by applying it to the hair or nails. Both are made of keratin.

Because of its amino acid and healthy fat content, it can strengthen and help repair nails or hair.

For those with brittle or splitting hair, topical hemp products can help bring back hair strand thickness and sheen. But equally, they can help normalise oil levels if you’re prone to excessively oily hair.

Nails are also made of keratin and can see substantive results when coated with hemp oil. It will assist with weak or chipped nails to rebuild while defending from blemishes.

See for yourself. Just place a small amount of hemp oil onto your nails or hair and carefully massage it in.

Side Effects and Risks

old woman with upset stomach

Pure hemp oil doesn’t have any real side effects or risks.

However, there are a couple of exceptions to this in rare cases.

A couple of scenarios where side effects can present are:

  • Allergies or Intolerances: individuals with allergies to hemp may display side effects from consuming oil extracted from it. This problem is very rare but can occur. Similarly, intolerances can present as gastrointestinal irritation, mild nausea, or appetite changes in some.
  • Contaminated Hemp Oil: products that contain contaminants like heavy metals, pesticides or artificial additives can cause side effects. Poor products often contain these due to poor quality assurance and production standards. Contaminants cause issues like nausea, lethargy, inflammation, upset stomach, or even vomiting. Always ensure you only purchase 100% pure hemp oil extracted using supercritical CO2 gas for this reason. It’s the most effective extraction method, improving product purity and preventing contamination risk.

Outside of these factors, hemp extracts are remarkably safe and well tolerated. It’s rare for any side effects to be reported. If they occur, they typically pass and aren’t present for long. Stop using the product, though, if you notice any significant problems. It could indicate your product is substandard or you have an undiagnosed allergy that needs confirming.


vial of hemp oil

The profound benefits of hemp oil have made its use immensely popular.

More people than ever are using it to improve the well-being of their skin, hair, heart, brain and immune system. 

Its efficacy results from the rejuvenating nutrients this natural extract from hemp is abundant in.

These include nourishing polyunsaturated fats like omegas, GLA and ALA. 

The antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids it contains add value for hormone, metabolic, and cardiovascular functions.

The combined power of these essential compounds makes hemp oil uniquely effective for everyday wellness. It covers nutrition bases while bolstering cardiovascular function and immunity.

Many use it as part of their diet to maintain healthy blood pressure, lower cardiac risk, and prevent heart disease. Others apply it topically to nourish their skin or hair, where it helps to balance natural oil levels. Taking it for mental performance, memory or learning each day is also a great way to use it.

Try it in a salad, smoothie, or bulletproof coffee. There’s a vast range of ways you can use hemp oil in your diet today. 

For topical use, rub it into your skin or find a soothing moisturiser that contains it. Hemp creams or topically used oil are safe and won’t irritate the skin, provided the product is pure.


droplets of liquid hemp
What is 100% hemp oil used for?

Pure or ‘100%’ hemp oil is used for several purposes. Primarily, it’s consumed as a food to help improve nutrition. It contains many nutrients like omega-3, ALA, Vitamin E and plant-based antioxidants that improve dietary quality. Some people also use it topically on the hair or skin to help boost hydration, moisture and oil balance. Hemp extracts are anti-inflammatory and moisturising, so they are increasingly used in moisturisers and shampoos. They’re even found as a medium for aromatherapy and massage because of these properties.

Does hemp oil make you sleepy?

Hemp oil doesn’t cause drowsiness and won’t make you sleepy. It doesn’t contain the cannabinoids that can cause this effect, like THC or CBD. These compounds act sedatively on the brain’s receptors and can stimulate feelings of relaxation or sleepiness. But they aren’t found in hemp oil, so it won’t trigger similar effects.

What does hemp oil do to your skin?

Hemp oil works excellently as a natural, nutrient-rich moisturiser. It hydrates and nourishes the skin deeply. But it also achieves this moisturisation without blocking skin pores or causing sebum to build up. It’s suitable for every skin type because it doesn’t cause imbalances. In contrast, it helps to replenish dried-out skin or reduce oiliness for acne-prone skin types. 
The extract also contains vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps protect the skin from oxidative stress. Antioxidants play a role in neutralising free radicals, which can contribute to premature aging and skin damage. They’re also valuable for reducing skin irritation or itchiness, helping to calm sensitive skin.
Today, hemp oil is increasingly diffused into various skin products like balms, serums, ointments or moisturisers. Its unique properties are becoming increasingly recognised by manufacturers of skincare ranges. These products make it even easier to apply to the skin. Many promote the absorption and uptake of hemp’s rich antioxidants.

Can hemp oil be used directly on the skin?

Hemp oil can be applied directly to the skin to improve moisture and protect from irritation. You can try it on its own or use it to make your homemade skin masks, serums or balms. It contains enriching natural fatty acids that help to rebalance skin sebum, lipids and moisture levels. It’s often used on dry or irritated skin in various areas like the scalp, palms, face or fingers. Before you start using it, do a patch test to check you don’t have any skin allergies to hemp.
Place a tiny amount on a small part of your skin and monitor for reactions. If you notice irritation, redness or other adverse changes, you could have an intolerance to hemp oil.
Avoid using it in this case and look for an alternative. If your patch test succeeds, you can apply the product topically where needed.

Where is hemp oil used?

Hemp oil is a versatile product that is used in various applications. It can be found in many nutritional, cosmetic, and hair products today. People can take it directly or incorporate it into their meals, such as salad dressings or smoothies. Some also consume it as a capsule to capture hemp’s benefits without having to taste its flavour.
The extract is also increasingly used in cosmetic and skincare products. Its moisturising properties make it suitable for lotions, creams, balms, and serums. The oil is known for hydrating the skin without clogging pores, making it ideal for various skin types.
Moreover, hemp oil is used in cooking and culinary applications. It can be used as a dish dressing or incorporated into various recipes.

What are the disadvantages of hemp oil?

Some people can have allergies or intolerances. It can trigger stomach irritation or changes in appetite. If you experience any adverse effects, discontinue your usage as you may have allergies.

Is Hemp Oil Safe to Take?

Hemp oil is safe, whether consumed as a dietary product or used topically. However, choosing high-quality, organic products is crucial to ensure nutritional value and avoid harmful substances. Poorly produced ones can become contaminated with pesticides or other additives. These exacerbate risks of adverse reactions that can lower safety levels.


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