What is Hemp Oil? Why It’s Popularity is Skyrocketing

So you’ve come across full hemp oil – the product is seeing massive uptake plus glowing reviews – what exactly is this? A naturally occurring, phytonutrient rich oil extracted and distilled from plants. It’s simple right? Well, not exactly – there’s a huge growth in popularity and buzz around full spectrum hemp oil – we’re here to explain why that is, share what types of products there are – including oil, extract oil and hempseed oil.

Hemp plants (where full spectrum oil comes from) actually contain a broad spectrum of other helpful, beneficial plant compounds. Indeed there are actually many varieties of phytonutrients such as cannaflavins or CBC – each plant contains up to 80 different phytonutrient compounds with different properties.

Where is the hype around Hemp Oil, creams and other products coming from?

It’s one of the most hyped, reviewed health products in 2020 – but why? We’re seeing write ups from Buzzfeed, Washington Post, other huge news publications, blogs, review sites and across the net. The buzz is real. But is the product and its benefits?

In many countries you can’t avoid hemp oil products – they’re everywhere. That’s because its is so useful and versatile – it can be added into coffees, food, smoothies as an oil, be used as a topical cream for stiff or painful joints, muscles, used in lotions or massage balms plus more. Extract is usually melted down post extraction into liquid forms to enable easier mixing plus usage across the full spectrum of products.

In places like some US states as well as many countries in the EU, hemp oil has been legalised or allowed for health purposes, hence its widespread adoption, popularity growth plus huge interest from people that need relief from inflammatory issues like arthritis, body stress or aches. It can even be taken as capsules or tinctures, plus more which makes it great for easy use and convenience.

What’s also great about CBD is that it is completely vegan – the compound comes entirely from plant sources – it’s all natural meaning you don’t need to worry about harming animals or unethical consumption.

Why the growth in buzz & popularity around Hemp Extract Oil?

Aside from the above mentioned versatility, availability plus usefulness of the product, there are a number of factors that have lead to an explosion in popularity in the last couple of years:

  1. Anti inflammatory properties

Hemp acts similarly in the body to many synthetic anti inflammatory medicines, acting along similar metabolic pathways. It’s also an antioxidant that helps reduce overall stress, inflammatory markers across the body’s organs, joints and stressed regions.

  1. Neuro protective properties plus minimal side effects

The WHO, in its in depth health report on hemp products highlights the effectiveness of natural plant products from it in treating epilepsy frequency and length. It’s clear that it has an ability to protect the brain and mind (neuroprotection) which are not all completely understood yet under current levels of research. What’s also emphasised in their report is that patients had no withdrawals or issues when stopping their usage.

  1. Advancements by major pharmaceutical companies

Numerous companies in the US plus elsewhere have been working on developing prototype lab made hemp pharmaceuticals. Epidiolex® is one example of a medicine being created to treat epilepsy that leverages cannabinoids. FDA in the US is evaluating a number of other medicines which are currently moving forward in their clinical trials and illustrating effectiveness in treating patients with epilepsy.

So let’s break it down, firstly starting with – what is a phytonutrient

In scientific terms – phytonutrients are molecular building blocks that make up all matter. They may also be called chemicals, whether man made or naturally occurring. Your entire body in addition to all food you eat is made up of compounds and molecules! 

Phytonutrients are some of many (up to 80) different cannaflavin compounds that are naturally produced by the plant. It’s primarily found in leaves, buds and stems of the plant. This is where it differs from hemp seed or hemp oil which is found in seeds of the plant only.

Chlorophyll content in hemp is one of the most rich plus prevalent compounds in the plant. Like many other natural compounds such as Curcumin or Cinnamon, it is from plants, it can help the body reduce inflammation as well as manage mood – great for many users (we’ll go into this later).

How is Full Spectrum Hemp Oil natural?

One of the key things that confuses many people interested in buying and using full spectrum hemp oil is the plant it comes from. To conceptualise this, we’ll start with a hierarchical ‘mother’ or umbrella plant family called Cannabis. Cannabis (scientifically called cannabis sativa) actually has multiple plant species within its botanical family. These species aren’t to be confused!

Hemp is completely non-psychotropic when extracts like oil are taken from it. It contains only very small trace amounts of any THC. Marijuana is completely separate to hemp, contains different natural compounds like THC which can get you high plus has many potential risks associated with it for your health. Hemp on the other hand is completely safe – it is already being therapeutically used for medicine after multiple rounds of clinical trials across the world.

Key here is that the oil will not get you high at all as it doesn’t produce any psychoactive effects. It’s also non-psychotropic plus non-toxic that means it’s safe for human consumption and therapeutic purposes for relief. In fact, the WHO or World Health Organization has reviewed cannaflavins as a compound for its therapeutic purposes and medical benefits here. It details the toxicology and adverse reactions of the substance which are very minimal in humans after extremely thorough and extensive trials.

This extensive report which cites numerous studies and clinical research across the globe from Germany, UK, US and other countries also concluded there are no addictive properties or issues with dependence associated with phytonutrients which is excellent for people who have problems with addictive painkillers. It notes that cannaflavins that is lab produced and pure has almost no adverse effects or issues in any of the subjects tested.

How was Hemp Oil discovered?

Although it’s probably the most beneficial and helpful in terms of its therapeutic effects, cannaflavins are just one of the many other compounds that are active in the plant and its chemical makeup. The hemp and cannabis derivative plants have been studied since the mid 20th century intensively. That’s because it’s both widely used and available across the world, both in recreational and therapeutic or medical contexts. Scientists and researchers have known about Cannabidiol since it was discovered along with a number of other phytocannabinoids in 1940. There are a total of 113 cannabinoids which were found in cannabis plants, although cannaflavins is around 30-40% of the extracted compound make-up of the plant.

Originally when it was uncovered scientists were unaware of the potential uses and therapeutic effects of the chemical until these were researched much later in the 20th century. This is because the chemists didn’t look to physically extract each of the individual cannabinoid compounds that were active in the plant through pharmacological methods until much later after the original nutrient structure was identified. Its effects became much more studied after it was realised that mammals all evolved to develop an endocannabinoid system which phytocannabinoids like CBG and CBN interact with. Many cultures and societies globally have already understood and documented these effects throughout history however, even with no science or chemistry to prove their anecdotal experience. We detail these cultures and how they used hemp in our write up here, so we won’t delve too deeply on this!

What are the other compounds in hemp?

As we highlighted, cannaflavins are just one of many phytonutrients and other chemical components of the plant. When taken as a full spectrum or whole plant extract, hemp oils actually contain a huge number of other compounds, vitamins and minerals. Here’s a quick summary of each of the important chemicals and components that help with health in the plant:

  1. CBA

CBA is another cannabinoid (and acronym!) that stands for cannabidiolic acid. It’s actually the precursor compound to CBD, with the acid part (A) being removed via a decarboxylation method to distill it into CBD. It’s harvested from the same location on the plant (stem, leaves, buds) and has a similar overall chemical profile and effect matrix. It’s less accessible in the human body however and much harder to deliver benefits than the more refined CBD, as it can block some of the interactions with the CB1 and CB2 receptors (meaning it has reduced efficacy).

  1. CBN

When scientists first studied the cannabis chemical structures in the 1940s, the first compound and more simple structure was identified as CBN or cannabinol (not to be confused with cannabidiol). CBN actually comes from THC when it is chemically transposed via oxidation (from high temperatures or oxygen exposure). That doesn’t mean it is able to get you high, it’s inert in terms of psychotropic effect like CBD and has lower usefulness. What’s been shown for CBN is that it has some ability via the endocannabinoid system to assist with circadian rhythm management to manage sleep function and patterns more effectively. It may assist in deepening and lengthening sleep but this has not been proven or thoroughly drawn out in human studies.

  1. Trace minerals

Hemp seeds and oils contain many helpful and electrolytic minerals like phosphorus,  calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. These are all critical for brain, heart and muscle health and can aid in exercise performance as well as recovery.

  1. Vitamins

It’s true that many plants contain a huge payload of vitamins and hemp is no different. Containing vitamin E as well as more minor amounts of C and B vitamins (like folate), in addition to minor amounts of D3 which is critical for hormonal production and regulation. 

  1. Healthy fatty acids (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated)

Like fatty fish such as salmon or tuna, some nuts and seeds like chia, and some fruits or vegetables like coconut, flavonoids (as well as healthy oils) are rich in the natural fatty acids, omega 3s and gamma linoleic acids that have been shown to provide a big array of cognition, cardiovascular and hormonal function benefits throughout the body.

Essential fatty acids like omega 3 (alpha linoleic acid) is thought to boost brain function and help with areas like memory. They are also known to help with heart health and ensuring the proper function of the body’s blood flow and regulation. Like avocados and similar healthy nuts, flax and hemp oil is rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. It also contains omega 6 with similar properties.

Gamma-linolenic or GLA is another essential fatty acid that is being linked to inflammation reduction and cognitive improvement that is also present in seeds and flax seed oil.

Why hemp is making a come back as an ancient health food

Hemp has been known and used by numerous cultures and empires for thousands of years around the world. From Central Asia it spread globally to be used in Central America, Europe and the Middle East as well as Africa in some areas. Human societies have had long-standing and fruitful relationships with the plant for both food crops and use as an oil and moisturiser for the skin and hair as well as much more heavily for its fibre content to create baskets, threat and rope, accessories, and other items (very useful in the ancient world). The Chinese had used the fibres of hemp across multiple empires and dynasties for thousands of years to create rope which may be the oldest discovered usage of the product for commercial means. The ancient Chinese medicine practitioners knew of Hemp and its rich phyto-cannabinoid content to be able to calm the body, reduce inflammation, help with anxiety and act as an analgesic compound. It would be brewed into tea and used for its medicinal properties by the Mongol and Steppe clans, as well as throughout Pakistan and Indian tribes through to the Persian empire.

As we’ve discussed, Hemp is Cannabis but only subspecies of the plant which contain low THC content. Unlike Cannabis subspecies which contain high THC content (typically more than 0.5% but this can vary by definition and location). There are other chemical and physical differences between the two plants but overall, they are closely related and easily confused. Hemp was originally banned due to being grouped with cannabis by most western nations in the 1970s and has since been legalised for its commercial uses and abundance of helpful properties.

What do people actually use Full Spectrum Hemp Oil products for?

Phytonutrients like CBG enter the body and bind or work with the endocannabinoid system – that’s how they assist with various functions like stress relief and relaxation! All mammals have an endocannabinoid system that consists of receptors throughout the body including the brain, spleen, stomach and skin that can use the phytocannabinoid compounds entering the system to release potent anti inflammatory and healthy endocannabinoid compounds.

It’s important to note – these come entirely from the body! Humans have evolved to produce these naturally when phytonutrients are present in the body and these simply trigger their production and release. The endocannabinoid system actually creates enzymes and metabolises across multiple pathways similar to some pharmacies made anti inflammatory products, while being all natural and plant based. 

The endocannabinoid system works across multiple functions in the body like sleep and circadian rhythm regulation, mood and general wellbeing, appetite and control of internal regulators as well as areas like homeostatic maintenance. It also assists or works on issues relating to:

  • pains and aches in both tendons, joints and tissues (whether from activity or accidental injury)
  • Inflammatory issues and chronic conditions like arthritis, osteo-arthritis or stomach inflammation
  • Issues with stress in the homeostatic balance
  • Seizures and convulsive disorders
  • Skin dryness or problems like eczema and various hives or rashes

Now that you’ve gotten across what hemp oil is and its make up chemically, as well as its numerous therapeutic effects via the endocannabinoid system, you can read up on more of its amazing and exciting effects at our blog. We recommend everyday use of the oil to maximise its benefit.