Posted on

hemp seed oil fatty acid profile

Hemp Seed

HSM shows a strong antioxidant effect, which was tested by rearing flies on either HSM or cornmeal-soybean standard media, together with H2O2, and then comparing their survival rates (Lee et al., 2011).

Related terms:

  • Cytochrome P450
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Enzyme
  • Protein
  • Carcinogen
  • Toxicity
  • Intoxication
  • Cannabis

Download as PDF

About this page

Herbal Oil Supplement With Hot-Nature Diet for Multiple Sclerosis

Hempseed Oil as a Nutritional Resource

Hempseed (HS) or C. sativa L has been an important source of nutrition for thousands of years in Old World cultures. 129–132 HS typically contains over 30% oil and about 25% protein, with considerable amounts of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. HS has been used to treat various disorders for thousands of years in traditional oriental medicine. Clinical trials have identified HSO as a functional food. 133 HSO has been used as a food/medicine in China for at least 3000 years. 131 HSO is over 80% in PUFAs, and is an exceptionally rich source of the two EFAs (LA and ALA). The ω6/ω3 ratio in HSO is normally between 2:1 and 3:1, which is considered optimal for human health. 35 The ω6/ω3 ratio in most commercial HSOs is typically near 2.5:1. 134,135 The presence of both GLA and SDA in HSO, typically at a favorable ω6/ω3 ratio of 2:1, allows this enzymatic step with D6D to be efficiently bypassed ( Table 24.4 ). 136

Table 24.4 . Fatty Acid Profiles (%) of Hempseed and Evening Primrose Oils

Seed Oil Palmitic Acid Stearic Acid Oleic Acid Linoleic ALA GLA SDA % PUFA n-6/n-3 Ratio
Virgin hempseed 5 2 7–16 56 22 7 2.5 84 2.5
Evening primrose 6 1 8 76 0 9 0 85 >100

From a nutritional point of view, up to 7% GLA and 2.5% SDA are very interesting. Due to the high amount of USFAs, HSO is very susceptible to oxidative deterioration, which results in a fast impairment of the oil during storage. The result is a product with an intensive green color, because of the high amounts of chlorophyll coextracted with the oil. Virgin HSO is characterized by a nutty taste with a slightly bitter aftertaste. The use of virgin HSO is recommended during mild processing of food without heat. 137 One published report has described the application of HS porridge, from folk medicine, in the treatment of tuberculosis without antibiotics. 138 The FA profile of HSO is remarkably similar to that of black currant seed oil, which also seems to have a beneficial impact on immunological vigor. 139,140

Vegetable Oils: Types and Properties

Hempseed oil (Cannabis sativa)

Global hempseed oil production is around 10 000 tonnes per annum. Most seed is grown in China and Canada In the US, the cultivation of industrial hemp crops was indiscriminately lumped into the same legal category as drug – Cannabis but nowadays, more and more states allow hemp and cannabis to be grown for industrial, medicinal, and recreational purposes. The oil content of the seed is about 35%.

When discussing hempseed oil processing, Callaway and Pate stressed the necessity to maintain an inert atmosphere throughout the processing, and when discussing hempseed oil stability, they ascribed the poor stability of hempseed oil to its high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids. However, when listing typical nutritional values for vitamins and minerals in hempseed, they mentioned an iron content of 14 mg per 100 g or 140 ppm and a copper content of 2 mg per 100 g or 20 ppm. Even if a small fraction of these metals ended up in the oil, for instance, as phosphatidate, that would already explain the poor shelf life of the oil. The statement that ‘defatted meal resulting from solvent extraction is not suitable for human food because residual solvents (typically hexanes) contaminate the final product’ will most certainly be disputed by those skilled in the art.

Development & Modification of Bioactivity

Arno Hazekamp , . Renee L. Ruhaak , in Comprehensive Natural Products II , 2010 Hemp Oil

When Cannabis is cultivated for the production of fiber or seeds, only specially selected varieties with a very low THC content are legally allowed to be used. In that case, it is usual to use the term hemp instead of Cannabis (see Section ). In recent years, scientific knowledge on the composition and benefits of hemp oil has increased significantly. The oil of Cannabis seeds has been promoted as a good source of the healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids, and may be considered a sustainable alternative to fish oil. It is widely used in body care products, lubricants, paints, and for other industrial uses, while its antimicrobial properties and emollient effect make it a useful ingredient for soaps, shampoos, and detergents.

Hemp oil is obtained from mature hemp seeds , grown outdoors. 273 After harvest, the seed is dried to reduce its moisture content, which also prevents sprouting during storage. Hemp seed contains about 30–35% oil by weight. 273,274 Because hemp oil is considered to be a relatively unstable product, it is not extracted by means of steam or organic solvents, but mainly by cold-pressing methods. Cold-pressed, unrefined hemp oil is light green, with a nutty, grassy flavor, whereas refined hemp oil is clear with little flavor. Chlorophyll and the carotenoid pigments found in mature seeds provide the natural dark green color to the oil. Composition of hemp oil

Hemp seed typically contains about 25% high-quality protein and 35% fat in the form of an excellent quality oil. It has a remarkable fatty acid profile, being high in the desirable omega-3 fatty acids and also delivering some γ-linolenic acid (GLA), which is deficient in the average Western diet. 275 Although work by Ross et al. 276 showed no significant difference in the fatty acid composition of the oil generated from drug- or fiber-type seeds, the content of such higher fatty acids may vary considerably with variety, climate, and growing conditions.

Hemp oil typically contains 50–70% linoleic acid (LA; C18:2, an omega-6 fatty acid) and 15–25% α-linolenic acid (ALA; C18:3, an omega-3 fatty acid), 273 which is roughly in the 3:1 ratio that matches our nutritional needs (see Section ). Furthermore, hemp oil provides significant amounts of some higher fatty acids such as GLA (C18:3; omega-6) and stearidonic acid (SDA; C18:4; omega-3). 273 Oleic acid (C18:1) and saturated fatty acids (mainly palmitic, stearic acids) both make up about another 10% of the oil. 27 In some hemp varieties, the omega-9 fatty acid eicosenoic acid (EA; C20:1) is present in amounts up to 0.5%; 273,277 however, most varieties typically contain much less.

Because hemp oil contains a high proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids, 278 the double bonds that provide such unsaturation may be degraded because of oxidation by exposure to air, light, and/or elevated temperatures. At temperatures above 200 °C, undesirable trans-fatty acids are gradually formed, which may lead to the formation of aldehydes, causing the oil to become rancid. As a result, it is generally recommended that hemp oil should not be used for frying or baking, but preferably should be consumed cold. 273,275 However, results obtained by Molleken and Theimer, 277 who subjected hemp oil to a series of heat treatments before analyzing the fatty acid composition, showed that the stability of hemp oil is much better than generally assumed: trans-fatty acids were not formed under normal cooking conditions, and heated native hemp oils were quite stable under high-temperature conditions (up to 250 °C), presumably because of the presence of significant amounts of the antioxidant γ-tocopherol. In general, extra addition of tocopherols is recommended as preservative for hemp oil. 279

Besides fatty acids, moderate to high concentrations of the vitamin E are present in hemp oil as well as small amounts of phytosterols, phospholipids, chlorophyll, carotenes, and several minerals. 27 Therapeutic potential

Many edible oils (e.g., hemp, sunflower, soybean, pumpkin, and canola) contain significant amounts of the health-promoting omega-6 fatty acid LA. However, only some of these oils simultaneously provide significant amounts of the omega-3 ALA ( Figure 13 ). It is important to notice that only hemp oil provides a ratio of LA to ALA close to 3:1, which is suggested as optimal for human nutrition. 273,280,281 Furthermore, hemp oil contains GLA and SDA. No other edible plant oil has these nutritional advantages.

Figure 13 . Typical fatty acid composition of vegetable oils. Reproduced with permission from G. Leson; P. Pless; J. Roulac, Hemp Foods and Oils for Health; Hemptech: Sebastopol, CA, 1999.

The unbalanced intake of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids is associated with many chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity, autoimmune diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and depression. 282 The average Western diet provides a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 of about 15:1. An increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids, through their eicosanoid metabolites, has been shown to result in lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, playing an important role in the prevention and treatment of coronary artery disease, cancer, and hypertension. Moreover, it helps normalize fat metabolism and decreases insulin dependence in diabetics. Omega-3 fatty acids also increase overall metabolic rate and membrane fluidity, and exhibit anti-inflammatory properties, specifically with regard to relieving arthritis. 281,283

Nutritionists suggest that daily requirements should range from 9 to 18 g of LA and 6 to 7 g of ALA, which would be equivalent to the consumption of three to five tablespoons of hemp oil. However, individuals who consume a diet high in saturated fatty acids or trans-fatty acids will require more, as well as people who are overweight or under great stress. 220,281 Cannabinoid contamination of hemp oil products

Because hemp oil is produced for applications in food, the fear exists that the oil may be contaminated with significant amounts of the psychoactive component THC. Although no cannabinoids are metabolically produced by the hemp seed itself, they may be detected in hemp oil because cannabinoids as well as other components present in the resin may be transferred from the flowers and leaves onto the seeds, and subsequently to the oil during pressing. Thorough cleaning of the seeds, including the removal of the seed coat (dehulling), and the use of varieties with a certified low THC content (or more accurately: THCA content, see Section ) are ways of preventing such contamination. 27 Certified low-THC hemp seed is currently available from Canada, Europe, and China and is under development in Australia and the United States. Today, hemp is grown throughout the world – except in the United States, where it is illegal to grow the plant but allowed to import, manufacture, and sell products made from it.

In order to ensure the safety of hemp products (oil and other), strict legal limits have been set for the level of THC allowed, ranging from 10 ppm in Canada to 50 ppm in Switzerland. 284 Nowadays, THC quantities observed in hemp oil are usually so small that there is no possibility of intoxication and hence no potential negative effects on human health. Use of cosmetics based on hemp oil typically does not result in positive urine tests for marijuana use. The minimal amounts of THC in hemp oil are probably not absorbed through the skin and/or do not cause any relevant uptake into the bloodstream.

Lipids and Lipid Signaling in Drosophila Models of Neurodegenerative Diseases

Effects of PUFA and Cholesterol Levels on Drosophila AD Models Expressing Human Aβ42

The effects of hempseed meal (HSM) intake and linoleic acid on the human Aβ42-expressing Drosophila AD model were studied ( Lee et al., 2011 ). Hempseed is a rich source of oil, composed of more than 80% polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). The fatty acids in hempseed oil include a variety of essential fatty acids, including linoleic acid (LA, 18:2n6) and α-linolenic acid (ALA, 18:3n3), as well as γ-linolenic acid (GLA, 18:3n6) ( Callaway, 2004 ).

HSM shows a strong antioxidant effect, which was tested by rearing flies on either HSM or cornmeal-soybean standard media, together with H2O2, and then comparing their survival rates ( Lee et al., 2011 ). Intriguingly, the survival rates of flies reared on HSM were much higher, indicating that HSM exerts a protective effect from the toxicity of H2O2, which suggests that HSM has antioxidant properties. LA, a major non-polar component of hempseed, also showed a protective effect against the toxicity of H2O2 when supplemented in standard medium containing H2O2. However, because the degree of increase in the survival rate of LA-fed flies was lower than that observed in the flies fed on HSM, the antioxidant activity of HSM is probably not caused solely by LA, but rather, a result of the complex effects of various HSM components, such as other PUFAs and phytosterols.

HSM intake also showed a protective effect against the cytotoxicity of Aβ42. When Aβ42 was ectopically expressed in the fly eye, it induced profound eye degeneration. The defective eyes could be divided into 2 groups (mild and severe) according to their size ( Lee et al., 2011 ). Eighty percent of the flies reared in standard medium showed severe phenotypes. However, feeding with HSM reduced the rate of occurrence of the severe defects to 50%, indicating that HSM intake suppressed Aβ42 cytotoxicity. In an effort to find the molecular components of hempseed that mediate the protective effect against eye degeneration, four major components of HSM – LA, ALA, GLA, and campesterol – were tested in the fly AD model. Interestingly, LA and ALA, but not GLA or campesterol, ameliorated the eye degeneration phenotypes in a dose-dependent manner.

At the moment, the molecular mechanism by which HSM, LA, and ALA exert their protective effects have yet to be clarified. As oxidative stress is an important mediator of Aβ42 toxicity, the antioxidant property of the HSM and fatty acids could be the main factor for the protective effects. Indeed, some studies have shown that the supplementation with PUFAs decreased oxidant parameters such as lipid peroxide and reactive oxygen species levels in mammalian animal models including the rat AD model ( Hashimoto et al., 2002; Sarsilmaz et al., 2003 ). However, other studies reported that PUFA treatment does not prevent amyloid-β-mediated oxidative stress ( Florent et al., 2006; Florent-Béchard et al., 2009 ). Consistently, HSM feeding does not affect the disease-like phenotypes of the Drosophila model of PD and HD, two diseases that have been extensively associated with oxidative stress. Therefore, it is unlikely that the suppression of oxidative stress is a plausible way to explain the protective effect of HSM against Aβ42 cytotoxicity. Alternatively, HSM and PUFAs could exert their protective activity by regulating cholesterol level ( Figure 26.4 ). Although its role in AD pathology is still not fully understood, cholesterol has been implicated in AD at various aspects of pathology. Aβ42 is produced from APP through the amyloidogenic pathway, which occurs in the cholesterol-enriched lipid rafts, while APP is alternatively cleaved by α-secretase in the non-raft region ( Florent-Béchard et al., 2009 ). Accordingly, cholesterol depletion has been found to suppress Aβ42 production in hippocampal neurons ( Simons et al., 1998 ). In Drosophila, a screening of genetic modifiers of Aβ42 cytotoxicity identified loechrig mutants, in which the cholesterol homeostasis-associated protein AMP kinase γ is deficient ( Cao et al., 2008 ). HSM and LA intake reduced the cholesterol uptake level in Drosophila. When flies were reared in high-cholesterol food with HSM or LA, the body cholesterol level was reduced to a nearly normal level; on the contrary, the body cholesterol level of control flies reared on high-cholesterol food without HSM and LA was greatly increased ( Lee et al., 2011 ). Consistently, LA intake affects Drosophila development by decreasing the cholesterol level ( Figure 26.5 ), which is crucial for metamorphosis, as cholesterol is a precursor of the molting hormone ecdysone. Drosophila larval growth is delayed by intake of a PUFA mixture or LA, and is enhanced by cholesterol. Interestingly, the delayed larval growth induced by LA feeding is almost completely rescued by an intake of cholesterol. These results suggest that linoleic acid can act antagonistically with cholesterol during Drosophila development. Therefore, PUFAs may exert their beneficial effects on Drosophila AD models by reducing the brain’s cholesterol level, which causes the deleterious effects of AD at high levels.

Figure 26.4 . The molecular mechanisms of the lipid functions in Drosophila models of neurodegenerative diseases. C, carboxyl terminus; DAG, diacylglycerol; DGK ε, diacylglycerol kinase ε; Htt, huntingtin; IP3, inositol trisphosphate; N, amino terminus; OCB, open channel block; PA, phosphatidic acid; PE, phosphatidylethanolamine; PIP, phosphatidylinositol monophosphate; PIP2, phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate; Poly Q, polyglutamine; PUFA, polyunsaturated fatty acid; sAPPβ, soluble beta amyloid precursor protein.

Figure 26.5 . The effect of linoleic acid on Drosophila development.

Adapted with permission from Lee et al. 2011 .

Hemp Seed HSM shows a strong antioxidant effect, which was tested by rearing flies on either HSM or cornmeal-soybean standard media, together with H2O2, and then comparing their survival rates

Hempseed oil in a nutshell

In This Section
  • Previous
  • Next
March 2010

Industrial hemp is as a class of non-drug Cannabis sativa varieties, and hempseed is technically an achene, or nut. Both the seed and hemp’s tall stalk provide significant carbohydrate feedstocks for a wide variety of industrial purposes in several countries. The oil pressed from hempseed, in particular, is a rich source of polyunsaturated omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are essential for human health. These same fatty acids in hempseed oil make it a fine drying oil that is used in the production of paints, varnishes, and other coating materials. Plastic flooring such as linoleum and similar materials have been made from hempseed oil, and other non-food uses of hempseed oil are similar to those of linseed oil (flaxseed oil). Flax, of course, also has a long history as a companion species that parallels hemp in the founding of our civilizations.

Unfortunately, when one reads the Latin words Cannabis sativa these days, the first thoughts that come to mind may not be of hemp, or its nutritious seed, or useful oil products, or even the durable outer bast (stem) fiber or the cellulose core from the stalk of this old-world plant. These lesser-known features of Cannabis were certainly well known to Carl Linneaus when he assigned its name in 1753. The words “canvas” and “cannabis,” for example, both derive from similar-sounding words in Greek, Latin, and Arabic for the fabric and the plant from which it is made. The second part of the Linnean binomial, sativa, comes from the Latin word sativus, which means “sown” or “cultivated.” Cannabis sativa is one of the oldest cultivated crops, and no other plants can provide such easily available food, oil, fiber, and even medicine. The largest obstacle that currently prevents hemp from fully participating in modern industrial agriculture is its botanical association with the drug cannabis. In fact, the production of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and other cannabinoids is under genetic control, so it would take an ambitious breeding project to convert a hemp variety into a drug variety, much like converting a dachshund into a Doberman pinscher. In other words, it would be much easier just to start with drug Cannabis seeds, if that were the objective.

Our historic foundations were built on the fibers of hemp

Ancient Asian mariners and more recent trans-Atlantic voyagers made good use of sturdy canvas sails made from hemp fiber. Fine linens were once made from both flax and hemp, as the fibers from the male hemp plants were well known to produce the finest linens. The oldest known paper from China was made from hemp, and many historical documents have been written and printed on paper made from hemp fibers. Even today, hemp fibers are found in such common products as tea bags, cigarette papers, and other specialty papers as well as paper currency.

The connection between Cannabis and its misuse as a drug gained official traction when the US Congress passed the Marihuana Tax Act on June 14, 1937; the Act included no practical exemption for hemp production. By that time, the United States was already importing most of its hempseed and fiber from countries with cheaper labor, and the timber and paper industries in the United States were completely invested in the Kraft process for making newsprint. In 1937, commercial wild bird feed was primarily made from hempseed, and hempseed was also pressed for oil used in the manufacture of paints, varnishes, and other coatings. Industrial-scale hemp production mostly continued in the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) and China until modern petroleum products slowly began to replace products previously made from hempseed oil and hemp fiber. At least in the days of the USSR, hempseed oil for human consumption was called “black oil,” because of its high chlorophyll content, which was especially used by those who were too poor to afford butter. Hempseed appears as an ingredient in many spices and ethnic foods from Eastern Europe, India, and most parts of Asia. A fine tofu can be easily made from just hempseed, water, and heat.

The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 had very little impact on the use of marijuana as a narcotic in the United States, if for no other reason than the Act did not penalize the possession or use of hemp, cannabis, or marijuana. It did, though, penalize persons dealing commercially in these products. Thus, the Act effectively brought all industrial hemp production in the United States to a grinding halt by the next year. Subsequently, the United States re-introduced hemp production in 1942 for the war effort, after the Japanese had cut off hemp supplies from the Philippines and East India. (After the war, US hemp production was shut down yet again.) Petroleum-based polymers quickly replaced hemp and other natural fibers in many common products such as sacks, tarps, and ropes. In just a short time, a carbohydrate culture based on agriculture quickly shifted into a culture dependent on petroleum-derived hydrocarbons. Since then, hempseed and hemp fiber production have been excluded from the technological developments enjoyed by other industrial crops. Nor have there been any advances in nutritional research pertaining to hempseed oil. This prohibition on hemp cultivation continues to this day in the United States, even as remarkable advances are being made with medical marijuana. The irony deepens when one realizes that the main psychoactive component of drug Cannabis, THC, has been available as a synthetic pharmaceutical in the United States as Marinol® (dronabinol) since 1972.

In Canada marijuana is already available to registered patients for medical purposes. After years of prohibition, hemp cultivation was cautiously restarted there under heavy licensing in 1998. With eager markets in both Canada and the United States, hempseed oil and other hempseed food products remain in high demand, and the area devoted to oilseed hemp cultivation in Canada has continued to expand accordingly during this time. The Finola oilseed variety of hemp continues to form the cornerstone of the Canadian hempseed production because of its short stature (average plant height: 1.5 m), which allows for mechanical harvesting by a grain combine, and because of its exceptionally high seed yield (over 2000 kg per hectare, under irrigation).

Hempseed as an exceptional food and oil SOURCE

Hempseed is a rich source of easily digestible protein (ca. 20-25%) and highly unsaturated food oil (ca. 30-35%). The remainder consists of dietary fiber, mostly from the hull, various phytosterols, oil-soluble vitamins, and trace minerals (Table 1).

typical nutritional compositions

Aside from being extremely low in saturated fats, hempseed oil is interesting in other ways. For example, hempseed oil has a higher content of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) than most other industrial food oils (Table 2). This has been known for quite a long time, as the essential omega-6 linoleic acid (18:2n-6) was first identified in hempseed oil as “sativic acid” by German chemists in 1887. More recently, presence of omega-3 stearidonic acid (SDA, 18:4n-3) has been detected in hempseed oil (Callaway et al., 1997).

Typical fatty acid profiles

Good amounts of the other essential fatty acid (EFA), α-linolenic acid (18:3n-3), and omega-6 γ-linolenic acid (GLA, 18:4n-6) are also found in this oil. Not only are both of the essential fatty acids (EFA) well represented in hempseed oil, but their direct human metabolic products, GLA and SDA, are too; the latter are not found in any other industrial oilseed crop. This is significant because both dietary EFA must compete for the enzymatic activity of ∆6 desaturase to produce GLA and SDA. As these two fatty acids are already in the oil, this enzymatic step can be bypassed, so they contribute more directly to the downstream production of other omega-6 and omega-3 metabolites.

Perhaps the really good news for consumers is that good-quality cold-pressed hempseed oil has an excellent taste that resembles walnuts and sunflower seeds. When the seeds are toasted, a savory umami flavor develops somewhere between that of bacon and fried prawns.Moreover, the balance of EFA in hempseed is considerably more nearly optimal than in most other industrial food oils, in terms of having a relatively low omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. In this regard, hempseed oil is more like rapeseed oil (also known as canola oil), yet it is still much higher in polyunsaturates. Taken together, these factors at least partly explain a remarkable number of anecdotal benefits from consuming daily hempseed oil, for example, especially marked improvements in skin, hair, and nail quality, as these fatty acids are integral in cell membrane formation and functions at the molecular level. Studies at the University of Kuopio, Finland, have investigated some of the properties, and particularly the improvements in skin quality for patients that suffer from atopic dermatitis (i.e., eczema). Improvements in strength of both hair and nail thickness are also attributed to daily use of dietary hempseed oil.

The high level of PUFA in hempseed oil is certainly a plus for health, but a considerable drawback for deep frying, not only because there is an increased risk of peroxide and trans fat formation, but also because hempseed oil has a relatively low flash point and will burn well once it is ignited. Also, the shelf life of hempseed oil tends to be rather short, because this high level of unsaturation provides more opportunity for oxidation with atmospheric oxygen. Ideally, as a food, hempseed oil is cold pressed from fresh, clean, good-quality seed and then stored in a cool, dark place before, during, and after processing. Unfortunately, much of the hempseed oil that is currently available in North America is distributed in plastic containers to reduce the costs of both production and shipping of this niche crop. Oil purchased in plastic is more susceptible to degradation with time. With a small amount of effort, the interested buyer will typically find hempseed oil in glass bottles on the European markets.


To this day, the US government continues to define hemp as the stalks and fiber of the marijuana plant, and has decided not to recognize any of the varieties that are extremely low in drug content. An analogous situation exists for poppy seed, which is legal in the United States; the seed always contains some measurable amount of morphine, but these amounts are not of sufficient concentration for drug purposes.

Due to the burden of Cannabis prohibition, there has been very little development or innovation in hemp or hempseed production during the last 70 years, and almost no research on hempseed nutrition since its incorporation into Chinese medicine thousands of years ago. It is, in essence, an orphan crop when we consider the present situation of food production in Europe and North America. While this situation began to change with the reintroduction of hemp to Canadian agriculture in 1998, the subsidy scheme for hemp in the European Union continues to favor the production of hemp fiber and not hempseed. What few results we now have from hempseed research tend to contradict the politically narrow horizon that the United States has offered the world. Fortunately, hempseed oil and other hempseed food products are legally available in the United States, either from the shelves of some natural food stores or when ordered directly online from Canada. Viable hempseed, however, remains illegal in the United States.

Leaving political rhetoric aside, there is plenty of convincing scientific evidence to show that hempseed is one of the most nutritious products that can be produced by modern industrial agriculture. As a grain, it fits into the mechanized infrastructure without retooling. Apparently, the only remaining change that needs to be made is to convince US policymakers that hemp is not dangerous.

J.C. Callaway is chief executive officer of Finola ky (Kuopio, Finland; ). Contact him via email at [email protected] .


For further reading:

Callaway, J.C., T. Tennilä, and D.W. Pate, Occurrence of “omega-3” stearidonic acid (cis-6,9,12,15-octadecatetraenoic acid) in hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) seed, Journal of the International Hemp Association 3:61-63 (1997).

Callaway, J.C., U. Schwab, I. Harvimaa, P. Halonen, O. Mykkänen, P. Hyvönen, and T. Järvinen, Efficacy of dietary hempseed oil in patients with atopic dermatitis, Journal of Dermatological Treatment 16:87-94 (2005).

Callaway, J.C., Hempseed as a nutritional resource: An overview, Euphytica 140:65-72 (2004).

For more information about hempseed oil, see the “Hempseed Oil” chapter by J.C. Callaway and David W. Pate in the Gourmet and Health-Promoting Specialty Oils monograph, published by AOCS Press. Edited by Robert A. Moreau and Afaf Kamal-Eldin, Gourmet and Health-Promoting Specialty Oils is the third volume in the AOCS Monograph Series on Oilseeds. Learn more at . See a review of the book on page 164.

AOCS Headquarters
2710 S. Boulder
Urbana, IL 61802-6996 USA
Phone: +1 217-359-2344
Fax: +1 217-351-8091

AOCS advances the science and technology of oils, fats, proteins, surfactants, and related materials, enriching the lives of people everywhere.