A Beginner’s Guide to Hemp Oil Extract
Although there is a wealth of information to be found now concerning hemp oil, sometimes all that information can leave you more confused when you are done with your research than when you began. Asking the supposedly simple question, “What is hemp oil?” introduces you to a whole new world of names and explanations that can leave you scratching your head and wondering if you will ever be able to really get to the bottom of it all. That is exactly how we felt years ago when we started looking into this medicinal compound. Because we went through the same experience, we wrote this article to help you clear some of the confusion surrounding hemp oil.
What is Hemp Oil?
Before we discuss hemp oil, we need to back up for some background information. Both the hemp plant and the marijuana plant are members of the Cannabis plant family. The Cannabis plants secrete medicinal compounds (known as cannabinoids) during the flowering season. The two most well-known cannabinoids are THC and cannabidiol.
THC, the psychoactive component contained in Cannabis, was until recently the most famous and heavily-researched compound emitted by this plant family. However, cannabidiol has been gaining continuous acclaim for its medicinal properties because of the increasing amount of studies being done to examine its wide-range of effects. Both the marijuana and hemp plants contain cannabidiol, but it is from the hemp plant that most cannabidiol is extracted. Hemp (also called industrial hemp) contains a far higher cannabidiol content than marijuana, with only trace amounts of THC.
The real-deal hemp oil can often be confused with similar-sounding products, which contributes to the difficulty of getting a clear picture of which name means what. The important thing to remember is that hemp seed oil, which is derived from the seed of the plant, does not contain cannabidiol, the most important medicinal compound of the hemp plant. However, full-spectrum hemp extract or hemp oil is made from the resin of the plant and contains a high amount of cannabidiol.
Even if it is delivered in a hemp seed carrier oil, as long as a product contains hemp extract, it’s the real deal. It is important to make sure that the hemp oil you are using contains full-spectrum hemp extract so you can feel confident that you are getting all of the health benefits this naturally miraculous plant has to offer.
Cannabidiol vs. THC: What’s the Difference?
So now you understand that hemp oil contains cannabidiol, a compound found in the cannabis plants. Furthermore, you know that THC also comes from the cannabis plants, and is the psychoactive component of marijuana. At this point you are probably wondering, “If THC and cannabidiol are both compounds of these plants, what is the difference between them?” This can get tricky, because THC and cannabidiol are similar in certain respects, but have key differences that set them apart and give each one its unique characteristics.
The distinctions between the properties of THC and cannabidiol are rooted in the different ways that these compounds interact with the human endocannabinoid system. The interplay between these two compounds and this human bodily system create the vastly differing effects that THC and cannabidiol have.
The Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for maintaining internal balance between the bodily systems, is composed of cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are called CB1 and CB2. Scientists from AHEPA University Hospital and Aristotle University in Greece report that together, these cannabinoids and their receptors play a major role in motor control, emotional regulation, and pain management. They also regulate the cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, immune, behavioral, antiproliferative and reproduction hormonal functions.
Cannabinoids can be secreted by both the human body’s endocannabinoid system and by plants (such as the Cannabis plants). When THC is ingested, it binds with the endocannabinoid system’s CB1 receptor. When it interlocks with this receptor, THC produces psychoactive effects in the human body. It is for this reason that marijuana, with its high THC content, is associated with a “high,” while hemp has no psychoactive properties. The trace amounts of THC that hemp extract may contain is way too little to have any mind-altering effects at all.
This difference contributes to the disparity in the legal status of each plant. In the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015, American farmers were given the go-ahead to cultivate industrial hemp, a hemp plant which is characterized as containing 0.3% THC or less. Marijuana, on the other hand, has a complex and specific legal status which differs depending on individual state laws. It is therefore prudent to do an in-depth check into Marijuana’s legal status before ingesting its extracts.
Why Take Hemp Oil Extract?
You now have a better understanding of what hemp oil is, but are probably left with the question, “So why should I be taking hemp oil?” The answer to this question is because hemp oil is indeed something of a miracle extract, with a multitude of benefits and little to no side effects.
What makes hemp oil specifically unique is its ability to affect almost every bodily process. The endocannabinoid system in our bodies is responsible for maintaining balance and harmony across all of the body’s systems. Hemp oil has a neutralizing effect throughout the entire cannabinoid system, repairing points of unbalance throughout the body. It is for this reason that hemp oil can have an impact on your mental, emotional, and physical health.
There are so many benefits of hemp oil that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to list them all. However, listed here are five of the most well-known benefits of hemp oil extract so that you can determine if and how hemp oil can be of benefit to you.
- Anti-inflammatory and Pain Reducer
In the society we live in today, it seems like almost everyone is struggling with some form of inflammation or acute pain. Perhaps one of the most essential benefits of hemp oil comes from the anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing properties that are making it an increasingly popular alternative to pain medicine. Studies have shown that by interacting with neurotransmitters, hemp oil can help reduce inflammation and provide chronic pain relief. An animal study involving rats done by Italian scientists showed that hemp oil significantly decreased sciatic nerve pain. This indicated its potential in therapeutically treating a wide range of ailments that stem from inflammation.
- Mental Health Disorders
Anxiety, depression, and PTSD are common manifestations of mental health disorders that can have a tremendous effect on quality of life. Clinical trials conducted by the World Health Organization showed that depression is the most significant contributor to disability in the world, with anxiety ranking as the sixth. As documented by the journal of European Neuropsychopharmacology, hemp oil has been shown to increase serotonin, a chemical in the body that acts as a natural mood stabilizer. Because of the concern surrounding the debilitating side effects and addictive properties associated with pharmaceutical mental-health drugs, many are looking to hemp oil as a more natural alternative.
- Neurological Disorders
There is a great variety of disorders and diseases that are caused by neurological dysfunction in the brain. These disorders can be extremely life-altering for those who are affected, and the quality of their life can be significantly diminished. Hemp oil is now gaining attention as a possible holistic method of treating these disorders because it interacts with neurological receptors. Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer's disease, and Epilepsy have all been shown to be helped to varying degrees with hemp oil.
- Anti-Tumor and Cancer Properties
The Medical News Today reports that cancer is the second-greatest cause of death in the United States. With the search for a cure becoming increasingly pressing, the medical community is on the lookout for new treatment ideas to help with this multifaceted disease. Hemp oil has shown promising results as an anti-tumor agent which kills cancer cells, thereby reducing pain and assisting with chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.
- Skin Conditions
Although not usually as life-threatening, skin issues can be an uncomfortable issue for many people. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, hemp oil has been shown in a European study to aid in controlling acne. In addition, a 2010 review of multiple studies suggests that hemp oil can be helpful in combating psoriasis, which stems from an autoimmune reaction. According to the National Eczema Association, cannabinoids, among them hemp oil, have powerful anti-itch and anti-microbial properties. This gives them the potential to act as a powerful treatment of eczema with long-term effects.
The Bottom Line
Hemp oil’s miraculous medicinal properties stem from its high cannabidiol content. Cannabidiol is one of the most dynamic and potent cannabinoids secreted by the Cannabis plants. Known for its large variety of potential benefits, hemp oil is becoming increasingly popular. Whether as an oil, cream, salve, or vape, there are more people using hemp oil every day.
This therapeutic compound is not famous for nothing, however. Because hemp oil contains only trace amount of THC with no psychoactive effects, you can take advantage of hemp oil’s many health benefits and neutralizing effects without worry of any psychoactive reactions. And then, sit back and start to watch the magic happen.
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- S.134 - 114th Congress (2015-2016): Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015. (2015, January 8). Retrieved from https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/134
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