Hemp, a type of Cannabis sativa, is the source of CBD oil...and so much more. Here's an overview on hemp and how it can help you.†
What is hemp?
Hemp is a type of Cannabis sativa. Traditionally, it has been used to make cloth, paper and rope; today, hemp has shown promise as a bio-fuel and a building material, among other uses. The seeds, also known as hemp hearts, are valued for their taste and nutrition.
In addition, hemp has long been used to promote well-being. Thousands of years ago people would grind hemp into a paste and rub it on the skin for its healing properties, says chiropractor Andrew Kerklaan, DC, who notes that hemp is referenced in Chinese medicine and many other ancient health approaches.
What is THC?
Cannabis sativa comes in a number of varieties. Some, referred to as marijuana, contain THC, a substance responsible for marijuanas euphoric high.
Unlike marijuana, the type of Cannabis sativa referred to as hemp contains only trace amounts of THC and does not produce an altered state of consciousness. Hemp is completely legal in the United States.
Is hemp the same as CBD?
CBD is one of the substances found in the cannabis plant. But it is only one of a whole family of compounds, known as phytocannabinoids.
The others—CBG, CBN, CBC, CBL, CBDV, CBDA, etc.—also play crucial roles in producing hemp's beneficial effects. In fact, more than 100 phytocannabinoids have been identified in hemp.
That makes it important to find hemp products that contain all of the plants helpful substances —and not just CBD.
How does hemp work?
The beauty of hemp is that it meshes easily and naturally with the body's own chemistry.
Each cell has receptors for substances called endocannabinoids. Receptors are tiny sensor molecules that can be triggered to allow materials or signals to pass into and out of a cell. Researchers found these cannabinoid receptors in every type of tissue in the body—literally everywhere they looked.
Eventually, scientists realized that endocannabinoids and their receptors are part of an entirely separate body system, which they named the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
Because it interacts with all types of tissues, the ECS is capable of acting as a master switchboard that plugs into the entire body. Every physiological function is governed or influenced by the endocannabinoid system, says clinical nutritionist Carl Germano, RD, CNS, CDN.
What's more, scientists realized that the body can go into a state of endocannabinoid deficiency.
Stress has been found to upset endocannabinoid levels within the brain; ongoing stress can cause the ECS to become more and more impaired. Poor diet can also interfere with the ECS.
The phytocannabinoids in hemp fit into the cannabinoid receptors on cells. That means hemp acts within the body in a similar fashion to the ECS, helping to keep the body in a healthy state of balance.
You cannot be healthy if your endocannabinoid system is not nourished and functioning properly, notes Germano. The best way to feed and nourish the ECS is with hemp oil extract rich in phytocannabinoids. In a way, they act as a multivitamin for the ECS.
What is hemp good for?
Scientists are only starting to scratch the surface of what there is to know about how hemp affects the body. But here are some of the benefits they've found so far.
Stress and anxiety: Hemp nutritionally supports a sense of calm.* It has shown an ability to promote healthy serotonin activity; this neurotransmitter helps control mood.
Sleep: Hemp helps support a stage of deep sleep called REM—a lack of which can result in anxiety, irritability and difficulty concentrating—without daytime drowsiness.
Pain: Hemp nutritionally supports healthy recovery from discomfort associated with exercise or strenuous activity,* which allows it to play a role in joint and muscle comfort.
Skin: Hemp appears to promote proper skin cell health and to help regulate oil production within the skin.
Digestion: The ECS helps control gut motility, or the rate at which food moves through the digestive tract; this may provide a pathway for hemp to help ease symptoms associated with bowel irritation and discomfort, such as bloating and temporary gas pain.
Bone health: Endocannabinoids help control the cells that build up and break down bone; scientists believe that hemp promotes bone retention.
What kinds of hemp products can I find?
Hemp can be found in a number of different forms.
Some people prefer pure hemp oil (often mixed with a base carrier oil, such as olive). Better-quality oils come in a variety of strengths and are produced in small batches, which enables more rigorous quality control.
Some products provide additional endocannabinoid support from herbs such as rosemary, oregano and clove. Higher-end supplements also include ingredients that help boost absorption, such as black pepper extract, cocoa, acacia and sunflower lecithin.
Other product ingredients may be added to help boost hemp's effectiveness in dealing with specific concerns, such as joint comfort; it can be teamed up with curcumin as well as the Ayurvedic herb boswellia and AmLexin, a patented acacia/mulberry extract.
Finally, hemp can be used topically in the form of cream, which often includes aloe, vitamin E and other skin nutrients.
What are the best hemp products?
Because there are so many hemp products on the market, its important to find a manufacturer that uses all possible means to ensure purity and quality.
That starts with how the hemp is grown. Higher-quality plants are farmed using eco-friendly methods, with no pesticides or chemical fertilizers, and without genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Hemp also needs to be handled cleanly; look for products processed with CO2 extraction and that are free of allergens and gluten. Finally, look for products subjected to third-party testing to verify potency and purity.†The information provided is not an endorsement of any product, and is intended for educational purposes only. NaturesPlus does not provide medical advice and does not offer diagnosis of any conditions. Current research on this topic is not conclusive and further research may be needed in order to prove the benefits described.
The conditions and symptoms described may be indicative of serious health problems, and therefore should be brought to the attention of a qualified healthcare practitioner.
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**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.