At Cannabisnic, we love all things weed. We love the wide variety of strains and the always-evolving slang that makes talking about marijuana so much fun. We love the bongs, pipes, vaporisers, blunts and other paraphernalia as well as the concentrates, the oils, the dissolving strips, and the tinctures…everything!
But there’s one aspect of weed culture on which we have to cry foul: the use of the word “hemp” when referring to the psychoactive and medical cannabis that we all know and love.
And, honestly, it isn’t that big of a problem because most cannaseurs instinctively know that there’s a difference between hemp and marijuana, even if they can’t tell you exactly what it is.
The problem arises when we start talking about hemp oil, hemp oil benefits, and hemp oil side effects. That’s because many people confuse hemp oil with the broad category of cannabis oils such as CBD oil, THC oil, and canna-oil.
And unlike many of the other marijuana terms we throw around with glee and abandon, hemp oil–and hemp oil side effects– is so vastly different from the other marijuana-based oils that you can’t, and shouldn’t, substitute one term for the other.
That may lead you to wonder, “Why, exactly, is hemp oil so much different than the other marijuana-based oils?”
Great question! With that in mind, the experts at cannabisnic are here to set the record straight regarding hemp oil and hemp oil side effect.
But before we get to that, it’s important to go back to the beginning and learn about hemp and how it differs from marijuana.
Table of Contents
- What Is Hemp?
- How Does Hemp Differ From Marijuana?
- What Is Hemp Oil?
- How Does Hemp Oil Differ From Cannabis Oil?
- What Are Hemp Oil Side Effects?
- When To Be Concerned About Hemp Oil Side Effects
- Hemp Oil Side Benefits
- How To Use Hemp Oil
- Hemp Oil Side Effects And You
What Is Hemp?
Okay, this may get a bit technical, but hang in there! It will help you see hemp in a whole new light.
Scientists have come up with a naming system to classify all living things. You may even have been exposed to it in school. Remember the saying, “Kings Play Cards On Fat Green Stools”?
That is a mnemonic to help you recall the categories:
In our discussion of hemp, we’re going to use the last two: genus and species. We’ll also talk a bit about subspecies which is a division of species. But first thing’s first.
The scientific name for hemp—the name using the above genus and species classifications—is Cannabis sativa. “But wait!” you say. “The marijuana I smoked before dinner was a Cannabis sativa. Was I smoking hemp?” No, you were not. That’s because hemp is a non-psychoactive variety of the same plant that took you for a ride last night.
The difference between hemp and marijuana can be thought of like the numerous strains at your local dispensary. Sour Diesel and Straw Cough are both Cannabis sativa, but they are bred to exhibit different traits (e.g., flavor and potency).
The same is true of hemp and marijuana. They are both Cannabis sativa but they have been bred for different purposes. We’ll discuss those differences in the next section.
Ideally, we should think of both hemp and the psychoactive variety of marijuana as subspecies of the Cannabis sativa plant. So, for example, hemp should be named (and I’m making these up): Cannabis sativa hempus or Cannabis sativa hemporaticus.
At the same time, the psychoactive form should be named Cannabis sativa wheeherewego or Cannabis sativa ican’tfeelmyface. This would help to distinguish the two and allay any confusion, but it’s probably not going to happen anytime soon.
Instead, we recommend that you restrict your use of the word “hemp” to the stuff they use to make clothes and rope and paper products. Everything else you can call marijuana. Let’s talk about that now.
How Does Hemp Differ From Marijuana?
The biggest difference between hemp and marijuana is that hemp contains less than 1% of the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Overall, hemp contains less of the cannabinoids (CBD, CBG, etc.), terpenes, and trichomes that make marijuana so much fun to be around.
Because of this difference in chemical makeup, hemp is primarily used for industrial applications while marijuana is grown solely for its psychoactive and medicinal properties.
Various parts of the hemp plant can be used produce:
- Body products
The list literally goes on and on. The psychoactive varieties of the hemp plant are not as effective in this regard.
We’re not saying you couldn’t use your Lemon Haze marijuana plant to make some cardboard, but why in the world would you want to?
Now that we know what hemp is, and how it differs from marijuana, let’s delve into the topic where all the confusion lies: hemp oil.
What Is Hemp Oil?
Hemp oil, or hemp seed oil to be more precise, is an oil produced from the seeds (and sometimes plant matter) of the hemp plant. The process and the end product are very much akin to more familiar oils like olive, coconut, peanut, and vegetable.
The confusion about hemp oil stems from the careless use of the term “hemp oil” to refer to either a psychoactive oil or a medicinal oil. Hemp oil is neither of those.
How Does Hemp Oil Differ From Cannabis Oil?
Put simply, hemp oil is primarily a foodstuff like olive oil. Cannabis oil is a concentrate made from the cannabis plant that is produced to have high cannabinoid levels (e.g., THC or CBD or both).
You can use cannabis oil to get high (THC oil) or you can use it treat a myriad of disorders (CBD oil), but you can’t use hemp oil for either of those.
This is because of the low levels of cannabinoids in the hemp plant. There’s not enough THC or CBD in hemp to produce an effective concentrate without using a ton (literally) of plant matter. That’s not good for the environment, nor is it good for you.
It’s not good for you because hemp is what’s known as a bioaccumulator. In effect, it draws toxins from the soil and holds them in the stalk, leaves, and seeds. In small quantities—as in the production of hemp seed oil—these toxins cause no problems.
But if you were to use a large quantity of hemp plant matter to produce a good concentrate (which is possible), you would be getting all the toxins from the plant as well.
With those toxins in mind, let’s turn our attention to the next question: What are hemp oil side effects?
What Are Hemp Oil Side Effects?
Remember, hemp oil is a foodstuff so all of these side effects are going to occur as a result of ingesting the oil. Most of these hemp oil side effects are similar to what you might expect if you have a sensitivity to other oils.
1) Contains High Amounts Of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids
Polyunsaturated fatty acids are more commonly known as omega-3 and omega-6.
In small quantities, these fatty acids are great for your body and contribute to overall health. But in large quantities, they can contribute to bacterial infections, cardiac dysfunction, and cancer growth.
2) Produces Harmful Peroxides Under High Heat
When hemp oil is exposed to high heat (over 121℉), the polyunsaturated fatty acids break down into potentially toxic peroxides.
In small amounts, this is nothing to worry about, though it may lead to the next side effect. In large quantities, these peroxides can do damage to your body.
It’s also important to note that, just like other oils, hemp oil can catch fire if not used correctly.
3) Can Cause Digestive Issues
Hemp oil, like some of the more potent oils, can cause digestive problems in sensitive individuals. The problems include stomach cramps, diarrhea, acid reflux, and nausea, just to name a few.
4) Can Interfere With The Metabolism Of Other Medications
This side effect is very rare, but it is still possible. The CBD in the hemp oil, even the very low amounts, can cause medications to be improperly metabolized.
That means if you’re taking blood pressure medicine in combination with hemp oil, the effects of the medication may be reduced, or even eliminated completely.
If you’re on any medications, consult your doctor before adding hemp oil to your diet.
5) Can Affect Your Blood’s Ability To Clot
Again, this side effect is rare but is still possible. Hemp oil can reduce the blood’s ability to clot, or even stop the clotting ability completely.
As with the other side effects, it often takes large quantities to make this an issue. Even so, those with blood clotting deficiencies should consult their doctor before consuming hemp oil.
6) Can Be Slightly Psychoactive In Very Sensitive Individuals
This last side effect is very rare. Even more rare, in fact than interfering with medication metabolism.
Though THC levels in hemp are extremely low (1% or less), and aren’t usually enough to cause a high, certain very sensitive individuals may experience a mild psychotropic effect.
If you experience a change in your perception after consuming hemp oil, stop using it immediately and consult a doctor.
When To Be Concerned About Hemp Oil Side Effects
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, hemp oil has been around for a long time as a foodstuff and an industrial product.
Chances are, you’ve used it in one form or another without even realizing.
That said, if consciously add hemp oil to your diet and you start to experience any of the hemp oil side effects mentioned in the previous section, stop using the oil and talk to your doctor.
It’s worth repeating that, for 99.9% of people, psychoactive highs are not something you need to be concerned about when it comes to hemp oil side effects. Hemp oil is just not made that way.
More often than not, if you experience one of the hemp oil side effects, it will be the digestive issues. These occur either because your body just can’t handle oil (much like some can’t handle gluten) or because of the peroxides that occur when hemp oil is heated.
Perhaps the most concerning of the hemp oil side effects is the possibility that it will interfere with any medications you are taking.
This side effect isn’t unique to hemp oil. Grapefruit juice also negates the effects of some medications.
If you’re on any kind of regular medication for vital bodily functions (heart, circulation, liver, kidneys, etc.) consult with your doctor before adding hemp oil to your diet.
Hemp Oil Side Benefits
We talked about hemp oil side effects earlier in this article. Now, let’s talk about hemp oil benefits so you can decide for yourself whether or not to use it.
1) Good For Your Brain
Hemp oil contains fatty acids that are essential for the proper function and development of your body.
One such fatty acid is docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA is crucial for the overall health of your brain and other organ systems.
You can get plenty of docosahexaenoic acid in your diet by eating nuts and seeds or by taking DHA supplements, but hemp oil — like other healthy oils — contains high levels of the fatty acid. So you won’t need as much hemp oil to get the DHA your body needs to thrive.
2) Promotes A Healthy Immune System
Healthy bacteria in your digestive system helps keep your immune system running at 100%.
That means less chance of infection, less chance of cold, and less chance of flu.
So how can you promote the growth of healthy bacteria in your digestive system? With hemp oil, of course.
The essential fatty acids in hemp oil encourage the proliferation of healthy flora in your stomach and intestines, which, in turn, stimulates your immune system to run on all cylinders and keeps you healthy.
3) High In Omega-3s
Omega-3 is another fatty acid your body needs to function properly.
You’ve probably heard fish oil touted as a great way to get a daily dose of omega-3s, but hemp oil is also high in that fatty acid.
In addition to helping your body work at 100%, the omega-3s in hemp oil also provide other health benefits, including:
- Lowering blood fat levels
- Relieving stiffness and joint pain
- Mitigating the effects of depression
- Reducing inflammation
- Protecting against Alzheimer’s and dementia
- Lessening the symptoms of ADHD
With hemp oil, you also have the added benefit of avoiding the sometimes high levels of mercury found in fish oil.
As such, hemp oil is an excellent substitute for fish oil.
4) Moisturizes Skin
Like olive oil and coconut oil, hemp oil is a powerful moisturizer that keeps water from evaporating off the surface of your skin.
When applied directly to your skin after a shower, or after applying a hydrating cream, hemp oil helps lock the moisture in your skin and prevents it from drying out.
Hemp oil’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties also soothe dry, damaged skin and protect it against the aging process.
5) Contains Omega-6 For Your Heart
We’ve already talked about the omega-3 fatty acids in hemp oil and the many benefits they have to offer.
But hemp oil also contains another essential fatty acid: omega-6.
In fact, hemp oil has a 3-to-1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3. That particular ratio of fatty acids promotes healthy cardiovascular function and prevents degenerative conditions in both your heart and other parts of your body.
6) Contributes To Hair And Nail Health
Hemp oil also contains omega-9 fatty acids that contribute to the health of your hair and nails.
Omega-9 works by:
- Moisturizing the scalp and nail beds
- Stimulating the production of keratin (a protein that makes up 90 percent of your hair and nails)
- Strengthening hair and nails to prevent breakage
To get the most of the omega-9 in hemp oil, add it to your diet (where it can work from the inside out) and apply a small amount to your skin and hair (so it can work from the outside in).
If you have issues with brittle hair, brittle nails, or dry scalp and skin, try hemp oil as a remedy before over-the-counter medications that may cause more problems than they solve.
7) Helps Balance Hormones
We talked generally about omega-6 and its cardiovascular benefits earlier in the article. Now, it’s time to talk about a specific omega-6 fatty acid: gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).
Among other things, GLA plays a role in helping your body balance hormone production and secretion.
For women, this is especially beneficial because adding a GLA supplement (such as hemp oil) to your diet helps ease premenstrual syndrome and reduces the cramping and pain that follow.
8) Healing Agent
Plants contain terpenes. These terpenes are responsible for all the flavor and aroma combinations that make vegetation so unique.
In addition to providing taste and smell, terpenes also provide numerous health benefits.
For example, the terpene beta-caryophyllene (pepper) interacts with cell receptors in your body that regulate and strengthen your immune system.
Another terpene, myrcene (musk), produces an antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effect in your body, as well as improving the mobility of molecules across cell membranes.
When the molecules in your body can move through the cell membrane quickly and easily, everything from digestion to respiration improves.
How To Use Hemp Oil
Despite the hemp oil side effects we discussed earlier in this article, hemp oil is a healthy addition to your daily routine.
Here are some easy ways to experience the benefits that hemp oil has to offer.
1) Ingest It Directly
The easiest way to use the oil without worrying about the hemp oil side effects that come with overheating is to ingest it directly.
Hemp oil looks like a thick liquid, is often dark black or dark green, and tastes like dirt and grass, so it’s not the most appetizing thing to eat by itself. Be prepared.
That said, a quick spoonful of the stuff avoids all the muss and fuss and provides 100% of the benefits we talked about earlier in this article.
If you just can’t handle the flavor of hemp oil on its own, try mixing it in something else to temper the taste (more on this in the edibles section below).
2) Apply A Hemp Oil Cream
As we mentioned in the benefits section, hemp oil is an excellent moisturizer. You can rub it directly on your skin or, for even more benefits, apply a hemp oil cream.
In addition to the many skin, hair, and nail benefits, hemp oil cream can also:
- Prevent cell damage
- Prevent varicose veins
- Treat skin rashes and acne
- Soothe irritated skin
- Reduce fine lines & wrinkles
- Keep pores open
- Lock moisture in your skin
- Hydrate dry skin
- Prevent psoriasis
- Regenerate your skin’s protective layer
Some hemp oil creams even offer pain relief for muscle and joint aches.
For best results, place a small amount of cream on the palm of your hand (or directly on the dry skin itself), then rub the cream into your skin.
If certain areas of your skin still feel dry, reapply the hemp oil cream a second time for increased moisturizing and healing.
3) Whip Up A Batch Of Edibles
Hemp oil is a great substitute for other oils in all your favorite recipes.
Hemp oil adds a distinctive woody flavor to whatever you’re cooking, so don’t use too much.
Instead, consider the following suggestion for using hemp oil in (or on) edibles.
- Add a few drops of hemp oil into the mix along with the suggested amount of olive oil or coconut oil.
- Use hemp oil for sauteing.
- Drizzle hemp oil on top of a salad.
- Add a small amount of hemp oil to your daily smoothie.
Another super easy way to get your hemp oil in edible form is to take a hemp oil gummy. It’s just like taking a multivitamin, but you get all the benefits of hemp oil instead.
If edibles aren’t your thing, try dissolving a bit of hemp oil in your coffee or tea (or just some hot water).
Taking hemp oil in a drink masks the flavor and makes it easier to digest while still providing all the benefits.
Hemp Oil Side Effects And You
So don’t be confused by the terms hemp, hemp oil, and hemp oil side effects. Now you know exactly what each one is.
Just remember to use the word “hemp” to refer to the cannabis plant used for industrial and foodstuff purposes. Everything else should be marijuana or weed or ganja or Mary Jane or…you get my point.
Keep in mind that even though you are using the terms correctly, others may still use the terms interchangeably to refer to any oils derived from the various species of Cannabis plant.
That’s okay. It just means you may have to ask for clarification about exactly which product they are referring to.
And don’t be surprised if they ask you for clarification as well. It takes time for the right way to become common knowledge.