Hemp Seeds - History and Evidence Based Health Benefits

History of Hemp

Cannabis Sativa L. otherwise known as hemp is a plant that grows fast and in many different types of soil and has been used for over 12,000 years for food and for various industrial purposes (What is hemp?). While China is the largest producer of hemp, other countries like Australia and Canada also grow hemp and while there is controversy in the United States with regard to the growing of hemp since it has been classified with marijuana that has not always been the case and hemp used to be grown in the United States as well.

Hemp was grown in the United States as early as the 1600’s when King James ordered that Jamestown property owners grow hemp plants for export because they were used for rope and canvas aboard British ships. U.S. Census records show that in 1850 there were approximately 8400 hemp plantations that encompassed around 2000 acres.

hemp production USA

During World War II U.S. farmers were encouraged to grown hemp, known as Hemp for Victory because it was an important part of ships rigging and supplies were scarce. Because hemp fibers are strong and versatile they have been used in the manufacturing of over 25,000 products and while hemp may resemble marijuana they are structurally and chemically different and hemp was breed for its fiber while marijuana was breed for his narcotic properties.

While hemp does contain trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) it is around 0.3%-1.5% they do not contain enough THC to produce the narcotic effects like marijuana does as it contains around 5%-10% THC. Hemp and hemp seeds are extremely nutritious and contain medicinal properties that can help individuals improve their immune system, lose weight, normalize gastrointestinal tract, as well help with dermatological problems.

Hemp and hemp seeds can be consumed raw or added to recipes and an individual only needs to consume 1-2 tablespoons a day to receive the nutritional and health benefits they provide and can be stored in the refrigerator of up to eight weeks.

Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds come from the plant Cannabis Sativa and while they are the same species as (cannabis) marijuana they do not have enough of the compound THC to provide the narcotic effects that marijuana does and in fact contain many nutritional properties that can provide health benefits and include: 

1. Skin Conditions

Hemp seeds and the oil made from hemp seeds are an excellent source of polyunsaturated and essential fatty acids like omega-6 and omega-3 making them excellent for helping to treat various skin conditions. Hemp seeds contain the optimal amount of these two fatty acids (3:1) which is considered an optimal the amount for humans and have properties that can help to increase cell growth, help regulate the immune system, and reduce symptoms of skin disorders including eczema and psoriasis. Because of these fatty acids, hemp seeds and hemp seed oil is used in high-end skin-care products like lotions, soaps, lip balms, etc., to help improve the look and feel of skin.

2. Digestive Health

Whole hemp seeds contain both insoluble (80%) and soluble (20%) fiber which aid in digestions as insoluble fiber add bulk and help waste pass through the digestive system and soluble fiber is a source of nutrients for beneficial digestive bacteria. Because of the high amounts of fiber found in whole hemp seeds individuals who suffer from constipation can add whole hemp seeds or hemp seed pills to help relieve constipation. 

hemp benefits digestive system health

3. Arthritis and Joint Pain

Hemp seeds and hemp seed oil contain an omega-6 fatty substance, gamma linolenic acid, and can help to reduce inflammation as well as help individuals suffering from arthritis and joint pain. Research shows that hemp seed oil treatment has been an effective treatment for individuals suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and hemp seed oil treatment lowered the survival rate of MH7A fibroblast cells that cause rheumatoid arthritis effectively helping to reduce the symptoms and help alleviate the suffering of individuals.

4. Weight Loss

Hemp seeds help aid in weight loss because they are a natural appetite suppressant and individuals can add four tablespoons of hemp seeds to their breakfast which will help to keep them from becoming excessively hungry throughout the day. Hemp seeds are also full of protein (3 tablespoons = 10 grams of protein) and also contain iron, magnesium, and zinc, making them great for individuals trying to lose weight. Along with being high in protein, hemp seeds are also low in carbohydrates and a great source of healthy fat such as omega-3 fatty acids which is beneficial for anyone trying to lose weight.

5. Cancer

Hemp seeds naturally help reduce inflammation and strengthen the immune system which can benefit individuals diagnosed with cancer as well as possessing anti- proliferative properties on tumor cells which can help decrease and suppress tumor cells. In addition, the tetrahydrocannabinol or THC may have the ability to stop and reverse a form of brain cancer (glioblastoma multiforme) as well as breast cancer and hemp seeds have been found to inhibit cancer growth and metastasis in individuals with lung cancer.

6. Heart

One of the leading causes of death worldwide is heart disease and research shows that hemp seeds can help reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Hemp seeds contain high amounts of an amino acid called arginine and arginine produces a gas molecule called Nitric oxide which causes blood vessels to relax and dilate and this process helps to reduce blood pressure lower an individual’s risk of heart disease. Another acid found in hemp seeds is gamma - linolenic which helps to reduce inflammation and has also been shown to help reduce an individual’s risk of developing heart disease.

hemp seeds heart health

7. Nutritional Value

Hemp seeds (often referred to as hemp hearts) are extremely nutritious and have a mild, nutty flavor and can be eaten cooked, roasted, raw or made into a hemp seed oil which individuals in China have been using in foods and medicine for approximately 3000 years. Hemp seeds are an excellent source of protein, the essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6, and nine amino acids that the human body cannot produce.

Hemp seeds are a great source of nutrition and an ounce (28 grams or approximately 12 seeds) contains the following:

131 calories
3.2 grams of protein
12.3 grams of fat
3.3 grams of carbohydrates
2 grams of fiber
15.4 milligrams vitamin E
2.8 milligrams of manganese
405 milligrams of phosphorus
300 milligrams of magnesium
5 milligrams of zinc
3.9 milligrams of iron
0.1 milligram of copper (7 Benefits of Eating Hemp Seeds You Won’t Believe)

8. Balance Hormones

Over 80% of women suffer from the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) which is usually caused by an imbalance of the hormone prolactin and hemp seeds contain gamma - linolenic acid (GLA) which has the ability to the emotional and physical effects of prolactin. Studies show that hemp seeds can help reduce symptoms of PMS that include depression, fluid retention, irritability, and breast pain and tenderness where other PMS therapies have failed. Hemp seeds contain high quantities of GLA and due to its ability to help regulate hormones hemp seeds can also reduce the symptoms of menopause.

9. Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the nervous system that destroys the myelin (insulating sheath that surrounds nerves) that cause physical disabilities and researchers have been searching for different methods that can help individuals suffering from MS. Hemp seeds can help to improve mitochondrial and myelin membranes that can have beneficial effects in reducing symptoms that MS patients may experience.

10. Stress and Anxiety

Hemp seeds contain amino acids, magnesium, and B Vitamins which help to naturally oppress stress. Amino acids are responsible for building protein and provide energy and if the human body does not have enough amino acids it will produce excessive amounts of stress hormones, magnesium supports neurotransmitter function that will help to reduce stress and anxiety, and B vitamins help to regulate the amount of stress hormones produced by the body and are essential for maintaining homeostasis.

hemp seeds relief stress

Hemp Seed Consumption

Hemp seeds contain many important nutrients including fatty acids, vitamins, fiber, and protein making them an excellent addition to a healthy diet. Hemp seeds can be consumed in various ways making them easy to add to any meal. Some ways to include hemp seeds into an individual’s diet include:

1. Hemp Milk

Individuals can buy pre-made or make their own and hemp milk contains not only fatty acids and protein but are a good source of calcium as well. Hemp milk can be used to make nutritious shakes and smoothies or consumed alone or on your favorite cereal.

2. Vegan Protein Powder

Vegan protein powder is made from milled hemp seeds and is free from additives making it a nutritious and easy to add to smoothies or drinks to get the nutrients hemp seeds provide.

3. Raw

Hemp seeds can be consumed raw and can easily be added to salads, yogurt, oatmeal, or added to vegetables or rice. Hemp seeds have a mild flavor so individuals will gain the nutritional benefits without noticing the hemp seeds in their foods.

4. Hemp Oil

Hemp oil is a great alternative to fish oil as a source of essential fatty acids for vegetarians and vegans and has a rich nutty flavor that is excellent for making bread dip or salad dressing. If you choose to cook with hemp oil it is important to note that it has a low smoke point so you will not be able to use it to stir-fry or deep-fry but you can warm it up without changing the flavor or causing it to smoke.


Hemp seeds and hemp oil contain can provide numerous health benefits and have been used in various forms for thousands of years around the globe. While hemp and marijuana come from the Cannabis family they are completely different plants in composition and use. Marijuana has to be carefully grown under specific conditions and is popular for its medicinal properties and intoxication effects, where hemp has the ability to grow virtually anywhere and is popular for its strong plant fibers for use in commercial products. Hemp seeds are nutritious and provide many health benefits when consumed.

Hemp seeds can be consumed raw or added to recipes to make great tasting and nutritious meals and are an excellent way for vegetarian and vegans to get essential fatty acids as an alternative to fish.

Hemp seed oil is also great for helping individuals with varying dermatological problems as it has the ability to penetrate deep into the skin and help healthy cell growth which helps create smooth and soft skin so it is a popular ingredient in many high end cosmetic products.

Works Cited

7 Benefits of Eating Hemp Seeds You Won’t Believe. (n.d.). Retrieved from Dr. Axe Food is Medicine: https://draxe.com/7-hemp-seed-benefits-nutrition-profile/

Adda Bjarnadottir, M. (2017, June 4). 6 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds. Retrieved from healthline: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/6-health-benefits-of-hemp-seeds#section6

HACKETT, J. (2018, January 29). Using Hemp Oil in Cooking. Retrieved from the spruce eats: https://www.thespruceeats.com/what-is-hemp-oil-3376459

Keri Glassman, M. R. (n.d.). Why Are Hemp Seeds Good for Me? Retrieved from WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/why-are-hemp-seeds-good-for-me#1

Navarro, J. (2016, April 12). Seven Evidence Based Hemp Seeds Health Benefits and Side Effects. Retrieved from health excellence: http://www.healthexcellence.net/hemp-seeds-health-benefits-and-side-effects/

NICHOLS, H. (n.d.). 13 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds. Retrieved from Well-Being Secrets: https://www.well-beingsecrets.com/hemp-seeds-benefits/

Reed, C. (2015, October17). 8 things you didn’t know about hemp. Retrieved from PBS News Hour: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/8-things-didnt-know-hemp

SUGAR, J. (2018, January 14). Why You Should Be Eating Hemp Hearts If You Want to Lose
Weight. Retrieved from popsugar.com: https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Hemp-Seeds-Weight-Loss-42073677

What is hemp? (n.d.). Retrieved from Hemp.com: http://www.hemp.com/what-is-hemp/

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