Despite this, hempseed has been banned in North America since the 1930s, when all varieties of cannabis were made illegal due to its tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content. THC is the compound that induces the “high” in recreational use of cannabis. However, hemp with low THC content (0.3%) has been legalized by the European Union, and the global economic market for low-THC hemp – used in medicines, papers and fabrics – is valued at $100-200 million annually.
Long stigmatized because of its “high”-inducing cousins, hemp derived from low-hallucinogenic varieties of cannabis is making a comeback, not just as a source of fiber for textiles, but also as a crop packed with oils that have potential health benefits.
A new study, which appears in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, details just how many healthful compounds hempseed oil contains.
Maria Angeles Fernández-Arche and colleagues note that for millennia, people around the world cultivated cannabis for textiles, medicine and food. Hemp has high levels of vitamins A, C and E and beta carotene, and it is rich in protein, carbohydrates, minerals and fiber. In the early 20th century, many countries banned cannabis because some varieties contain large amounts of the high-inducing compound THC.
And although Colorado recently legalized recreational marijuana use and some states have passed medical marijuana laws the drug remains illegal according to U.S. federal …
Among other benefits, hempseed oil has also shown a positive effect on dermatological diseases and lipid metabolism (the process by which fatty acids are broken down in the body). Hempseed also has high levels of vitamins A, C and E and ?-carotene, and it is rich in minerals like phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, sulfur and calcium. As a food, hempseed oil is nutritious – it contains an excellent balance of polyunsaturated fatty acids – and it reportedly tastes good, too.