Hempseed oil is often referred to as “hemp oil,” and it’s harvested by cold-pressing hemp seeds. Hemp oil is often unrefined. It’s a clear green oil and can have a nutty flavor.
It’s different from cannabidiol (CBD) oil, which is an extract of the cannabis plant and utilizes hemp flowers and leaves for its production.
Hempseed oil is made from the hemp seed itself and usually doesn’t contain any THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive component, although this seems to be widely disputed Trusted Source. According to 2017 researchTrusted Source, CBD oil may also have very low and insignificant levels of THC.
Fatty acids, which we obtain from food, are vital for the normal operation of all body systems. Hemp oil contains omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in a ratio of 3:1, which is proposed to be the ideal ratio.
Hemp oil is also a rich source of gamma linolenic acid (GLA), a type of omega-6 fatty acid
Hemp oil has numerous health benefits, including those that improve skin health. It’s so beneficial for skin health thanks to its nourishing vitamins and moisturizing qualities.
Topical use of hemp oil
The first method is to apply the hemp oil directly to your skin. This can work if you have immediate irritation or dry patches of skin that you want to soothe quickly.
Before using the oil, try a patch test to make sure you won’t get an unwanted reaction:
- Wash and dry a small area of your upper arm (such as the crook of your elbow).
- Apply a small amount of the pure hemp oil. (If using the hemp and essential oil mixture described below, test in a separate spot from the pure oil and at a different time.)
- Cover the spot with a bandage and leave it in place for 24 hours, being careful not to get the bandage wet.
- If any redness, burning, itching, or other irritation occurs, you can assume you’re sensitive to the oil and shouldn’t use it. If you have a reaction, remove the bandage immediately and wash the spot with soap and water.
- If you don’t see or feel any reaction, then the oil is probably safe to use.
If you’re using the hemp oil to treat acne and want to apply it topically, apply the oil directly to clean skin and leave it on for one to two minutes before washing it away with warm water.
Hemp oil and essential oil mixture. You can also combine hemp oil and other anti-inflammatory and soothing ingredients with a recipe like the following, which can be applied directly to the skin:
- 1/4 cup hemp oil
- 2 teaspoons melted coconut oil (can be melted in the microwave; place desired amount in a microwaveable container and heat in 30 second intervals, stirring between each interval, until completely melted)
- 4 to 5 drops skin-boosting essential oil, like lavender or rosemary oil
Note: Essential oils, like lavender or rosemary oil, should only be used topically and in a diluted mixture. Do not take essential oils internally. Many are toxic.
Hemp oil and skin disorders
Research indicates that the omega-3s and omega-6s in hemp oil may be effective in treating a number of skin conditions, including:
- Acne. A 2014 studyTrusted Source concludes that hemp oil (nonpsychotropic phytocannabinoid cannabidiol) is a potent and potentially universal anti-acne treatment. The study states that clinical trials are needed to fine-tune ways to best take advantage of its benefits.
- Eczema. A 20-week studyTrusted Source in 2005 concludes that dietary hemp oil resulted in the improvement of eczema symptoms.
- Psoriasis. A 2015 studyTrusted Source indicates that omega-3 fatty acids, as a nutritional supplement, may be beneficial in the treatment of psoriasis. The study suggests they should be used in combination with topical vitamin D, UVB phototherapy, and oral retinoids.
- Lichen planus. A 2014 article indicates that hemp oil is useful for the treatment of the inflammatory skin condition lichen planus.
The 2014 article also suggests that hemp oil can contribute to stronger skin that is more resistant to viral, bacterial, and fungal infections.
What are the side effects and risks?
Hempseed oil is safe for most people to use and usually doesn’t contain any THC or psychoactive properties, although this has been widely disputed.
Using it topically, some people may experience mild irritation, so apply it to a small test patch of skin first (whether you’re using pure hemp oil or hemp oil diluted with essential oils).
Consuming hempseed oil may cause some negative side effects in some people:
- The most common side effect is loosened stools or digestive upset, which can occur as a result of the oily, fatty nature of the oil. To prevent this, start by taking a small amount of hemp oil daily and working your way up.
- Hemp seeds can interact with blood thinners by potentially inhibiting platelets, so before taking hempseed oil regularly, talk to your doctor to see if it’s right for you.
Oral use of hemp oil
The second method is to ingest hemp oil, which can provide the same skin benefits and additional overall health benefits as using the oil topically. If you take hemp oil orally, there’s less risk of any skin irritation or break outs, although it may cause some temporary digestive upset.
Talk to your doctor before taking hemp oil orally.
If you do take it orally, you can have 1 to 2 teaspoons daily — either all at one time or divided into two doses.
If you don’t like the taste or consuming the hemp oil straight, you can also use it in different recipes. One option is to mix it into foods, like smoothies, salad dressings, or soup. Or you can use it for cooking.
Some recipes using hemp oil include:
- Garlic Hemp Oil Salad Dressing
- Hemp Oil Salsa
- Hemp Oil Pesto sauce
Is hemp oil actually weed?
Hemp and weed (marijuana) are two different varieties of the Cannabis sativa plant.
Hemp oil is made by cold-pressing the ripened seeds of industrial hemp plants. These plants have almost no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound that produces the high associated with weed.
Along with essential fatty acids, hemp oil contains vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. You can take it orally or apply it to your skin.