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While the cannabis plant has been used for millennia for its healing and medicinal qualities, full spectrum hemp oil has only recently begun to get the recognition it deserves. That’s because until 2014, hemp was not allowed to be grown or sold in the United States for consumption due to its botanical resemblance to marijuana.
In fact, hemp has the same beneficial compounds, called cannabinoids, along with terpenes, and antioxidant flavonoids (with one important difference).
Today, the cannabinoids found in hemp have been featured in scientific studies, are making headlines on newsstands (USA Today), and breaking news on the air (CBS News, CNN) for their promising health benefits.
Still, there’s a lot of confusion about the cannabis plant. Here’s what you need to know about hemp and the many benefits that may be experienced.
While hemp and marijuana are both members of the Cannabis Sativa plant family, there is one big difference. Hemp only contains trace amounts of a cannabinoid called THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
This psychoactive compound (THC) is found in high amounts in marijuana and is also responsible for the “high” associated with marijuana.
Hemp, on the other hand, only has a tiny amount of naturally-occurring THC and can be sold when the hemp oil has less than 0.3% THC.
You can also find hemp oil extracts with zero THC, thanks to advanced chromatography which can remove even a trace of that specific compound.
Both hemp and marijuana have dozens of other beneficial phytocannabinoids, including cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabigerol.
Before we drill down into all the amazing ways that hemp oil can benefit the body, it’s important to know why hemp works better than any other plant oil extract you can find.
The reason is that your body has something called an Endocannabinoid System (1). If you didn’t learn about this in anatomy class it’s because it was only discovered in the 1990s.
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is a series of receptors found throughout the body – brain, immune system, central nervous system and more – that respond to cannabinoids the body produces, as well as cannabinoids from plant sources (such as hemp).
The Endocannabinoid System helps to maintain a state of homeostasis or balance in the body (2). The ECS also plays a key role in:
Endocannabinoid receptors are not only found in people, but all mammals, which means hemp oil can benefit pets too.
Now that you know the ways hemp and marijuana differ, and why hemp works in the body, here are 7 big health benefits that may be experienced from using full spectrum hemp oil.
Cannabis has been used throughout history for its pain-relieving qualities. Pain can have a variety of sources, but one culprit in the body is inflammation, which can strike joints, muscles and tissues.
Large-scale surveys show that up to a third of the population will experience an anxiety-related disorder at some point in their lives (4).
But everyday stress is even more common. Between juggling work deadlines and home demands, feelings of stress and anxiety soon follow.
Fortunately, research shows that cannabinoids may help. One review of studies on military veterans showed benefits that ranged from reduced anxiety to improved coping ability (5).
Pro-inflammatory cytokines are responsible for inflammation in joints as varied as fingers, knees and shoulders (7). Because cannabinoids help fight temporary inflammation, hemp oil can calm joint discomfort (3).
For maximum benefit, look for a cannabinoid extract that is paired with hemp seed oil. That’s because hemp seed oil is also full of beneficial plant omegas, which nourish joint health.
To target a specific area of concern in one of your joints, hemp oil can also be applied topically (in a balm) for fast relief.
Sleeplessness or a difficulty in falling and/or staying asleep affects up to 50% of people, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
A scientific review of cannabidiol in hemp suggests it promotes restful sleep, even for those who struggle with sleep (8).
While much of the headlines on cannabidiol (CBD) focus on its ability to relieve stress and discomfort, hemp oil also promotes a healthy heart.
Preliminary research suggests that cannabinoids may help blood vessels to relax and widen, which indicates it may support healthy blood pressure (9).
Full spectrum hemp oil is also a natural source of heart-healthy essential fatty acids, delivered at optimal omega ratios. These include omega-6 (linoleic acid), omega-3 (alpha-linoleic acid), and omega-9 (oleic acid).
Some oxidative stress is a necessary byproduct of living. But too many processed foods, environmental pollutants, high-intensity exercise, and a stress-filled lifestyle can all contribute to a harmful level of oxidative stress.
That’s bad for the body since over time, free radicals can damage cells and even your DNA. The best remedy for oxidative stress is found in antioxidant-rich plants and herbs.
Intense athletic training can strain muscles, leading to discomfort and long recovery times. Full spectrum help oil may be able to help.
Along with soothing temporary inflammation, one of the constituents of hemp oil is called cannabigerol (CBG). Research indicates that the cannabinoid CBG may inhibit the release of the neurotransmitter GABA, which can alleviate muscle tension (11).
The combined benefits of antioxidants, omegas and cannabinoids in hemp oil are another way to support overall exercise recovery.