The uses of the Hemp Seed are many, especially those of the meat or nut. It has many benefits to man including essential nutritional constituents, modest physiological and psychological corrective and prophylactic potential for serious conditions and an essentially indefinite potential for industrial applications ranging from guitar strings to gasoline. Come with me and explore the fascinating wonders of the holy hemp nut.
HEALTH FOOD NUT
The Greeks imagined their gods dining on the most heavenly of foods, ambrosia. What if ambrosia was not the sweet nectar of which many have dreamed but instead the most functionally perfect food? What would it be?
The hemp nut may just fit this definition of ambrosia. There is not much to say about the outer shell. If it is finely ground, the insoluble dietary fibre in the shell becomes an excellent lubricant and cleanser for the GI tract (1) and with that, we move onto the meat.
The nutty inside of sterilized hemp seed is 35.8% carbohydrates, 30.1% fatty acids, 22.5% protein, 5.9% ash, and 5.7% moisture. Every 100 grams of seed also contain vitamins A (3710 IU), B1 (0.9 mg), B2 (1.1 mg), B3 (2.5 mg), B6 (0.3 mg), C (1.4 mg), D (10 IU), and E (3 mg). It is important to note that the heat used to sterilize the seeds likely results in some damage to the vitamin content and thus these numbers should be higher in untreated seeds. The seeds are a good source of phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, sulphur, and calcium. They also contain functional levels of iron, manganese and zinc, and have trace amounts or 30 more minerals. And in case you are curious, there are 503 calories per 100 grams of seed (1). Protein content in the hemp nut can be as high as 24%.
in the nut consists of between 65% and 80% of the most readily digestible kind of protein, edestine.
Although soybeans contain a high percentage of protein, they are often not well tolerated by people because their proteins are more complex thus harder to digest and absorb. Hemp nut protein comes in the form of 19 amino acids. All 8 (or 9 depending on who you ask) essential amino acids are included in the correct proportions required by the human body (1). The most amazing constituent in the hemp nut though has to be the essential fatty acids (EFAs) which can be extracted and concentrated in hemp seed oil products. Like the essential amino acids, the EFAs get their name from the fact that they are both required for proper health and nutrition and are not produced from raw building blocks in the body but must be obtained from consuming foods that contain them.
There appear to be only two truly essential fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acid or linoleic acid (LA) and omega-3 fatty acid or linolenic acid (LNA). They are required in a 3:1 ratio respectively for long-term human health. All other important polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) can be made from these two (2). Incredibly the ratio of LA to LNA found in hemp nut and hemp oil is almost exactly 3:1 (see Figure 1). On top of this, hemp oil contains 8% of saturated fats one of the lowest concentrations found in nature.
The remainder of the oil fraction of the hemp nut is composed of omega-9 fatty acid (oleic acid), the most important non-essential fatty acid, small amounts of another PUFA called gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and stearidonic acid (3).
A wide variety of symptoms result from deficiencies in the two EFAs. Very low LA intake leads to skin disorders like eczema, hair loss, hepatic and renal dysfunction, stunted growth, miscarriage, behavioural abnormalities, male sterility, impaired ability to heal wounds, cardiovascular difficulties, and mucous membrane and glandular dryness. Chronic LA deficiency will eventually lead to death. A deficiency of LNA produces behavioural changes, impaired learning and general mental deterioration, tingling in the extremities, inflammation, and hypertension, weakness, bloating and failing vision (2 & 3). The EFAs have shown promise in the treatment of such physiological conditions as intestinal inflammation (4), memory disorders and pain conditions (5), protection against the development of cancer (LNA and metabolites) (6 & 7), autoimmune disorders like lupus, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatism (7), maintaining cardiovascular
health (8 & 9) and the regulation of blood pressure (9). The claim of benefit from EFAs to the cardiovascular system has gained the status of “qualified health claim” by the FDA (10). It is important to note that although the two long chains PUFAs responsible for the majority of the cardiovascular benefits are not present in hemp oil, they both are metabolically produced in the body from LNA (2).
Finally Researcher Lynn Osborn (1992) in her article “Hemp Seed: The Most Nutritionally Complete Food Source in the World ” stated that not only were hemp seeds a perfectly balanced source of essential amino and fatty acids but they provided the most concentrated source of plant-based globulin building material. Eating hemp seed is, therefore, a great way to boost the
immunoglobulin reserves needed to build the antibodies which fight off disease and infection (11).
CALMING THE MENTAL HEALTH NUT
Omega-3 fatty acid has recently been gaining the interest of those in the mental health industry as well. Current research suggests that LNA may help regulate mood in mood disorders (12), irritability in bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and schizophrenia (13), and act as an adaptogenic (protective) agent against stress (14). In mood disorders, the benefit of LNA may be greatest for rapid cycling bipolar disorders and unipolar manias, a treatment-resistant subclass of mood disorders.
Preliminary findings also suggest that conditions like dyslexia, dyspraxia, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorders may result from difficulty in converting EFAs to long chain PUFAs such as those available in fish oil but not in hemp seed oil (15).
Activation of the CB1 cannabinoid receptor has also been associated with many of the benefits attributed to EFAs. New evidence suggests a direct metabolic link between the omega-6 fatty acid and anandamide, called the brain’s own cannabinoid. The metabolic chain is as follows: LA > gamma-linolenic acid > dihomogammalinolenic acid > arachidonic acid + ethanolamine > arachidonoylethanolamide (a.k.a., anandamide) (2 &
16). In support of this claim, levels of anandamide were found to be elevated in the brains of piglets after they
were fed milk containing two long chain EFAs when
compared to piglets which received non-adulterated milk
(17). This suggests that at least some of the therapeutic
benefits gained from consuming hemp nut may result from an indirect activation of the endocannabiniod system via increased anandamide levels. Henry Ford for using an axe to test the strength of his
“hemp plastic” car body, reportedly no dent was left. Petrol Replaced: Prophecy of a Hemp Nut There is one final question: What to do with any oil after it goes rancid and can no longer be consumed? The answer is simple: bio diesel or vegetable oil based diesel fuel. With minor conversion, pure hemp oil can be used to run a modern diesel engine with no conversion to the engine (18). In fact, the inventor of the diesel engine,
Rudolf Diesel, used bio diesel to debut it at the 1900 Worlds fair and the first Model-T Henry Ford built was not just made from hemp based plastics but was designed to run one hempoline (hemp gasoline) (19). The emis-
sions profile for biodiesel is highly superior to petrol diesel not to mention that it’s a renewable fuel source, non-toxic, and biodegradable (try to say that about petroleum based fuels) (18).