Hemp Seeds And Hemp Seed Essential Oil

An olive green bowl of hemp seeds with a scoop inserted into the middle. White background.
Hemp seeds. Photo by Zuzuan. Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Hemp seeds are cultivated from plants of the Cannabis genus but the main species is Cannabis sativa L.

Hemp was first grown in China where it was originally found as a wild weed which became domesticated. Cultivation started about 6,000 years ago and developed as a productive crop for many use up to the Qin and hah dynasties (221 BC to 220 AD). In the ancient Chinese work, ‘The Book of Songs’ which concerns culture and social customs and The Annals which was written by Bu-Wei Leu during the Warring States period (476 to 221 BC), there are records of six kinds of crops that the ancient Chinese generally planted. These crops were named “he, su, dao, shu, ma, and mai“. ‘Ma’ is hemp.

Historically, the seeds were used as a cure for many different diseases; as an analgesic, to treat sores and skin diseases.

In the last thirty years hemp seed production has dropped from 100,000 metric tonnes per year to about 40,000 tons per year. They have been traded primarily as birdseed but in China the seeds are toasted and used in snacks. They have also been picked up by the bread making trade who see them as a novel alternative to other seeds like pumpkin (Leson and Pless, 2013).

Nutrition Of Hemp Seeds

One ounce contains 157 calories and 9 grams of protein (25% by weight), and provides good doses of iron, magnesium and zinc. Hemp seeds also contain 30% oil of which plenty are omega-3 types (Callaway, 2004). The omega-6 to omega-3 ratio (n6/n3) in hemp seed oil is usually between 2:1 and 3:1, which is considered to be optimal for human health.

The soft, light-coloured seeds are often used in smoothies, cereal and trail mixes.

Regulatory Control On Hemp Seeds

Hemp is currently banned within the European Union because of the presence of delta -9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (Oomah et al., 2002).

Hemp seeds are available in the UK as these are legal and do not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the principal component in marijuana. They are eaten raw, or ground into a meal, made into hemp milk or tea, added to seeded bread, and sprouted.

Hemp Seed Essential Oil

Hemp seed essential oil is a complex mix of many different compounds including mostly monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes and other terpenoids (Bertoli et al., 2010). The main components are myrcene, β-caryophyllene, limonene, α-pinene, β-pinene, terpinolene, and α-humulene.

Hemp Seed Oil For Pets

Hemp seed oil my be effective as a destressing ingredient for us humans but pets love it too. It seems to be just as effective for animals.

A number of users apply it topically to a pet’s skin as a way of not only massaging the animal but also helping it to relax. Consult your vet to find out how much to apply and for how long.

When a pet takes the seed oil orally, it helps it relax especially when it is over excitable and needs to be calmed down.

Help seed oil is also useful for treating arthritis in older pets. The anti-inflammatory properties help to heal and strengthen the body of the pet. Starting early means the pet will have a greater duration in benefit as it gets older.


Bertoli, A., Tozzi, S., Pistelli, L., & Angelini, L. G. (2010). Fibre hemp inflorescences: From crop-residues to essential oil production. Industrial Crops and Products, 32(3), pp. 329-337.

Callaway, J.C. (2004) Hempseed as a nutritional resource: An overview. Euphytica 140 (1-2_ pp. 65-72.

Leson, G. and Pless, P. (2013) Hemp Seed and Hemp Oil. Chapt. 38 in: Cannabis and Cannabinoids: Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Therapeutic Potential. Edt. E.B. Russo Routledge. pp. 411-

Oomah, B.D., Busson, M., Godfrey, D.V., Drover, J.C., (2002) Characteristics of hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) seed oil. Food Chem. 76, pp. 33–43

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1 Comment

  1. You need to keep hemp seed oil in the fridge as it goes off a bit too quickly. I use a very small amount on my face which I massage in so as to remove any make-up and actually just make me feel nice before I go to sleep. I think it works very well as a massage oil too. My skin is very dry but I do get blackheads often. A good scrub with this stuff seems to help clear them and then I apply my acne lotion which does the trick. I guess I’m replacing the bad oils with good oils on my skin- especially on my face.

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