Hemp, or industrial hemp, is a strain of the Cannabis sativa plant species that is grown specifically for the industrial uses of its derived products.[1] It is one of the fastest growing plants[2] and was one of the first plants to be spun into usable fiber 10,000 years ago.[3] It can be refined into a variety of commercial items, including paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food, and animal feed.[4][5]
Eating shelled hemp seeds will not produce the same effects as smoking marijuana. According to David P. West Ph.D., a plant researcher who has studied hemp extensively, the compound in marijuana that produces its psychotropic effect, THC, is only produced in the flowers, buds and leaves of the cannabis plants, not the seeds. However, since the seeds come into contact with the rest of the plant, some residue may remain on the seeds after processing and shelled hemp seeds may contain extremely low levels of THC. The exact levels vary by brand, so if you are very sensitive to THC and happen to buy a brand with higher-than-average levels, you may experience euphoria or hallucination. It is also highly unlikely --- although not impossible --- to get a positive drug test result after consuming large amounts of shelled hemp seeds.
As of 2011, hemp seeds are not known to cause any interactions with common medications, but you should talk to your doctor or naturopath about any over-the-counter or prescription drugs you are taking before adding hemp seeds to your diet. Blue Shield of California recommends caution to anyone taking anticoagulant drugs, since hemp seeds inhibit platelets and may pose a bleeding risk.
These seeds rank high in plant-based protein as it contains 25% of high-quality protein, which makes it superior to other plant-based superfoods like quinoa, flax, and chia seeds. Furthermore, it is composed of a large number of edible oils and a variety of essential fats in the body, including omega 3 and a rare form of omega-6 called GLA (gamma linoleic acid). As per the USDA National Nutrient Database, these small seeds contain high levels of zinc, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, iron, and fiber. It also contains vitamin E, copper, manganese, and moderate levels of carbohydrates and fats.
Hemp seeds are one of the best sources of plant-based protein and GLA and have a wide variety of health benefits, including their ability to improve heart health, stimulate digestion, build muscle mass, eliminate insomnia, treat anemia, and aid in weight loss. They also help to stimulate metabolic activity, boost the immune system, reduce symptoms of menopause and menstruation, improve skin and hair health, and build stronger bones.
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