Heard of Industrial Hemp Oil and it's health benefits? It is a popular topic of discussion these days. And, now that the Farm Bill has passed, it is clear that Hemp Oil is something you will be hearing about for a while!
Despite this recent attention, there is still some confusion about Industrial Hemp’s relationship to marijuana.
To help distinguish what Industrial Hemp is and to learn why it is now legal in the US, it helps to look at some of the basics.
What Is the Difference Between Industrial Hemp and Marijuana?
Industrial Hemp and marijuana are plant cousins with some drastic differences. Even though they look similar, there is a major difference between the two.
How are these 2 plants related?
Both are derived from the cannabis plant, and for this reason, both are known as cannabinoids. Plants in this family produce more than 400 chemical compounds. CBD is one of those compounds.
The difference lies in the fact that marijuana contains high amounts of the compound THC, which is responsible for the ‘head change’ one experiences after smoking or ingesting marijuana. Industrial Hemp contains very low amounts of THC – often less than 1% - and therefore does not produce a psychoactive effect, or get someone “high” like marijuana does. This is an important distinction to make from both the legal and medical perspective.
Industrial Hemp produces large concentrations of CBD, and researchers have found some remarkable health benefits of the compound. Even the federal government has become interested in Industrial Hemp over the last few years.
Is Industrial Hemp Legal in the United States?
In the 1930’s growing hemp was outlawed in the US because of its association with marijuana. However, the 2018 Farm Bill was recently passed, making hemp production legal in all 50 states. It removes Industrial Hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, and defines industrial hemp as a cannabis plant containing 0.3% or less concentration of THC.
How Do Cannabinoids Benefit Our Bodies?
To understand how intricately Industrial Hemp Oil can affect our bodies, it is important to understand the body’s endocannabinoid system.
Never heard of it? That’s no surprise – the endocannabinoid system has not yet been thoroughly studied, largely in part due to the US government’s prohibition of the cannabis plant in 1937.
However, since the 1990’s, scientists have been busy studying the endocannabinoid system and the effects of cannabinoids on this amazing, intricate body network. Part of this research was the discovery that our bodies produce cannabinoids (aka endocannabinoids), and this understanding spurred much of the research into the effects of these compounds on our bodies.
Our bodies’ cells have cannabinoid receptors in numerous body regions, such as our immune system, organs, glands, and tissues – and most significantly, the brain. It has been found that cannabinoids play a role in the regulation of stress and anxiety, increasing appetite and decreasing nausea, immune system balance, and tumor inhibition. Other cannabinoid receptors have mostly been found on immune system cells. The benefit of this appears to be inflammation reduction and a decrease in tissue damage.
Therefore, research shows that the endocannabinoid system overall ensures that the body’s central nervous and immune systems are working properly.
What Are the Potential Benefits of Hemp Oil?
Plant-derived cannabinoids such as Industrial Hemp Oil, or CBD, mimic endocannabinoids and boost the endocannabinoid system. It should be no surprise then that the potential benefits of Hemp Oil are numerous. Early research has shown that Industrial Hemp Oil can help with several conditions, including the following:
- Inflammation – CBD binds to endocannabinoid receptors to produce an anti-inflammatory effect.
- Pain – possibly making CBD and other cannabinoids a less dangerous alternative to opioids.
- Anxiety – studies have shown that CBD can support emotional balance and decrease the effects of anxiety.
- Epilepsy treatment – research done in 2012 supports CBD as a therapeutic agent to treat a wide range of human epilepsies.
- Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis – research from 2006 suggests that CBD has a neuroprotective effect, and may help prevent the breakdown of the protective coating surrounding nerve cells.
- Cancer – research from 2015 showed that CBD inhibited tumor growth in breast, lung, prostate, and colon cancers.
How is CBD Isolated from Industrial Hemp Plants?
There are several methods that can be used to extract Hemp Oil from the industrial hemp plant, and they are not all equal. Additionally, there are different varieties of the plant that are used for extraction because certain strains are higher in CBD concentration and lower in THC.
The method considered by most in the industry to be the best for CBD extraction uses pressurized carbon dioxide. This extraction method is the most commonly used due to the yield of a highly pure product. Carbon dioxide is very safe to use - in fact, food companies use it to remove caffeine from coffee. After this process, the raw oil is sent to a lab for testing and to ensure the quality and potency.
The research gathered so far is very promising regarding the benefits of Industrial Hemp and the CBD that is extracted from it.
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