What Are the Side Effects of Hemp Oil?

Bethan Jenkins

August 7th, 2017


Hemp and its discovery has played a big role in various societies throughout history, believe it or not. Derived from the Cannabis sativa plant species, hemp’s many uses have varied, from food and clothes to medicinal applications. Known for its fibrous qualities, the fast-growing plant species has been cultivated for more than 10,000 years, not only for the creation of paper, rope and textiles but also, for organic body care and even biofuel!

The medicinal benefits associated with hemp, such as skin protection, hormonal balance regulation and varicose vein prevention, can be experienced when the seed has been cleaned to 99.9% and the oil extracted thereafter. Unrefined hemp oil is usually cold pressed and will be light or dark green in color, depending on how much natural chlorophyll is contained in the seeds.

According to the Hemp Business Journal, the hemp industry in the U.S. will turn over $1.6 billion by the year 2020, proving just how promising the industry actually is. Regardless of the fact it is a popular nutritionally balanced oil, the vast majority of users are focusing solely on the positive effects and so, remain blissfully unaware of the possible side effects linked to hemp oil use.

Common Uses for Hemp Oil and Potential Health Consequences

Rich in essential fatty acids, hemp oil contains low amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and high levels of cannabidiol (CBD). CBD oil products and supplements are being sold on store shelves, at medical marijuana dispensaries, and on the Internet in many forms. Sprays, capsules, liquids, chewing gums, moisturizers and hair products are just a few examples of the myriad products made available to cannabis oil consumers. Claimed to improve health and quality of life, hemp oil is favored for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

The US National Library of Medicine reported that hemp seed oil can be used for cancer prevention. In addition to this, hemp seed oil reduces pain caused by arthritis, helps support weight loss, and is recommended as an acne treatment. Although the perks are incredibly alluring, it is crucial to make yourself aware of the potential health implications, too.

Below, we discuss the possible negative side effects of using hemp oil:

  1. Bloodstream Problems – The body’s anticoagulant properties can be affected by frequent use of hemp oil and similar supplements. For this reason, patients who suffer from cardiac medical conditions or blood clotting may be advised to steer clear of using the oil. In the worst case scenario, blood clotting can cause heart attacks therefore it is advisable to have a discussion with your doctor or physician prior to using hemp seed oil. [I]
  2. Immunosuppression – The cannabinoids present in hemp oil have been described as a “potent immunosuppressive”, which can have its pros and cons. A study published on NCBI confirms how hemp oil can effectuate positive effects on diseases related to the immune system, such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis. On the other hand, Oxford University’s Dr. R. A. Newsholme stated how the immune system might not function properly when polyunsaturated fats (such as those contained in hemp oil) are consumed. [II]
  3. Digestive Symptoms – Abdominal cramping caused by softened stools can occur when hemp oil is ingested, due to the fact it is a bulk-forming laxative. Additional research is required to solidify these claims, however, people who deal with digestive problems should refrain from using hemp oil. [IV]
  4. Peroxides – When heated to more than 121 degrees Fahrenheit, hemp seed oil can turn into peroxides that may damage the skin. This can be avoided if you refrain from heating the oil to high temperatures. Keep this in mind if you tend to use hemp oil for frying or as a flavor enhancer. [V]
  5. Cardiac Dysfunction – Consuming hemp oil in excessive quantities can prompt cardiac dysfunction. A staggering 80% of hemp oil is comprised of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs). This high level of PUFA can trigger a wide range of cardiovascular problems, including heart dysfunction. [VI] Conversely, cannabidiol (CBD) is said to actually limit cell damage following strokes and heart attacks, according to Medical Marijuana, Inc.
  6. Slowed Brain Development – Also contained in hemp seed oil (in addition to PUFAs) is omega-6 fatty acids. Sure, omega-6 fatty acids can regulate metabolism and enhance bone health. Nonetheless, overloading the body with hemp oil may result in an imbalance of omega-6 fatty acids, which can hinder brain growth and development, particularly in cases of fetal brain development. [VII]
  7. Hypotension Psychomotor Slowing – Dystonic movement disorders have been closely linked to hemp oil use. One example is a preliminary open pilot study that saw five patients receiving oral doses of hemp oil for six weeks. Combined with typical medication, the patients who were suffering from dystonic movement disorders experienced mild side effects, such as psychomotor slowing, sedation, and dry mouth. [VIII] Going against this fact, involuntary muscle contractions caused by dystonia have, in many cases, been treated with therapeutic cannabis use. [IX]
  8. CBD Hemp Extracts Test Positive on Drugs Test – There is a possibility of failing a drugs test if you regularly use hemp CBD oils and extracts. The truth is that CBD’s molecular structure is dissimilar to THC’s molecular structure. Despite this, some hemp oils still contain THC and when this is the case, a hair or urine sample will detect it in your blood. In fact, as little as 1% THC will show up on a drugs test. [X]
  9. THC Effect – Anyone who works with big machinery or in hazardous environments ought to think twice about using hemp oil since it contains THC. In some instances, this neurological chemical is said to possess hallucinogenic properties, which can cause anxiety, euphoria, or loss of coordination. [XI]

Should the use of hemp oil be avoided?

Not necessarily. Although there are a handful of side effects associated with hemp seed oil use, the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry recently published a groundbreaking study revealing the many health-promoting nutrients contained in the cannabis compound. Linolenic acids, vitamins A, C and E, aliphatic alcohols, magnesium, calcium, potassium, sulfur, and phosphorus are contained in the oil’s nutritional profile.

Combined, these health-enhancing nutrients can effectively contribute to the disintegration of fatty acids in the body, not to mention minimize the effects of PMS, menopause, eczema and a wide range of debilitating ailments. In fact, hemp seed oil is an excellent source of plant-based protein and may even decrease the risk of heart disease.

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Bethan Jenkins

About Bethan Jenkins

Bethan is a full-time wanderluster, traveler, and digital nomad with 7 years of experience in the freelance writing world. She has mastered the art of beating jet lag and using hammocks as an office for content curation.

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