|Hemp, Cannabis sativa L.|
The results of fatty acid analysis are shown in Table 1 and further iterate that the relative ratios and composition of hemp seed oil fatty acids are ideal for human nutrition. As shown, LA concentrations ranged from 52-62% of total fatty acid composition while LNA concentrations ranged from 12-23%. The range of concentrations of fatty acids results from natural variations and factors, including processing and storage methods, as well as age of the samples being tested, could contribute to variability of the fatty acid profile.
As shown in Table 1, hemp seed oil is comprised primarily of linoleic acid (LA) and α-linolenic acid (LNA or ALA) in a 3:1 ratio. Other beneficial natural products such as β-sitosterol, which contributes hypo-cholesterolemic properties (cholesterol lowering) and the tocopherols (a generic term for vitamin E and compounds chemically related to it) which have both anti-oxidant and anti-cancer activities, are present in sufficient efficacious quantities. In addition, measurable amounts of terpenes, including β-caryophyllene and myrcene, cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) and phenolics were detected, including methyl salicylate (Oil of Wintergreen, a counter-irritant in ointments or liniments for muscle pain, also a flavouring agent) which itself has many health benefits enjoyed by people for centuries. Today aspirin or acetylsalicylic acid, a close relative of methyl salicylate, is one of the most widely used drugs in the world because of its antipyretic (prevents or reduces fever), anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Pharmacological effects of methyl salicylate are similar to those of aspirin and it is a beneficial component of hemp seed oil, even if present in trace quantities.
Another component of hemp seed oil with several reported activities is β-sitosterol. Although studies have primarily demonstrated the efficacy of β-sitosterol in reducing hypercholesterolaemia (the presence of high levels of cholesterol in the blood), additional anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties have been studied and observed. Within the intestine, phytosterols reduce cholesterol solubility by excluding it from micelles, thereby preventing its absorption. In addition, competition exists between the sterols and cholesterol for uptake into the intestinal mucosa. A quantitative representation of this can be seen in human studies. Patients given 500 mg of cholesterol daily in their diets in addition to 1 g of β-sitosterol showed decreased cholesterol absorption. Mean reduction levels were 42%, demonstrating the efficacy of β-sitosterol even at low concentrations. As shown in Table 1, sterol concentrations based on β-sitosterol were measured in sufficient quantities at 100-148 g/L.
Although β-sitosterol was the predominant sterol, other minor sterols may have contributed to this measurement. At these levels, many of β-sitosterol’s beneficial qualities will be obtainable. β-Sitosterol seems to be particularly effective in cholesterol uptake inhibition, especially when delivered through dietary fats. No appreciable decreases in efficacy were observed, even with long-term administration. In addition, lack of toxicity and little, or no side effects have been attributed to β-sitosterol, making it an attractive option for long-term cholesterol reducing therapy. Although not studied as extensively as its hypocholesterolemic properties, relevant anti-viral and anti-inflammatory activities of β-sitosterol have been shown.
|Glandular structures (trichomes)|
*cis fatty acids - the bend in the carbon chain is much more pronounced in the cis isomer compared to the trans isomer. For this reason, cis fatty acids do not solidify as readily as trans fatty acids. Due to the larger bend, the cis isomers cannot line up next to one another in as ordered a fashion as the trans isomers. While trans fatty acids are uncommon in natural fatty acids, they form readily when polyunsaturated fatty acids from plants are 'partially hydrogenated' chemically (done commercially to make plant fatty acids more solid and improve shelf-life). Epidemiological studies correlate consumption of trans fatty acids with increased risk of heart disease.
|World Health Organisation Dietary Recommendations|
Fatty Acids and Triacylglycerols
The Composition of Hemp Seed Oil and Its Potential as an Important Source of Nutrition
Hemp ... Seed Oil: Analytical and Phytochemical Characterization of the Unsaponifiable Fraction
American Chemical Society
Hemp seed oil: A source of valuable essential fatty acids
Study of Thiosemicarbazone Derivative of Essential Fatty Acid
Occurrence of "omega-3" stearidonic acid ... in hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) seed
International Hemp Association