Chet Day sent out a wonderful article written by Karen Railey on hemp. I have talked a bit about the health benefits of hemp, but I think Karen's article is a fantastic thorough review of hemp and its place in a modern healthy diet. I use hemp protein powder and hemp seed liberally in my recipes, especially in my shakes, smoothies, soups, salads, or just as a great topping to sliced fresh fruit. As Udo describes in his book Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill, hemp is an ideal food for long-term health since hemp provides a healthy balance of Omega 3:6 essential fats (EFAs).

As a sidenote, I talk quite a bit about the benefits of flaxseed as well as hemp since flax provides the essential Omega 3 essential fats; however, over the long term, the body can become imbalanced if the delicate ratio between the Omega 3 and 6 fats is not maintained. Sole consumption of flax in the absence of Omega 6 EFAs (like hemp or sunflower or sesame seeds) will cause health deterioration due to the overabundance of Omega 3's in the diet. A balance must be struck between the EFAs, and hemp is a great tool for this. Below are a few excerpts from Karen's article. The full article is at Chet Day's website.

If you'd like to view our recipes and articles on hemp, see Cindalou's Hemp Recipes & Info.

The Amazing Hemp Plant (Cannabis sativa L.)

Karen Railey

The industrial hemp plant, Cannabis sativa, should not be confused with the marijuana plant, which is its cousin. The appearance, planting patterns, and uses of the two plants are quite different. Cannabis sativa is an annual belonging to the nettle family. Hemp is tall, thin plant with most of its leaves concentrated at the top. In contrast to the commercial hemp plant, the marijuana plant is quite dense, leafier, shorter, bushier, and is planted yards apart. Cannabis sativa will grow almost anywhere, requires little fertilizer, resists pests and crowds out weeds, therefore it is a crop that is relatively easy to grow and does well as an organic crop. The plant grows quickly, requiring only 70 to 110 days to maturity. Due to this fact, industrial hemp is an abundant supplier of its extremely valuable raw materials.

The use of hemp can be traced back to 8000 BC in the Middle East and China where the fiber was used for textiles, the oil for cosmetic purposes and the seeds for food. Hemp was also used for making paper, twines, carpet thread, carpet yarns, sailcloth, and for homespun and similar grades of woven goods. From the 500's to the early 1900's, many of the worlds greatest painters including Veronese, Rembrandt, and Van Gogh, created their masterpieces on hemp canvas.

Two U.S. Presidents, Washington and Jefferson were hemp farmers when the U.S. was formed and they signed the Bill of Rights. Both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were first drafted on hemp paper. In 1916 the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued an urgent warning: "America does not have enough forest land to last to the end of this century, given our vast appetite for paper, building materials, cellulose and other useful wood pulp products." The bulletin containing this warning, bulletin 404, also offered a profitable and sustainable solution: "Grow more hemp! Virtually anything made of wood can also be made with hemp and it has a much higher sustainable yield, whereby we can enjoy a net gain in commercial productivity and an overall growth in our standard of living."

As hemp cultivation flourished in many countries, Britain declared it illegal in 1928. [...] This series of events began to undermine hemp's importance and status as the top fiber crop. The existence of industrial hemp's botanical cousin, marijuana, which contains high levels of psychoactive substances, further impaired hemp's standing. This, coupled with the desire to give a surge to the cotton, logging and synthetic fiber industries resulted in the Harrison Drug Act of 1937, which declared the cultivation of hemp in America illegal unless grown under permit.

Hemp nuts (seeds) can be pressed for the oil, which has a wide variety of cosmetic uses in salves, lotions, soaps; massage oils, hair care products, and lip balm. These have proven quite beneficial for the skin and hair. The oil is also used as a base for printing inks, paints, varnishes, and detergents and can also be used in the production of non-toxic diesel fuels.

Hemp oil contains superior nutritional and therapeutic components and is an extremely healthful addition to one's diet. Hemp seed oil is more than 75% EFAs (essential fatty acids) in a well-balanced 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3. Like the seeds, it also contains GLA (Gamma-linolenic Acid). In his book, Fats that Heal Fats that Kill, Udo Erasmus states that "hemp seed oil can be used over the long term to maintain a healthy EFA balance without leading to either EFA deficiency or imbalance."

Hemp oil also contains the carotenes and Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols) that are naturally present in the seed. Hemp seed is the richest source of EFAs in the plant kingdom and contains a relatively low percentage of saturated fats. The EFAs in the oil and seeds promote cellular growth, healthy skin, hair, and eyes, aid in immune response, disease prevention, weight control, and even in cognitive functions. The human brain is 60% fat; therefore the EFAs are critically important to its proper function and good health.

EFAs are also the raw material the body needs to produce hormones, the body's communication network for cellular activity. Hemp oil supports the body's detoxification process due to the fact that the LA (linoleic acid) and ALA (Alpha- linolenic Acid) have the ability to carry toxic substances to the surface of the skin, intestinal tract, kidneys, and lungs where they can be eliminated from the body.

EFA deficiencies can lead to a myriad of health problems including impairment of vision and neurological function, growth retardation, motor incoordination, tingling sensations in arms and legs, behavioral changes, high triglycerides, hypertension, sticky blood platelets, tissue inflammation, edema, dry skin, loss of hair, skin eruptions, liver and/or kidney degeneration, drying up of glands, susceptibility to infections, sterility in males, miscarriage in females, PMS, hormonal imbalance, and impaired wound healing and cell growth.

There are various studies that indicate many common conditions and illnesses are related to fatty acid deficiencies and that dietary supplementation of EFAs, particularly if included with a healthful, whole foods diet, will often prevent, improve, or cure these illnesses. These include atopic eczema and psoriasis, acne, high cholesterol levels, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other inflammatory diseases such as chronic bladder infection, ulcerative colitis and Chrohn's disease, osteoporosis, PMS and menopause. EFA supplementation would also be a beneficial adjunct for those suffering with cancer, diabetes, chronic depression, postpartum depression, attention deficit disorder and schizophrenic psychosis.

Hemp oil can be integrated into the diet in many ways: use in the preparation of salad dressings, marinades, dips, spreads, add to smoothies, drizzle on any food such as potatoes and cooked grains, or simply take by the spoonful as an adjunct to a healthy diet. Hemp oil has a very pleasant, nutty taste similar to sunflower oil. It is important to purchase hemp oil that is organic, made from non-sterilized seeds, pressed at cool temperatures and not chemically extracted (hexane), so the vital and delicate nutrients are intact. The oil should be in opaque, dark colored containers in a refrigerated section of the store.

After the removal of the oil from the hemp seed another useful raw material called the meal or seed cake is left behind. This meal is high in protein, about 30% if hulled hemp seeds are used and 50% if un-hulled seeds are used. The meal can be ground into flour and used to replace up to 20% of other flours in baked goods. The hull of the seed consists mainly of dietary fiber, which is indigestible, and also contains small amount of chlorophyll. It is the meat or embryo that contains the powerful nutrients that are so beneficial.

The nutritional content of the hemp seed is impressive, offering 30% complete and highly digestible protein and containing over 36% essential fatty acids, which is 16% more than flaxseed. It is the best source of Omega 3, Linolenic acid and Omega 6, Linoleic acid, as well as GLA, Gamma Linoleic acid (approximately 3%). Hemp seed contains protein, lipids, choline, inositol, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, phospholipids, phytosterols, and all eight essential amino acids. The amino acid profile is superior to soybean, human milk, and cow's milk.

Hemp nuts have many delightful applications in the culinary field. They can be substituted for dairy, soy or rice protein in the production of nondairy beverages, frozen desserts, tofu, and cheeses. The seeds have a delicious nutty flavor and may be eaten whole and raw as a snack with or without added seasonings. Toasting lightly enhances the delicious nutty flavor of the seeds, but eating them raw will preserve all the nutrients. Hemp seeds can be sprinkled on salads, vegetables, pasta, or added to smoothies, granola, baked goods, soups, sauces, dips, seed cheeses, nut milks, and nut balls. Another interesting use for the seeds is to make them into nut butter. Nut butter may also be made in a blender or Vita Mix, but this method will require that extra oil be added to make the nut butter spreadable. Nut butters can be made with or without added seasonings.


Pumpkin/Hemp Seed Milk
1/3 cup organic raw pumpkin seeds (soak overnight)
2 - 3 Tablespoons hemp seed (seeds may be soaked)
1 Tablespoon lecithin granules
1/2 cup ripe banana
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
3 Tablespoons organic brown rice syrup (or 2 ~ 3 teaspoons Stevia leaf powder)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups purified water (use less water if you like a thicker seed milk)

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Adapted from Not Milk or Nut Milks by Candia Lea Cole

Hemp Butter
1-1/4 cups hulled hemp seeds
1 small garlic clove
2 Tablespoons hemp oil or olive oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
sea salt and pepper (optional)

Grind one cup of the seeds in a blender. Combine the rest of the un-ground hulled seeds, the ground seeds, oil, and pressed garlic in a small bowl, and blend them thoroughly with a fork. Season with soy sauce, salt and pepper. Add more oil for a softer consistency. Store the butter in a glass jar in the refrigerator.

Source: Hemp Foods & Oils for Health, Gero Leson and Petra Plessnt>

Cindalou's Kitchen Blues: Healthy Celiac / Coeliac Gluten and Dairy Free Recipes


  1. Greetings. Very good site. By the way, my mum too reads it.

  2. Hi Sergey - Thanks for the compliment! I'm glad you and your mother are finding our blog helpful and useful. If you've any suggestions or requests, just let us know:)


  3. I'm all for promoting celiac awareness, too. And hay - beautiful and well written blog you have here - gotcha bookmarked!

  4. What a great article! I research the nutritional and health benefits of foods and that's how I found your article. I love it when I also find information on the history of these foods and their cultivation - and your article comes out absolutely tops for all of that!

    Someone has only just started making hemp oil in New Zealand where I live, and I can't get enough of it. But now I have a dumb question - what's the difference between hemp (seed and oil) and flax (seed and oil), is it just a different name for the same plant, or are they different plants?

  5. I NEVER knew all that about hemp! I used to take hemp protein, but just switched to raw brown rice protein. I think I'll get some more hemp though and use both.

  6. There are so many ideas on this site. I'm definitely putting it in my RSS feed. I have yet to try hemp, but I can't think of a good reason not to!

  7. I actually haven't heard of different ways to use hemp. Now that I see some, I may be using some from now on!

  8. Great read Cindy! I would love to try out that recipe for my cousins! They might get shocked if I announce that they are eating cannabis - will surely have a good laugh with that :)

  9. Hi, first time I comment, but been reading for a long time. Love your work and hope you keep it up.:)

  10. Hi. Nice recipe. I've tried it out and it is great.

  11. Thanks for making this important post to help end the confusion about hemp. I personally think it's insane to make a plant illegal. Hemp is very useful and nutritious, I'm happy we can at least get a version of it here.

  12. Hemp protein and hemp oil are some of my favorite natural health products. Like you said, the Omega 3:6 content is awesome and there are so many other benefits as well. It's hard these days to get a good ratio between Omega 3s and 6s, and I find it's difficult for me to get all the fiber I need into my diet, which hemp is rich in.

  13. Hi there,

    Hemp nuts have many delightful applications in the culinary field. Nice post!!!



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