Hemp: Not For Human Consumption???
Thread posted on the Restore list:
I found this text in a side-box of a much larger article titled:
"Instead of Soybeans... Hemp and Kenaf" by Sally Fallon
in the Summer 2000 issue of a journal called Wise Traditions
which she edits and was kind enough to mail me.
I don't quite know what to make of it, so perhaps others on the "restore"
list may want to address the issues she brings up. As far as I'm concerned
the cannabinoid issue is just a "legal" issue, and the trace amounts found
in hemp seed oil are of no nutritional or medicinal consequence. But her
claims about the high polyunsaturated content of hemp oil concerns me. All
oil have their pro-and-cons. The trick is to mix and match appropriately.
Recently there have been concerns about Canola oil being nothing more that
genetically modified rape seed oil, which we know to be poisonous. Cotton
seed oil used heavily in processed foods is "definitely" not fit for human
consumption!!! Some people swear by the health benefits of Coconut oil,
while others feel it's just as bad as lard! Who's to know? Who are we to
listen to anymore? There are so many conflicting reports. I saw a story on
French TV a couple of years ago about a town of 10.000 inhabitants in China
today where 600 people were over 100 years old. They all used a lot of hemp
seed oil in their diet. So hemp seed oil is indeed still commonly used in
rural China, seemingly to no ill effect, and perhaps even some great
As far as I'm concerned the jury is still out.
Hemp: Not For Human Consumption
by Sally Fallon
A number of companies are now selling hemp oil, toasted and shelled hemp
seeds and granola bars containing hemp seeds. This is not a good use of
hemp. Hemp may be appropriate for domestic animals and birds, but it should
not be used for human food. In China, where cultivation of hemp originated,
hemp oil was used occasionally, but there are no references in the Chinese
literature to the use of hemp seeds as food for human beings. (Simoons, Food
in China, 1991)
Hemp oil has been promoted in recent years as a "heart healthy" oil that it
rich in essential fatty acids and low in saturated fat. Hemp oil is indeed
highly unsaturated, and this is exactly why it should be avoided. Hemp oil
is over 75 percent polyunsaturated, containing about 55 percent omega-6
fatty acids and about 20% omega-3 fatty acids. It contains only about 10
percent saturated fatty acids and 10 percent monounsaturated fatty acids. It
is, therefore, highly unstable, and prone to oxidation: and the high content
of linoleic acid makes it particularly unsuitable for human consumption.
Diets containing excess of polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly omega-6
fatty acids, have been linked not only to heat disease but also to cancer
and autoimmune disease.
An additional problem derives from the fact that hemp oil may contain trace
amounts of cannabinoids and these substances can then turn up in the urine
of those who consume it. In one research project, seven adults volunteers
purchased hemp oil from a health food store and ingested 15 milliliters
each. urine samples taken at 8, 24, and 48 hours after ingestion were
positive for THC. (Journal of Analytical Toxicology October 1997
21(6):482-485.) If these volunteers had been obliges to give a urine sample
to their employers, they would have failed their drug test.
Because hemp oil is highly unsaturated, it makes an excellent base for
paints and varnishes. In fact, there is no need to consider hemp for human
consumption except in small quantities for medicinal purposes. There are
many good fats and oils that humans can use and there are many good
industrial uses for all the by-products of the hemp plant. Let's not make
the same mistake with hemp that we have made with soy, by promoting its
inappropriate use as a human food.
Response from John Roulac of Nutiva:
I am responding to the following article you wrote titled "Hemp: Not For
Human Consumption". You make several statements that are either
outdated, misleading and or have no science to back them up.
These include and [note my comments in brackets]:
"Hemp oil is indeed highly unsaturated, and this is exactly why it
should be avoided."
"Diets containing excess of polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly
omega-6 fatty acids, have been linked not only to heat disease but also
to cancer and auto immune disease."
[Seeds and nuts for thousands of years have been used from the
hunter/gather times to the age of agriculture. Based on your suggestion
healthy foods such as fish, walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds ,pumpkins
seeds, chia seeds and flax seeds, which are rich in polyunsaturated fatty
acids, particularly omega-6 fatty acids, should be avoided because they
cause cancer and heart disease. There is a huge amount of literature
supporting that the CONSUMPTION of foods rich in polyunsaturated fatty
acids add to our health and vitality. What studies support your claims ?
What EFA sources are you suggesting people consume ? Most cancer victims
are often very low in EFAs and leading medical doctors such as DR Andrew
Weil recommend adding EFAs to one's diet.]
"In China, where cultivation of hemp originated, hemp oil was used
occasionally, but there are no references in the Chinese literature to
the use of hemp seeds as food for human beings." (Simoons, Food in China,
[Chinese peasants to this day eat hempseeds and it is used in Chinese
medicines. See the book: Nutritional and Medicinal Guide to Hemp Seed
by Kenneth Jones. This 60 page book provides a historical and current
review of the nutritional and medicinal benefits of hemp seed.
Chapters include "Hemp Seed and Folk Medicine," "Ancient Chinese
Prescriptions," "Complete Nutritional Analysis," and "Hemp Seed Food
Products." Written by a medical writer specializing in ethnobotany.
Printed on hemp paper. ISBN 0-9625638-9-7, $7.95 .
To order call 800-265-4367. I will be obtaining other references on
this. Also Eastern Europe has had a long history of consuming hempseed for
"It is, therefore, highly unstable, and prone( ed-hemp) to oxidation.."
[Hemp is indeed subject to rancidity. Yet it has has high levels of
Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant- 5 times more than flax. Hempseed needs
to be handled carefully and our firm takes steps to insure the freshest
product reaches our customers. Hemp's oil EFA level is similar to walnuts
and thus indicates it needs to handled properly, not shunned.]
"An additional problem derives from the fact that hemp oil may contain
trace amounts of cannabinoids and these substances can then turn up in
the urine of those who consume it."
[This is outdated information. Properly cleaned hempseed now contains less
than 10 ppm of THC. A major hemp foods/thc study funded in part by the
Canadian government showed it is highly unlikely anyone can test positive
by eating hemp foods. See www.naihc.org under study section for the
As you may recall I wrote to you and sent off literature for your review
this past summer. I never heard back from you. You make some major charges
that as a member of the hemp foods industry I take seriously. Your
statement- Hemp: Not For Human Consumption is slanderous.
Please note I have cc'd several other hemp food company's. I suggest you
do not ignore this email. Many of us will be meeting this Friday at our
yearly confernce and thus I hope you will respond shortly.
John W Roulac
President and Founder of Nutiva
PS I have enclosed information on hemp foods and Nutiva at the end of
From: "Paul Giroux" firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Wednesday, November 01, 2000
Subject: Re: Not For Human Consumption?
Why does this smell of McCaffery. Is there someone on the list with the
real breakdown of hemp oil? That story about China is a little understated.
There was a time China was going through a famine and the way I heard it is,
that the Chinese lived pretty much on Hemp(seed?). Couldn't tell you the
actual year, or even the century, but it is supposed to be real life history
concerning a big portion of China. Chris Conrad's book I believe had
something about it.
P.S. Do I remember right that McCaffery was trying to get DEA to pass a new
bill concerning just this thing.
P.S.S. Do I remember right that McCaffery was caught buying the media (as if
government pressure was never enough.)
PSSS Just because someone hasn't been caught buying Studies, doesn't mean
they haven't. I wonder how many seeds they gave to the poor monkeys.
PSSST: Anything in excess will kill you. Specially GOVERNMENT.
From what I can make out by her literature, she is someone who feels soy has
a lot of problems as a food. I don't think she has any link with the
proposed DEA Bill that would impose a zero tolerance for THC products, in
effect banning all hemp foods, and some cosmetics. Like you, everything in
moderation. Three words: Blow Fish & Rhubarb! She's concerned about people
who are being mislead thinking that substituting soy for everything is
potentially harmful to the health of diet faddists.
So I asked her about hemp, and she sent me this article she wrote. She's a
hemp advocate, but she just feels hemp foods, like soy foods, are not
appropriate for human consumption. Perhaps she doesn't know enough about
hemp, perhaps she's overstating the dangers of soya, I don't know... I'm
researching this and keeping an open mind.
But yes, I agree that what she wrote could be misinterpreted to "play" into
the DEA's position. But if they decide to abide by her logic, they'd have to
ban soy as well. See the nuance?
Response from Richard Rose:
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 2000 12:38:20 -0800
From: Richard Rose <email@example.com>
Subject: Hemp: 5,000 Years of Human Consumption
Dear Ms. Fallon--
I wish to correct a number of errors of fact in the story you wrote, below. But of particular concern is just how wide of distribution did this story get? Where and when was it published?
I trust wherever it went, you will issue the appropriate corrections. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us at the Hemp Food Association. With over 110 documents on our site (<http://www.hempfood.com/>www.hempfood.com), surely you could have written a better, more informed piece.
If you wish to see the range of professional hempseed foods available, I invite to the largest Store on the web for hempseed foods: http://www.store.yahoo.com/hempnut>http://www.store.yahoo.com/hempnut
(full disclosure: it is my company).
[Hemp: Not For Human Consumption by Sally Fallon
"A number of companies are now selling hemp oil, toasted and shelled hemp
seeds and granola bars...]
It appears you relied upon only 1 company's offerings, based on your description of the products above, many of which frankly do not inspire confidence in their design or manufacture. However, today many more hempseed foods are being produced which are robustly-engineered, including state-of-the-art nutrition bars, gelcaps with hempseed oil, veggie burgers, cheese, and numerous popular organic foods. In most cases, these foods are much more nutritious than their non-hempseed counterparts.
[...containing hemp seeds. This is not a good use of hemp. Hemp may be appropriate for domestic animals and birds, but it should not be used for human food. In China, where cultivation of hemp originated, hemp oil was used occasionally, but there are no references in the Chinese literature to the use of hemp seeds as food for human beings. (Simoons, Food in China, 1991)"...]
I discovered the following facts in the 4 years of research for my book The HempNut Health and Cookbook (available on-line at http://www.store.yahoo.com/hempnut or at Amazon.com):
In 1937, Ralph Loziers, general counsel of the National Institute of Oilseed Production, told the Congressional committee studying marijuana prohibition that hempseed... is used in all the Oriental nations and also in a part of Russia as food. It is grown in their fields and used as oatmeal. Millions of people every day are using hempseed in the Orient as food. They have been doing this for many generations, especially in periods of famine. As Loziers noted, it wasn't just the possibility of an important food industry which would be squashed by the Marijuana Tax Act, which would regulate Cannabis for the first time. But the paint and varnish industry would also be greatly impacted since they used hempseed oil as a drying agent. In the two years prior to the Act, 179 million pounds of hempseed had been imported into the U.S. for this purpose alone.
The earliest Chinese references to hemp are in the Ch'i Min Yao Shu. Imprints of what appear to be hempen cloth have been identified on Neolithic pots from the site of Panpho in Shensi, dating back to perhaps 3000 BC; the earliest surviving fragment of hemp cloth dates from the Western Chou, and both the plant and the cloth made from it are mentioned many times in the classical texts, including the Shih Ching [11th century BC], Chou Li and Li Chi [both about 100 to 200 BC]. In the 6th century A.D., the Ch'i Min Yao Shu advises "Some of China's most important crops, like rice, millet and hemp, have been cultivated since neolithic times..." It seems probable that the earliest oil crops cultivated in China were brassicas and hemp. Hempseed contains about 30% oil, and hemp oil seems to have been used quite extensively in traditional China. It was considered to have an offensive smell and was rated lowest of all the cooking oils, but it was a good lamp oil as it produced no smoke and did not harm the eyes.
Use of hempseed as medicine appears in the 14th century A.D. in a text called Ri Yong Ben Cao (Household Materia Medica). During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 A.D.), a large section of the Pen T‚sao Kang Mu pharmacopoeia was devoted to hempseed. It acknowledged the plant‚s calming influence and was classified as a superior medicine that was inherently non-toxic and suitable for long-term use. The Pen T‚sao also quotes older texts that proclaim that whole hempseed is useful „to mend and help all of the central areas and benefit the chi [life force].
The Chinese used hempseed to remain fertile, strong and vigorous, and not be subject to aging. It has the capacity to cure Zhong Feng (stroke-induced neurological impairment) and the problems of excess sweating which it brings on. The Pen T. Sao also writes that hempseed will aid in the growth of the body's muscle fiber and will increase the flow of mother's milk, and that it can be used to hasten childbirth, where the delivery is troubled with complications, or overdue.
The Pen T. Sao also includes a formula to Build Up an Age-Enduring Supply of Beneficial Qi (Nai Lao Yi Qi) where two liters of hempseed and one liter of soybeans are boiled together, then slowly fried until they become a dried powder, which is then rolled up with honey to form pills taken twice daily. One variety of ma zi (hemp plant) that produced pea-sized hempseed was considered of the highest quality.
Around the turn of the 19th century, hempseed was widely consumed in China as a longevity tonic to prevent old age and firm the flesh. In Oriental medicine, hempseed is classified as being sweet and neutral and affecting
the stomach, spleen and large intestines. Hempseed is indicated for dysentery and has been used as an agent that destroys worms, and also as a diuretic.
Hempseed lubricates and nourishes the colon and is still included in patent formulas for its laxative properties, a remedy gentle enough for the elderly and postpartum women. It is indicated for menstrual irregularities, post-partum recovery, recovery from fever, severe vomiting, blood deficiency, and constipation due to intestinal dryness.
Hempseed is also used to clear heat and promote wound healing. It is used both orally and topically, and helps nourish the yin fluids of the body. It is used in dosages between nine and thirty grams. When hempseed was given to people with hypertension for five to six weeks, they showed a decrease in their blood pressure without any side effects.
Formulas including hempseed are Ma-zi-ren-wan (Cannabis Seed Pills) for constipation with hemorrhoids, and Wan-bing-hui-chun (Intestine Moistening Decoction) for the treatment of constipation. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the average intake for hempseed in a patent combination formula is nine to fifteen grams. These are available in Oriental medicine shops.
Hempseed oil is also used topically in TCM for sores, burns, sulfur poisoning, hair loss, dry throat and ulcerations. Boils on the heads of children were once treated with a poultice of ground hempseed and honey. In North Vietnam, hempseed is included in formulas to reduce fever, aid childbirth, and treat prolapsed uterus.
The indigenous Hmong of southeast Asia have reportedly been making hempseed tofu (without soybean) for over 1,000 years.
The consumption of raw or roasted hemp seed is as common as eating sunflower seeds or peanuts in many parts of China today. Edible hempseed is available at food markets, as it remains a popular traditional food that has been enjoyed by millions of the Chinese people for many centuries. Fresh roasted hempseed remains a popular snack in China.
Edible hempseed was not initially popular with Europeans who regarded it as coarse fare, famine food to fall back during bad times. They must have felt hempseed nutrition was better invested in feeding animals during good times.
Toasted hempseed is sold like popcorn in streets and movie theaters in China. Hempseed is still used in a buttered tea enjoyed by Tibetans. During the 1950s in Southern Africa, Sotho tribal mothers fed ground hempseed to their children while weaning them.
In Russia, the oil has been made into a type of butter. In Japan, hempseed is called asanomi and used to make fried tofu burgers. Hempseed meal is used in beer brewing to give flavor and body. In Germany, the hempseed meal remaining after pressing the oil is sold to bakeries.
Hemp has also been a primary survival food during times of famine in China and Europe. During the nineteenth century, there were two famines where Australians used hempseed as a survival food. Near the end of World War II, when multitudes of people in China were starving in the north, hemp became a survival food for them. Hemp has also served during times of famine in Europe.
Before the introduction of the potato and maize from the New World, hempseed, by necessity rather than choice, was a frequent staple food of the rural poor in areas of the world where hempseed was abundant because of increased hemp cultivation for fiber in the 15th century.
In northeastern Europe, the traditional hemp growing zones that supplied fiber hemp for western European shipping expansion in the 15th century, turned to locally abundant hempseed for vegetable oil and made good use of the whole hempseed ground fine. Hempseed was often made into a smooth paste, similar to peanut butter.
In the European old country, peasants ate hemp porridge and were more resistant to disease than the nobility who considered hemp a food of the lower classes. European monks at one time ate three meals a day of hempseed in the form of porridge, gruel or soup, and were sustained by it.
In Lithuania and Poland, hempseed soup is eaten on Christmas eve, when the departed were believed to visit the living. In Latvia and the Ukraine, a cannabis dish is served on Three Kings‚ Day. European peasants planted their seeds on saint's days. Southern Slavs used cannabis seed at weddings to ensure happiness and wealth.
In the Baltic nation of Latvia, hempseed is traditionally included in festival foods eaten during St. John's Day. A soup made from hempseed called semientiatka is eaten ritually on Christmas Eve in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Ukraine.
In first-century Rome, Emperor Nero‚s physician Dioscorides recommended hempseed juice (oil) as a remedy for earaches, and another physician, Pliny the Elder, suggested hempseed juice to expel insects and worms that had gotten into the ear. He also prescribed hempseed for constipation in farm animals. The seed was used to remedy gout in second-century Rome.
It has been suggested that the formerly unidentified Hebrew word, Tzli'q, makes reference to a Jewish meal of roasted hempseed that was popular in medieval times, and was sold by Jews in European markets. (The first part of the name simply means roasted, the final Quoph, an abbreviation of q'aneh, the word for Cannabis).
In India, according to the legends of Mayhayana Buddhism, Buddha subsisted on a single hemp seed a day during the six steps of asceticism which lead him to enlightenment. In modern India Hemp seed is still eaten by many of India‚s poor people: a mixture called bosa consists of the seeds of goosegrass (eleusine) and hemp, and mura is made with parched wheat, amaranth or rice, and hemp seed. The seeds are said to make all vegetables more palatable and complete foods.
The British herbalist Nicholas Culpeper (1616-1654) wrote, emulsion or decoction of the seed ... eases colic and always the troublesome humors in the bowels and stays (stops) bleeding at the mouth, nose and other places. The 1794 edition of the Edinburgh New Dispensatory referred to an emulsion of hempseed oil in milk that was given as treatment for venereal disease and as a cough remedy.
The Journal of Biological Chemistry in 1915 presented the ideas which would later become the basis for protein complentarity and combining (a popular concept among vegetarians, but since refuted). Edestin, the main protein in hempseed, is used in numerous growth trials and discussed on many pages. That same year the Journal published another vegetable protein study that suggested that protein feeding in the future will be based rather on the amino acid makeup than on the results of past feeding experiments. And the relatively large amount of lysine present in the soy bean<sum>hempseed, and sunflower seed is especially noteworthy.
In 1955 the Czechoslovakia Tubercular Nutrition Study concluded that hempseed was the only food that can successfully treat the consumptive disease tuberculosis and that it proved to be even in their smallest doses<sum>an utmost effective remedy. The EFAs not only help to restore wasting bodies but also improve damaged immune systems, so it is not surprising that modern researchers have studied them in relationship to immune disorders, such as AIDS.
In Japan, hempseed remains in the diet in Shichimi used for seasoning, and Asanomi, a tofu burger with hempseed pressed into it. The Shinto religion still requires the use of hemp in its ceremonies. And when the armies in the feudal age went to war, they often used balls of ground hemp seed and brown rice gluten to keep them strong.
In 1881 a German scientist first discovered that the protein edestin is found in the seeds of hemp, and in 1889 that hempseed contained lecithin.
In 1909 an British scientist discovered the enzyme protease in plants. From ungerminated hempseed he isolated a vegetable trypsin, which he believed was not a single substance (as commonly believed) but a mixture of at least two proteases, a mixture of a peptase with an ereptase.
Even the original Health Nut, Dr. John Kellogg, mentions hempseed oil in his important book on diet in 1921.
In 1932 a patent was issued for a gluing process using hempseed protein. Today milk protein is used in glues. And in 1937 a patent was issued that used hempseed protein to make spun filaments, films, and threads that is like silk and wool to the same scientists that first spun vegetable protein for food.
HempNut? is the result of a technological breakthrough that produces an unviable and therefore legal product that has no detectable THC residue because of the shell being removed. Shelling causes the seed to be unable to grow, thus making it legal. The product is also much more delicious, pleasant and easy to eat and cook, and forty percent more nutritious. HempNut? currently uses seeds grown in Canada and Europe.
And I have more if you need it...
Hemp oil has been promoted in recent years as a "heart healthy" oil that it rich in essential fatty acids and low in saturated fat. Hemp oil is indeed highly unsaturated, and this is exactly why it should be avoided. Hemp oil is over 75 percent polyunsaturated, containing about 55 percent omega-6
If this was true, then fish oil and flax oil should also be avoided. But then why would the US government require infant formulas to now be fortified with omega-3 fatty acids?
In the past few years many studies have shown the power of omega-3 fatty acid in preventing or treating many illnesses and conditions. These studies have been published in such respected medical journals as The Lancet, Annals of Internal Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association, American Journal of Cardiology, New England Journal of Medicine, British Medical Journal, American Journal of Epidemiology, Archives of Internal Medicine, Archives of General Psychiatry, Nutrition Today, Medical Journal of Australia, Cancer, Journal of Lipid Research, Lipids, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, Nutrition Reviews, and British Journal of Nutrition. In those studies omega-3 was found useful for angioplasty, arrhythmia, asthma, atherosclerosis, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder, breast cancer, colon cancer, coronary heart disease, Crohn‚s disease, cystic fibrosis, dementia, depression, diabetes, elevated serum triglycerides, emphysema, hypertension, memory loss, migraine headaches, myocardial infarction, normal brain and eye development in infants and children, obesity, prostate cancer, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and sudden cardiac death. They also found that it was important to consume vitamin E with omega-3s, to prevent oxidation (rancidity). While most of the studies used omega-3 from fish or flax oils, hempseed oil should be acceptable as well since it is 20% omega-3.
Fatty acids and about 20% omega-3 fatty acids. It contains only about 10 percent saturated fatty acids and 10 percent monounsaturated fatty acids. It is, therefore, highly unstable, and prone to oxidation: and the high content of linoleic acid makes it particularly unsuitable for human consumption. Diets containing excess of polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly omega-6 fatty acids, have been linked not only to heat disease but also to cancer and autoimmune disease.
The types of oils you are talking about are canola, soybean, and corn. And the reason they were found to be unhealthful was that hydrogenated fats were what was being used in the studies, such as those found in baked goods, margarine and shortening. The study to which you refer is included in the references, above.
An additional problem derives from the fact that hemp oil may contain trace amounts of cannabinoids and these substances can then turn up in the urine of those who consume it. In one research project, seven adults volunteers purchased hemp oil from a health food store and ingested 15 milliliters each. Urine samples taken at 8, 24, and 48 hours after ingestion were positive for THC. (Journal of Analytical Toxicology October 1997 21(6):482-485.) If these volunteers had been obliges to give a urine sample to their employers, they would have failed their drug test.
It is true that in the past, many hempseed oil producers were not properly cleaning the hempseed before it was pressed, resulting in adherents stuck to the outside of the shell getting into the oil. This manufacturing defect has been corrected by hempseed oil producers, and it now contains zero THC.
Because hemp oil is highly unsaturated, it makes an excellent base for paints and varnishes. In fact, there is no need to consider hemp for human consumption except in small quantities for medicinal purposes. There are many good fats and oils that humans can use and there are many good industrial uses for all the by-products of the hemp plant. Let's not make the same mistake with hemp that we have made with soy, by promoting its inappropriate use as a human food.
It is not clear to me why you felt motivated to 'warn the public,' but in hempseed you picked the wrong 'evil.' It is perhaps the most nutritious food on the planet, and has none of the anti-nutritional you so (rightfully perhaps) ascribe to soybean. Considering the truly dangerous food additives on the market (aspartame, kava, e-coli) I suggest that you look at more than 1 (poorly-researched) book before you slander mankind's oldest and most nutritious food crop!
Hemp Food Association,
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