Can Hemp help reverse chronic conditions like diabetes?

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"Hemp has less than 0.3 per cent (of THC), while cannabis or marijuana contains 20 per cent or more," said Ira Rattan, vegan nutritionist and holistic wellness counsellor

Hemp, a plant that comes from the same species as cannabis, contains healthy fats and essential fatty acids and is also a great source of protein. Additionally, it comes packed with high amounts of vitamins, said Ira Rattan, vegan nutritionist, and holistic wellness counsellor. She added that unlike popular notions, hemp and its products have “low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — a substance responsible for intoxication”.

“Hemp has less than 0.3 per cent (of THC), while cannabis or marijuana contains 20 per cent or more,” she told indianexpress. Does that mean one can consume hemp for good health?

Considering the growing push towards including hemp — touted as a “superfood” — in one’s diet, let’s understand more about hemp seeds, hemp oil, and hemp milk in detail.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) issued a notification on November 15, 2021, stating, “The hemp seed, hemp seed oil, and hemp seed flour shall be sold as food or used as an ingredient in a food for sale subject to conforming standards”.

“Yes, hemp has both, medicinal and nutritional benefits. When it comes to nutrition, hemp seeds are the most important part of the plant which can be eaten whole or without the hull. They can also be turned into milk, which is similar to soy milk. Hemp seed oil can be used as a cooking oil, much like olive oil. However, it must be noted that it has a low smoke point. There are even hemp seed supplements available for those who want to enjoy the impressive health benefits of hemp in their diets,” mentioned Rattan.

Know the benefits of each

*By including hemp seeds in their diet, one can improve their heart health, said Rattan. “Hemp seeds are particularly rich in healthy fats, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, both of which are known to improve heart health by reducing cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglycerides,” said Rattan. She added that hemp seeds also contain arginine, which help produces nitric acid in the body. “This acid also aids health. The seeds, additionally, contain a decent amount of fibre (so people with digestive issues need to be careful), which can aid in healthy digestion and reduce the risk of diabetes,” Rattan said.

*Hemp seed milk, which is alkaline in nature, is known as a complete protein, Rattan shared, adding that it contains all essential amino acids. “The non-dairy beverage made by blending water and hemp seeds has an earthy, nutty flavour which is good for those with lactose intolerance as well as nut allergies,” said Rattan, further sharing that it also contains healthy fats, protein, minerals, and vitamins which makes it a good option for people looking to lose weight. “A glass of hemp seed milk (a day) is recommended,” Rattan told indianexpress.com.

*Hemp seed oil is known to be beneficial to be used both topically and orally. “It can be mixed with clove powder or ginger powder or fenugreek powder and the concoction can be applied topically over joints. The anti-inflammatory compounds help strengthen the joints, especially in conditions like rheumatoid arthritis,” she shared.

Further, hemp oil fights inflammation, lowers blood pressure, and hence prevents the formation of blood clots, Tanvi S Chiplunkar, senior dietician at Bhatia Hospital Mumbai told indianexpress.com in an earlier interaction. Oil from the seeds of hemp plants has “high nutritional value and contains omega 6 and 3 in 3:1 that is very important for human health because our body can absorb more quickly and effectively when omega 6 and 3 are in a balanced ratio”.

Agreed Rohit Chauhan, co-founder of Incare Lab: “As a source of polyunsaturated fatty acids, hemp seeds contain 104 per cent more than omega-3 fish oil and 460 per cent more than whole fish. In reality, hemp seed oil is good for our health and environment.”

With so many health benefits, can hemp reverse chronic conditions like diabetes, obesity?

“Talking about diseases, it helps reduce Alzheimer’s, risk of heart attacks, and diabetes,” said dietician Vidhi Chawla, founder, Fisico Diet Clinic.

According to Rattan, chronic conditions like diabetes can be prevented and/or managed with hemp in one’s diet. “Since only a miniscule amount of hemp seeds is advised, there are no clinical studies that suggest it can reverse chronic conditions. But it can definitely help prevent chronic diseases, including cancer,” Rattan said.

How much is too much?

One to two teaspoons each day is recommended. “3, 6, or 9 grams of protein in a day is good enough,” Rattan said while sharing that hemp seeds can be included in salads, smoothies, and with oats. Concurring, Chawla added, “Apart from chia seeds, sunflower seeds etc. one can add hemp seeds to the diet and see the difference as it will provide an extra boost for nutrients, healthy fats, and fibre”.

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