Medical researchers at the University of Kuopio, Finland, have found evidence of the positive effects of hempseed oil on eczema, according to a report from MotherHemp, a UK supplier of hemp oil and food products.
Researchers, led by Dr J Callaway, at the department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Clinical Nutrition at the University, followed a group of patients with atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, which is a type of allergy that causes dry and itchy skin and often requires medical treatment.
"We are still processing some of the biochemical data," said Dr Callaway, "but the subjective results from the patients are already in and they have been correlated with the diagnostic reports from the dermatologist.
"In short, we saw a remarkable reduction in dryness, itching and an overall improvement in the symptoms of these patients while they were using the hempseed oil, and no significant change at all while they were using the olive oil. We also noticed a reduction in the frequency of influenza when these patients were taking the hempseed oil," continued the researcher.
The patients orally consumed two tablespoons of oil a day for two months in a randomised, double-blind crossover design. The other oil in the study was cold-pressed olive oil, and a two month washout period separated the two oil intervention periods.
Previously, these same researchers investigated the effects of hemp seed oil in a group of healthy volunteers and subsequently found elevated blood levels of GLA (gamma-linolenic acid; a naturally occurring fatty acid).
"This is a good thing because decreased GLA is thought to be associated with several chronic health problems, such as allergies and other disorders of the immune system," said Dr Callaway.Over the last 10 years, numerous anecdotal reports have claimed that hempseed oil improves skin integrity, strengthens finger-nails and thickens hair. "In a way, this all makes sense because skin, hair and nails are all formed from the same line of dermal stem cells," said Dr Callaway.
MotherHemp claims that while hempseed oil is relatively new to the modern Western palate, it has been used as an inexpensive substitute for butter in most Eastern European cultures in the past, particularly in Russia. Hempseed oil is more than 90 per cent unsaturated and, for this reason, should not be used for frying, the company noted.
"Hempseed oil is an exceptional source of EFAs; the essential fatty acids that we must obtain from our daily diet because, like vitamins, we can't produce them on our own. Judging from the fatty acid profile of hempseed oil, the numerous anecdotal reports over the years and now the results of our initial clinical investigations, I'd have to conclude that this is probably the healthiest oil on the market," said Dr Callaway.
"Clearly, this is an important and useful discovery that will need to be investigated further," added Dr Callaway.