Soapbox

How hemp seed oil could offer new hope to epilepsy sufferers

By Paul Benhaim

- Last updated on GMT

How hemp seed oil could offer new hope to epilepsy sufferers

Related tags: Fatty acid

It is well established that the brain has metabolic requirements that must be satisfied by what we eat or in the case of infants, “what their mother eats”. In particular, dietary fats are fundamentally important for thinking, learning and memory abilities, as well as resisting or repairing brain damage.

The brain can build itself from saturated and monounsaturated fats but it has a preference for Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Research on humans and animals suggests that optimal brain health is achieved when linoleic acid (LA) and alpha linoleic acid (ALA) are consumed in a ratio of between 3.5:1 and 4:1—a ratio only naturally found in hemp.

The brain also has a requirement for cannabinoids, which regulate most of the major functions of the body including alertness, emotions, inflammation and cancer defences. The brain can make a small number of its own cannabinoids, but as 4,000 years of history and decades of scientific research indicate, it operates optimally when supplied with dietary cannabinoids, which can also only be found in hemp.

In many forms of epilepsy, damage to or faulty development of glucose receptors on brain cell membranes can starve brain cells of their preferred energy source. Going hand in hand with demand for glucose is oxygen delivery to brain cells. Depletion of either can result in a significant decrease in mental function.

Furthermore, essential fatty acid deficiency can lead to instability of brain cell membranes. This leaves the brain susceptible to damage and can cause aberrant electrical activity, resulting in seizures which in turn can cause further brain damage. This is a vicious circle of deficiency, dysfunction and deterioration.

A ketogenic diet is one in which a dietary emphasis on the medium chain triglycerides found in coconut oil leads to the production of ketones that can serve as an alternative energy source for brain cells. It has shown some limited success in improving function in metabolic conditions such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

One possible reason for the modest success of some ketogenic approaches was the substitution of real food with highly processed powdered formulas consisting mostly of synthetic chemicals. Some even include synthetic omega 3 and 6 compounds, the synthetic sweetener sucralose and genetically modified high fructose corn syrup, all of which are suspected of actually causing brain damage and/or seizures.

In addition to trying an alternative energy source, what if it were possible to address the underlying source of the brain’s energy problems? Here are five ways hemp could be the answer to combating epilepsy.

1. Glucose transport

It has been shown that glucose receptor dysfunction in the brain is related to membrane instability from dietary essential fatty acids (EFA) deficiency. Restoration of adequate membrane EFA content increases glucose uptake and utilisation in brain cells. 

2. Membrane stability

Researchers from Israel tested the idea that optimising EFAs could help prevent seizures in rats. The rats underwent four different treatments known to cause seizures. One group of rats was fed an EFA mixture of LA and ALA in a ratio of 4:1 for three weeks prior to the experiments and the control group was fed a diet deficient in EFAs.

At the end of the period, all rats underwent procedures to cause seizures. Over 90% of the deficient rats suffered seizures as expected, though the EFA-fed rats had profoundly better outcomes.

In total, 84% of the EFA rats stopped having seizures altogether. Of the remaining EFA rats, the onset of seizures was delayed by 2,200% and the duration of seizures was reduced by 97%.

The researchers attributed the success to stabilisation of brain cell membranes in the EFA-fed rats. It is worth noting, however, that rats have a faster membrane turnover of EFAs, so while three weeks may be sufficient time to replenish membrane EFAs in the rodents it may take much longer in humans.

3. Cellular oxygenation

One of the functions of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids is to act as oxygen magnets and transporters. It is known that Haemoglobin carries oxygen around the body; however, before oxygen can bind with the haemoglobin in red blood cells, it first has to be attracted to and released into the cell. This is exactly what omega 3 and 6 do.

Research in cystic fibrosis has shown that as cell membrane levels of linoleic acid (Omega 6) decrease, and levels of oleic acid increase, the amount of oxygen entering the cell decreases. Linoleic acid, aas found in hemp seed oil, undergoes “reversible oxygenation” much more easily than oleic acid.

The researchers concluded that a diet overly rich in oleic acid and too low in linoleic acid can impair the oxygenation of cells.

4. Cellular energy

Human cells run on electrical energy. The more of this electrical energy we have, the more alive we feel and healthier we become.

This energy ultimately comes from the sunlight energy that green plants absorb and store electrically in their leaves and fruits. When eaten, the body uses some energy to break down the plant until its stored electrical energy is released and available to power the cell.

LA and ALA are especially electron-rich molecules. In the 1950s, German physicists discovered that the vibration frequency of the electrons in LA and ALA matches the vibration frequency of sunlight energy. This makes LA and ALA perfect receivers and carriers of sunlight energy. 

They pick up this energy through the skin as the blood circulates the oils near the surface of the body, and can release it directly into cells. If we consume enough EFAs and regularly expose our body to sunlight, we literally act like plants and freely absorb this life-giving energy from the sun directly into our blood cells. As the Bible says: “The life of the flesh is in the blood.”

It is these oxygenating and energising processes that acclaimed German cancer doctor Johanna Budwig attributes to the rapid recovery her patients experienced when increasing their intake of EFAs and exposing themselves to sufficient sunlight each day.

5. Cannabinoid production and function

As mentioned, the brain can produce its own cannabinoids, all of which are made from metabolites of linoleic acid as found in hemp seed oil. The receptors cannabinoids interact with are also made from omega 3 and 6. Recent research showed that omega 3 deficiency leads to destruction of cannabinoid receptors resulting in various mental, emotional and physical dysfunctions. The entire endocannabinoid system is best fuelled by Hemp Seed Oil.

In summary, hemp seed oil’s unique content of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids may be capable of addressing a number of medically neglected metabolic issues in epilepsy, as well as optimising the function of the endocannabinoid system and transporting little parcels of sunlight energy around the body.

  • Paul Benhaim​ is chief executive of Elixinol and Hempfoods Australia.
  • Soapbox is a regular column in which industry figures comment on a product, service, policy or study of their choosing. All views are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of FoodNavigator-Asia.

Related news

Related products

show more

20 Years Palm Tocotrienols Brain Health Research

20 Years Palm Tocotrienols Brain Health Research

ExcelVite Sdn. Bhd. | 25-Sep-2019 | Technical / White Paper

Research of Vitamin E tocotrienol in brain health and neuroprotection began twenty years ago.
Today, other health benefits have been discovered...

Related suppliers

1 comment

Hemp Seeds = Health

Posted by Hippie Butter,

Well written article. Thanks for taking the time to educate people about the benefits of industrial hemp.

Report abuse

Follow us

Featured Events

View more

Products

View more

Webinars