Hemp grows very fast like bamboo. Seeds of hemp are known to contain fats as well as proteins; these seeds also have fibers in them. Cold-pressing of seeds helps extract oil that is endowed with polyunsaturated fats. Due to its low smoking index, it is not used for deep frying. However, hemp oil is widely used as food-grade oil. This oil is also known for its abundant presence of antioxidants and essential fatty acids such as omega-3 as well as omega-6. However, hemp oil may also trigger a few adverse side effects. It is a safe practice to know the likely adverse effects before using this oil.

The low index of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in hemp oil makes it unique. A low index makes it more beneficial than other seed-based or nut-based oils. Intake of foods with a low index of omega-6 to omega-3 can help you fight internal swelling, inflammation or other such conditions. Hemp has a lot of similarities with marijuana; but, the plant used for extracting hemp oil is different from cannabis/marijuana. The reasons behind such a difference come from the absence of substances like THC in hemp oil. THC is a form of cannabinol. On the contrary, many people remain hesitant to take hemp oil as this oil is often confused as an extract of marijuana. Hemp oil also has a marked presence of antibacterial properties; it can resist a wide range of infection-causing bacterial strands.

Hemp seeds are believed to contain chemical substances that can reduce internal swelling, control blood pressure levels as well as boost bowel movement. Owing to these benefits, it is considered to have medicinal properties to treat conditions such as difficulties passing stools (constipation), autoimmune conditions like arthritis, and high levels of blood cholesterol. However, more detailed studies and research are needed to establish hemp oil’s use for treating respiratory conditions like asthma, skin conditions, autoimmune conditions as well as anxiety, stress, and obesity.

Side Effects of Hemp Oil

Oral intake of hemp oil is generally considered safe; people who used this oil for up to 5 months reported no major side effects. However, upon being administered to younger adults and children, a few users have witnessed reddening of eyes as well as drowsiness or being sleepy. The use of hemp can lead to a decrease in blood pressure levels. So, people who are planning to go for surgery need to be conscious of the likely risks of hypotension. In some remote cases, intake of hemp oil prior to surgeries has led to a drastic fall in pressure levels. It is a good practice to stop taking the oil at least 15 days prior to the date of surgical intervention.

Common side effects of hemp oil

The most common side effects of hemp oil include diarrhea, discharge of loose stools, formation of gas, flatulence, bloating, cramping of abdominal muscles and a few other abdominal discomforts. However, most of these side effects may go away after regular use of hemp oil. But, if you have prior medical conditions that may impair your gastrointestinal health – such as irritation of bowels, ulcers, etc. – you are advised to talk to a qualified medical practitioner or a pharmacist. The other common side effects include feeling drowsy, dizzy, severe headaches, etc.

Of these side effects, the incidence of headaches is largely due to the presence of oleic acid – a fatty acid present in sizable amounts in hemp oil. Research indicates a closer relationship between this fatty acid and migraines. Doses of hemp oil need to be regulated for minimising the severity of such headaches. A safer dose is usually one tablespoon each day. Most side effects arise when people take more than one standard dose each day.

People who experience drowsiness or dizziness must report of such symptoms and signs immediately. You are advised not to take intoxicants such as alcohol; it may only increase the level of dizziness. It is a safe practice to stay away from driving, operating heavy machines or doing activities that require a high level of mental agility or attention. In general, spells of dizziness can occur because of a drop in blood pressure levels. This drop in blood pressure is good for those living with hypertension – i.e., high blood pressure. But, if you are already taking antihypertensive drugs or living with conditions like hypotension, you are at an added risk of experiencing very low blood pressure.

Blood clotting problems

Intake of hemp oil at more than prescribed levels is not recommended. Overconsumption of the oil may trigger blood clotting problems. This is because of a substance called thromboxane made by blood-platelets. Intake of more hemp oil may impair the coagulating properties of blood. Thickening of blood can lead to poor circulation and may result in cardiac arrests or strokes. So, if you have a history of blood clotting problems, you are advised to take hemp oil in metered doses. It is also a safe practice to talk to your pharmacist as well as the treating doctor about possible ways to manage risks of blood clotting.

Cancers in the prostate region

Hemp oil derives most of its benefits to its ability to catalyse cell-level reproduction. When healthy cells reproduce, it can lead to overall wellbeing. But, if harmful cells tend to multiply, it can lead to possible threats of cancers. On likely risk of consuming hemp oil is the possible incidence of cancers in your prostate region. The odds however of such incidence are very low. As cancers in the prostate are relatively common among men in the US, needful precautions are required on the quantum of hemp oil consumed. Those who have a medical history of cancers must talk to a qualified medical practitioner before starting to take hemp oil.

Safe dosage of hemp oil to avoid possible side effects

A safe dose of hemp oil can vary based on your age, other medical conditions as well as gender. Reliable information on safer dosage values is not widely available. Hence, you are advised to talk to a qualified medical practitioner or a pharmacist prior to taking this oil. Also, it is important to understand the differences between marijuana oil and hemp oil; they are very different in terms of biochemical composition as well as therapeutic properties.

Always remember that the dosage instructions are often printed on the label. It is a good practice to read all the directions listed on the pack before consuming the oil. Also, it is essential to start your medication plan at relatively low dosage levels of hemp oil – of say, half tablespoon. Such a minimal dose can help assess how well your body responds and also, if there are any side effects. It is important to take note of all the changes occurring to your system. Once your body gets used to such low dosage levels, it is often considered safe to take regular dosages of say, one tablespoon of hemp oil.

Rare and very uncommon side effects

In some rare instances, you may turn hypersensitive to THC, which is essentially a cannabinoid. It is however not a common reaction. A small percentage of users may develop such sensitivity; this can show up in the form of a few characteristic signs such as reddening of eyes, rashes on skin, nasal allergies and a few respiratory conditions. People with hypersensitivity to THC have reported experiencing weird dreams as well as wild thoughts. In some uncommon cases, this oil may lead to a few cardiac conditions, due to a marked presence of polyunsaturated fats. Excessive intake of such fats can lead to oxidation of cholesterol. This process can result in side effects like atherosclerosis wherein a hard layer builds in the inner walls of blood vessels.

Heated hemp oil can be harmful

Hemp oil has a very low breaking point upon applying heat. Users who do not know this may heat it to a very high temperature; such practices may break the oil and can make way to peroxides. Some of these peroxides can be harmful in nature, and can trigger several adverse reactions. Your dietitian may recommend the use of hemp oil in foods that are not heated. In most cases, this oil is a good additive only over foods that are eaten at warm temperatures.

Interactions with other drugs

Hemp oil is known to work adversely when co-administered with a few drugs. Hence, it is highly recommended to share details about the drugs you are currently taking. As a precautionary measure, make a comprehensive list of all the meds you are presently consuming as well as treatment plans you are actively pursuing. While making this list, make sure to add all possible forms of medications, namely – over the counter (OTC) drugs, prescription meds, vitamins, herbal or dietary supplements. Once you have shared this list with your physician, never change the meds, alter their dosages or discontinue the intake of the drugs in your list.

Among co-administered drugs, meds belonging to a group called cardiac glycosides are known to interact very adversely. The most popular member of this group of drugs is digoxin (or, lanoxin). The key function of digoxin is to reduce the rate of heartbeats. Hemp oil is also widely believed to decrease the rates of heartbeats. If you consume digoxin along with hemp oil, you are more likely to witness erratic heartbeats and a condition called bradycardia. So, if your medication plan includes the intake of cardiac glycosides, always remember to talk to your pharmacist as well as to your treating doctor.

The odds of a marked drop in potassium are more when you consume hemp-based oil. Such a drop is also witnessed when you consume water pills or diuretics. A few examples of water pills are furosemide, chlorothiazide, hydrochlorothiazide, chlorthalidone, etc. Potassium is important for the normal functioning of your heart muscles. Hence, co-administration of water pills and hemp oil can lead to very low levels of potassium; this in turn can severely affect your cardiac wellbeing.

In sum, you are advised to buy hemp oil only from reputed vendors. Owing to the increasing popularity of hemp oil, many spurious products have hit the stores. So, it is extremely important to check the track record of vendors (for their experiences, authenticity and credentials) before placing an order. Above all, when used in smaller quantities, the oil is unlikely to trigger any major side effects. Talk to your dietitian or a pharmacist to know the safe dosage level of hemp oil.

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