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Essential Oils

Hemp Seed Oil – Ancient Crop to Useful Carrier Oil

Essential oils have finally entered the mainstream for use in massage therapy, aromatherapy, and topical application. If you want to use essential oils in cosmetics or for massage, though, you will need to use a carrier oil.

Most essential oils are so potent and concentrated that you cannot apply them directly to the skin. Rather, they need to be diluted to ensure that they do not irritate the skin but the nutrients they provide still make it into the bloodstream. Hemp seed oil is a versatile carrier oil that has many uses and benefits, making it a perfect pair for many of your favorite essential oils.

hemp seed oil

History of Hemp Seed Oil

Hemp seed oil has a long history. It has been cultivated for more than 10,000 years, and it is widely thought of as having been the first major agricultural crop. Hemp worked well for agriculture because the leaves of the plant would fall to the ground and fertilize the soil, allowing farmers to use it to condition the soil in a rotation that allowed for the growth of other crops.

The cultivation of hemp seed oil has spread across the world. Evidence shows that the plant was cultivated in modern-day China in 6,000 BCE and that it was used for food as well as for building materials. It didn't become a medicinal crop until much later, in around 2,700 BCE, when it was discovered by Chinese pharmacologists that hemp seed oil had useful medicinal properties. From there, the use of hemp and hemp seed oil spread to other parts of the world. 1

In more modern times, the cultivation of hemp has become a major industry in the western world as well.

Chemical Properties

Hemp seed oil is rich in omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, as well as phytosterols which can be beneficial for heart health. These compounds can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels and decrease risk for atherosclerosis. Hemp seed oil also contains gamma linoleic acid (GLA), which is a powerful antioxidant. 2

Another interesting component of hemp seed oil is vitamin D. The body is capable of producing vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, but many people do not receive enough Vitamin D, especially in the winter. Because of this, the combination of GLA and vitamin D in hemp seed oil can be useful for osteoporosis prevention.

Both the hemp plant and the cannabis plant contain cannabinoids. Out of these, CBD is one of the most well known at the moment. CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that is thought to provide a lot of health benefits, including providing anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. 3 Only trace amounts of CBD have been reported in plain hemp seed oil, in comparison to the amount found in the extract of the flower, but it may still have a therapeutic effect.

hemp seed oil

Uses for Hemp Seed Oil

Hemp seed oil is a versatile carrier oil that can be applied to the skin by itself or used to dilute essential oils. Let's take a look at some of the main uses of the oil.

Moisturizes and Heals the Skin

Hemp seed oil contains omega-3 and omega-6 oils, which are good for the skin in many ways, including moisturizing the skin and promoting better skin healing. Researchers have found that these fatty acids can also help support effective wound healing and even prevent the growth of “keloid wounds” over scars. 4

Some people use hemp seed oil by itself as a moisturizer for dry skin. The oil should not clog your pores, and it can have a mild antibacterial effect, which makes it a good choice for those who are worried about breakouts or acne.

inflammation in the knee

Reduces Inflammation

Hemp seed oil contains beta-caryophyllene, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory, meaning that it can be useful for people who are struggling with aches, pains, or minor sports injuries. 5 The oil is quite light and easy to work with and can be used as a massage oil by itself or mixed with something like coconut oil to make a thicker, creamier base for other essential oils.

The simple act of getting a massage can relax tight muscles and improve circulation, as well as soothe aches and pains. The anti-inflammatory benefits of hemp seed oil can make the massage even more effective.

Try pairing topical application of hemp seed oil with aromatic use of essential oils that have been shown to be good for remedying aches in pains in a room diffuser or personal diffuser.

Reduces PMS Symptoms

Some people find the aroma of hemp seed oil too strong to use it in their aromatherapy blends, but other people like the scent. Hemp seed oil has a nutty aroma when it is fresh, but it can become unpleasant if it is not stored properly.

The oil is light enough that you can use a few drops of it in aromatherapy blends and enjoy the benefits. The essential fatty acids—including GLA—in hemp seed oil can be particularly beneficial for women who are suffering from strong PMS symptoms. 6

finger nail health

Boosts Nail Health

The antioxidants in hemp seed oil make it a good option for promoting healthy nails. Antioxidants help protect the body from the damage caused by free radicals and are valuable for everything from staving off the visible effects of aging to protecting the brain. 7

The hands are one area that tends to show aging before other parts of the body, so soaking your nails in moisturizing oils and moisturizing your fingers can be a great way to keep yourself looking young.

Provides Important Nutrients

Omega-3 fatty acids are important for a healthy brain, but many people do not want to take fish oil supplements because of the mercury that is present in some fish. Mercury is toxic in excess, and the trace amounts of mercury that are found in fish can build up in the body. 8 Hemp seed oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, however, and carries fewer risks than fish oil does.

Best Essential Oils to Pair with Hemp Carrier Oil

Hemp seed oil is a versatile oil that can be used in a range of DIY recipes, from lotions to soap. Hemp seed oil has a slightly green tinge, so it will color your soap, and it feels great on the skin too. Lye is the main ingredient in soap, and you will want to mix it with other oils (shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil or almond oil are good choices) and hemp seed oil to make the soap gentle and moisturizing.

You can use hemp in body butter too. Mix it with shea butter to create a thick mixture and add some oat oil as well to create a nice smokey, nutty scent. Consider adding a little sea salt as well to make an all-natural exfoliating scrub.

If you want to add other scents to your recipes, then you will probably find that more earthy scents mix well. Cedarwood and sandalwood pair well with hemp. Cardamom and bergamot are quite satisfying too. You can even make a nice balm by combining beeswax with hemp seed oil and adding a few drops of your favorite scent.

If you are considering using hemp seed oil in a diffuser blend, then you will want to combine a base oil. The purpose of the base oil is to water down the other essential oils, so they are less potent, take longer to evaporate, and travel better up the reeds in the diffuser. If you want to use hemp seed oil for its aroma, then consider fractionated coconut oil as the base oil since it has a mild scent. This will allow the scent of the hemp seed oil to shine through. The nutty scent of hemp seed oil pairs well with woody, grassy scents, and some milder floral scents.

Whatever essential oil blends you choose to make, remember that hemp seed oil oxidizes quite quickly, and the scent is far less pleasing once this has happened. Try to buy small amounts at a time and keep it in sealed containers at all times.

hemp seeds

Safety and Precautions

A lot of people confuse hemp seed oil with CBD oil. While the two products come from the same plant, there are some key differences in terms of the chemical constituents of the two oils. Industrial hemp and medicinal cannabis come from different genotypes of the same species, but medicinal cannabis strains are psychoactive because they are bred to contain high levels of THC.

Hemp contains near-zero THC, so it is not psychoactive. Even so, it is only relatively recently that hemp cultivation was reintroduced in the United States. 9

Hemp seed oil is safe and legal and treated no different from oil taken from any other seed. Hemp-derived CBD oil is oil that is highly concentrated in CBD and extracted from the flowers and stalks of the hemp plant. Both oils are thought to have therapeutic effects but for different reasons.

Hemp seed oil is generally well tolerated and is unlikely to cause adverse reactions, although there are some exceptions. Hemp-oil contains beta-caryophyllene, which some people are more sensitive to and may experience allergic contact dermatitis from.

Studies suggest that an allergic reaction to beta-caryophyllene is more likely if the terpene has become oxidized through prolonged exposure to the air, so careful storage of the oil can help with this. 10 Keep your Hemp seed oil in a sealed, dark glass container in a temperature-stable environment. A cool cupboard is a good option.


Hemp seed oil is a versatile carrier oil that can be used in almost any form of topical treatment. Allergic reactions are rare, and the oil is readily absorbed by the skin and is full of essential fatty acids and terpenes.

If you're trying hemp seed oil expecting the same benefits you've heard about from CBD oil, you may be disappointed, but hemp seed oil is still a great oil for aromatherapy treatments, and it is one that has a strong evidence base to support its use.

Photo credits: NADKI/, Dionisvera/, AfricaStudio/, AnnaHoychuk/, BorysVasylenko/, kostrez/,

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