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Hemp Seed Capsules vs Oils: What's Right for You?

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The hemp industry is indisputably on the ascent, as regulations gradually loosen across different states worldwide. Notably, the US 2018 Farm Bill has authorised the (regulated) production, sale, and transportation of hemp throughout the country- redefining the plant and its derivatives as a non-intoxicating alternative to marijuana. As a result, it is no longer hard to find hemp-based products lining up at selected local convenience stores, pharmacies, and even e-commerce platforms. 

As demand for hemp-derived products continues to soar, the hemp industry has been developed into an exclusive market that is independent, yet still linked to the marijuana sector, with its controversial reputation and varying legalities.

If you haven't heard yet, hemp and marijuana are intriguingly related, being two of the most extensively-researched strains (also known as subspecies) of the cannabis Sativa plant. Nonetheless, they do not qualify as identical plants- not by a long shot! The two strains are very different from one another, especially when it comes to their characteristics, compositions, and purported effects on the mind and body.

Marijuana contains higher concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (or better known as THC), the main psychoactive component of cannabis that produces a sense of uncanny happiness, or a drifting inclination (referred to as being 'high'). In comparison, hemp does not produce any critical amount of THC, just about 0.2% or less (when grown for commercial purposes), which is too little to result in any intoxication. Instead, hemp comprises various compounds that are potentially beneficial health-wise

In the beginning, hemp stalks were initially the most versatile components of the plant, being used to produce a variety of industrial and commercial products, such as rope, textiles, paper, insulation, and various building materials. In recent times, the scientific spotlight has focused on hemp seeds for possibly containing high levels of protein, vitamins, and polyunsaturated fatty acids and amino acids- making hemp seed capsules and oils a potentially excellent source of nutrition. 

With hemp-based products becoming a mainstream item on many supermarket shelves, a lot of us are probably wondering which type of product is best suited to our individual needs. From hemp seed topicals to edibles, choosing the right hemp-infused product for you is undoubtedly a true modern dilemma that many consumers often encounter these days. In many cases, the prevailing debate is between the two most well-known products: hemp seed oils and hemp seed capsules.

While the right choice usually depends on an individual's preference, there are some key differences between the two products that every consumer must be aware of. But, before we bring them to light, let us get to know the potential benefits of hemp seed products,  and why we should consider incorporating them into our lifestyle in the first place. 

The Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Hemp Seed Products

Hemp seeds are technically defined as nuts, coming with a mild, nutty flavour, and are usually dark to light green in colour. They are covered with a hard outer shell that has a bit of softness inside, and are sometimes dubbed as "hemp hearts". Because of their many uses, hemp seeds are often employed in the kitchen as supplementary ingredients that can be directly sprinkled on foods, ground into protein powder, made into milk, or pressed into oil. 

Hemp seed oil is the end-product obtained by cold-pressing hemp seeds. When we say cold-press, it is a type of mechanical extraction that is performed at a very low temperature to produce an unrefined hemp seed oil- meaning it is not bleached or chemically cleaned. This quality is what makes unrefined oils labelled as "virgin", "raw", or "pure". However, this type of oil has a much shorter shelf life, and therefore needs to be stored in the refrigerator once opened.

Now, let's talk about their compositions. What makes hemp seed oils and other products potentially good for you? 

Research into the composition of hemp seed oil suggests that the oil extracted from hemp seeds may contain an abundance of polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6), gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), vitamin E and minerals (such as phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc), and plant-based proteins. In fact, another study published in 2004 has found that 25% of the total calories in hemp seeds come from their high-quality proteins- which is very similar to the content of chia seeds and flaxseeds, with 16–18% of their calories coming from their own proteins.

That hemp seed oil is applauded for its potential health benefits comes to us as no surprise, considering all the essential components that are typically found in this novel ingredient. Here are some of the possible health benefits associated with the use and consumption of hemp seed products- supported by a growing body of both scientific research and anecdotal evidence. 

Improved Skin

According to a 2015 study, the regular consumption of hemp seed oil may help supplement a variety of symptoms that are often associated with different skin conditions, including acne and ageing. This promising potential benefit is attributed to a great combination of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids found in hemp seed oil. In addition, hemp seed oil may potentially boost the ability of the skin to combat infection and other environmental factors (such as dirt, UV radiation, chemical pollutants, or airborne allergens) that can contribute to the development of several skin conditions. 

Furthermore, hemp seed oil may also help in supplementing oxidative stress, a disturbing imbalance between free radicals (unstable molecules that can cause damage to our cells and tissues) and antioxidants in our body- which often leads to the appearance of visible signs of ageing (such as wrinkles and fine lines) over time. As hemp seed products are often a rich source of antioxidants, they may help to 'balance out' symptoms of oxidative stress.

Lower Blood Pressure

As mentioned above, hemp seed oil contains high concentrations of omega-6 fatty acids that are known to have all the linolenic acids (LAs) that our body needs. These include gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA, and arachidonic acid (AA). One study published in the International Journal of Cardiology has shown that consuming foods that are high in linolenic acids may potentially supplement the symptoms of different heart conditions by possibly lowering the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad" cholesterol) in the body. This way, hemp seed oil (or other products) may help reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure and other related heart diseases.

Pain Management

Hemp seed oil is often ingested or applied topically as a form of natural pain reliever by some proponents for anecdotally supplementing any painful symptoms related to inflammation. To support this notion, a recent study has shown that a three to one ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that is present in hemp seed oil might potentially impact the muscles and joints by lowering the concentrations of inflammatory-signalling hormones (also known as cytokines) in the body. 

Enhanced Brain Function 

Hemp seeds are often nicknamed 'natural brain foods' for containing brain-friendly minerals (such as protein, magnesium, and zinc) and a concentrated balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are already known to improve memory and prevent a decline in any brain functions due to ageing. As a matter of fact, a 2018 study has proposed that all these compounds that are commonly (if not abundantly) found in hemp seed oil could potentially work in a way that protects and supplements both the brain and the nervous system. 

Another reason hemp seeds are considered nutritious foods for the brain is pretty simple—they may potentially help in supplementing mood, which, in turn, may possibly minimise the risks of anxiety and other mental health conditions. A good diet has often been anecdotally linked to a better mood, and in this way, supplementing your diet with Hemp Seed capsules or oil may have a positive effect on your brain and mind alike. 

Hair Growth 

Part of the essential nutrition that is potentially obtained from using hemp seed oil is providing possible hair benefits. Subjective evidence suggests that the nutrients found in hemp seed oil may potentially supplement the conventional treatments for any hair problems by possibly providing moisture and shine to the hair, strengthening hair strands, and helping the hair to grow longer and thicker. Applying hemp seed oil on the scalp may also help in supplementing symptoms of several mild to severe scalp problems, including itchiness, dryness, and others.

Weight Loss

There is no quick fix when it comes to losing weight, but hemp seed oil may potentially support your body as you work towards your goal size. It all boils down to a wide variety of potential nutrients that hemp seed oil may possibly provide. For instance, an ideal balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and other healthy fats found in hemp seed oil may potentially help maintain your weight and possibly impact the development of obesity (a health condition that involves an excessive amount of body fats) by purportedly suppressing your appetite and minimising your sugar cravings.

In addition, hemp seed oil and capsules are rich in protein and soluble fibres, both of which are important in improving bodily functions associated with maintaining a healthy weight, namely digestion and metabolism. Not only that, but supplementing your diet with hemp seed oil may be especially beneficial if you are cutting down on carbohydrates, as it potentially contains fewer calories than any other culinary oils (such as palm oil, canola oil, or vegetable oil).

A Comparison Between Hemp Seed Oils and Hemp Seed Capsules

Choosing between two great products can be a tough decision sometimes. This is especially true when you feel a lot of good, essential things hang in the balance- which makes it even harder to say no to any of them. One thing for sure is that, when it comes to making choices, you don't want to end up picking the wrong one- that's why you make comparisons! By listening to your body's needs, you can easily analyse your options, and come up with something that suits you best. 

To help you weigh up your options, here are some key differences between hemp seed oil and hemp seed capsules according to their characteristics, bioavailability, and convenience.  

Hemp Seed Oil vs Hemp Seed Capsules

Hemp seed oils are typically bottled, and come with a standard dropper to help measure your preferred serving size. They can be consumed in three different ways, such as:

  • Topical administration - which involves a direct application of hemp seed oil to particular body surfaces, such as the skin. 
  • Sublingual administration - which involves placing a few drops of hemp seed oil underneath the tongue for 30 seconds (or longer) to completely dissolve and absorb into the bloodstream through the glands and tissues surrounding the tongue and mouth.
  • Ingestion - which involves the direct or indirect swallowing of hemp seed oil by adding it to certain food and drink recipes (such as pasta, salad dressing, warm drinks, or smoothies). 

Hemp seed capsules, on the other hand, are cold-pressed hemp seed oil enclosed in either a non-gelatinous or gel case to create a solid form, like a pill. When it comes to consumption, taking hemp seed capsules is pretty self-explanatory and familiar to most people. You can simply swallow the whole capsule through the mouth with a glass of water, before or after food. Beginners are encouraged to start small by taking one hemp seed capsule daily, and then gradually working their way up after a week or two (if needed). 

What is Bioavailability?

To further understand the different bioavailability of hemp seed oil and hemp seed capsules, it is essential to learn what the term "bioavailability" is all about. In pharmacology, bioavailability simply refers to the amount and rate at which the potential active ingredients of a drug or medication is absorbed and delivered to their intended biological destination(s). 

Every hemp-seed-infused product has its own bioavailability rate, depending on how it is consumed. For instance, the bioavailability rate of taking hemp seed oil orally (through capsules or the food you eat) is typically lower than consuming it sublingually (by absorbing it through the sublingual gland underneath the tongue).

This is due to a decrease in the bioavailability level associated with oral consumption that possibly occurs during the metabolic phase, where many potential hemp seed oil nutrients are being washed away or filtered out of the digestive tract because of their oil-based properties- meaning they do not dissolve in water, which makes up about 60% of our body. As a result of travelling through the digestive system, the bioavailability rate of encapsulated hemp seed oils is likely reduced (and they may take longer to take effect than sublingual hemp seed oil would).   

Regarding topical consumption of hemp seed oil, it might surprise you to know that delivering oil-based active ingredients into water-based skin is only a theory (at least for now), but preliminary studies are underway. However, the world of 'canna beauty' is constantly expanding, with many hemp seed topicals that may potentially impact everything from the delicate skin on your face to the shine of your hair!

As most hemp seed oils are consumed through the sublingual glands located under your tongue (which are known to provide a direct route to the bloodstreams), hemp seed oil is thought to potentially work more quickly and efficiently when taken through the sublingual glands compared to when it is ingested through the mouth or applied to the skin.

Convenience

The convenience of using any of these products (hemp seed oils and hemp seed capsules) may depend on an individual's lifestyle and environment, as well as their wellness goals and dietary needs. Since everyone is different, what works for you in a convenient manner may not do the same for others- meaning it all comes down to your own personal preference! However, hemp seed capsules are often more appealing than hemp seed oils or tinctures when it comes to ease of use, since most of us are already familiar with the method of swallowing a pill.  

In addition, you likely won't have to worry about any 'earthy' aftertaste that is often associated with pure hemp seeds, should you choose the flavourless quality of hemp seed capsules. In most cases, the all-natural flavouring and the greasy sensation of holding hemp seed oil in the mouth is something that is more of a hindrance to many users than it is for others.

Those who prefer the capsule format of hemp seed oil may also enjoy the fact that dosage is more controlled in capsules than with hemp seed oils. As you take a closer look at the label, hemp seed capsule bottles are more likely to specify the exact amount of active ingredient per capsule, which makes dosage a lot easier than potentially confusing yourself with a dropper. 

With hemp seed oils, certain ways of dosing are much more prone to human error, even though the any oil dropper is supposed to help you- which is why you really need to pay attention when it comes to getting the right amount of hemp seed oil.

Another obvious advantage of hemp seed capsules (when it comes to convenience) is that they are discreetly enclosed in a bottle, which makes them very handy and easier to transport without the likelihood of spilling or leaving oily stains on your luggage or clothes.

Better yet, taking hemp seed capsules is often considered the hassle-free alternative to oils, as you only need to pop a pill in your mouth (anytime and anywhere- whether you are inside a moving vehicle or in any other public places). Hemp seed capsules are discreet and much less noticeable than hemp seed oil, which is why you can easily swallow them without anyone looking at you oddly while you hold hemp seed oil under your tongue for up to 60 seconds.  

If you think hemp seed capsules could be your best bet, make sure you are purchasing them from a quality, trusted provider. Here at CBII, we make it a promise to offer our consumers a wide selection of premium hemp seed oil capsules packed with vitamins E, B, C, and zinc for potential glow, vitality, and overall wellness through the day and night. 

The Final Verdict: Should You Choose Hemp Seed Oils or Hemp Seed Capsules?

With all of the available information outlined above, the final decision is still yours to make. Whether you choose hemp seed oils over hemp seed capsules (or the other way around), it is essential to understand that there is no greater product than the other. Both of them contain all the potential nutrients found in hemp seed oil- what's best for you only depends on your lifestyle and personal tastes and needs. At the end of the day, there is probably no need to buy both hemp seeds oil and capsules if one of them is notably better and more suited to your lifestyle than the other!

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