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Hemp seed oil for anxiety relief — the why and how

Hemp seed oil for anxiety is providing non-drug relief for patients with anxiety who are seeking a natural way to deal with...

Hemp seed oil for anxiety is providing non-drug relief for patients

A number of common household items can be made with hemp, which refers to the fiber of the Cannabis sativa variety of the cannabis plant. Among them are clothing and apparel such as shirts, shoes, and jeans, as well as a variety of skin care products ranging from shampoos to lotions to lip balm. Yet, some people are also using the oil extracted from the seeds of hemp plants to help relieve symptoms associated with mental health conditions such as anxiety. How does hemp seed oil for anxiety help?

The answer to this question lies in the chemical makeup of hemp seed oil, which includes omega-3 fatty acids, beta-sitosterol, and gamma-tocopherol.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Oil pressed from hemp seeds is loaded with polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids according to the American Oil Chemists’ Society (AOCS), and research indicates that these particular fatty acids can be beneficial for reducing anxiety symptoms.

For instance, in September of 2018, the JAMA Network Open published a systematic review of 19 clinical trials. In total, these trials involved 2,240 participants from 11 different countries and, when compared to controls, subjects engaged in treatment with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids showed an improvement in their anxiety symptoms.

Omega-3’s have even been found helpful in reducing anxiety symptoms for major behavioral health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Researchers suggest that the omega-3 fatty acids work for this disorder in two different ways.

First, they promote healthy brain function which, by default, helps prevent brain dysfunction. The omega-3s also help impair the memories of the traumatic event, thus reducing the symptoms that memory recall are known to create.

Expanding on this topic even more, the AOCS goes on to explain that hemp seed oil also has low omega-6 to omega-3 ratios. This is important because research conducted by the Center for Genetics indicates that high omega-6 to omega-3 ratios have been connected with higher rates of disease and, many times disease and anxiety go hand in hand.

For example, individuals with heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and chronic pain syndromes all tend to have higher levels of anxiety according to information provided by the Mayo Clinic. Anxiety is also more prevalent in those with thyroid issues, irritable bowel syndrome, and with certain rare tumors.

The Center for Genetics further states that, by consuming fatty acid sources that are higher in omega-3s than omega-6s, it can actually help suppress these types of diseases. This, in turn, could indirectly lower anxiety as well.


In 2015, the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry published an article outlining the many compounds found within hemp seed oil. While fatty acids were first on the list, so too was beta-sitosterol.

The University of Michigan shares that beta-sitosterol, or β-sitosterol, is “one of the many sterols that come from plants (phytosterols) and have a structure like the cholesterol produced in the body.” Additionally, beta-sitosterol can be used to help lower cholesterol levels and has even been associated with lower cancer risks.

Some studies have found that this phytosterol has positive effects on the central nervous system as well by offering antidepressant-like effects, with the Anxiety and Depression Association of America sharing that both depression and anxiety have a lot of similarities and are often related, even though they are actually two different disorders.


Another anxiety-relieving compound found in hemp seed oil is gamma-tocopherol, or γ-tocopherol as it is often notated in medical journals.

According to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, gamma-tocopherol is a major form of vitamin E with anti-inflammatory properties and it can also be found in a variety of other plant seeds – thus also in their corresponding oils – some of which include corn, soybeans, sesame, and peanuts.

To make the connection clearer, some studies reveal that vitamin E helps inhibit oxidative stress, and oxidative stress has been correlated with higher levels of anxiety. For instance, a review article in Neuroscience Research states that oxidative stress is dangerous because it damages all macromolecule major classes, ultimately impacting cellular function in the brain.

Vitamin E is so important that if it is deficient during fetal development, an increase of anxiety is likely well into adulthood according to findings of a 2018 animal study published in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.

In short, hemp seed oil’s chemical makeup makes it naturally beneficial to those suffering from anxiety. That makes it more appealing to those who are interested in treating this particular mental health condition without the use of prescription drugs.

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