A Review of Hemp as Food and Nutritional Supplement.
The term « hemp » refers to Cannabis sativa cultivars grown for industrial purposes that are characterized by lower levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active principle responsible for Cannabis psychotropic effects. Hemp is an extraordinary crop, with enormous social and economic value, since it can be used to produce food, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paper, paint, biofuel, and animal feed, as well as lighting oil. Various parts of the hemp plant represent a valuable source of food and ingredients for nutritional supplements. While hemp inflorescence is rich in nonpsychoactive, yet biologically active cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol (CBD), which exerts potent anxiolytic, spasmolytic, as well as anticonvulsant effects, hempseed has a pleasant nutty taste and represents a valuable source of essential amino acids and fatty acids, minerals, vitamins, and fibers. In addition, hempseed oil is a source of healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids, and hemp sprouts are rich in antioxidants. This review article aims to provide a comprehensive outlook from a multidisciplinary perspective on the scientific evidence supporting hemp beneficial properties when consumed as food or supplement. Marketing of hemp-derived products is subjected to diversified and complex regulations worldwide for several reasons, including the fact that CBD is also the active principal of pharmaceutical agents and that regulatory bodies in some cases ban Cannabis inflorescence regardless of its THC content. Some key regulatory aspects of such a complex scenario are also analyzed and discussed in this review article.
Keywords: Cannabis; cannabidiol; cannabinoids; hemp; hemp food.