Wednesday, January 28, 2009

On Hemp Food Products & Wild Horses

Hemp has become a bigger part of my diet in recent years in the form of hemp seed in cereal and hemp oil as a nutritional supplement, and there is no question that I am healthier for it, especially upstairs where my brain function seems to be better now than it was a decade ago. (Duh.) But would ingesting hemp-derived products get me in trouble if I were to be drug tested?

Hemp is fantastic stuff. The hulled seeds contain up to 35 percent protein and all nine essential amino acids, which is rare for a plant protein. The seeds also are high in unsaturated fat in the form of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid often lacking in diets. Then there are the minerals, phytosterols and phospholipids such as lecithin.

So what's not to like about hemp? While it is not marijuana, which is a different kind of cannabis plant, it also contains THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the psychoactive ingredient in pot.

More potent strains of pot may contain up to 20 percent THC, which at that level hangs around in the body for next to forever and despite claims to the contrary by the makers of kits to fool drug tests, is extremely difficult to mask.

Hemp in food contains less than 1 percent THC, typically three parts per million or less. Manufacturers of hemp-derived products claim that there is no detectable level of THC, but given the lingering nature of THC in the body and increasing sophistication of drug tests, color me concerned.

And confused given the conflicting literature.

On the one hand, there are studies that claim ingesting any hemp product and even using it cosmetically is dangerous, a reflection of the hysteria that has kept marijuana classified as a dangerous drug while denying pain and nausea sufferers its use as a medical aid.

On the other hand, there are studies that claim that even a hemp product-heavy diet and use of hemp-oil cosmetics does not raise health issues and will not result in confirmed positive urine tests according to most drug-test protocols.

I'm going with the folks who say I'll test okay not because their science is better than the Chicken Littles, although I suspect that it is, but because hemp makes me feel better and think better -- and wild horses aren't going to drive me away from that combination.

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