Unlike many of the ingredients, I feature in my list of foods of love, the benefits of hemp lack a long aphrodisiac history. Yet there are references in works such as Wedeck’s Dictionary of Aphrodisiacs and Davenport’s Aphrodisiacs and Love Stimulants to the aphrodisiac effects of cannabis and hash. Timothy Leary’s Search for the True Aphrodisiac makes the claim that hashish and marijuana will initially increase libido, and chronic use will cause “sexual inversion.” As far as I can tell, Leary’s assertion is not backed by science. But I’m guessing that it’s likely very accurate and based on his own extensive field research.
Is hemp an aphrodisiac?
And so, even though there’s little to go on from a historical standpoint, all of this evidence inspired me to explore the potential aphrodisiac benefits of hemp seeds.
I started out by researching the question, “Is hemp good for you?” And what I first discovered was a vast quantity of research on hemp’s health benefits based on nutritional value. And much of the nutrition points to the possibility that hemp seeds can help support a healthy sex life.
The nutritional benefits of hemp seeds to overall health
The health benefits of hemp seeds include the fact that they’re rich in plant-based protein and easier to digest than most forms of animal protein. And there’s a remarkable benefit of hemp protein. Unlike some plant-based protein sources, these seeds provide a complete protein. This means they provide all of the essential amino acids. The seeds are also lower in saturated fat than most of the world’s quality protein sources.
Hemp for heart health
One of hemp’s amino acids, in particular, may benefit your heart health, as well as your performance in the bedroom. It may even reduce your risk of heart disease. Hemp contains a high amount of the amino acid arginine. This amino is recognized as a precursor to nitric oxide, a gas molecule that makes your blood vessels dilate.
Nitric oxide not only leads to low blood pressure but is proven to aid in issues of blood flow associated with erectile dysfunction. In other words, this heart-healthy benefit of eating hemp seeds is that they can help ensure sexual arousal and orgasm. Not bad for something that looks like bird food!
Hemp is also rich in fiber. Whole hemp seeds provide an excellent source of soluble and insoluble fiber. (The benefits of hemp hearts are not as pronounced, since their fiber-rich shell is removed.) And while that might not sound sexy, fiber aids in digestion and can prevent blood sugar spikes. In other words, when you eat hemp seeds, they can help prevent an energy crash and they can keep you feeling sexy.
The nutrients in hemp
One of the best benefits of eating hemp is that the seed contains several essential minerals and vitamins. A 3-tablespoon serving of hulled hemp seed is a good source of magnesium, potassium and vitamin E. (Did you know that vitamin E is also called The Sex Vitamin?) And hemp also provides zinc, iron, manganese and folate.
You may have also heard that hemp is a good source of healthy fats. Hemp happens to be one of the richest sources of alpha-lipoic acid. Also known as ALA, this compound is an essential omega-3 fatty acid linked with heart health. In addition, hemp is considered a source of an omega-6 fatty acid called GLA, or gamma-linolenic acid.
Health benefits of hemp oil
There are also some hemp seed oil benefits for the skin that may help support aphrodisiac claims. Among hemp oil’s benefits, it can reduce skin redness and inflammation. In fact, it is considered a possible cure for many skin disorders.
And for those who just want an anti-aging boost, the benefits of hemp oil are found in its powerful antioxidants and the aforementioned vitamin E. This nutritious oil, which many experts say will not clog pores, can be applied straight to the face or body after bathing for a simple, DIY skin treatment.
If you are considering hemp oil as a treatment for skin issues, you may want to talk to your dermatologist before changing your skincare routine.
Hemp and THC – is hemp safe to eat?
If you’re planning to eat hemp for health, you should be aware that the seeds do contain a trace amount of THC, which is part of the reason its growth in the culinary market has been slow. However, hemp is deemed safe for consumers of all ages. And although whole hemp seeds do contain about .3% THC, hemp hearts are THC-free. (It has been suggested that anyone with a previous cannabis addiction should avoid eating hemp. Consult a physician if you have any concerns before adding hemp seeds to your diet.)
However, for most of us, there’s no reason not to start making hemp seeds a part of a healthy diet – and to enjoy the aphrodisiac benefits from time to time!
This article was written in 2011 and most recently updated in November 2021.
Hemp seed image by Ulrike Leone.
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