Ask Dr. Green: Beyond CBD Part Two

Q & A with Dr. Rick Green

President of Technology Development for KeyLeaf Life Sciences


(PART 2 OF 2)


QUESTION: You mentioned that hemp protein has some unique properties that other plant proteins don’t have.  What are some of those properties?

GREEN: A big benefit to working with hemp protein is that when effectively processed, it has a better flavor than some of the other plant-based proteins. It also has some functionality properties that are unique, and those properties depend on how you process the protein and the protein fractions. We’ve also found that hemp protein has some good emulsification properties, and there are many products that can be produced from natural emulsions.


QUESTION:  Is there anything else about hemp protein that’s unique?

GREEN: I would say hemp protein is as nutritious as any other plant protein. Hemp seeds contain approximately 30% protein, with a reasonably complete amino acid spectrum. About two thirds of hempseed protein is edestin, a highly digestible protein. All eight amino acids essential in the human diet are present, as well as others.  Hemp protein has some amino acid profiles that can be used to complement other plant proteins.  By blending it with other plant proteins you can balance the amino acid ratios and increase the nutritional value of the protein blend.


QUESTION:  What are the properties and uses of hemp oil?

GREEN: Hemp oil, which is found in the plant’s seeds, has a good omega 6 /omega 3 ratio of 3 to 1, about what is optimal for the human body. Hemp oil is of high nutritional quality because it contains good amounts of unsaturated fatty acids including oleic acid (10%–16%), linoleic acid (50%–60%), alpha-linolenic acid (20%–25%), and gamma-linolenic acid (2%–5%) Linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid are considered essential to human health. Hemp seed oil also provides several antioxidants, such as Vitamin E and a number of minerals including calcium, magnesium, sulfur, potassium, phosphorus, along with iron and zinc.


QUESTION: Are there uses for the oil aside from nutritional?

GREEN: Hemp oil is used in cosmetics and skin creams to promote skin health. It’s well known that hemp seed oil is a healthy oil and one of the oils that can provide some benefits for the complexion — soothing and moisturizing it.  Hemp oil is used in some cosmetic products now, but there are more to be developed as formulators become familiar with the unique properties of hemp protein and hemp oil.


QUESTION:  How much oil does the hemp seed contain?

GREEN: Up to 30 percent of the hemp seed is comprised of oil.


QUESTION: What other nutrients do we find in the hemp plant that can be extracted and monetized?

GREEN: After extracting the CBD, I believe the plant’s main asset will be the fiber from the hemp stalk. This is a very strong yet light fiber that holds significant potential for industrial applications. The industrial fiber is going to become more important as we move away from plastics to more natural solutions. There are companies right now that supplement their plastic with hemp fiber to give it strength and some biodegradability.  Some automotive companies have also produced prototypes of interior panels with hemp fiber.


QUESTION:  Does hemp have value as animal feed?

GREEN: At the moment hemp meal is undergoing testing for its suitability as feed for livestock as well as animals and pets that are not part of the food chain. Hemp certainly holds strong potential as a nutritious ingredient for animal feed.


QUESTION:  Is KeyLeaf involved in the extraction of hemp oil for industrial uses?

GREEN: We are primarily focused on hemp oil for nutritional purposes. We have also pressed hemp for industrial purposes, like machine oil and other non-food grade oils.  These industrial prototype oils have good flow properties and can be modified slightly for specific purposes; different viscosity for different uses.


QUESTION:  What other parts of the hemp plant can be profitably harvested?

DR. GREEN: The cannabinoids represent a very small percentage of the plant, so finding and monetizing additional high-value products is very advantageous for any hemp processor.  We currently have uses for virtually every part of the plant — the stalks for industrial fiber, the flowers for extraction of cannabinoids, and the seeds for protein, oil and edible fiber. With more than 25,000 hemp-based products reportedly in the marketplace, agribusiness will continue moving forward with hemp R & D programs to discover even more uses for the plant and its hundreds of high-value components.

Ask Dr. Green: Beyond CBD

Q & A with Dr. Rick Green

President of Technology Development for KeyLeaf Life Sciences

(PART 1 OF 2)

QUESTION:  In terms of consumer interest in hemp and hemp-derived products, CBD (cannabidiol) is really stealing the spotlight right now.  From your vantage point as a food ingredient scientist, what are some of the next high value hemp-derived products and ingredients that we are likely to see emerging and making a splash in the marketplace?

GREEN: We know CBD is just one of many cannabinoids. There are other molecules in the plant very similar to CBD, and they probably contribute some of the effects that we currently are attributing to CBD. We believe these other cannabinoids are going to prove very beneficial as they bind to the same endocannabinoid receptors as does CBD.  Additional clinical research will show specifically which cannabinoids and which ratios of which cannabinoids are best for addressing certain ailments.


QUESTION:  How many cannabinoids can be found in industrial hemp?

GREEN: As a natural product chemist might class them, there are more than 100 cannabinoids in hemp. In addition to these known compounds, some people also count the plant’s terpenes as cannabinoids because the terpenes contribute to the “entourage effect” – the powerful therapeutic property derived from the activity of all compounds naturally occurring in the whole hemp plant. As the interest in cannabinoids grows, researchers are finding new molecular analogues, and thus, new cannabinoids are being discovered.


QUESTION: What are hemp terpenes, and how are they being marketed?

GREEN: The terpenes give the odor and in some cases flavor to hemp products. The terpenes are derived from essential oils, and there are many good things in essential oils that provide some beneficial effects: for example, the terpene caryophyllene (specifically β-caryophyllene), which has anti-inflammatory properties.  Caryophyllene can be found in a number of herbs and spices. The essential oils are found not just in cannabis; they’re certainly present in a significant number of other plants, including black pepper, basil, and oregano. Caryophyllene and other terpenes have health benefits that we haven’t focused on yet.  The cannabis industry knows they’re there, but the consumer and most cannabis companies have been heavily focused on CBD products, which are currently leading the way as the natural dietary supplement du jour. So, if we’re asking about what is “next”, it could certainly be caryophyllene, which has demonstrated powerful anti-inflammatory properties and other health benefits.  Researchers are testing caryophyllene as an intervention for inflammatory bowel disease and preliminary results in animal studies have been promising.


QUESTION:  After CBD, do you have any prediction about which hemp-derived “CB molecule” will next come under the spotlight?

GREEN: Perhaps CBN, also known as cannabinol.


QUESTION:  Is CBN demonstrating any nutritional or medical efficacy at this point?

GREEN: It is. It works as one element in the array of cannabinoids found in the hemp plant that effectively work together to produce a benefit – CBN is purported to contribute to beneficial effects that include sedative effects, analgesic, reducing inflammation and appetite suppressant. CBN is one of the major components responsible for hemp’s entourage effect.  Researchers know that the concoction of cannabinoids found in the hemp plant works to produce good outcomes when all elements are present, but they’re only now determining how effective each specific cannabinoid in the entourage is for treating specific ailments.



QUESTION:  What other hemp-based innovations and applications should we be watching for?

GREEN: We’ve made advances in hemp protein. It has some good benefits and is quite water soluble and has applications that other plant proteins don’t have. We’re going to start seeing these hemp seed proteins coming on the market and we are also looking at potential applications for hemp fiber. There is insoluble fiber in the stalk itself that can be used for industrial applications. It’s a very strong, tough yet light fiber. I’ve seen examples where it’s been used in car consoles.  In addition to production of the cannabinoids, we have a strong R&D team focused on the development of high value co-products from hemp.  These products, such as the protein, oil, fiber and various other natural product extracts from different parts of the plant, are poised to generate significant revenues for the hemp industry. KeyLeaf’s decades of experience producing plant-based extracts and ingredients enables them to fully monetize the complete hemp plant, including each of the plant’s many high-value bio-components.