USDA initiates research into hemp-based personal care products

USDA initiates research into hemp-based personal care products

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on April 27 that it has begun a new partnership in the hopes of expanding the market for hemp seed oil. During this two year project, scientists from the USDA’s Agriculture Research Service (ARS) are partnering with Midwest Bioprocessing Center (MBC), which is an Illinois-based firm that specializes in organic chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing.

Scientists who are involved with the project will be exploring personal care products that could be made from hemp. According to Hemp Industry Daily, no funding limit was placed on this research.

How do scientists intend to explore hemp’s potential?

This group of scientists reportedly intends to work with the process called “bio-catalysis.” According to a USDA press release, this process “involves using enzymes and heat rather than harsh chemicals and solvents to catalyze reactions that bind natural antioxidants like ferulic acid to lipids.”

This patented process was created by a team of scientists in collaboration with the ARS National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR). It has been used in previous studies to create a new class of compounds out of soy. This class of compounds is called “feruloyl soy gylycerides” and is now used in a variety of personal care products.

“Collaborating with industry partners like MBC, which has expertise in enzymology and the infrastructure for scale-up, is critical to exploring expanded uses for our original technology,” David Compton said in a press release. Compton is a member of the ARS’s Renewable Technologies Research Unit in Illinois.

What functions could hemp serve in cosmetic products?

The new research reportedly aims to build off the previous research on soy. Scientists reportedly hope to create similar products out of hemp.

The researchers reportedly intend to use bio-catalysis to create “cosmeceuticals”. These are hemp-based compounds that perform specific functions and can be used as ingredients in skin-care products.

Based on the research conducted with soybean oil, scientists reportedly believe they can use hemp to create ingredients that protect skin from UV light, retain moisture, or stabilize other ingredients used in skin-care products.

Why use hemp seed oil?

“[L]ike soy or corn oil, hemp oil also contains a variety of nutrients, fatty acids (including omega-3 fatty acids) and bioactive compounds that can be transformed into specialty chemicals offering useful new properties,” states a USDA press release.

According to WebMD, some of the benefits of using hemp seed oil topically include its ability to strengthen skin and make skin better able to resist infection. It can also help reduce inflammation and pain that someone may have.

Additional hemp research is also in the works

The press release states that this new project is not the only NCAUR project involving hemp. NCAUR also helps develop sustainable approaches to processing commodities, like hemp-based personal care products.

NCAUR scientists are also reportedly working on ways to better process hemp into products beyond the personal care and cosmetics industries. Some examples reportedly include fuels, lubricants, adhesives, food ingredients and fiber products. Because hemp is such a versatile plant, the possibilities are seemingly endless!