Phytochemistry Reviews

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 733–749 | Cite as

Chemical composition and nutraceutical properties of hempseed: an ancient food with actual functional value

  • Giuseppina Crescente
  • Simona Piccolella
  • Assunta Esposito
  • Monica Scognamiglio
  • Antonio Fiorentino
  • Severina PacificoEmail author


The seeds of hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) have been an important source of nutrition for thousands of years in Chinese and European cultures but, nowadays, in spite of the multiple clinical evidence, which highlights their huge health-promoting properties, people are still unaware about their nutritional as well as nutraceutical benefits. Indeed, the extraordinary richness of essential polyunsaturated fatty acids is odds with oxidative stability of hemp seed by-products. This is the reason for which different and innovative extractive strategies are daily employed, as well as the preservation of antioxidant hemp seed phenols and polyphenols is claimed as a key issue to pursue. Recent insights into the phenol and cannabinoid baggage of hemp seed highlight it is an inestimable source of health promoting ingredients. This review aims to provide a detailed and updated background for research on seeds of this niche crop, pointing out the chemistry and bioactivity of their phytochemicals.


Cannabis sativa L. Polyunsaturated fatty acids Phenols Lignanamides Functional food 



Protein kinase B


Mouse microglial cells




Human liver cancer cell line




Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research


8-iso-15(S)-Prostaglandin F2α






Mammalian target of rapamycin


Pheochromocytoma cells


Pyridoxal phosphate


Phenylalanine ammonia lyase


Poly-unsatured fatty acids


Tumor necrosis factor

Supplementary material

11101_2018_9556_MOESM1_ESM.docx (178 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 177 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giuseppina Crescente
    • 1
  • Simona Piccolella
    • 1
  • Assunta Esposito
    • 1
  • Monica Scognamiglio
    • 2
  • Antonio Fiorentino
    • 1
  • Severina Pacifico
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Environmental Biological and Pharmaceutical Sciences and TechnologiesUniversity of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli”CasertaItaly
  2. 2.Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology - Beutenberg CampusJenaGermany

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