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Hemp: Everything It Can Do and the One Thing It Can't

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Hemp is both the plant of the past and the plant of the future. Though it first appeared in North America in the early 1600s, its history runs much deeper than that. Originally cultivated as early as 8000 B.C. by tribes in Northern China, this plant is one of the oldest domesticated crops in the world. 


In fact, before the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, Americans cultivated and used it for the production of paper, clothing, rope, and as herbal medicine, among other things. After the passage of the Marihuana Tax Act, hemp cultivation ceased in the United States until 2014, when the federal Farm Bill made it legal again.


So why is this plant from our past making such a comeback? Because of the powerful effect it’s going to have—and has already had—on our future.

Why Hemp?

Hemp is an advantageous crop for several reasons. For starters, it can be cultivated just about anywhere, from the Equator to the polar circle. It grows—literally—like a weed, so it doesn’t need much, if any, fertilizer or pesticides. It also isn’t a super thirsty plant, so it doesn’t need a lot of water. Plus, it acts as a carbon sink, absorbing soil and atmospheric CO2 significantly better than any other forest or commercial crop.


But apart from its ability to combat climate change, this plant is remarkable because of its strength and versatility. Every part of it, from the seed to the stalk to the flowers and leaves, can be harvested and repurposed.[GRAPHIC]

What Can Hemp Do?

Let’s start with hemp seeds. They can be eaten raw or ground into hemp milk and are full of nutrients like protein, fiber, unsaturated fat, minerals, and vitamins. These nutrients can help to reduce inflammation, boost heart health, and improve skin. But, the seeds can be used as more than a healthy snack.

Hemp Seed Uses

  • Fuel
  • Lubricants
  • Ink and paint
  • Varnish
  • Body products and cosmetics
  • Margarine, flour, and milk
  • Protein powders

Next, the stalk of the hemp plant is particularly useful because of its bast fibers. These fibers run the length of the plant and are exceptionally strong. They’re not the only useful part of the stalk, though. Its inner core, known as “hurd,” is also considerably sturdy and brings its own uses to the table.


A lot of people compare hemp and flax fibers (linen) because they’re quite similar. However, despite their similarities, hemp fibers are actually eight times stronger than linen. Not to mention, hemp is resistant to mildew and mold, giving it a much longer lifespan.

Hemp Stalk Uses

Bast fiber:

  • Rope
  • Netting
  • Canvas
  • Carpet
  • Paper
  • Bags
  • Clothes and shoes

Hurd:

  • Animal bedding
  • Mulch
  • Chemical absorbent
  • Fiberboard
  • Insulation
  • Concrete

 

And of course, we know what hemp flower is used for. Loaded with anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing properties, hemp flower can be used to create several types of products that offer us nutritional benefits by supporting our Endocannabinoid System.

Hemp Flower Uses

  • Smokable flower allows you to feel hemp’s therapeutic effects more immediately than other consumption methods, though the effects don’t last as long as other options
  • Sublingual oils are absorbed directly into your bloodstream through capillaries in your mouth, bringing relief within minutes. Sublingual oils are the best way to maintain a daily full nutritional balance of cannabinoids. 
  • Skin topicals provide a more targeted approach by rubbing the hemp extract directly onto your pain points
  • Edibles and drinks are metabolized through your liver so it takes longer to feel the effects, but they typically last longer than other ingestion methods. 

What Can’t Hemp Do?

Hemp and marijuana are often confused, but they’re not the same thing. Both are cannabis, but their THC content is what makes them different. Marijuana is cannabis that has more than 0.3% THC content, while hemp is cannabis that has less than 0.3% THC content. That means hemp can’t get you high.


That doesn’t make it any less effective than marijuana, though. Although its THC content is lower, it still contains all of the other curative compounds and phytonutrients found in marijuana like cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and fatty acids.


The key is to find hemp products that haven’t removed some or all of those compounds and nutrients. Reach for a whole-spectrum hemp extract over full spectrum, broad-spectrum or CBD isolate. Again, hemp products won’t get you high, but a whole-spectrum product will produce the Entourage Effect in your body, with all of the plant’s compounds working together to provide you balance and relief.  

Key Takeaways

Hemp is deeply rooted in human history, going as far back as 8000 B.C. Despite being one of the oldest domesticated crops in history, it was made illegal in the United States in 1937 through the Marihuana Tax Act. Fortunately, the 2014 federal Farm Bill made it legal to farm once again.


With the passage of the Farm Bill, the future of hemp is starting to come into view. Its seeds, stalk, leaves, flowers and roots can all be harvested and repurposed into anything from hand lotions to concrete structures. Not to mention, it requires less fertilizer, pesticides, and water than most plants and it cleans the air and soil as it grows better than any other crop.


At this point in history, we probably know hemp best for its medicinal uses. Whole-spectrum hemp products are quickly gaining popularity because of hemp’s natural anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, as well as its overall support of our Endocannabinoid System. This is where a lot of current research lies as well. With prohibition slowly being rolled back bit by bit, we’re gaining a lot more freedom to research all the healing benefits hemp, and cannabis as a whole, has to offer.


As time passes, we’ll start to know hemp for its other benefits as well. Easily cultivated, combative against climate change, strong, durable, versatile, and nutritional—our future looks a little more hempful every day. 



SOURCES

https://nationalhempassociation.org/hemp-hurds-the-inside-story/ 

https://weedmaps.com/learn/the-plant/hemp-vs-marijuana/

https://www.analyticalcannabis.com/articles/hemp-vs-marijuana-is-there-a-difference-311880

https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/hemp-101-what-is-hemp-whats-it-used-for-and-why-is-it-illegal

https://www.leafly.com/news/industry/hempcrete-could-be-putting-the-green-in-green-building

https://growersnetwork.org/industry/hemp-as-a-bast-fiber/

https://hashmuseum.com/en/the-plant/industrial-hemp/hemp-based-plastic#:~:text=Hemp%20grows%20prolifically%2C%20making%20it,(oil%2Dbased%20plastics).&text=Hemp%20plastics%20and%20other%20hemp,by%20'locking%20in'%20carbon.

https://apnews.com/14d03d42f4644f349a4e73a7c44ccb2d#:~:text=Hemp%2C%20one%20of%20the%20oldest,as%20early%20as%208000%20BC.&text=Crops%20planted%20by%20the%20British,for%20medicine%20and%20paper%20production.

https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2014/sep/25/hemp-wood-fibre-construction-climate-change

https://hemp-copenhagen.com/images/Hemp-cph-Carbon-sink.pdf

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323037#adding-hemp-seeds-to-the-diet

https://www.praxis-suchtmedizin.ch/praxis-suchtmedizin/images/stories/pdf/PIIS0953620518300049.pdf

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