So, what is hemp? Why is it good for us? How can it help save the planet? And is it even legal? Basically, hemp is one of the most useful plants on Earth. Yes, really!
Hemp can be used to meet four fundamental human needs: food, shelter, clothes and energy. Its oil can be used as a fuel, and for making plastics as well as in food, health and natural beauty products. Its fibres can be used in paper, canvas, rope and fabrics. It can even be used to make fibreglass, fibreboard and in hempcrete – both cars and houses have been made from hemp.
If that’s not enough, it is easy and cost-effective to grow and improves the health of the soil it is grown in.
Pretty awesome, don’t you think?
If you have been adventurous and tried hemp oil, seeds or other hemp products on your path to find healthier, more sustainable foods and body care, you might wonder what this source is exactly.
Well, it’s time to get hemp happy! In Hemp 101, we answer your most asked questions. Let’s start with the basics…
So what exactly is hemp?
Industrial hemp is a hardy, fast growing herbaceous plant. Hemp was our first cultivated crop and has withstood the test of time as one of the world’s most sustainable crops. It is derived from the plant Cannabis Sativa. Now, most people associate hemp with cannabis’ more “fun” uses, but hemp products have no trace of psychoactive effects.
This is because there are two very different strains: one for industrial purposes and one for marijuana production. Industrial hemp contains really low levels of Tetrahydrocannibol aka THC. Therefore, hemp products are 100% safe and legal to use, which is fantastic because hemp is so beneficial for the environment and our bodies, and can be used in so many different ways.
What is a hemp seed?
Harvested from hemp plants (also harvested later in the growing cycle for fibre), hemp seeds are the foundation of all hemp-derived foods. Hemp seeds can be eaten by themselves, or naturally processed to make oil, flour, protein powder, milk and other foods.
Is Hemp Good for You?
Absolutely! Hemp seeds and oil are highly nutritious. The seeds are an excellent source of protein, minerals, and dietary fibre. It is the only plant that contains all of the essential fatty acids and amino acids required for body functions, including metabolism, the skin, the brain, and the heart.
Many people eat fish and take fish oil or Omega oil supplements to get these essential fats, however concerns around over fishing and the chemical contamination of modern fish have made many choose to switch to the vegetarian and sustainable option of hemp instead and by doing so get even more bang for their buck, with many extra nutritional benefits.
Hemp is also good for animals, and some veterinarians recommend including it in the diets of pets and livestock.
Is Hemp Good for Speciality Diets?
Of course! Hemp is a great addition to a variety of diets. Because it is so rich in protein and other nutrients, it is versatile enough to complement many food dishes and dietary restrictions. It is a healthy alternative for those who are intolerant or want to avoid certain foods.
- Gluten free
- Lactose free
- Allergen free
- Soya free
- Nut free
- GMO free
- Pesticide free
What about hemp protein powder? Will it make my smoothies green?!
Yes, it will a bit, but as with all hemp products it is super healthy and great for people on a fitness regime. Hemp protein is a fantastic way to obtain the essential vitamins needed to repair muscles and aid in muscle growth. Hemp is a quality source of the amino acids arginine and histidine, which are required for growth, and is a good source of branch-chained amino acids which are needed for repair and growth of lean body tissue.
This protein is ideal for power drinks or smoothies and it is a quick and easy way to meet your daily protein and fibre requirements! It is also gluten free, dairy free, and soy free, plus no additives or preservatives!
Is it good for my hair and skin?
Funny you should ask! It definitely is. Due to its high content of beneficial oils and natural emollient properties, hemp is becoming a common ingredient in lotions and many other skin, hair, and cosmetic products. It is a good alternative to the toxic chemicals present in many petroleum based lotions and cosmetics.
Hemp products such as shampoo and conditioner have incredible moisturizing benefits to your hair and to your scalp, meaning there’s less of a chance of dandruff and irritation that can come from dryness. Hemp shampoo and conditioner protects your hair from damage due to the fatty acids and zinc, and also leaves your hair feeling light weight, unlike traditional shampoos that weigh your hair down and typically dry out your hair/scalp.
What about fabric? Can I wear hemp?
You absolutely can. Hemp can be used to make a variety of fabrics, similar to but more durable than cotton. The word canvas comes from the Latin name for hemp. It is also excellent for making rugs and other textiles.
The oldest known woven fabric was made from hemp, as were Levi Strauss’ original denim jeans, and the first American flag. It was a common material for clothing until the cotton industry gained strength in America.
Rope, not dope!
We’ve established that hemp will not get you high, but this amazing plant is the traditional rope making fibre due to its flexibility, strength, and resistance to water damage. In past centuries, it was extremely important to the Navy, the shipping trade, and fishing because it was used to make the longest lasting and best ropes, riggings, nets, and sails. These days you can buy excellent hemp rope, twine and braided cord suitable for a great range of uses.
What else is hemp good for?
For centuries, hemp oil was used as the lamp oil of choice. It began to be phased out in America in the 1870s when petroleum was introduced. Today, hemp oil can be used to create biofuels to replace gasoline for diesel engines. Unlike fossil fuels, biofuels are renewable and produce less of the greenhouse gas and toxins.
Standard plastic is made from fossil fuels using toxic chemicals. A variety of alternatives to plastic can be made from hemp. You can even now find hemp 3D printer ink.
In 1941, Henry Ford held a media event where he swung an axe at a prototype car body made of hemp and other plant material to prove its strength. The technology was never put into mass production, due to the ban on cannabis Hemp, cars continued to be made of steel, and plastics made from petrochemicals became the norm.
Hemp based materials can replace wood and other materials used to build homes and other structures including foundations, walls, shingles, panelling, pipes, and paint.
The modern building materials Hempcrete – a mix of hemp and lime – and Isochanvre are lightweight, waterproof, fireproof, self-insulating, and resistant to pests.
So, you can see that Hemp has enormous amounts of benefits that range from healing the earth and restoring our economy, to healing ourselves and restoring humanity.
From being a superfood, to aiding in body care products, to creating sustainable textiles, Hemp is used for thousands of purposes all across the globe. Using Hemp to produce goods is the best way to create a sustainable economy and replenish our earth at the same time. As a medicine, it can help people suffering from epilepsy, cancer, or even arthritis. As our food, it provides almost all of the proteins, amino acids, and minerals we need to live a healthy and sustainable life.
And finally, can I Become Superman with Hemp?
Okay, maybe not Superman, but hemp is a superfood. There are a lot of alternatives out there for healthy oils like coconut oil and peanut oil. Hemp seed oil is a powerhouse compared to others in its category for a number of reasons.
First, it is environmentally friendly to harvest (unlike coconut oil and some nut oils that require a lot of water to grow).
Secondly, it is crazy good for you! Hemp holds the most effective omega-3 of any other plant and 40% less saturated fat than good old olive oil. For every 10ml, hemp oil holds 90% of your daily recommended serving of omega-3 (more than olive oil), and 50mg of GLA (one evening primrose capsule has 45mg).
So, from the bathroom, to the kitchen, to your furry loved ones, Hemp can provide the most essential products to create a healthier lifestyle. By supporting Hemp, you not only help your lifestyle, but you help our planet, and humanity as a whole.