The Versatility of Hemp and The Wonderful Ways We Can Use It
Hemp is a hearty, fibrous plant used for fabrics to superfood. The versatility of hemp is impressive, and just simply growing the plant is good for the environment. The history of agricultural hemp dates back to 8,000 BC. Some historians have evidence to believe it could have been one of our very first crops. Humans have used hemp as a precious resource for thousands of years, turning it into textiles, building materials, shelter, food, medicine, ink, rope, and more. Many modern-day uses for hemp have been discovered and are being produced, such as biofuel and hemp plastic.
One significant effect that comes out of growing hemp is its ability to purify and remove toxins from the soil. The plant metabolizes them through the plant tissue known as phytoextraction. Hemp plants absorb environmental pollutants while replenishing the earth with nitrogen and nutrients. Its roots aerate compacted soil, which makes the ground more sturdy and prevents erosion. For thousands of years, the roots of hemp plants were used for medical and therapeutic purposes.
Industrial hemp is from the same plant family as cannabis, however, it does not contain the psychoactive component that other strains of cannabis have. Today hemp is widely harvested for its cannabinoid (CBD) content, which is extracted from the whole hemp plant or the leaves and flowers. Using CBD for skincare and overall wellness has become a common practice. Many people report it to be helpful for some inflammatory conditions and turn to this plant seeking its non-toxic therapeutic effects. Evidence suggests that CBD may help a number of conditions, but more research is needed to understand the full range of benefits offered by CBD.
Hemp seed oil is produced by cold pressing the seeds of the hemp plant and has many uses in cooking. Hemp seed oil does not contain CBD. It is a nutritious oil with a lovely nutty flavor rich in omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, iron, zinc, and protein. Best used in salad dressings, smoothies, or for low heat baking and frying. When heating hemp oil, the temperature should not exceed 330 ℉, or the oil will start to degrade and change in taste. Hemp seeds and hemp milk also are high in nutritious value and protein content. Each seed has better bioavailability in the body than many other protein sources. Hemp seeds can be added to salads, smoothies, baking, and more.
The hemp plant is a valuable resource for many other industrial purposes. It has been used for thousands of years to make fabrics and textiles. Compared to other natural fibers like cotton, hemp has advantages because of its durability. It is the strongest natural fiber source and is resistant to mold, bacteria, and ultraviolet rays, making it ideal for outdoor uses and weather. Its sturdy nature makes it great for making rope, canvas, paper, and even boat sails because it can hold up in harsh weather and is long-lasting.
Growing hemp uses much less water than other textile crops such as cotton and is not as susceptible to pests, so it is easy to cultivate healthy crops without the use of harsh insecticides. One acre of hemp has the equivalent of textile material to 2 to 3 acres of cotton. Utilizing hemp would be a great alternative as it is more earth-friendly, environmentally sustainable, reduces the use of harsh chemicals and pesticides, saves water, and makes a more durable cloth that lasts longer than cotton. Cotton currently dominates in the textile world, mostly because of the ban on hemp that happened in the 20th century.
Hemp pulp is also commonly used to make paper. It is much more eco friendly than tree pulp and only takes up to 90 days to produce from a seedling. Paper from tree pulp can take up to 10-40 years. Hemp paper and cloth can also be recycled again and again up to 8 times as opposed to tree pulp paper products, which are only recyclable up to three times. With the loss of trees and deforestation happening around the globe, it would be a good thing to reconsider the uses of hemp where tree pulp and wood can be substituted.
Hemp use becoming more prevalent in the United States means a greener future, fewer pesticides, less water waste, less land used up for cotton production, and cleaner soil! Hemp can be turned into biodegradable plastic, fuel, building materials, durable clothing, textiles, rope, paper, and more. A future full of hemp is a better world for us all.
In the 20th century, the United States banned cannabis and included hemp in the ban. There was a negative stigma around hemp and its correlation to cannabis. Cannabis contains the psychoactive component known as THC that has intoxicating effects. However, industrial hemp does not contain THC. The fear of cannabis coming into the country in the 1900s with the influx of Mexican immigrants and their habits of smoking dried cannabis flowers pushed the U.S. to ban cannabis and hemp altogether. The lack of knowledge and ability to regulate hemp production and differentiate between hemp and cannabis led to its disappearance in the U.S.
There is hope for a greener, more sustainable future with the return of hemp in the United States with the passing of the 2018 farm bill. As the production of hemp becomes more widely accepted, we hope to see it evolve industries where it can provide a more eco-friendly option. Hemp production can save trees, reduce water waste, decrease the use of harmful chemicals going into our earth, and provide a more environmentally sustainable option for many industries.