Hemp is used all over the planet as both food and essential fibre for survival. Thus, over time, it has clothed, sheltered, warmed and fed entire populations.
The hemp plant has the common name ‘cannabis sativa’. It is part of the Cannabaceae family, which also includes the hops found in beers. Cultivated for its seeds or fibre, hemp has a THC level of less than 0.3% and therefore does not cause any psychotropic effects.
A brief history of hemp
Hemp is one of the oldest plants cultivated by humans, with its use dating back over 8000 years. It is believed that hemp may have contributed to the development of intelligence in humans as it is a complete food and therefore highly beneficial for the functioning of the brain.
It is mainly cultivated for its resistant and durable fibre. However, only about thirty varieties are approved and authorised in Europe. Hemp has two subspecies:
– Cannabis Sativa: as mentioned above, this is fibre-based and is supported by the Common Agricultural Policy, the main characteristic of which is to have a harmless residual THC * level (lower than 0.2%).
– Cannabis Indica: This subspecies is a prohibited drug with a THC level greater than 5%.
Cultivation of hemp
Hemp can be grown without fertiliser, its fibres are naturally fungicidal and antibacterial, and it does not require any watering.
Additionally, hemp stores carbon, at around 790g of carbon per 1kg of hemp. With significant plant production that can be around twelve tones per hectare, hemp turns out to be a real CO2 trap. This straw yield will consist of 30% fibre and 70% chènevotte (the wood of the plant).
Finally, once in the state of an industrial product, the hemp materials are recyclable or even compostable.
Hemp is one of the materials that will meet the environmental expectations of the future. Each year, a hemp harvest represents a renewable resource contributing to sustainable development and combating the greenhouse effect.
Uses of hemp
Many associate hemps with cannabis, and the psychoactive effect. However, the hemp plant contains a very low level of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the psychotropic element of marijuana.
Hemp offers a variety of uses and is a plant with known benefits. From its edible seeds to its fibres – which go into the composition of many materials – almost all the elements of hemp have a use. Here are a few:
Hemp is a food source
Hemp seeds are eaten whole, shelled in oil or the form of protein powder. Hemp seeds are very nutritious and are an excellent source of:
- Essential fatty acids,
- Many minerals and vitamins.
Beneficial for all body systems, they are easily digestible and suitable for everyone, even animals.
It is ecological
Hemp is very ecological and can be used in over ten thousand ways. It can be found in food, personal care products, construction, the automotive industry, fuel, agriculture, animal care and accessories, clothing, everyday items, and more.
Unlike trees or cotton, hemp is environmentally friendly. It grows quickly while needing less water, and can grow without pesticides. Therefore, it represents a healthy and sensible solution to meet almost all of our needs.
Although long neglected, hemp cultivation is becoming increasingly appealing to farmers, as it offers many ecological advantages. Hemp is a plant that is particularly resistant to diseases and whose rapid growth requires little energy. Easily cultivable without GMOs or pesticides, hemp offers an advantageous culture from an ecological point of view, especially as it requires very little maintenance and almost no irrigation. With a life cycle of four to five months, hemp allows rapid cultivation and an attractive yield.
But this is not the only advantage of growing hemp. It is ideal for preparing the land for other plantations. Up to 5 meters tall, the plant suffocates weeds, leaving the soil clean. Furthermore, its branching roots have favourable depths, which help to loosen soil and eases work for the farmer.
Eaten in the form of seeds or oil, hemp has many nutritional benefits. Its seeds, also called hemp seed, are a source of protein, minerals, vitamins and fibres, but above all have a balanced content of omega 3 and 6. Hemp is unlike most oils, which are too rich in omega 6, and are likely to encourage disorders, cardiovascular conditions and inflammatory issues. The balance of these fatty acids in hemp seed oil, on the other hand, is great for arterial health and for lowering blood cholesterol levels. Hemp oil, in addition to being particularly rich in nutrients, is among the oils with the least amount of saturated fat.
The oil is great for hydrating and repairing the skin
Besides its food use, hemp oil works wonders in cosmetics thanks to its moisturising properties. In 2005, researchers looked at the effectiveness of hemp oil in treating eczema, showing promising results. Thus, it can be used to naturally treat psoriasis, cold sores and herpes. In cosmetics, hemp oil is gaining widespread attraction as a result of its nourishing, firming and regenerating properties. It is an ideal anti-ageing treatment, used to boost microcirculation or to combat minor redness.
It is used to treat burns
Hemp oil has also been found to be effective in soothing the overheating sensation associated with sunburn or minor burns. Doctors at Limoges University Hospital were interested in the protective and lipid-lowering properties in the use of hemp oil to help burns from radiotherapy. Men also used hemp oil for ‘aftershave’ to calm skin irritation.
Hemp is a multi-use material
The stem of hemp is made of extremely resistant fibres which have been used to make paper, canvas or building materials. This practice dates back to 8000 BC, as the Chinese used the stems to make textiles or paper.
From every point of view, hemp seems to be a miracle plant that can benefit anyone who uses it.