The Hemp Plant
Hemp, or industrial hemp. Typically found in the northern hemisphere, is a strain of the Cannabis sativa plant species that is grown specifically for the industrial uses of its derived products. It is one of the fastest growing plants and was one of the first plants to be spun into usable fiber 10,000 years ago.It can be refined into a variety of commercial items including paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, bio fuel, food, and animal feed.
Although cannabis as a drug and industrial hemp both derive from the species Cannabis sativa and contain the psychoactive component tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), they are distinct strains with unique phytochemical compositions and uses. Hemp has lower concentrations of THC and higher concentrations of cannabidiol (CBD), which decreases or eliminates its psychoactive effects. The legality of industrial hemp varies widely between countries. Some governments regulate the concentration of THC and permit only hemp that is bred with an especially low THC content.
Protein: 31.56 g (per 100 g)
Energy: 585.8 Calories (per 100 g)
Iron: 7.95 mg (per 100 g)
Magnesium: 700 mg (per 100 g)
Did you know: It was legal to pay taxes
with hemp in America from 1631 until
the early 1800s.
The Major Benefits of Hemp Oil
The major functions in your brain depend on sufficient cannabinoid production. Fatty acids omega-3 and -6 as well as linoleic acid are all responsible for producing cannabinoids. Omega-3 is especially important because of its function in repairing damaged brain cells. Those cells can be damaged because of stress and our not-so-awesome food choices like processed foods and those high in sugar, salt and bad fat.
To keep our brains active and our memories sharpened, our brain cells need to be “fluid and flexible,” as Dr. Oz puts it. Funnily enough, hemp oil has the unique content of fatty acids and the perfect ratio of linoleic acid to alpha linoleic acid that help the brain function at its optimal level. Hemp is one of the very few ingredients found in nature that have the uncannily perfect balance of nutrition that completely coincides with the brain’s need for cannabinoids
More Great Things About Hemp Oil
Hemp oil benefits don’t stop at your brain! Your skin and hair take advantage of hemp’s nutrients, making it a great addition to your beauty products and routine. Fatty acids produce not only brain cells but also skin cells. In the same way, omega-3 fatty acids replenish moisture and the natural oils of your hair, giving it strength and shine. Hemp oil also contains enough omega-3 to help support the development of the microorganisms that live in our intestines. With their development and fortitude, your body can fight the flu and common cold more easily.
Did you know there’s also CBD for pets? Hemp oil is known to help in mood and aggression disorders. Magnesium, being the “relaxation mineral” of the body, is directly affected by hemp, calming the body. Hemp oil also helps with metabolism and with delivering antioxidants to almost any mammal. The prolonged life of your pet, another one of the many benefits of hemp oil, can probably be attributed to that fact.
Apart from ridding our bodies of toxins, our kidneys are also responsible for maintaining salt, sodium and other minerals in our bodies. They also produce the hormones that stimulate our red blood cell production and the enzymes that regulate our blood pressure. Hemp oil can replenish our kidneys with fatty acids, taking care of those hormones and enzymes so that they can take care of us.
The benefits of hemp oil are innumerable and powerful, not just for your brain but also for many other parts of your body, both inside and out. While all these attributes may seem extraordinary, hemp oil is a simple enough ingredient to add to your diet.
A recipe perfected by nature itself, hemp is, quite frankly, one of the greatest components for our health. The things this single ingredient can do, fortunately for us, are quite impressive.
Cannabinoids Aren’t as Alien as We Might Think
Did you know that the brain produces its own cannabinoids? After many decades of researching the health benefits of cannabis, science has not only made some important discoveries about this breed of plant but also uncovered a unique communication system in the brain called the endocannabinoid (EC) system. This system carries the hefty responsibility of taking care of some of our major bodily functions like how we feel, move and react
The body generates cannabinoids to interact within the EC system so that they can work to regulate those major functions. However, the amount of cannabinoids that the brain produces on its own is so small that it is recommended to supplement. Supplements include products like hemp oil or cannabidiol (i.e., CBD). The benefits of hemp oil are particularly astounding: it may provide sleep support and improve appetite, aid stress and mood, and even provide joint support. Quite frankly, hemp was made for our brains!
When people think of hemp, sometimes the knee-jerk reaction is to think of medicinal marijuana. While there are many beneficial functions of both of these natural ingredients, they are only cousins in the cannabis family and are not inherently similar.
Dr. Oz explains, in one of his shows, the important differences and why hemp is actually a great resource for brain nutrients, especially omega-3 fatty acids. While you can get these fatty acids from any number of foods, hemp is uniquely designed by nature to work with our brains
Environmental benefits of Hemp
The industrial, medicinal and commercial properties of hemp have been known to mankind for a very long time, but its benefits to the environment have just been realized in recent years. Many industries looking for sustainable and eco-friendly processes are turning to hemp for the answer. Its cultivation does not need any particular climate or soil, and is thus found in all parts of the world. Hemp provides an alternative and more efficient source of energy mainly in 3 sectors:
The woody hemp plant is low in moisture; it dries quickly and is an efficient biomass source of methanol. The waste products produced by using hemp oil are a good source of ethanol. Both methanol and ethanol are produced from hemp through the efficient and economical process of thermo-chemical conversion. One acre of hemp yields 1,000 gallons or 3,785 liters of fuel. Hemp allows a lesser reliance on fossil fuels, which are non-renewable sources of energy and will not be able to meet the increasing global demands for long.
Paper can be manufactured from hemp. Since hemp has a low lignin content compared to wood, it can be turned to pulp faster and easier; this naturally bright pulp does not need chlorine bleaching, which is used in traditional paper mills and releases a toxic substance called dioxin into the environment. Hemp is also compatible with the new soy-based binders rather than the harsh binders that give off formaldehyde. This reduces air pollution and health hazards to human and animal life. The quality of paper obtained from hemp is more durable and does not lose its color even after many years. Much more can be got out of each hemp plant since its paper can be recycled 7 or 8 times, as compared to only 3 for tree-based paper.
The uses of hemp also extend into construction. Fiberboards made from a hemp-based composite are stronger yet lighter than those made from wood. The combination of hemp fiber and lime results in a sound-proofing and insulating material that is stronger and lighter than concrete. By replacing wood and concrete, the amount of waste matter at a construction site is reduced. Since homes built using hemp products have better thermal insulation, less fuel will be consumed for heating their interiors. Bio-based plastics can be made from the long hemp fibers, and these are almost as strong as fiberglass. Hemp is an economical construction material that is recyclable, cheaper than glass and safe for the workers.
Hemp is so Much Better for the Environment
It replaces trees as the source of raw material for wood and paper, thereby conserving forests. Trees take years to grow, while a crop of hemp can be grown in a few months. Only one acre of hemp can produce as much paper annually as 4 acres of trees.
When burning hemp as a fuel, carbon dioxide is released into the air, but this is absorbed by the next crop, which can be harvested 120 days after planting. This quick growth avoids the build-up of carbon dioxide. Also, hemp is a very leafy plant and thus contributes a high level of oxygen to the atmosphere during its growth; between 20 and 40%. This makes up for the loss of oxygen when it is burnt as a fuel, which in turn, reduces unwanted effects of global warming, acid rain and the depletion in the ozone layer on the environment.
Air pollution is reduced since hemp is naturally resistant to pests and does not need pesticides and herbicides to be sprayed. Very little fertilizers are required, since it’s abundant leaves fall into the soil and release the required nutrients and minerals, thereby creating better soil tilth. Cotton and flax are known to consume 50% of all pesticides; hemp replaces cotton as a raw material in the manufacturing of paper and cloth, and flax fiber or seed for animal feed, animal bedding and paper.
Soil enrichment: The hemp crop grows dense and vigorously. Sunlight cannot penetrate the plants to reach the ground, and this means the crop is normally free of weeds. Its deep roots use ground water and reduce its salinity. Also, erosion of topsoil is limited, thereby reducing water pollution. The roots give nitrogen and other nutrients to the soil. After the harvest, this soil makes excellent compost amendments for other plants, and hemp cultivation can follow the rotation of agriculture with wheat or soybean. In fact, the same soil can be used to grow hemp for many years, without losing its high quality. The hemp plant absorbs toxic metals emitted by nuclear plants into the soil, such as copper, cadmium, lead and mercury.
Fabrics made of hemp do not have any chemical residue, and is therefore safer for consumers. Even if the fabric contains only 50% hemp, it can keep the UV rays of the sun from harming the skin underneath.
Hemp products can be recycled, reused and are 100% biodegradable. The growth speed of the plant is fast enough to meet the increasing industrial and commercial demand for these products. Switching to hemp products will help save the environment, leaving a cleaner and greener planet for the next generation.
Hemp vs. Marijuana
Cannabis Sativa L is believed to be one of the oldest cultivated crops in history. This plant species is a long-running favorite and has been planted and harvested by various cultures around the world for centuries. Of the Cannabis plant species, there are several subspecies that fall underneath it. Two of the most famous are hemp and marijuana.
There are some differences between the two, but they’re still the same plant. So, what gives?
David P. West holds a Ph.D. in Plant Breeding from the University of Minnesota. Since 1993, he’s been one of the top advisors in the hemp industry. In his paper Hemp and Marijuana: Myths and Realities, West asks the question:
“Has there ever been a plant so fraught with confusion and controversy?”
What is the difference between hemp and marijuana, really? Broken down simply, it sounds something like this:
Hemp refers to the variety that has been bred specifically to produce fiber used in clothing and other materials, oils, lotions, and seeds and other foods. Hemp contains very low levels of the psychoactive compound THC.
Marijuana is the variety of cannabis sativa that has been bred specifically for its medical or psychoactive effects. This is the cannabis plant that produces those beautiful flowers laden with sticky, dense buds. Where hemp is used for fuel and fiber, marijuana is used to get you high.
The Controversy of Hemp and Marijuana
Ed Rosenthal, cannabis activist and author of The Marijuana Grower’s Bible, explains it like this:
“The [legal] definition of hemp is a plant that has low THC and perhaps a higher level of CBD. There are different varieties of the same species. A hemp plant grown for seed isn’t necessarily the best plant for fiber.”
West explains that botanically, the genus Cannabis is made up of several variants. He notes the long-standing debate about hemp and marijuana and “how to classify these variants into species.”
“Cannabis is the only plant genus that contains the unique class of molecular compounds called cannabinoids,” West explains. “Many cannabinoids have been identified, but two preponderate: THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient of Cannabis, and CBD, which is an anti-psychoactive ingredient. One type of cannabis is high in the psychoactive cannabinoid THC, and low in the anti-psychoactive cannabinoid CBD. This type is popularly known as marijuana. Another type is high in CBD and low in THC. Variants of this kind are called industrial hemp.”
In 1971, Canadian research scientist Ernest Small published the book The Species Problem in Cannabis. Although Small recognized there wasn’t a natural point where the cannabinoid content could be used to differentiate hemp and marijuana, he drew a random number regarding different Cannabis varieties. From then on, 0.3% THC became the magic number that separated hemp and marijuana.
Dana Larsen is one of Canada’s most respected and well-known advocates for cannabis reform. In his book, Cannabis in Canada: An Illustrated History, Larsen explores this magic number separating hemp and marijuana.
“Small’s arbitrary 0.3 percent THC limit has become standard around the world as the official limit for legal hemp,” writes Larsen. “Small clearly noted that among the hundreds of strains he experimented with, ‘plants cultivated for fibre [sic], oil and birdseed frequently had moderate or high amounts of THC’… thus the worldwide 0.3 percent THC standard divider between marijuana and hemp is not based on which strains have the most agricultural benefit, nor is it based on an analysis of the THC level required for psychoactivity. It’s based on an arbitrary decision of a Canadian scientist growing cannabis in Ottawa.”
While there is a bit of controversy about what constitutes as hemp and what constitutes as marijuana (both legally and scientifically), one thing is clear. They’re both from the same species of plant, Cannabis Sativa L. There just so happens to be several variants of the single species of Cannabis.
When distinguishing between the two, the following differences are basically universal in determining whether a Cannabis plant is hemp or marijuana.
3 Major Differences Between Hemp and Marijuana
Hemp and marijuana are both from the plant species Cannabis sativa L. They contain a different genetic makeup however that makes them a “different version” of the same plant.
In early history, cannabis was cultivated to make food, oils, and fibers such as rope and fabric. Throughout the years, these plants were bred with other plants with similar characteristics, resulting what we now refer to as hemp.
Then there were other similar plants that were recognized for their psychoactive properties. These plants were used mainly for medical and spiritual or religious purposes, manipulated and bred throughout time to come to what we now refer to as marijuana.
zOne of the biggest factors that separate hemp from marijuana is the amount of THC the plant contains. Where marijuana typically contains copious amounts of THC (5-20% on average), hemp contains almost none. That magic number of 0.3% THC is a general guideline as to what constitutes a plant as hemp.
Hemp and marijuana also both contain the cannabinoid CBD. And while hemp plants generally contain higher amounts of CBD, hemp isn’t considered a medicinal plant like marijuana. The CBD found in hemp isn’t medically beneficial like the CBD found in high-CBD cannabis strains. According to one report from Project CBD, “We believe that industrial hemp is not an optimal source of CBD.”
How It’s Grown
There is a huge difference in the way hemp and marijuana are grown. Yes, both fall under the species of Cannabis sativa, but the way they are grown and the end result come harvest are worlds apart.
Marijuana is grown to produce flower, which are those beautiful, sticky buds that are famous for getting you high. Female plants are preferred, as they are the species that produces these flowers laden with THC. Marijuana is grown indoors and out, always with the goal of producing budding flowers for recreational or medical consumption.
Hemp, on the other hand, is typically male and don’t produce any flowers during their life cycle. It is most often grown outdoors in large fields where it grows basically like a weed. With hemp, it’s all about large yields where tall, rapidly growing plants are harvested for their fiber, not their flower.
The Revival of Hemp
Playing catch up on the international level
In 2016, the United States is the only industrialized country that does not allow hemp farming. Other countries and regions have incentivized their farmers and are now profiting from the harvest and development of hemp applications. China has a $200M hemp textile industry. Europe is utilizing hemp more for industrial purposes. Canada’s hemp industry has exploded in the past decade and its demand continues to grow at 20% per year – ironically, most of this demand comes from the US.
An economic force for our farmers and small businesses
Lawmakers were starting to notice the economic impact that hemp could have in our communities. Just looking at our import volume, it is easy to point out the economic opportunity we are missing out on. Ever since hemp import was legalized in 1998, our import volume has been continuously increasing to an estimated $600 million in 2014. This clearly shows that the consumer market is available in the US. We just need to allow our farmers to grow the crop. The final five-year farm bill, an $867 billion package titled the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, passed Congress in a bipartisan show of support and was signed into law by President Trump on December 20.
Realizing the benefits of the Miracle Crop
As more people start paying attention to hemp, more facts are shared to demonstrate the power of this plant—hence why it’s often called the “Miracle Crop.” What has really been highlighted is the hemp seed’s nutritional benefits and its fiber’s durability. Hemp has been known to have over 25,000 applications. The key benefit of hemp is that it is such a sustainable and eco-friendly crop as well as being so useful. Hemp will be a key ingredient as we fight global warming and climate change.