What Actually is Hemp?

What Actually is Hemp?

Hemp is often misunderstood simply because, like marijuana, it belongs to the plant family Cannabaceae. However, the variety of cannabis plant that produces hemp is different from that which produces marijuana in critical ways. The main difference between these cannabis varieties is in their level of the cannabinoid delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the cannabinoid that, in high concentration, leads to intoxication when used. On the other hand, hemp varieties of cannabis contain almost no THC and are grown for what’s termed industrial hemp. Hemp plants are environmental powerhouses that, if utilized to their full extent, could contribute to the health and sustainability of the planet. Read on to learn some important ways that this green, leafy plant can benefit humankind.

Where it Comes From

Hemp originated in Central Asia as far back as 8000 BC and was primarily used for its seeds and oil as a food source, as well as for its sturdy and versatile fibers. Hemp was one of the first crops ever introduced agriculturally. The fibers are extracted from the plant by introducing bacteria and moisture to the plant in such a way that the cellular tissues are dissolved, leaving behind fiber bundles. These bundles are then dried, crushed, and shaken. This process leaves behind a long, strong strand of fiber, which is used to make twine, rope, burlap, sponges, linen, shoes, and more. This process spread from China and Taiwan to India where it was called “Sacred Grass,” then on to Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean, and from the Mediterranean to Brazil and beyond. Hemp was introduced to North America in the early seventeenth century, and it was highly prized for its use in paper, fuel, and twine. Even George Washington was known to grow hemp in his beautiful gardens at Mount Vernon. By the early eighteenth century, American farmers across the country were required to grow hemp for its many practical uses.

During World War II, the United States made a big push to grow industrial hemp on American soil, as our access to Filipino and Indian hemp was reduced, and we experienced a dire need for sturdy towlines, strong thread for assembling shoes, and a fibrous material tough enough for parachute webbing. However, by 1970, hemp was demoted to its long-time illegal position simply because of its relationship to the high THC-containing cannabis varieties. It wasn’t until 2018 that hemp was rightfully differentiated from its psychoactive cousin and promoted to legal status in the United States. By 2019, the US became the world’s third largest hemp producer. Since then, hemp has proven its worth in many important ways and is grown all over the world.

Why It’s Around Today

Today, industrial hemp is valued for many reasons. It is a highly sustainable source of numerous important products, including paper, bioplastics, clothing, cosmetics, and biofuel. Hemp has even begun to replace fiberglass as a healthier and more ecofriendly building insulation. Because hemp plants grow quickly and relatively easily, they are a prolific and environmentally friendly source of textile fiber. Furthermore, since hemp plants are grown so densely, they block sunlight from reaching the soil and provide a natural herbicide against weeds. Hemp plants are also powerful soil filters, converting harmful substances from the soil into benign plant materials. Additionally, hemp plants are particularly adept at absorbing carbon dioxide and reducing dangerous greenhouse gases within the atmosphere.

In addition to hemp’s environmental benefits, the seeds are a nutritious food source. High in fiber, magnesium, and Omega 3 fatty acids, hemp seeds (also called hemp hearts) are delicious on salads, blended into your oatmeal, sprinkled over fruit, or ground into a healthy and naturally gluten free flour. Used topically, hemp seed oil can be applied to improve the appearance of skin. Rich in linoleic acid, hemp oil can also be ingested to support healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels.* The healthy fatty acid ratio also supports healthy brain function.* Additionally, hemp tinctures are great for calming or relaxing anxious pets.

Full-spectrum hemp oil is especially beneficial because it includes minor amounts of additional components native to the hemp plant such as cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are health-promoting compounds that are known to support healthy bodily functions.* Full-Spectrum Hemp Extract contains less than 0.3 percent of THC, and is third-party tested to ensure safety, purity, and compliance to industrial hemp regulations. Try it today in fun flavors like Mint Chocolate, Mixed Berry, and Natural.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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