Positive Hemp Effects On Our Health And The Environment
Hemp is making headlines right now. Touted as both an environmental saviour of our planet and a natural alternative for maintaining optimum health, the hemp plant is carving out quite a reputation. While it may feel like these hemp benefits are new discoveries, they have in fact been around for thousands of years. Thanks to the domination of the petroleum and pharmaceutical industries, hemp has found itself either completely prohibited or unfairly consigned to au naturelle, hippy living. But hemp is making a come back, so stay tuned to find out about some amazing hemp benefits for both our health and the planet.
What is hemp?
Hemp is a variety of Cannabis Sativa, a herbaceous flowering plant originally found in India. Hang on a sec, cannabis sativa? Does that mean that hemp gets you stoned?
Well, actually, no. Despite being from the same genus as marijuana, hemp has been bred to have long stems and fewer flowers. That’s because in northern Europe, it was hemp’s durable fibre that was of most interest, rather than the mind-altering effects created by compounds found in the resinous buds and flowers.
How hemp fell out of favour
So how does a plant that rivals cotton and paper for strength and durability, as well as providing remedies for a host of health conditions, end up being bound and gagged by prohibition?
To find out why, we have to focus our attention on the United States cerca 1930s, where an unholy triumvirate of anti-hemp economic interests was forming.
At the centre could be found Mr Harry Anslinger, the head of the newly-formed Federal Bureau of Narcotics, who, along with newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst and the Dupont Company -the creators of Nylon – made it their mission to wipe hemp and cannabis off the map of America.
The result was the 1937 United States Marihuana Tax Act, banning the cultivation of hemp for any purpose – fibre or medicinal. Other countries soon followed suit, culminating in 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs where cannabis received Schedule 1 status, later enshrined in the UK’s 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act.
And so hemp became tarred with either the ‘reefer madness’ propaganda brush or written off as a hippy has-been.
Hemp makes a come back
The late twentieth and early twenty-first century has seen our planet spinning ever closer towards environmental disaster. Our wanton overuse of limited natural resources, the destruction of our rainforests, industrial scale contamination, and of course, consumerism, is literally wrecking this place we call home.
Not only that, we appear to have become reliant on ever-increasing quantities of pharmaceutical drugs to palliate the symptoms of chronic diseases, many of which have been caused by the very medication we’ve been told will cure us.
We and our planet are getting sicker. But imagine if the answer to both problems lay in one single plant? You guessed it, hemp.
Hemp health benefits
For thousands of years, hemp and cannabis have been an integral part of folk medicine. In an age when most of us only feel confident taking synthetic pills in neatly packed boxes, it’s easy to forget how many pharmaceutical drugs originally come from nature.
Since the discovery in the 1940s of special compounds in cannabis and hemp called cannabinoids, scientists have been researching the wide variety of effects they have on the body. Initially, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) was the main focus of attention, due to its intoxicating effects. Lately, however, the second most abundant cannabinoid, CBD (cannabidiol) has been creating a buzz, much in part to its complex mechanism of action and many anecdotal reports of extraordinary health benefits.
So far, most scientific research has been at a preclinical level, meaning it has been performed only on cell cultures or animal models. One CBD drug, Epidiolex, has been through the lengthy and expensive three stages of clinical trials and will soon be available for children with rare cases of epilepsy.
CBD has also been shown to reduce inflammation in animal models which means hemp for pain relief, could also be another important reason to use this versatile plant.
Most CBD products on the market are sold as CBD oil nutritional supplements, available in tinctures, CBD capsules, CBD sprays, and CBD vape juice, with people choosing hemp products containing CBD for everything from anxiety, chronic pain, low mood or just as a natural health supplement.
Raw hemp is also gathering momentum as a great hemp alternative for boosting optimum health. Made from freshly-picked raw hemp, it contains a wider spectrum of active compounds, in particular CBDA, which is otherwise destroyed with the application of heat (all CBD oils have been through some heat process in order to turn CBDA, its acid precursor, into CBD). Our Raw Hemp Capsules contain freeze dried hemp juice, abundant in CBDA, and is one of our most popular product ranges. The effects of CBDA and raw hemp on the body are less studied, but research shows CBDA to potentially reduce nausea and be anti-inflammatory.
And let’s not forget hemp seed oil. Not to be confused with hemp oil (essentially, CBD oil), it is made from hemp seeds and contains only trace levels of CBD. Instead, it is rich in Omega 3 and 6, vitamin E, potassium and magnesium. Great for moisturizing inside and out, making it both a superfood and super-ingredient in many skin and hair ranges.
It’s fair to say then that hemp benefits for our health are far reaching and show exciting promise for years to come.
Hemp benefits for the environment
So what positive hemp effects are there for the environment?
For a start, it’s thought anything that can be made from plastic can be made from hemp.
Cellulose, a constituent of plastics such as cellophane, celluloid, and rayon, can be made from hemp. Hemp can also form part of a biocomposite plastic – where it’s mixed with a synthetic polymer or as part of an organic mix thought to be 5 times stiffer and 2.5 stronger than traditional plastic made from polypropylene. Little surprise then, that almost 100 years since Henry Ford’s Hemp Car hit the headlines, hemp plastic is being used by companies in the automobile sector, and for products as varied as plastic bags, sunglasses, and dogs toys.
Providing an alternative to paper made from wood chip, the third largest polluter to water, air, and land in North America, is another area of planet-saving hemp potential. Turns out, one acre of hemp provides the same amount of paper as 4 acres of trees, while the actual paper-making process is much cleaner as no chemical processing is needed. Hemp paper is more durable than paper made from wood pulp, and can also be better recycled.
Hemp building materials
Did you know there’s even a hemp alternative to concrete. Known as ‘hempcrete,’ it’s made from hemp, lime and water. Not only does hempcrete have a negative carbon footprint i.e. it absorbs more CO2 during cultivation than emitted during construction, but any walls made from hempcrete will continue to soak up carbon dioxide over a building’s lifetime.
Biofuel – fuel derived from living matter that serves as an alternative to petrol or diesel – can be made from pressed hemp seed oil or ethanol from the fermented hemp stalks. Hemp biofuel can be used in a diesel engine without the need for any alterations and emits 47% less carbon monoxide than ordinary diesel.
Hemp cloth is the hot, eco-fabric of the moment, boasting a much cleaner production process than organic cotton. Without the need for pesticides, hemp requires comparatively little water and only takes one acre to produce as much as 2-3 acres of cotton.
Hemp also beats cotton on strength, is lightweight, absorbent, UV and mold-resistant, and even flame-retardant. Little surprise then that hemp has thrown off its label as the hippies’ fabric of choice, reportedly being chosen by fashion brands such as Armani, Polo Ralph Lauren, and Oscar de la Renta.
Hemp as a soil decontaminant
One of the lesser known environment-saving qualities of hemp is its ability to clean up polluted soils. This is through a process called phytoremediation, in which contaminants are sucked up by the fast-growing hemp roots, which either store or turn the toxins into other harmless substances.
A famous example is the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, when industrial hemp was grown in the aftermath to clear contaminants from the soil. Hemp also absorbs cadmium, a dangerously toxic heavy metal responsible for polluting vast swathes of land worldwide.
This is one of the reasons why it’s vitally important to ensure any hemp products you consume are extracted from organically grown, or at the very least, European certified hemp.
So, it looks like the world could be on the cusp of a hemp revolution. It’s up to us to spread the news about hemp’s amazing health-promoting and environment-saving properties. Why not start by sharing this article with your friends and family, or take a visit to the Hemp2wellness website where you’ll find quality, competitively priced hemp products for both inside your body and out?