Hemp is one of the two main varieties of the cannabis plant, with the other being marijuana. Like marijuana plants, hemp plants produce the same chemical compounds. However, the ratio they appear in differs, with hemp plants producing THC in much smaller quantities. Let’s explore various hemp plant uses to see how hemp impacts industries around the world.
The versatility of Hemp
To say that hemp is a versatile plant that can be turned into everything from food to building materials is putting it lightly. Pretty much all parts of the hemp plant can be utilized into something that can help out humanity.
The fibrous stalks can be turned into rope, textiles for clothing, construction material, biofuel, animal bedding, mulch, and paper, to name just a few. Some theorize that hemp’s ability to be turned into paper played into why cannabis was first banned in the United States. However, racism is much more likely the real reason.
Hemp seeds are commonly cold pressed into lotions, soaps, and other beauty products while also finding their way into nutritional items such as protein powders.
Hemp Flowers and Leaves
Then there are, of course, the leaves and, more importantly, the flowers that are covered in resinous crystals called trichomes. Here is where you will find cannabinoids like CBD and THC, along with terpenes that give all cannabis plants their diverse range of aromas.
A fast and easy-to-grow crop, hemp is one of the most versatile and useful plants out there. It’s easy to see why hemp is also one of the oldest agricultural crops.
Hemp: A Nutritional Powerhouse
While there is a lot of focus placed on hemp flowers and leaves due to their ability to be transformed into therapeutic aids such as CBD oil, it would be a grave mistake to ignore the seeds. Hemp seeds are a nutritional powerhouse rich in protein, healthy fats, antioxidants, and essential omega fatty acids.
Hemp seeds have a very attractive ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, with them typically appearing in a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio, which many medical experts agree is a fantastic ratio for human health. A poor omega-6/omega-3 ratio is associated with an increased risk of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. One of the big criticisms of the Western diet is that it’s very high in omega-6, as most foods high in omega-3 come from the sea.
Hemp seeds’ attractive ratio of omega fatty acids is one of the reasons they appear in beauty products thanks to their ability to lower inflammation, but their abundance of antioxidants can’t be forgotten either. Antioxidants are substances that protect your body from free radicals. Free radicals are unpaired electrons that can damage cells, cause a range of diseases, and accelerate aging.
Hemp Oil vs. CBD Oil
It’s important to make the distinction between hemp oil and CBD oil. While both have therapeutic properties that can elevate human health and share some of the same benefits, how they achieve them is very different.
CBD’s main benefits are a result of cannabinoids and terpenes activating various receptors in the body that trigger actions that regulate homeostasis. Homeostatic processes are processes that allow the body to remain balanced and stable despite outside influences. Your body’s ability to maintain a stable internal temperature is just one of many examples of homeostasis.
The benefits of hemp oil, better called hemp seed oil, come from its delightful range of proteins, fats, minerals, and antioxidants. Hemp oil is typically created by cold pressing the seeds as it helps retain the oil’s delicate, nutty flavor and nutritional properties.
It’s not uncommon to find CBD oil that uses hemp seed oil as its carrier oil. A carrier oil helps dilute the highly concentrated CBD extract while promoting the body to better absorb it. Thanks to both having the potential to lower inflammation, many may find hemp and CBD oil work better together than away from each other.
Hemp’s Health Benefits
Where the benefits of cannabinoid-based products like CBD oil mainly come from the cannabinoids and terpenes, hemp seeds’ benefits are a result of protein, various minerals, antioxidants like vitamin E, and essential fatty acids. Let’s look at how hemp seeds alone can support our health in so many ways.
Hemp seeds are rich in magnesium, which helps regulate heartbeat and can help prevent coronary heart disease. Hemp seeds contain linoleic acid, which is an omega-6 that has been linked to reducing cholesterol levels by 15% while reducing blood pressure. While hemp seeds lower cholesterol across the board, the majority is low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol.
Hemp seeds are a great source of dietary fiber, including soluble and insoluble fiber, both of which greatly support healthy digestion. Fiber can provide bulk that keeps the gastrointestinal system regular while feeding beneficial microbes in the gut that support not just digestive health but mental health. The omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce gut inflammation that causes abdominal pain, inconsistent bowel movements, excessive gas, malnutrition, and loss of appetite.
Hemp seeds frequently find themselves skincare items, and it’s easy to see why. Hemp seeds can help even out skin tone by reducing inflammation and irritation. Hemp seeds’ ability to support the skin is potentially so powerful that some health experts say it’s a viable alternative for helping acne, psoriasis, eczema, and atopic dermatitis.
With 25% of hemp seeds’ calories coming from protein along with their generous omega-3 levels, hemp seeds are perfect for supporting a vegetarian and vegan diet. But even those on an omnivore diet who don’t eat much seafood will find that hemp seeds can really provide their diet a helping hand.
While we are focusing mostly on the non-CBD side of things for our hemp article, there is no denying the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids and terpenes and what they can do for our health. By interacting with various cell receptors in the body, CBD may offer several potential health benefits, including pain relief, reduced inflammation, and anxiety/stress reduction. Research has also shown promise in CBD managing epilepsy and seizures while improving sleep quality.
Precautions and Side Effects
First, let’s address the elephant in the room. There is a lot of confusion over the potential side effects hemp seeds can have. The biggest reason is that traces of THC and other cannabinoids have been found on hemp seeds. However, studies show that hemp seeds produce negligible, if any, quantities of THC or other cannabinoids, and that when THC or another cannabinoid is detected, it’s because the seeds were contaminated by material from other parts of the plant.
In theory, if we can clean off those cannabinoids, it is very unlikely that hemp seeds have any significant side effects. This means they are unlikely to interact with medications metabolized by the CYP enzyme system. However, you should still use caution and reach out to a medical professional if you have concerns because it appears most hemp seed products are not thoroughly cleaned of the cannabinoids.
While more often than not supporting the digestive system, hemp seeds, especially when heavily consumed, can cause digestive discomfort due to their high fiber and fat levels. It is also possible to be allergic to hemp seeds.
To Conclude: Hemp Uses in the Modern Word
While not a completely clean crop due to environmental concerns over VOC emissions, it’s nearly impossible to ignore all the advantages hemp can have. From its ability to be turned into clothing to its ability to support environmentally-friendly diets, this fast and easy-to-grow crop may be essential in our fight against climate change.
While its impact on some industries in the past caused some strife, in the future, it’s going to be nearly impossible to not see hemp’s influence on most industries, from the clothing industry to the automobile market.
Thanks to our ability to breed cannabis hemp strains with near non-existent levels of THC — labeled industrial hemp — there is little legally holding hemp back from thriving. Hopefully, this means that not only will we see a healthier environment by switching to hemp, but economies around the world grow stronger and flourish.
What is hemp sold for?
The better question is: what isn’t hemp sold for? Hemp is used to make a variety of commercial and industrial products, including rope, shoes, food, paper, insulation, biofuel, cosmetics, and so on.
What are the main hemp-derived products?
At the moment, hemp is most commonly used to create paper, insulation, oils for cooking and animal feeds, skincare items, and therapeutic supplements such as CBD oil. Hemp has three main parts (flowers, stalks, and seeds) that can all be turned into several different products. It’s pretty cool to think there is a plant that can provide material to build a house while also supporting our health.
And all of that doesn’t even include hemp’s phytoremediation properties, which allow it to clean up contaminated soils due to chemical spills, etc.
Is hemp the same as CBD?
While CBD is derived from hemp, CBD products are just one of the many, many, things that hemp can create. As well, not all hemp plants will produce notable levels of CBD, in fact, only half can. Unlike most crops we grow, hemp plants are dioecious plants that house their male and female flowers on separate plants. Only the unfertilized female crops produce notable levels of CBD.
Can you get high from consuming hemp?
Hemp plants naturally contain very low levels of THC, then selective breeding processes allow us to lower those levels even more. Most hemp flowers you come across will not contain levels of THC that can cause a high. Furthermore, they will probably contain very high levels of CBD that will counteract THC’s ability to cause a high.