Hemp is a plant which has received a lot of bad press in the past few decades. It is an old plant with a long and important role in history. A role which has spanned several different countries and continents. It is time to clarify what hemp is and is not so it may return to its former, well-deserved glory.
What Is Hemp
Hemp is a strain of the cannabis sativa plant. This particular strain is quite different from the cannabis or marijuana plant smoked to obtain the notorious high. Hemp has extremely low amounts of THC the specific compound that is psychotropic and creates the feeling of being high. Typically, the amount of THC must stay at or below a certain level to be legally cultivated and sold as hemp. Hemp has a different phytochemical composition than marijuana. Interestingly enough the plants look very different with hemp being very tall and skinny compared to marijuana. This low THC strain of cannabis is used for several different industrial purposes. It is legal to cultivate for this purpose in the United States and other countries.
History of Hemp
In ancient times people understood the value of this plant. The earliest evidence of the use of hemp was found in an archaeological dig in Japan. The dig dated back to 8000 BC. Evidence of the plant was also found in ancient China, Tibet, Palestine, Germany, and other European countries. The fiber of the plant was commonly used to make textiles, as it still is today. Paper and clothing were common items made with the fiber. In Japan, evidence indicates they used it also as a food source.
Hemp is used today is the same way it was used in ancient times. Now, however, hemp is used in several more industrial applications.
Clothing – Ancient people did make clothing from hemp. However, hemp clothing fell into disfavor. It has only been the past couple of decades this application for hemp has returned.
Textiles – The fibers of the plant are used to create paper, canvas, and other textiles. This has been a common use of the plant throughout time.
Food Item – Hemp has long been used as a food item for both people and animals. The seed can be consumed raw or ground down to form a meal. It has a high nutritional value and is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.
Petroleum Replacement – This is one of the newer applications of the plant. Rich in oils, these oils are used as an alternative to petroleum in plastics making them biodegradable. These oils can also be used to create biofuels for combustion engines. The oil is also used to replace the role of petroleum in cosmetics. It seems that any application for petroleum is also proving applicable for hemp oil.
CBD Oil – One of the latest and most notorious products derived from hemp is CBD oil. The product has been hailed the new cure-all with new health benefits found frequently. The cannabis sativa strain that produces hemp is naturally high in CBD. Just as the plant does, CBD oil does contain trace amounts of THC. These trace amounts are not enough to create the psychotropic effects found with THC use.
Resurgence of Hemp
Hemp has made a strong comeback not only because of CBD oil but also for its environmentally friendly nature. It is highly renewable since it is one of the fastest growing plants in the world. It takes the place of fossil fuels and trees as a resource with a much smaller carbon footprint. Its resurgence is long overdue and welcomed by the world.