This article was authored by Klaus Ferlow, HMH (Honorary Master Herbalist), innovator, lecturer, researcher, writer, founder Ferlow Botanical Enterprises Ltd, Vancouver, B.C. manufacturing/distributing organic toxin-free medicinal herbal and personal care products to professional health & wellness practitioners in Canada and parts of USA since 1993.
Think of hemp and many of us picture a mind-altering weed that has tarnished the reputation of this otherwise useful herb. Marijuana is the notorious cousin to hemp and is specifically cultivated for its high levels of THC (tetrahydro-cannabinol), the chemical that gives this famous weed its psychoactive properties.
While hemp and marijuana originate from the same cannabis sativa species, the hemp variety produces only trace amounts of THC, too negligible to elicit any reaction. Unlike marijuana, the hemp seeds are planted densely to produce thicker stalks and fewer flowers. Generally hemp is used commercially for its stalks and seed whereas marijuana (or cannabis) is used illegally for smoking its flowers or leaves. These two plants are vastly different. For centuries, hemp has been used for food, shelter, ropes, clothing and medicine. It is now re-emerging as one of nature's most useful, healthy, economically feasible and environmental friendly herb.
It is for that reason that hemp is worthy of attention and of redefining its true nature and use. Each part of the industrial hemp plant (seed, oil, stalk) generates useful products. The seed, a hard-shelled nut contain protein, carbohydrates, fibre and a number of vitamins and minerals, is one of the highest sources of essential fatty acids (EFAs). EFAs are essential in our diets for the proper growths and function in our diets for the body. They aid in fat transport and metabolism and are necessary for the formal function of the reproductive system, for hormone regulations and for breakings up cholesterol deposits in the arteries. Hempseed contains 40% fat in form of a very well-balanced mixture of EFA, which is produced by cold-pressing the hempseed. It can be eaten on its own, blended into other food and body care products (shampoo, soaps, creams, lotions) or used as a lubricant. Various industry have sprung up making hemp into clothing, paper and many other commercial products.
Recent evidence also suggests that people suffering from Multiple Sclerosis (MS), attention deficit disorder (ADD) and depression may benefit from a properly balanced EFA intake. Deficiencies in EFAs can lead to changes in the cell structure, resulting in slowed growth and other disorders such as brittle or dull hair, nail problems, dandruff, allergies, dermatitis and eczema. In his book "Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill", Udo Erasmus called hempseed the "most perfectly balanced, natural EFA-rich oil available...nature's most perfectly balance oil. Health guru Dr. Andrew Weil calls hempseed oil the number one vegetable oil, ahead of flaxseed oil and other more popular cold-pressed edible oil. Hempseed oil is also low in saturated fatty acids (SFA), one of the primary factors which increase blood cholesterol levels. This oil contains the highest total amount of the essential polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) of both the omega-6 (LA = linolenic acid and GLA = gamma linolenic acid) and the omega-3 (ALA = alpha linolenic acid). Neither of these EFAs can be synthesized by the body and must therefore be obtained from the diet. Hempseed oil beats out flaxseed oil, evening primrose oil and every known plant source of EFAs. A 100-gram serving of hempseed oil contains more than 36 grams of EFAs.
Hempseed is also 31% protein, making it second only to soybeans as a plant protein source. Yet hempseed triumphs again because it contains "edestin" protein, a superior protein to that found in soy. Edestin does not inhibit absorption of protein or any other nutrient. Edestin is also a complete protein because it contains all eight essential amino acids.
The hemp seed has a multitude of uses in food. The meat of the hemp seed is also highly nutritious and versatile for preparing a number of foods. The hempseed oil is very fragile and should be refrigerated in a airtight container to preserve its freshness and nutrient value. The oil is best used raw unheated. Among the foods products from the hempseeds are health snack bars, cookies, porridge, nut butter, chips, pastas, tortillas, humus, cheese, ice cream, burgers, flour, breads, cereals, pretzels, chocolate and more. Hempseed nuts can be mixed into salads and soups. Hemp oil actually tastes good to most people. It has a nutty taste reminiscent of walnuts and can be added to baked potatoes, salads, soups and other foods. The oil is ideal for salads, dips, pesto sauces, shakes and smoothies. Hemp oil reaches beyond its usefulness as a food and has soothing, rejuvenating and restorative properties for the skin. For this reason it is ideal for us in body care products such as herbal lotions, creams, lip balms, shampoo, conditioner, soaps and having cream. Other non-food uses for hemp oil include lamp oil, paint, varnishes and lubricant substances. The stalks of the hemp plant produces a strong and durable fibre that has been used successfully for clothing. Its insulation quality helps the wearer of the hemp clothing to stay warm in winter and cool in summer. It also offers UV protection. The fibre has been used in manufacturing twine, cord, textiles, paper, rope, building materials and numerous household goods.
To add to its multitude of uses, hemp is considered to be an environmental friendly crop. It is a natural herbicide that rapidly outgrows competing weeds by smothering them and blocking out the light, and therefore requires no other herbicides and pesticides. It has lower nutrient requirements than most other crops and it thrives in Canada's cool climate. In fact, the hemp crop cleans the soil and adds nutrients when it is allowed to dry in the fields. The deep roots of the hemp help to prevent erosion of the soil and provide aeration for future crops.
Here are more information about the benefits of Hemp:
Hemp is one of the oldest cultivated plants known to humanity. Is has been used for over 10.000 years and can be used to make more than 10.000 practical products. Facts about hempseed oil:
Fortunately, in the past decade, hemp for commercial industrial use has been legal in Canada unlike other countries such as USA which still prohibits its cultivation. The benefits of this incredible plant to our health, well-being and to our environment cannot be understated. We may only be chipping away at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to exploring the huge potential of hemp!
Do you still think hemp is a useless weed?
A wise man ought to realize that health is a most valuable possession and learn how to treat his illnesses by his own judgment.
Hippocrates, circa 500 BC A Regimen for Health
Hemp for health, Christ Conrad, ISBN 0-89281-539-6
Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill, Udo Erasmus, ISBN 0-920-470-38-6
The Cultivation of Hemp, Dr. Ivan Bocsa, Michael Karus, ISBN 1-886874-03=4
Industrial Hemp, Hemptech, ISBN 1-886874-00-X
Hemp Pages, the Hemp Industry Source book,
Hemp World & Hemp Journal, ISBN 0-9650779-2-6
About Hemp, www.nalnorml.org/hemp/index.shtml
Facts about Hemp, www.bancor.com/fact.htm
Fact about Hemp, www.infotank.com/Hemp/Facts.html#fact2
Soybean to Hemp Comparison, www.rella.com/hempcoll.html
http://www.thehia.org, http://www.hempoil.com, http://www.tiama.org, http://www.naihc.org, http://www.eco-natural.com, http://www.grassrootsnaturalgoods.com
This information is offered for its educational value only and should not be used in the diagnose, treatment, or prevention of disease. Any attempt to diagnose and treat illness should come under the direction of your health care practitioner.