Hemp Matters

Our love for Hemp began with CBD and its therapeutic benefits… But the more we learned about this incredible plant, the more credit we think it deserves.

Hemp has been cultivated for thousands of years. Versatile, nutritious, and easy to grow, it is something of a wonder crop. It has been used across construction, clothing, food and even medicine – making Hemp the only plant with the ability to house you, clothe you, feed you, and heal you.

Unfortunately, Hemp suffered a PR crisis during the 20th century due to prohibition and its similarities with Marijuana. However, Hemp is now enjoying a resurgence as more of us wake up to its nutritional profile, potential health benefits, and the good it does for our planet.

Hemp is pretty amazing. Once you read more, we hope you’ll agree.

Hemp and Sustainability

Sustainability is a lot more than just a trendy watchword. It is an essential part of how we manage our planet’s resources in the face of climate change and an ever-growing global population. 

And part of combatting climate change is being more aware of the impact of the raw materials that go into the products we use every day. From pesticides used to grow cotton, to plastic waste, to deforestation and soil erosion, it seems that everything we buy comes with a raft of environmental consequences.

That is why plants like Hemp are so valuable. It’s fast-growing and doesn’t need pesticides or herbicides to give a good yield. Not to mention its endless list of uses, making it a versatile option for farmers.

Here are a few of the ways that Hemp is good for the planet

It Absorbs Carbon Dioxide

Hemp is carbon negative. This means that it takes in more carbon dioxide than is used to cultivate it. One hectare of industrial Hemp can absorb 15 tonnes of carbon dioxide, which is 4 times more than the same area of mature trees. It also only takes 3-4 months until fully grown, compared to the 20-80 years needed for a mature tree. 

With climate change fast becoming a daily reality, this is good news for reducing the greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.

It Doesn’t Require Dangerous Chemicals

A hardy, fast-growing plant, Hemp doesn’t require the use of dangerous pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilisers. Not only are these chemicals harmful to human health, they also pollute soil and water, and endanger essential pollinators, like bees. Avoiding them is better for the environment and our health.

Restores the Soil

Hemp is a ‘pioneer species’, meaning it will grow in soil that has been depleted of nutrients or polluted by heavy metals. In the process, it helps to clean the soil and bring it back to health, making the land suitable for growing other plants. It replaces 60-70% of the nutrients needed to grow it, making it a potential solution to mono-cropping.

Replaces Environmentally Damaging Materials

Because it has so many uses, Hemp can replace many materials that come with big environmental impacts. It is becoming a popular alternative for clothing, for example, replacing pesticide and water-hungry cotton. It can be used to make bioplastics, instead of fossil fuels, effectively reducing plastic waste. And it can be used alongside lime as an eco-friendly alternative to concrete for buildings.

Saves Water

Since it grows like a weed, Hemp doesn’t need much water. With water supplies worldwide becoming an increasing concern, crops that can be grown without needing too much of this valuable resource are a bonus to the planet.  For example Hemp needs 50% less water than cotton, and produces twice the amount of fabric. 

Prevents Soil Erosion

With an extensive root network, Hemp helps to hold the soil together and prevent erosion. Its main root can grow up to 12” deep within 1 month. These deep roots also help to break up soil that is compacted, allowing other plants and crops a better chance to grow.

Good for Biodiversity

Hemp is better for biodiversity than common crops such as wheat, maize, or rapeseed. It grows high enough to provide a good source of cover to smaller wildlife, the flowers attract insects, and the seeds are a favoured food of many species of bird.

What is Hemp Used For?

At first glance, Hemp doesn’t seem all that special. Sure, you’d probably notice the iconic shape of its leaves. But you wouldn’t know from looking at it just how versatile this humble plant really is.

Hemp is used to make thousands of different products. Practically every part of the plant has a use. Or multiple uses, in fact.

Clothing and Textiles

If you are an environmentally conscious fashion lover, you’ll have noticed the boom in clothing made from Hemp in recent years. The outer stalks provide excellent fibres for making textiles and the fashion industry is quickly embracing it as an eco-friendly alternative to damaging fabrics like polyester, viscose, and conventional cotton.

The fibres are good for more than just clothing though. Hemp has been used for thousands of years to make rope and canvas. And it is a good option for other textiles too, such as carpets and upholstery. Meanwhile, the woody core is an alternative to trees for making paper.

Replacing Fossil Fuels

Hemp is helping to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, as an alternative way of making plastic packaging, containers, and parts. It has even shown potential as a biofuel, which could replace traditional petrol and diesel.

Construction

Builders and architects are embracing Hemp too. It is a sustainable option for making insulation, improving the energy efficiency of our homes. And the woody core can be combined with lime, a traditional building material, to make an eco-friendly alternative to concrete for walls and floors – known as hempcrete.

Health and Beauty

In our kitchens, Hemp is recognised as a superfood. Its nutrient-packed seeds are a great source of protein and healthy essential fatty acids like Omega-3 and Omega-6. Hemp oil is also gaining popularity for cooking, as an alternative to olive oil.

Hemp oil is good for more than just drizzling over salads though. It is increasingly found as an ingredient in skin and hair products. You’ll find it in everything from shampoo to lip balm.

CBD Oils and Supplements

We couldn’t leave out one of Hemp’s most important uses – it is the source of the CBD we use to make our oils, as well as producing a range of other cannabinoids and terpenes.

CBD is used to make medicine, as well as supplements – it is the core ingredient in a new epilepsy treatment called Epidyolex. And research into its potential for treating other conditions continues.

That’s an impressive portfolio for one plant. It is no wonder we think Hemp is amazing.

The history of hemp

Hemp may be enjoying the spotlight right now, but it isn’t as new to the market as you might think. In fact, Hemp has been farmed for thousands of years in most countries across the world. It is no surprise that at one stage Ireland was amongst one of the biggest Hemp producers in Europe for industrial purposes.

Ancient Uses

Hemp may well have been the first crop grown for making textiles. Archaeologists excavating the ancient city of Çatalhöyük in Turkey found fabric made from Hemp that was around 9,000 years old.

Meanwhile, in China, early evidence of Hemp textiles comes from the imprint of fibres on Yangshao culture pottery – making it around 7,000 years old. 

The Chinese were also the first to realise that Hemp can be used to make paper. But the art soon spread, with Hemp and linen both becoming popular raw materials for making paper in Europe and Asia.

Industrial Uses

Because it can be used to make canvas and rope, the history of Hemp soon became inextricably twinned with the history of sea travel. In fact, it was so important to sailing ships that Henry VIII passed a law in 1535 demanding that all landowners dedicate at least a quarter of an acre of land to growing Hemp.

In the eighteenth century, European nations, including Britain, started to expand their naval forces to grow and police their colonies. And that meant an increased demand for Hemp for rope and sails.

Famous People & Hemp

Hemp was an established crop and a normal part of everyday life. Even George Washington grew it at his home at Mount Vernon. Believe it or not – For over 200 years, Hemp was even considered a legal tender that could be used to pay taxes in the US. 

Henry Ford made a prototype car from Hemp which was 10x stronger than steel and even used Hemp Bio-fuel, making it the first carbon neutral motor vehicle.

Hemp also found a use in medicine for thousands of years. People around the world used it to treat digestive issues, insomnia, arthritis and a wide range of other issues which are only beginning to be re-discovered and researched.

Hemp/Cannabis Prohibition

Hemp’s popularity was threatened when the United States passed a law to tax cannabis in 1937, effectively making it illegal. Although it was relaxed during the Second World War for industrial purposes, this law prevented the cultivation of both Hemp and marijuana in America. Hemp was finally made legal again in the USA back in 2018.

In Europe, growing Hemp remained legal. But due to the prohibition and demonization of Hemp and cannabis in the US, it meant that it fell out of favour here in Europe. For a few decades, Hemp became a fringe crop, mainly grown for animal food and bedding. 

Thankfully, prohibition has proved a short hiccup in the long history of Hemp use. Hemp’s reputation is now on the rise again and rightly so. In the EU, it is legal to grow Hemp as long as it contains less than 0.2% THC. 

Increasing research into the potential benefits of Hemp products, such as CBD, means that it is back in public favour. Hopefully for good this time!

Conclusion

We mentioned that Hemp has been used for thousands of years across construction, clothing, food and even medicine, making it the only plant with the ability to house you, clothe you, feed you, and heal you! Hemp really is a remarkable plant.

New research into the potential health benefits of CBD and other compounds found in Hemp suggests an exciting future for this vital plant. We hope that one day Hemp will be grown and used in every household. 

The current resurgence is only the beginning for Hemp and Cannabis!

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