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2. History of hemp
3. What is industrial hemp and what are its uses?
4. Hemp and its medicinal effects
In our comprehensive article on this plant, we will go through the history of cannabis through its uses to the fundamental differences between cannabis and marijuana. Enjoy, expand your horizons and knowledge with us!
2. HISTORY OF HEMP
The earliest records of cannabis use date back to 7,000 BC, in the Early Stone Age, which is usually defined as the beginning of the ”Neolithic” period – the first farmers – and originate from the area of ancient Babylon. However, the credit for the greatest expansion of both the cultivation and the versatile use of hemp in history goes to China, where one of the earliest accounts of the cultural use of the plant comes from the Yellow River Valley.
It is believed that people knew about cannabis and the power of its use long before that. The clothes people wore, the nets they used to catch fish and game, the ropes they used, were all made from the long, strong and durable fibres of hemp. The ancient Chinese, however, relied on the power of this plant far more often than just in cases involving the use of the fibre. They consumed every part of it: the roots and leaves in medicine, the stem for textiles, rope and paper, the seeds for food and oil. The Chinese learned to press the seeds into valuable oil using a technique still in use in the 20th century. Pressed seeds produce 20 to 30% oil. This was used for cooking, in lamps for lighting, in paints and for soap making. The waste after pressing has enough nutrients to be nutritious pet food. Hemp fibres from old clothes and nets were used in the production of paper, which thus gained increased durability and is still preserved in graves dating back to 100 BC ( similar paper is currently used to make banknotes in Canada, or for better editions of the Bible ). The roots were applied in the form of dough to wounds to relieve the pain of fractures and in operations. The effects of the leaves and flowers did not go unnoticed for long either. In China, as in other areas, cannabis, along with other hallucinogenic plants, played a very important role in the establishment of religions and in the life of communities at that time.
Cannabis was brought to Europe via the northern route in 2800 BC. Scythians. For a time, hemp fibre became a staple crop in the history of almost every European country, where people also came to appreciate the power of the plant and its truly versatile uses. As trade boomed, new routes took the seeds to all corners of the known world. The first settlers of the newly emerging American colonies brought them with them, and it was in America that the hemp industry experienced an unprecedented boom. A great proof of the usefulness of hemp was seen in the recycling industry – hemp clothing and ship sails were turned into paper. The fathers of American independence were strong advocates of a national economy based on the use of hemp. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were longtime hemp growers themselves. Hemp was legal tender in much of America from 1632 until the early 19th century.
In the 18th century, Russia produced 80% of the hemp used in the west. In the second half of the 18th century, Great Britain buys 90% of its hemp from Russia, leaving the British navy dependent on Russian hemp. One of the main reasons for the War of 1812, in which America fought against Britain, was access to Russian hemp. In 1807, America’s ally Napoleon and Tsar Alexander of Russia sign a treaty under which Russia ceases to trade legally with England. Napoleon’s strategy was to stop the supply of Russian hemp to England and thereby destroy the English navy, which could hardly do without quality hemp sailcloth and would be forced to stop the blockade of France and the Continent. The Tsar did not keep this treaty, and Napoleon invaded Russia in June 1812. Because of the harsh winter and Russian military tactics, he is defeated. In December 1814, England signs a treaty with the United States in which it agrees never again to harass American merchant ships also importing hemp from Russia.
3. WHAT IS INDUSTRIAL HEMP AND WHAT ARE ITS USES?
‘Industrial hemp is actually a dioecious plant with erect stems. Cannabis is divided into female plants, which are shorter but denser, and male plants, which are tall and slender. The stems tend to be about 2,5 to 3 metres high. Sometimes their height can reach up to 5 metres.
Almost everything can be made from industrial hemp ( cannabis sativa )! We can therefore extract hemp fibre, oil and nutritious seeds from this plant. No poisons (pesticides and herbicides) are needed for cultivation. Hemp is a tall flower and will quickly outgrow all plants and weeds. It is itself a very resistant weed. This does not detract from the benefits of sown hemp.
Industrial hemp is an excellent plant for the industry. Its favourable growth characteristics (thin, non-branched stalk) and its almost zero THC content (max. 0.2% according to EU standards).
Indian hemp is cultivated mainly for its resinous secretion. This type of cannabis is mainly used for smoking marijuana. It is mostly used for the production of soft drugs and hashish.
Cannabis is a weedy plant that came to us from southern Ukraine.
Technical hemp products
The spectrum of products made from hemp is very wide, up to 25,000 100% recyclable products can be made from it. In Western countries, industrial hemp is commonly grown and processed. In our country, everything is in the research, trial production and trial cultivation phase. Although we have a very benevolent attitude towards hemp, non-technical hemp products are still rather unconventional in this country, even though they are quite common.
The basic raw material to be used is biomass and seed. The stalk is a good example for the production of biofuels – petrol, briquettes, charcoal, methanol or electricity. The hemicellulose cellulose found in the pulp can be converted into alcohol fuel. However, hemp can be used for other products.
Hemp can be used in the food industry, in the chemical and textile industries, and of course in medicine, cosmetics, etc.
Here in the Slovak Republic, the following cannabis species are the most common:
Sowing hemp (industrial hemp) is grown for its long and strong stems, which are used in the textile industry (hemp fabric). It is also widely used for its oily seeds. The oil extracted from the seeds is used in cosmetics, food, lubricants, soaps and paints. It is actually a versatile herb. This cannabis contains no or a very low percentage of THC.
In this country, hemp is used mainly for non-woven textiles, the paper and automotive industries and for construction purposes. The use of the woody material (flint) for energy use in the form of biopellets is important. They can be used, for example, for heating in fireplaces, fireplaces and other stoves or solid fuel boilers. The briquettes are pressed without any binder, so they do not contain any harmful substances. They have a cylindrical shape with a diameter of 6,5 cm. The calorific value is about 16,5 MJ/kg at 9% humidity.
Hemp seeds contain 30-35% drying oil with a high proportion of fatty acids.
Hemp oil, obtained by pressing hemp seeds, can be used as a motor fuel, for the production of paints and varnishes, and also in the food industry. Hemp seed is used extensively in the food industry and by bird breeders (very good feed).
The most common uses of hemp seed are:
- CLOTHING AND ROPES
- MEDICAL PURPOSES (more often Indian hemp, because of the abundance of cannabinoids)
4. CANNABIS AND ITS MEDICINAL EFFECTS
Despite the presence of several medicinal components in hemp, we consider the presence of essential fatty acids to be the most important. Hemp oil contains more than 80 % polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and is a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA, omega-3), of which it contains about 15-30 %, and linoleic acid (LA, omega-6), of which it contains about 45-60 %. The ratio of omega-6/omega-3 fatty acids in hemp oil (2:1 to 3:1) is optimal for human health. If this ratio shifts significantly in favour of omega-6 fatty acids (as many other commonly used vegetable oils do), inflammatory processes in the body can take over, which can exacerbate any inflammatory disease from arthritis to atherosclerosis. Conversely, a significant excess of omega-3 fatty acids (which is very rare in practice) can cause a relative deficiency of omega-6 fatty acids. This, in turn, may be negatively experienced by patients with atopic dermatitis or psoriasis.
Cannabis and neurological diseases
A deficiency of PUFAs in the membranes of nerve cells in the central nervous system has been associated with several neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.
Cannabis and atherosclerosis
PUFAs and their metabolites positively influence the lipid profile of an individual, reduce blood pressure and thus contribute significantly to the prevention of atherosclerosis and its complications (myocardial infarction, stroke, etc.). This effect was also observed in patients with type 2 diabetes, where a daily intake of 10 ml of hemp oil significantly reduced LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar and glycated haemoglobin levels. In the same way, cannabis helped to increase the level of “good” HDL cholesterol in these patients. The effect of this supplementation even persisted for some time after cannabis oil discontinuation.
Prevention of atherosclerosis occurs at several levels with regular use of hemp oil: PUFAs not only modify the lipid profile and thus prevent the formation of lipid plaques in the vascular wall, but also reduce platelet aggregation, thus contributing positively to the proper flow of blood and preventing blood clots from forming. In this context, the possibility of prolonged bleeding in patients taking anticoagulant treatment (especially with long-term and regular use of cannabis oil) should be noted. This does not necessarily imply the need to avoid the use of cannabis products, but it is advisable to monitor laboratory parameters and, if necessary, to adjust the dosage of anticoagulant treatment (a possible reduction in the dose of such a drug can only benefit the patient, as it is not a drug without adverse effects).
Cannabis and skin diseases
Cannabis has also been shown to have positive effects on the quality of skin, nails and hair. With regular consumption of about 15-30 ml of hemp oil per day, we can see an improvement in the condition of the skin in about 2-4 weeks, the nails in 2-4 months and the hair in 6-8 months, which becomes stronger and more resistant.
Significant improvements in skin condition have also been observed in patients with atopic dermatitis, acne, psoriasis and other skin diseases. In particular, patients reported relief from itching and a significant improvement in skin hydration.
Hemp is anti-inflammatory
The anti-inflammatory effect of hemp’s essential fatty acids has a wide range of uses: from inflammatory joint diseases to inflammation of the intestine or gallbladder.
Hemp calms agitated hormones
The hemp seed is the only oilseed that contains GLA (gamma-linolenic acid). This has been shown in studies to be a good solution for both premenstrual syndrome and menopausal symptoms.
Hemp – seed
The hemp seed itself contains about 30% oil, 25% protein, significant amounts of fibre, terpenes, sterols and several vitamins and minerals.
Hemp terpenes, despite their presence in trace amounts, may contribute to the overall medicinal effect, particularly of essential fatty acids, by their anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic or cytoprotective properties.
The content of vitamin E, which is found in hemp products in the form of gamma (gamma-tocopherol), is also significant. This form of vitamin E is believed to be much more effective in preventing coronary artery disease than the alpha form known from dietary supplements. In addition, gamma-tocopherol blocks lipid peroxidation in the intestine and reduces the formation of mutagenic peroxide products, thus contributing significantly to the prevention of colon cancer.
Sterols (especially beta-sitosterol) contribute to the anti-cholesterol effect of PUFAs by blocking cholesterol absorption in the intestine. They can also serve as substrates for hormones and regulatory components, making them a particularly suitable food for vegetarians.
Methylsalicylate, a relative of the well-known acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin, acylpyrine), is another potent anti-inflammatory component of cannabis, despite its presence in trace amounts.
Hemp and muscle building
Hemp and its proteins (edestin and albumin) are the source of all essential amino acids. About 40% of these are highly branched-chain amino acids (Leucine, Isoleucine, Valine), which are particularly beneficial for muscle building and therefore have a wide use in sports nutrition. They are comparable in quality to egg and soy protein. Hemp proteins are easily digestible and do not contain trypsin inhibitors, which prevent protein absorption. Hemp flour is also a good source of quality protein for people who find legumes bloating-inducing because hemp contains very few indigestible forms of carbohydrates.
Hemp and kidney disease
It is known that in kidney disease, in addition to reducing the amount of protein intake, it makes sense to focus almost exclusively on plant protein. In animal experiments, hemp protein has been observed to have a very positive effect on slowing down the development of kidney disease and its cardiovascular complications. Hemp and its protein in the experiment improved kidney function and ameliorated the pathological finding on the kidney. Patients with chronic renal insufficiency (renal failure) are advised to include hemp protein in their diet.
Hemp and celiac disease
Due to the absence of gluten, hemp protein is also suitable for celiacs.
In conclusion, it should be stressed that hemp and its products are able to develop their full healing potential, especially when used regularly and not when high doses are consumed suddenly.
Cannabis and cancer patients
Many of these patients suffer from pain and lack of appetite, consequently losing weight and strength. Cannabis especially its CBD extract relieves pain and brings appetite.
We hope that you have gained new information that has broadened your horizons. If you are interested, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have.