Hemp is a dioecious, annual plant that thrives in mild climates and grows up to 5 m in height. Its colour varies depending on the species of the plant and can be found in different shades, from light to dark green. Industrial hemp leaves are palm shaped and narrow. The main root reaches depths of up to 2 m underground while branch root can grow as deep as 60 cm. It has a hairy stem. It originates from Central Asia, China, so its therapeutic effects were already known in 4000 BC, however Growing hemp and flax is also part of our history and tradition. So, what was hemp used for in the past?
Fiber and fabrics
FIBER AND FABRICS :
Until the 20. Century hemp was used for ship sails, ropes and anchors. Navy uniforms were designed out of hemp fabric as well as fishing nets and flags. Therefore 80% of all fabrics used for clothes, underwear, blankets, bedsheets, tents, towels, cloth diapers … were made out of hemp fiber. It was commonly known that:
• Hemp has dampness absorbing properties.
• Hemp is stretchable.
• Hemp is sturdy and robust.
• Hemp is softer than cotton.
• Hemp can be grown without using chemicals.
Until 1883 from 75% to 90% of all the paper was made out of hemp fiber. Eastern and Oriental companies have used it long before the Western world this enabled them to transfer their knowledge from generation to generation, giving them the chance to further develop their wisdom. Although our ancestors were producing paper out of leftover fabrics it was still of high quality, durable and practically remained unchanged for centuries. It was used for documents, maps, newspapers, shares, banknotes, …
Hemp oil was also used for various PAINTS AND COATINGS AS WELL AS LIGHTING OIL.
MEDICINAL USES OF HEMP :
Medicinal uses of hemp have a long ranging history. It was used for treating people of different ages as well as for veterinarian purposes. Its effects were used for pain relief, hormone balancing, constipation, it served as a sedative, disinfectant and also for recreational purposes.
Hemp oil was used as a compound of different colours, coatings and lacquers.
According to scientific classification there are three known species :
- Industrial cannabis (Cannabis sativa sativa)
- Cannbis indica (Cannabis sativa indica)
- Cannabis ruderalis (Cannabis sativa ruderalis)
They are classified based on the length of their growth and bloom periods as well as their seed shape.
WHAT IS HEMP USED FOR TODAY :
HEMP LEAVES AND FLOWERS:
- Are used for extraction of cannabinoids (CBD resin). Cannabinoids were, are and always will be a huge potential and challenge regarding positive effects on human and animal health.
- Are used for tea mixtures.
HEMP SEEDS :
Hemp seeds have a wide spectrum of usefulness :
• Can be consumed raw (peeled and unpeeled).
• Can be pressed into oils with a high percentage of essential fatty acids.
• Can be ground into protein powder (lactose and gluten free).
• Can be ground into hemp flour which is high in fiber.
• Hemp milk which is high in protein, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, vitamins, folic acids, magnesium, potassium and iron. It is suitable for people with lactose intolerance.
HEMP FIBER :
When we cut a hemp stem in half, we can easily recognise the shape of the fiber. Hemp fiber is an extremely strong material which was used throughout history for making sturdy ropes, ship sails, canvases, … Luckily today hemp is increasingly being used for :
- construction material
CONSTRUCTION MATERIAL :
Construction panels are a strong, reasonably priced, fireproof material, which is made by heat compression of hemp fibers and has great thermic and sound isolation properties.
It is about time we start using hemp for biomass energy. Biomass unlike fossil fuels is derived from plants which throughout their growth and photosynthesis absorb carbon dioxide, cleaning the atmosphere. It also does not contain sulphur. Hemp could therefore be used for biomass and converted into fossil fuel substitutes through gasification or a biochemical composting process. Methanol and ethanol derivatives can also be obtained from hemp biomass. Growing industrial hemp for biomass would also mean cleaning up contaminated soil. The contaminated elements that remain in the biomass could later be converted into energy by controlled destruction. What about the impacts on the environment, people, animals? Industrial hemp does not need harmful sprays and fertilizers for its growth, it does not pollute the environment, air, water. One could justifiably expect that in the future the cultivation of industrial hemp will also play a major role in energetics.
Cannabis has had its ups and downs throughout history. It was banned because of the greater power and self-interest of large corporations. Despite that, we have never forgotten it, if not otherwise, it has always been used illegally. Today humankind should focus on saving the planet, before we come to the point where the continuous reckless exploitation of natural resources leads us to a sad end. Isn’t it about time we finally notice the existence of a plant that is renewable and has the potential to meet our needs for energy, textiles and paper, while cleaning the atmosphere and keeping the soil and forests healthy, in the same time having a positive effect on the wellbeing of all living creatures.
We already know its name – HEMP!!!