It’s been cultivated and used around the world for centuries. Yet hemp remains one of the most mysterious and misunderstood members of the plant kingdom. You may have wondered, “Is it legal?” or “How can I use it in my health routine?” With Annual Hemp History Week kicking off in just a few days, there’s no better time to get some answers. Here are five facts to help you get hip to hemp’s history and many benefits.
1. What is hemp?
Maybe crafty beaded bracelets sold at festivals and fairs, or even just a type of rope, come to mind when you think of hemp. You’re on the right track. Sturdy, fibrous strands are just one thing that can be produced from the tough and incredibly versatile hemp plant. Add to the list paper, textiles (such as fabric for clothing), biodegradable plastics, auto parts, paint and food products! From its leaves, stems and roots to its seeds and flowers, every part of this green gift of the Earth has potential to be turned into something useful and beneficial for people.
2. Is hemp the same thing as marijuana?
Not quite. Though related, hemp doesn’t contain nearly the level of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC (a compound with psychoactive properties), found in marijuana. You don’t have to worry about failing a drug test after consuming it. And it won’t get you “high.”
Here’s the kicker: in 1970, hemp was classified as marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act, making it illegal to grow in the U.S. Hemp foods and products, however, are completely safe and legal to buy—they’re just imported from other countries (mainly Canada). There are two bills (S. 134 in the Senate and H.R. 525 in the House) currently before Congress that could change this by redefining industrial hemp and removing it from the Controlled Substances Act. Want to get involved? Take action here!
3. What are some benefits of hemp?
Besides all of its product-producing potential, industrial hemp offers some pretty impressive perks for Mother Earth. It’s an adaptable and sustainable plant that’s easy to cultivate, requires less water than other types of crops, doesn’t deplete the soil (and actually replenishes it with nitrogen and nutrients!).
But not only is hemp good for the environment, it’s good for your health, too! Often called a superfood, hemp – most often consumed in seed or oil form (though you can eat its flowers and leaves) – is densely nutritious, providing protein, fiber, minerals, all 20 amino acids and essential fatty acids.
Did you know: hemp seeds (also called hemp hearts) are more easily digested than flax seeds and contain more essential fatty acids than any other seed or nut? Cold press them, and you get hemp oil, a tasty and nutrient-rich oil that boasts optimal 1:3 ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids.
4. How can you start enjoying hemp?
The possibilities are endless! Delicately crisp with a slightly nutty flavor, hemp seeds can be sprinkled on salads (or added to salad dressings) or blended into smoothies. Try mixing them -- or hemp powder -- into yogurt, hummus, pesto or other sauces. You can also whiz the seeds with water and a little vanilla extract to make your own hemp milk. Or, for a nutritious, on-the-go snack, munch hemp seeds straight from the bag.
Hemp oil can be spooned into your morning smoothie, stirred into sauces or dressings or drizzled on popcorn. It also makes a great addition to your beauty routine. Apply hemp oil directly to your skin as a nourishing and replenishing moisturizer, or try making this pore-clearing, detoxifying hemp facial treatment.
Looking for more ways to add hemp to your daily diet? Check out these hemp recipes on the VitaVibes blog!