Hemp is truly a scientific and medical wonder! It has powerful antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties. It is even thought that hemp is the first domestically-cultivated plant, with evidence found dating to 8,000 years ago. Here's a few more cool things you may not know about this marvellous plant.
1. Hemp has been used as food and medicine for centuries
Hemp seed has been used as an important source of food and medicine in China for at least 3,000 years. To this day, the seed remains an important grain in traditional Asiatic foods and medicines. There is even archaeological evidence that we were using hemp as long as 8,000 years B.C (a remnant of hemp cloth was found in ancient Mesopotamia). Folk remedies and ancient medicines refer to the seed and flowers of hemp, recommending it for difficult childbirth, convulsions, arthritic joints, rheumatism, insomnia and more.
2. Hemp was widely used for textiles in the 1800s
Besides food and medicine, hemp was also widely used for textiles for at least two centuries. It counted for 80% of all textiles in the 1800s, including clothes, linen, curtains, sheets and even shoes! One of the appealing qualities of hemp is that it can filter the suns harmful rays and can be manipulated during manufacture to screen up to SPF 50. Plus it’s hypoallergenic, so it’s comfortable for even the most sensitive skins. Hemp clothes beat cotton in endurance with the strength of its fibres, it’s at least three times more durable than cotton.
3. Hemp can be made into hempcrete, a sturdy building material
Hempcrete is one of the most amazing by-products of industrial hemp! It’s made from the inside stem of the hemp plant and is then mixed with a lime base binder to create the building material. This mixture creates a negative carbon footprint.
Hempcrete is a superior building material due to the fact that it is a very strong, lightweight and breathable material. What makes this material so impressive is that it’s flame, water and pest resistant.
4. Hemp paper can protect against deforestation
In case you didn’t already know it, hemp can be used for just about everything, including paper. A single acre of hemp can produce the same amount of paper in a year as four acres of trees! And because it’s such a prolific crop, it can be used to replace the need for slow growing trees. Eliminating the necessity to cut down our forests is one of the best ways to protect them.
5. Hemp can be made into bioplastic for a more sustainable future
Hemp bioplastic is an affordable, natural fibre composite that can be used to replace traditional oil-based plastic. It’s biodegradable, recyclable and toxin-free!
Hemp plastics are made from the stalk of the plant. Once the fibres have been removed from the hemp stems, what’s left is 77% cellulose which provides both strength and flexibility for plastic construction. The high cellulose count combined with the favourable growing characteristics makes hemp a suitable environmentally sustainable alternative material.
6. Hemp was used to make sail canvas and rope
For centuries, hemp was commonly used to make sail canvas, as it is strong, durable and unaffected by water. Other uses of hemp fibre were in rope, sacking, nets and webbing. Hemp was even found to have been cultivated at a farm in Norway by the Vikings. The fibres were used to make rope, boat caulking and sails during the time. The cannabis remains from the farmstead date from 650 AD to 800 AD.
7. Hemp canvas and paints was used by classical painters
Cannabis hemp is the most durable and longest-lasting natural fibre on earth, so it’s no wonder that classic artists used hemp to paint on. In the 17th century, most paintings by Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn, Dutch post-impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh and British painter Thomas Gainsborough were made on hemp canvas. Hemp canvas is well suited for oil paintings with the artists also being known to have used hemp based paints to create their masterpieces.
8. Hemp can clean the atmosphere and protect the environment
Global warming is caused by high levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), while hemp consumes 4 times as much CO2 as trees do. Combine that with the 12-14 week growing cycle of hemp and you have a highly sustainable crop that could effectively fight global warming. Hemp is completely eco-friendly, so much so that farmers can actually restore the health of their soil by planting hemp. It also eliminates the need to use agrochemicals, since it grows so densely that it kills off weeds naturally.
9. Hemp was used to eliminate toxins & radioactive material in Chernobyl
When the 1986 Chernobyl explosion caused the most disastrous nuclear disaster we had ever seen, farmers were worried the radioactive materials would permanently damage their soil. Phytotech, a company specialising in phytoremediation, and scientists began to grow industrial hemp around the abandoned nuclear power plant in Pripyat, Ukraine. They found hemp to significantly reduce soil toxicity. Phytotech, has claimed that hemp can also be used to clean up metals, pesticides, solvents, explosives, crude oil, and toxins leaching from landfills.
So there you have it. Hemp is the only plant that can feed you, clothe you, house you, and heal you. Hemp really is the future!