The hemp plant used to be a commonplace plant that grew virtually anywhere and people used it for its medicinal effects as well as to make textiles and industrial materials to use in their everyday lives. However, somewhere along the way, its use became illegal.
The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) from the list of controlled substances and it changed the game immensely. Hemp farming in the United States became legal again after a century and soon after, the hemp industry started booming.
The most well-known hemp product is CBD oil, but in recent years, more and more hemp products have started popping up and it seems like the hemp plant is back in the game.
Let’s see how this incredibly versatile plant is used today and what types of products are being made.
Hemp Food and Beverages
Hemp is, in fact, very nutritious. Raw hemp leaves contain many essential vitamins and minerals, and its seeds are even bigger nutritional powerhouses. These two parts of the plant can be used in many gastronomical ways.
Consuming hemp seeds is a popular use of the hemp plant because their nutritional levels are on par with superfoods like chia seeds and flax seeds. They are a great source of antioxidants, iron, magnesium, B vitamins, vitamin E, zinc, and manganese, and they’re very rich in protein which makes them suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
Plus, they contain essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6 which help to balance cholesterol levels and support the immune system. Finally, they contain nine essential amino acids and they’re easily absorbed by the human body.
Hemp Seed Oil
Similarly, hemp seed oil is just as nutritious. It’s made by cold pressing the hemp seeds to extract the oils within the seeds. It has a wide range of applications – it can be orally consumed for general health or it can be used topically to treat different skin conditions like eczema, dermatitis, rosacea, psoriasis, and lichen planus.
Hemp flour is made by grinding the hemp seeds into a fine powder. It’s a wonderful source of energy and an excellent alternative to wheat flour as it’s gluten-free. Hemp seed flour contains a protein content of 33% which is very close to soy. Individuals with nut allergies can also use it. However, remember that hemp seed flour is very dense and not suitable to be used alone for baking. If you want to boost your baked goods, mix it with another flour in a 1:4 ratio.
Hemp milk is akin to any other plant milk – it’s made by blending hemp seeds with water. You can easily make a batch yourself. Admittedly, it has a very pronounced nutty flavor that may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but its nutritional content makes it worth trying out.
Hemp tea is an enjoyable and mild beverage that’s easily blended with many other types of tea. Both hemp seeds and hemp leaves can be used to make hemp tea. There are brands that also blend in CBD oil within their hemp teas to give it a little cannabinoid boost.
Hemp granola is a thing, as it should be. Hemp seeds mixed with oats and fruits are a dream combination. It’s a highly nutritious snack for when you’re on the go, and it will keep you fuller for longer.
Hemp Protein Powder
Hemp protein powder is derived from hemp seeds which makes it highly nutritious. It’s a very popular hemp product among athletes because a single serving contains about 15 gr of protein, depending on the brand, which is one of the highest plant-based sources of protein. Hemp protein powder is also great for vegans, as well as lactose-intolerant individuals because it’s very well absorbed.
Hemp Clothing and Accessories
Hemp was used in the past to make clothing, so why shouldn’t it be used again in the present? Hemp fiber is very breathable and easy on the skin, it’s absorbent, and not to mention sustainable. It’s also one of the most durable natural fibers.
For reference, cotton, one of the most widely used materials, needs a lot of water and it uses about 25% of the world’s insecticides and over 10% pesticides. The hemp plant, on the other hand, needs about 50% less water than cotton and is naturally more resilient to pests, so there’s not much need for chemicals.
In addition to clothes, hemp is used for the production of shoes – some big-name brands have started to roll out a limited edition of hemp shoes every year on 4/20. Hemp fibers are also used to produce a variety of accessories, like sunglasses, backpacks, hats, wallets, socks, tote bags, and even underwear.
Personal Care Hemp Products
Personal care hemp products are usually infused with hemp seed oil, plus sometimes they contain some additional beneficial ingredients for an added effect. Personal care hemp products can be used for cosmetic purposes or to treat a certain skin condition, skin burns, bug bites, or dry and damaged skin.
You can find these products in many shapes and forms – there are facial cleansers, toners, and moisturizers, but there are also body lotions and balms, as well as body washes, and you can even find hemp hair care, like shampoos and conditioners.
Health and Wellness Hemp Products
Hemp and the cannabinoids it contains have been used as medicine for thousands of years, the earliest records being around 2300 BC in Ancient China. In fact, there is a lot of evidence on the medicinal use of hemp throughout human history all around the globe.
The hemp plant naturally contains very high CBD (cannabidiol) and very low THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) content, unlike its cousin marijuana. Hemp is the main source for the production of CBD products, such as CBD oils and tinctures, as well as CBD capsules and edibles.
CBD oil is made by blending CBD extract into a carrier vegetable oil. It can be a CBD isolate or it can also contain small amounts of other cannabinoids, including THC.
CBD oil has a very wide use. It can be taken sublingually for pain relief or relaxation, or it can be added to food and drinks. You can even treat your pet with it.
Hemp Essential Oil
The hemp essential oil is one of the most expensive oils in the world because it takes a lot of plant material for just one ounce of essential oil. It doesn’t contain any CBD or THC, and just like all essential oils, it’s not meant to be consumed but diluted with a carrier oil or used in a diffuser. The essential oil has a strong and recognizable aroma, and it has therapeutic properties.
Hemp Industrial and Building Materials, and Others
Being one of the most durable materials, the hemp plant is an excellent source for producing industrial and building materials.
One of the most promising ways for the industrial use of the hemp plant is hempcrete, which is a building material that’s made from hemp hurds, lime, and sand. Hempcrete can be used for the construction or insulation of homes and it has many benefits. It naturally absorbs CO2 as it ages, thereby reducing carbon footprint and becoming sturdier at the same time. It’s also an excellent thermodynamic insulator and will help reduce energy costs. And finally, since it’s made out of natural materials, it can also eliminate causes for allergies.
Not exactly a building material, but a very durable one. The strength of hemp fibers makes them a great choice for the production of ropes to be used for all purposes.
Hemp plastic or bioplastic could solve a big chunk of the world’s environmental problems. The only problem is, industrial hemp cultivation is still highly regulated – so sadly, mass production is still not a possibility.
As expected, hemp plastic is much more durable (3.5 times stronger and 5 times stiffer) and much more eco-friendly than conventional plastic. Bioplastic can be used for the production of so many products, including cars (like what Tom Ford did).
Hemp has many environmental benefits, and the production of hemp paper is another one. Hemp paper is more sustainable than tree paper because hemp stalks grow much faster than trees allowing for a larger-scale production of paper in a shorter amount of time. Plus, only one acre of hemp plants can produce just as 4-10 acres of trees over a cycle of 20 years.
Hemp also contains much higher levels of cellulose compared to trees – hemp has 85%, while trees have 30% cellulose. That said, long-term use of hemp to produce paper can significantly lower the rates of deforestation.
Automotive Hemp Products
Fun fact. In 1941, Henry Ford built a car using hemp materials, hemp plastic to be more precise, and it even ran on hemp fuel. In other words, a model example of sustainability. But it seems like automotive hemp products are making a comeback.
One of the most important hemp products is biofuel, or biodiesel and bioethanol. Biodiesel is primarily made from both hemp seeds and stalks, while bioethanol or cellulosic ethanol (alcohol fuel) is made by fermenting the whole plant. The best thing about biofuel is that regular cars can run on it.
Hemp is a wonderful cannabis plant that can be used for the production of high-quality and eco-friendly products that can significantly reduce the negative impact of industrialization on the environment. Thankfully, the awareness of its benefits is slowly increasing and many companies in the hemp industry are growing and producing more and more sustainable hemp products. Hopefully, the general public will soon catch up.