Dear Nurse Susan,
I’m kind of new to this cannabis thing and I’ve heard people use “hemp”, “cannabis” and “marijuana” interchangeably. From what I’ve read it seems that they all are not the same, but I’m not clear about the whole thing. Can you set me straight on this….so to speak?
Just the Facts
Dear Fact seeker,
The cannabis sativa plant has many different uses, but don’t confuse hemp with marijuana. Hemp is the cannabis sativa L plant that contains less than 1% of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), whereas the cannabis that is sold in dispensaries can have up to 30% THC. THC is the only compound in cannabis that causes psycho-activity. Today I want to talk about the many uses of hemp! After a high-level review of some of the many uses of hemp, I will talk about why and how you can take advantage of this wonderful plant. Here is a quick review of the many benefits of hemp:
Although hemp has been used for centuries in the paper, textile, rope, biodegradable plastics, food, auto-parts, fuel, and construction industries it was banned as an agricultural crop in the US in 1937. There was a reprieve of this illegal status in 1942 as hemp had many uses during World War 2 and the government again encouraged it as an agricultural crop. After the “need” for hemps many uses receded it again became illegal in the U.S.in 1957. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Public Affairs produced the following film in 1942 - “Hemp for Victory”
In the 2014 Farm Bill, universities and state departments of agriculture became able to grow hemp for research and limited industrial purposes. Legislation continued to open for hemp and as of 2017, 38 states have considered some type of legislation related to hemp and it is now legally grown in fifteen states.
Hemp is also a bio-accumulator, meaning that it is very efficient and effective at removing toxins and heavy metals from the soil (it was used at Chernobyl after their nuclear accident). As a multipurpose highly efficient plant, this ban as an agricultural crop was believed to be due to competitive interests with the petroleum and other multi-national companies like DuPont, as well as its association with marijuana.
Hemp is a Superfood!
Hemp seeds are a densely nutritious food that contains fiber, highly digestible protein, edestin and albumin, that convert to amino acids in the gut, and contain significant amounts of essential amino acids. Hemp can be consumed as hulled hemp seeds (also called hemp hearts), hemp oil, and hemp seed protein. The shelled hemp seeds, contain chlorophyll, fiber, protein and fatty acids, and have a nutty, sweet flavor.
Hemp should not be heated, roasted or baked because it will affect their digestibility. 100 grams or ½ cup of hemp seeds contain between 31-33% protein and meets 73% of the Daily Value for protein, based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
Hemp protein powders are produced from seeds by removing the omega oils via expeller pressing methods. Hemp protein powers can be used as a substitute for whey and soy proteins.
Hemp is an excellent source of all 20 amino acids including the 9 essential amino acids. Essential fatty acids are called “essential” because the body does not produce them, so we must ingest them from the foods we eat. They support neurological functioning, cell membrane stability, oxygen transfer, immune response, inflammatory regulation and cardiovascular stability.
Omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids are in a perfect ratio which is between a 4:1 or 1;1 ratio. Too much omega 6 from refined vegetable oils and grain-fed animals, can cause chronic inflammation. That is why it is important to add omega 3 fatty acids to balance the omega 6 fatty acids. Hemp seeds are also high in Vitamin E, an important antioxidant, moisturizer, and it supports the cardiovascular and neurological systems.
Good for the Heart! – Hemp normalizes high blood pressure, lowers LDL cholesterol, reduces inflammation, and is good for weight loss and diabetes due to its long-lasting fuel source. The fatty acids in hemp seeds regulate blood sugar levels and is high in magnesium that relaxes muscles and supports proper brain function. The following article from the U.S. National Library of Medicine further explains the heart benefits of hemp.
Whichever form of hemp you use, make sure your product is certified organic, made from raw hemp seeds, cold-processed (never hexane processed), unrefined and chemical free. Here is a link to an in-depth video from Superfood Evolution on the benefits of hemp:
Fact seeker, this should set you straight about hemp and hopefully encourage you to include it in your quest for good health. I enjoy a few hemp products including hemp seed in my smoothies and hemp protein bars widely available at natural food stores, Amazon, etc.
To your health!
Sources for good quality hemp products:
(Susan Marks RN, BSN, PHN writes for CityWatch and is a medical cannabis educator and consultant based in Los Angeles. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org)