Hemp is one of the oldest cultivated crops that exists, with a history that stems back some 10,000 years. The first recorded use of hemp dates back to around 8000 BC where hemp rope was found in a piece of pottery in an ancient village site that’s now modern-day Taiwan.
It’s believed that hemp is actually be the world’s first agricultural crop, and until the last century it was one of the most significant crops for mankind. In 1977 Carl Sagan suggested that Cannabis sativa likely led to the development of civilization itself. It’s been used for food and fiber for thousands of years and was once considered so important it was illegal not to grow it.
While the production of hemp in the US slowed to a halt after it was banned along with marijuana in the 1930s, the 2014 Farm Bill brought a resurgence of industrial hemp production back to the states. Around the world industrial hemp is grown in over 30 countries, produced for countless commercial products and different uses.
The Many Uses of Industrial Hemp
According to the National Advisory in Hemp and CBD (NAIHC), there are over 25,000 products that can be made from hemp. It’s almost hard to believe that one plant could be used for so many different things. Talk about versatility!
Some of the most popular uses of hemp include:
Foods & Drinks
When hemp was first cultivated it was for food. It just so happens that hemp contains impeccably balanced nutrition that has sustained human life for centuries. Hemp seeds are full of several minerals, amino acids, oils, and fatty acids the body needs to thrive. The protein the body needs to maintain healthy organs, build muscle, create antibodies, and assist with nutrient absorption.
The nutritional value of hemp has been researched far and wide, and there has been many an expert to speak out on it’s outstanding nutritional profile. UCLA researcher and biochemist, R. Lee Hamilton once gave praise for “life-giving values” of hemp, suggesting it could be the answer to ending world hunger.
“These essential oils support the immune system and guard against viral and other insults to the immune system,” said Hamilton. “Studies are in progress using the essential oils to support the immune systems of people with the H.I.V. virus. So far they have been extremely promising. The promise of super health and the possibility of feeding the world is at our fingertips.”
What are some of the most popular food and drink products made from hemp?
• Hemp Seeds
• Hemp Seed Oil
• Hemp Flour
• Hemp Protein Powder
• Hemp Milk
• Hemp Seed Butter
• Hemp Burgers
• Hemp Beer
Hemp Beauty & Skincare
There’s a reason there are countless skincare and beauty products made from hemp. It’s amazing for skin and hair. When applied topically hemp oil helps hydrate skin because of the omega acids it contains. It’s also shown to reduce the signs of aging, help with acne, tighten pores, moisturize hair, strengthen nails, prevent and fade varicose veins, heal eczema, soothe psoriasis, and more.
The hemp health and beauty market is one that’s expected to boom. With the surging popularity in hemp and CBD, there is a growing market for high-end hemp beauty products infused with the non-psychoactive cannabinoid. The modern world of hemp beauty products is taking things a step beyond many of the traditional products offered in health food stores across the country, and many luxury brands are beginning to embrace hemp for the beauty benefits it contains.
Credo Beauty (one of the largest “clean beauty” companies that exists) is one of them and has begun carrying Vertly, their first hemp-based skincare line. Chief Operating Executive of Credo, Annie Jackson says, “They are formulating beautiful lip balms with hemp-derived CBD, which has tremendous anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and hemp oil which is loaded with fatty acids that address sun damage. The trick is finding a brand that is able to put this powerful ingredient to work in a modern formula with beautiful packaging. As merchants, we are constantly on the lookout for brands that both formulate beautifully with hemp-derived CBD but also comply with our ingredient standard, which has been a tall order.”
When it comes to beauty and skincare, hemp has gone high class. Some of the most common hemp health and beauty products on the market include:
• Shampoos and Conditioners
• Body Wash
• Lip Balm
• Facial Cleanser
Hemp has been used as medicine for thousands of years. According to Chinese academic, botanist, and researcher Hui-lin Li, “The use of cannabis in medicine was probably a very early development. Since ancient humans used hemp seed as food, it was quite natural for them to also discover the medicinal properties of the plant.”
In 2737 BC, Emperor Shen Nung was one of the first people to prescribe hemp to treat various illnesses including malaria, gout, rheumatism, and poor memory. Throughout history, the use of hemp as medicine continued to be used widely throughout the world by many different cultures and civilizations.
Today, the most popular use of hemp for health is undoubtedly found with CBD. While the impressive health benefits of CBD have only been studied widely over the past few years, CBD was actually discovered in the 1940s by Roger Adams, a chemist who had graduated from Harvard. In 1980, former Hebrew University professor and Israeli chemist, Raphael Mechoulam, performed the first clinical trial on the effects of CBD for epilepsy. Fast forward almost 40 years, and CBD is improving lives all over the world.
Some of the most popular hemp health products include:
• CBD Oil (including capsules, tinctures, e-liquids, topicals, edibles, and more)
• Hemp Massage Oil
• Hemp Essential Oil
• Hemp Aromatherapy Candles
Hemp Pet Products
Humans aren’t the only ones to benefit from hemp. Your furry (and winged) friends have quite a few products designed especially for them from hemp as well. Remember, the very first use of hemp was for fiber, and hemp fiber is still used widely today to create a plethora of everyday products, many of which are designed specifically for pets. Hemp rope is one of the most durable fibers that exists, making it the perfect material for several pet-related products.
Today, more and more pet owners are treating their ailing animals with CBD. While it’s not always recommended by veterinarians (due to its legal status and limited research on pets), countless pet owners have found it to be an excellent alternative to many of the “approved” pet meds that exist. People use CBD for pets for many of the same reasons humans do. To relieve arthritis and chronic pain. Stop seizures. Reduce anxiety. Stimulate appetite. Reduce vomiting.
Some of the most popular hemp pet products include:
• CBD Oil and Treats
• Dog Toys
• Bird Seed
• Collars and Leashes
• Animal Bedding
Hemp Clothing & Accessories
Hemp fiber has been made into clothing for centuries. And while it was considered the poor man’s choice for clothing for hundreds of years because of how coarse and rough it was, in the 1980s industrial methods of softening the material made it a much more popular choice for fabric. Since the 80s, hemp clothing has come a long way. Once reserved for bohemian hippy fashion, hemp clothing today can be found produced by some of the top designers from around the world.
Hemp fabric is far more eco-friendly and sustainable than cotton, which is typically grown with ridiculous amounts of chemicals. Did you know that the production of cotton uses 50% of the world’s pesticides and herbicides? Hemp, on the other hand, doesn’t need to be grown with pesticides. It’s also a more durable fabric than any other plant-based fabric that exists.
Some of the most popular hemp clothing and accessories include:
• Ski and Snowboard Goggles
Other Uses of Hemp
While CBD, food, clothing, and beauty products are undoubtedly some of the most popular uses of hemp, the list of products made from this ancient plant goes on and on. Some other products and uses of hemp include:
• Paper: In a 20-year cycle, one acre of hemp can produce as much paper as 4-10 acres as trees, can reduce deforestation, and is more durable than other paper. Speaking of paper, hemp is also used to make pens and pencils, offering some extremely eco-friendly office options.
• Hemp Plastic: Hemp plastic is durable and an eco-friendly alternative to traditional plastic (where an estimated 8 million metric tons end up in the world’s oceans every year) but hasn’t quite replaced the petroleum-based plastics quite yet. Interest in hemp plastic, however, is on the rise and maybe one day will become the biodegradable solution we so desperately need.
• Hemp Cars: In 1941, Henry Ford built a car made out of hemp plastic that ran on hemp fuel. Hemp fiber have higher strength/weight rations than steel and can be much less expensive to produce. While you won’t find cars made out of hemp on most lots throughout the world, Audi, BMW, and Mercedes are currently hemp thermoset compression molding to create panels for their vehicles.
• Hemp Fuel: It’s suggested that an acre of hemp can produce the same amount of energy as 1,000 gallons of gasoline. Hemp can provide two different types of fuel. Biodiesel and ethanol. Biodiesel can be used in any car that uses traditional fuel, while cars that run on regular gasoline can only have 10% ethanol added, unless they are specifically designed to use an ethanol mixture.
• Home Building: Hempcrete is a “concrete” made from the inner, woody core of the hemp plant mixed, where it is then mixed with a lime-based binder. It’s about an eighth of the weight of conventional concrete and is such an efficient insulator it can reduce energy costs up to 50-70% annually.
• Soil Cleanup: Hemp has an unprecedented ability to absorb whatever is present in the soil it’s grown in, a process known as phytoremediation. It’s been used widely throughout the world to clean up unhealthy soil, the most famous instance of which was removing toxins from the soil at the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site in the 1990s.
Final Thoughts on the Numerous Uses of Hemp
Hemp is one of the oldest crops that exists and has experienced quite a colorful history. It’s been used for thousands of years to create several products used by humans throughout several different ages. Food and fiber have long-been some of the more popular ways to use hemp, however, there are countless uses for this crop that some believe is one of the most important to mankind.
In the modern-world of hemp, CBD has taken center stage, proving that hemp’s versatility isn’t just beneficial for making a plethora of sustainable products but for improving health and changing lives as well. Hemp has truly changed the course of history and will undoubtedly continue to be used as one of the most versatile plants ever known to man.