Hemp is a variation of cannabis sativa. It is the most useful plant known to mankind. In fact, cannabis sativa means useful (sativa) hemp (cannabis). Hemp is not marijuana.
Hemp is used to make over 25,000 consumer products. From hemp apparel and accessories to house wares and hempseed oil cosmetics, hemp is an eco-shopper’s dream. Some of the products made are: clothing, shoes, diapers, rope, canvas, cellophane, paints, fuels, chain lubricants, biodegradable plastics, paper, fiberboard, cement blocks, food, cosmetics, and soap. Hemp is the longest and strongest natural fiber known to man.
Hemp for Food
Hemp seeds are drug-free and extremely nutritious. They can be eaten whole, pressed into edible oil like soybeans, or ground into flour for baking. They are one of the best sources of vegetable protein. Hemp seed has the second highest amount of protein of any food (soy being the highest). Hemp seed protein closely resembles the protein found in the human blood, making it easier to digest than soy protein. They contain a full complement of essential amino acids, essential fatty-acids (EFA’S), and have been shown to lower blood cholesterol and dissolve plaque in coronary arteries. As a supplement to the diet, these oils can reduce the risk of heart disease.
Hemp for Body Care
Hemp seed oil is perfectly suited for hair and skin care. Its nutritional value, combined with its moisturizing and replenishing EFA’s, make it one of the best vegetable body care foundations. Hemp seed oil’s EFA complement includes polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega-3, omega-6, omega-9, linoleic acid, and gamma linoleic acids (GLA’s). Although they are very effective in skin care maintenance, GLA’s are rarely found in natural oils. Hemp is an excellent source of GLA’s.
Paper from hemp
There is no tree or plant on Earth capable of producing as much paper per acre as hemp. Hemp paper is naturally acid-free. The oldest printed paper in existence is a 100 percent hemp Chinese text dated to 770 AD. Thomas Jefferson drafted both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution on hemp paper.
One acre of hemp can produce as much paper as four acres of trees. Hemp paper is suitable for recycle use 7 or 8 times, compared to 3 times for tree paper.
The hemp paper process also utilizes less energy and fewer chemicals than tree paper processing and doesn’t create the harmful dioxins, chloroform, or any of the other 2,000 chlorinated organic compounds that have been identified as byproducts of the wood paper process.
Hemp was an important source of paper fiber until the early 1900’s when chemicals were developed to advance the wood paper pulp industry. Wood pulp paper rode the chemical revolution to its apex before the public health hazards of toxic chemicals were an issue and before the environmental consequences of clear-cutting forests were appreciated.
Hemp is a sustainable, annual crop that is ready for harvest just 120 days after going to seed, compared to trees which take tens or hundreds of years to reach maturity. Further, harvesting hemp doesn’t destroy the natural habitats of thousands of distinct animal and plant species.
Hemp as fuel
Hemp seeds have provided a combustible fuel oil throughout human history. More importantly, though, the same high cellulose level that makes hemp ideal for paper also makes it perfect for ethanol fuel production. Ethanol is the cleanest-burning liquid bio-alternative to gasoline.
Ethanol is derived from plant cellulose. Plants absorb carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight and produce oxygen and cellulose, which contains the sun’s energy captured in plant cells. When ethanol combusts, it releases energy, water vapor, and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide is then absorbed by plants, along with water and sunlight, to create more oxygen and cellulose. It is a clean and sustainable cycle.
Since gasoline engines are a primary source of carbon monoxide and greenhouse gases, alternative fuels such as ethanol could contribute significantly to the rejuvenation of our atmospheric air quality. Hemp provides a sustainable, renewable, and natural alternative to toxic fossil fuels.