The Power of Hemp
When you hear the word “hemp,” what comes to mind? If you’re thinking about marijuana right now, then you’re missing a big part of the story. While hemp does share DNA with cannabis, it’s also one of the most versatile plants on the planet. Its seeds are rich in nutrients, its oils contain anti-inflammatory properties, and its fibers can be woven into works of art. So, let us set the record straight about this magical yet misunderstood gift from nature.
Hemp was originally harvested in Central Asia as early as 8,000 BC, and was one of the first crops grown by humankind. Today, over 30 countries produce hemp and celebrate its many benefits; however, it only became legalized in the United States in 2018, after being outlawed and stigmatized for decades during the War on Drugs. Hemp’s connection to marijuana deemed it “guilty by association,” but these outdated attitudes are evolving as people open their eyes to the plant’s many nutritional and environmental applications.
Most of the plant’s nutrients are found in its seeds, which contain omega fats, gamma linolenic acid (known to prevent cancer), and dietary fiber. As a complete protein, hemp features all twenty amino acids, including nine that the human body needs but cannot produce. The superfood is also high in antioxidants and is a great source for minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, sulfur, calcium, iron, and zinc. Just a few spoonfuls of hemp seeds can instantly elevate a simple dish to a complete, nutritious meal.
Hemp also possesses natural healing properties. The plant is integral in the production of CBD oil, which is extracted from hemp leaves, stalks, and flowers. CBD, or cannabidiol, continues to gain mainstream acceptance for its ability to safely relieve chronic pain and anxiety. It’s also being studied to treat a wide range of conditions, including Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis.
In addition to its health and wellness benefits, hemp’s strong, durable fibers can be transformed into a variety of sustainable materials. You’ll see it used as concrete (or “hempcrete”), clothing fabric, paper, and even biodegradable plastic. These alternative products can reduce our dependance on wasteful materials like cotton, which requires toxic amounts of pesticides and fertilizers to cultivate.
Hemp has the potential to greatly improve the health of both the planet and its people—it just has a bit of a branding problem. As you now know, this fascinating plant is so much more than a marijuana doppelganger. It’s truly one of Earth’s most dynamic natural resources. With time and proper education, we hope more people will learn to appreciate the extraordinary benefits of this superfood. Until then, we’ll continue singing its praises here at Laroot.
So, we’ll ask you again: when you hear the word “hemp,” what comes to mind? Hopefully, it’s now health, wellness, and sustainability.