It is no surprise that hemp is fast becoming a popular preference for those looking to improve their health and wellbeing. With more and more research being undertaken on this previously neglected natural resource, we are now more than ever equipped with the technology to completely transform our understanding of hemp health and nutrition; allowing us to truly take advantage of all the potential benefits of this invaluable plant. From root to flower, hemp holds beneficial properties that shows great promise for improving everything from general maintenance of bodily functions, to fighting depression and even weight loss.
Although both hemp and its infamous cousin marijuana are part of the Cannabis Sativa family, it must be stated that these plants differ vastly in their uses and benefits. The tetrahydrocannabinol or THC content of marijuana (the psychoactive compound), is found in far higher amounts than in that of the hemp plant, which by definition must have less than 0.3% THC in it in order to be classified as hemp. It also carries small amounts of cannabidiol (CBD), a compound which has been found to have promising medicinal benefits, especially for those suffering from epilepsy. This allows hemp to be produced as ‘industrial hemp’ which bypasses many of the laws set out to halt the sale and distribution of marijuana used for illicit purposes. Although lower in THC, the hemp plant from root to stem is naturally fortified with an innumerable amount of minerals, vitamins, oils and amino acids. When looking at hemp, it is important to note that it's not just the mineral rich fibres of the plant that are useful to us. Each distinct part of the plant holds significant potential for good.
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The roots of the hemp plant have a wealth of minerals, oils and healthful compounds found within them with many varying benefits; one of these is terpenes. Found in both animals and plants, terpenes carry compounds that assist in maintaining a range of different bodily functions and are at their highest concentration in the hemp root. Spermidine also, a polyamine compound found within living tissues and also found in hemp roots, has powerful anti-aging effects and has been found to significantly aid those living with type ll diabetes, where in one study polyamine supplementation had been “found to reduce chemical induced pancreatic inflammation,”. Furthermore, in a 2008 study at Leiden University in the Netherlands, hemp roots were found to have a detoxifying effect on the body, with the presence of glycosides; an organic molecule that binds with toxins and renders them inert.
Hemp Roots and Ecology
And not only humans benefit from hemp roots. And, not only do humans gain from utilising hemp roots. Hemp benefits for the environment start right where the roots contact the soil. The roots themselves not only detoxify the soil they grow in, but replenishes it with nutrients; allowing for future crops to gain from hemp cultivation as well.
Like many green, leafy plants, hemp leaves are filled with a range of fantastic minerals and nutrients. Unfortunately, a majority of hemp production focusses on producing hemp for textiles and hemp fibre building materials; the leaves just a byproduct, left to decay and nourish the soil after harvest. Though highly useful for agricultural purposes, the leaves are capable of even further application, as they are not only a rich source of fibre, but also contain free radical scavenging polyphenols, all 9 essential amino acids, essential oils, as well as the minerals magnesium, calcium, zinc and phosphorous. Hemp leaves can be implemented into your diet easily, as they may be eaten raw, cooked, used in salads and even blended into smoothies; boosting your immune system and overall wellbeing.
CBD in Hemp Leaves
One of the most beneficial compounds found naturally in the hemp plant is cannabidiol (CBD). It is at its highest level within the resin on the leaf and buds of the plant, and is believed to host incredible medicinal and health benefits as an antispasmodic, antihistaminic, analgesic and antidepressant, and more. But, in order to feel its full effects, it must first be turned from CBDA into CBD. This can be achieved through decarboxylation: the process of heating the CBDA rich resin between 100-150 degrees celsius to create CBD. Popular methods of decarboxylation (include link to other articles on making hemp oil/butter) include steeping it for herbal teas, cooking it with oils or butter, or baking, and is a fairly easy process to do right in your own kitchen (possible link to step by step decarboxylating at home).
When it comes to general health and wellbeing, hemp seeds are by far the most nutritious and beneficial part of the hemp plant. Hemp seeds have recently risen in popularity due to it heralding a long list of vitamins and minerals. This includes magnesium, zinc as well as vitamins A, C, D and E. Vegan and vegetarian communities also benefit massively from eating hemp seeds as the vitamins B1, B2 and B6 - usually found in higher amounts in red meats - are all present in relatively large quantities in hemp seeds. It also totes 15g of protein for every 42g of hemp seeds and yields 6.2 x more omega 3 than tuna.
Hemp Seeds in Food
Not only that, but hemp seeds contain all 9 essential amino acids - which help muscle control - as well as Omega 9 and Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA); an essential fatty acid that plays a major role in brain function and normal growth and development. Hemp seeds can be eaten raw or cooked, and due to its mild, nutty flavour and creamy texture, is perfect as a nut substitute in salads or as a nutritious adage to your muesli or yoghurt.
Hemp Seed Beauty
As well as for eating, hemp seeds have become an increasingly popular addition in beauty treatments, as they contain high amounts of nourishing oils, vitamin E and A - helping to replenish, detoxify and calm both skin and hair (possible link to hemp seed beauty recipe?).
With more information on hemp and CBD, many are abandoning the outdated stereotypes surrounding the hemp industry. But, our laws still don't quite reflect this.This not only makes it difficult for those wishing to cultivate and produce hemp plants grown for different uses, but also stymies our ability to find high quality products containing hemp and CBD. When choosing CBD products, it is always a good idea to read product reviews on sites like TrustPilot, and most importantly do your own research to ensure the product you buy will measure up to top industry standards.