Hemp has been cultivated for thousands of years, historically produced for clothing, food, textiles, and various other commercial/industrial products. The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 changed the role of hemp as it was caught up in the anti-dope legislation, and it became federally illegal to grow hemp between 1970 and 2018.
Legislation has since changed with the introduction of the 2018 Farm Bill and we are slowly seeing a resurgence of its role today. As a cannabis dispensary in Connecticut, we field a lot of questions about THC, CBD, hemp, and more.
For instance, what do we really know about hemp? What is it and how does it differ from the marijuana plant? We’re answering these questions and more to give you the crash course on all things hemp.
What is hemp?
Hemp plants and marijuana plants are actually the same species. Legally, hemp is defined as a strain of cannabis plant that contains no more than 0.3% THC by dry weight. THC is the psychoactive component of the plant and where we see tighter regulation regarding its distribution.
The 2018 Farm Bill gave an official legislative definition for hemp, reintroducing it as an option for many industries. Hemp, through a series of industrial operations including retting, drying, and crushing, is isolated into long fibers. These fibers can be used to make yarn, rope, and cables. They are also utilized to make various kinds of canvas/fabrics, clothing, and even shoes!
How Is Hemp Consumed?
The use of hemp is not just in commercial products. Many find medical benefits in hemp, just like we see in THC. The plant is available in many different formulations.
The hemp seed is the most important component of the plant and can even be eaten whole, some prefer to turn the seed into a milk, similar to soy, or even as a cooking oil. The seed supplements have recently grown in popularity. Whatever the choice may be, hemp is readily available and the market for hemp products continues to grow.
Medicinal Value of Hemp
We all know about marijuana and its effects. From helping cope with mental health to relieving symptoms of anxiety, the potential seems endless. Additionally, as more cannabis dispensaries open nationwide and states loosen their reins on the cannabis industry, the general public has a good understanding of how THC is a great option for a wide array of symptoms. But don’t turn a blind eye to hemp!
Hemp on its own can play a significant role. Here are five medicinal benefits of hemp:
1. Heart Disease
Healthy fats are key in regulating heart health and preventing heart disease. Hemp seeds are abundant in these fats, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These omega fatty acids can significantly lower blood triglyceride levels, lowering cholesterol and improving heart health.
Hemp also contains significant levels of arginine, an amino acid that produces nitric oxide, a substance essential for artery and vein dilation.
2. Digestive Health
Hemp is an excellent source of soluble and insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber attracts water into stool, making it easier to pass and promotes bowel regularity. Soluble fiber acts as a prebiotic and adds necessary “good bacteria” to our intestines, promoting strong gut health.
Consuming enough daily fiber can reduce appetite, help with weight management, and help stabilize blood sugar levels.
3. Plant-Based Protein
Hemp is an excellent source of plant-based protein for those following a plant-based diet. In every 3 tablespoons of seeds, there is about 10g of protein. Hemp seeds contain all nine essential amino acids, making it a “complete protein” and is better absorbed than other plant-based proteins.
Atopic dermatitis (eczema) and acne are understood to be caused by a combination of immune system activation, genetics, and stress. Overreaction to irritants creates an inflammatory response leading to skin discomfort.
The anti-inflammatory component of hemp seeds may play a role. Some studies suggest incorporating hemp seeds in diet can boost omega-3 content which, when found in low levels, worsen acne symptoms.
Hemp oil is rich in vitamin E, a great resource for immune system regulation. Vitamin E is also a natural antioxidant, reducing the free radicals which can cause cell damage leading to cancer growth.
The Big Picture
Hemp seed contains nutrients that offer therapeutic value. It is not intended to replace therapy regimens, but instead be supplemented to offer additional benefit to patients. You can read about further medicinal benefits of hemp, THC, CBD, and more on our dispensary blog.
Like other over-the-counter supplements, there is a lack of data to support its implementation into management guidelines for various conditions, but that does not limit its potential role.
Hemp has a fantastic nutrition profile and may offer health benefits. If you are considering hemp, discuss if it is right for you with your providers and pharmacist.