(Cannabis sativa L.)
plant is not only one of the oldest cultivated plants, it is also
one of the most versatile, valuable, and controversial plants known
to man. The industrial hemp plant has a long history, which has proven
its innate worth and its stalks and seeds can serve as raw material
for an exciting array of many diverse products. The plant’s Latin
name actually means "useful hemp," and it definitely measures
up to its name!
IS CANNABIS SATIVA?
industrial hemp plant, Cannabis sativa, should not be confused with the
marijuana plant, which is its cousin. The appearance, planting patterns, and uses
of the two plants are quite different.
sativa is an annual belonging to the nettle family. It grows from 5 to 15
feet in height with rich dark-green leaves composed of 5 to 9 serrated, narrow,
tapering leaflets that are pointed at the end and measure 2 to 5 inches in length
and approximately one-sixth as wide. Hemp is tall, thin plant with most of its
leaves concentrated at the top. The plants are planted only inches apart: 900
plants to the square yard. The staminate, or pollen-bearing flowers, and the pistillate
or seed-producing flowers are on separate plants.
contrast to the commercial hemp plant, the marijuana plant is quite dense, leafier,
shorter, bushier, and is planted yards apart.
sativa will grow almost anywhere, requires little fertilizer, resists pests
and crowds out weeds, therefore it is a crop that is relatively easy to grow and
does well as an organic crop. The plant grows quickly, requiring only 70 to 110
days to maturity. Due to this fact, industrial hemp is an abundant supplier of
its extremely valuable raw materials.
use of hemp can be traced back to 8000 BC in the Middle East and China
where the fiber was used for textiles, the oil for cosmetic purposes and the seeds
as early as 5 BC to the mid-1800’s hemp fibers were used to manufacture 90% of
all ships’ canvas sails, rigging, nets, and caulk because of its strength and
resistance to the destructive effects of salt water. Hemp was also used for making
paper, twines, carpet thread, carpet yarns, sailcloth, and for homespun and similar
grades of woven goods. From the 500’s to the early 1900’s, many of the worlds
greatest painters including Veronese, Rembrandt, and Van Gogh, created their masterpieces
on hemp canvas.
the 1500’s to 1700’s hemp and flax were the major fiber crops in Russia and Europe
and in 1606 French botanist Louis Hevert planted the first recorded hemp crop
in North America in Port Royal, Acadia (present day Nova Scotia), where it became
a major crop.
Pilgrims first brought hemp seeds to America in 1632 and by 1850 hemp was
America’s third largest crop. In fact, early American farmers were required to
grow it. Two U.S. Presidents, Washington and Jefferson were hemp farmers
when the U.S. was formed and they signed the Bill of Rights. Both the Declaration
of Independence and the Constitution were first drafted on hemp paper. Hemp was
the world’s largest single industry until the mid-1800’s.
was formally christened Cannabis sativa L. in 1753 by Swedish botanist
1916 the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued an urgent warning: "America
does not have enough forest land to last to the end of this century, given our
vast appetite for paper, building materials, cellulose and other useful wood pulp
products." The bulletin containing this warning, bulletin 404, also offered
a profitable and sustainable solution: "Grow more hemp! Virtually anything
made of wood can also be made with hemp and it has a much higher sustainable yield,
whereby we can enjoy a net gain in commercial productivity and an overall growth
in our standard of living."
hemp cultivation flourished in many countries, Britain declared it illegal in
1916 warning given by the Department of Agriculture in the U.S. was not heeded.
The hemp plant, though it had the advantage of being easy to grow, was not easy
to harvest and process. It was a labor-intensive procedure to separate the fibers
from the woody core of the stalks and in the 18th century, more convenient resources
such as cotton and imported sisal, jute, and abaca became available. Processes
were put into place that facilitated the production of paper from wood and synthetic
fibers were developed. This series of events began to undermine hemp’s importance
and status as the top fiber crop.
existence of industrial hemp’s botanical cousin, marijuana, which contains high
levels of psychoactive substances, further impaired hemp’s standing. This, coupled
with the desire to give a surge to the cotton, logging and synthetic fiber industries
resulted in the Harrison Drug Act of 1937, which declared the cultivation of hemp
in America illegal unless grown under permit. Unfortunately, the number of permits
issued was few and far between and Cannabis sativa fell into the position
of niche crop in most of North America.
1938 Canada followed suit and banned hemp farming. As most Western countries
banned hemp, hemp farming and production continued in Eastern Europe, China, and
a few other Asian countries.
in February of 1938 just as the Harrison Drug Act of 1937 took effect, an article
was published in Popular Mechanics Magazine: "New Billion-Dollar Crop."
The article featured a new machine called a decorticator that separated
the hemp fiber and pulp at the rate of two to three tons per hour. The article
also pointed out the highly exaggerated connection between hemp and marijuana
and stated that 5,000 textile products and 25,000 other products ranging from
dynamite to cellophane could be produced using the industrial hemp plant.
World War II, the Canadian and American governments briefly lifted the restrictions
on hemp farming to aid the war effort and boost the economy. The U.S. government
even produced a film named "Hemp for Victory" designed to encourage
American farmers to cultivate hemp. At the end of the war, hemp farming was again
1993 Britain legalized hemp farming once again and in 1994 Health Canada issued
the first research permit for growing industrial hemp. In 1998 hemp farming was
again legalized in Canada. This has already helped many of Canada’s farmers save
their farms and added a valuable resource back into Canada’s economy.
date hemp cultivation continues its illegal status in the United States. Growing
under permit is technically allowed, but no permits have been issued for a very
long time nor are they being issued at present. American farmers and producers
of hemp products are now making efforts to educate people concerning the extensive
potential of hemp and to legalize hemp cultivation once again. The reintroduction
of hemp farming would certainly aid many U.S. farmers in saving their farms as
it has in Canada.
would also be beneficial to the U.S. economy if hemp cultivation was legalized;
the U.S. imports all hemp at this time. In 1999 the gross retail sales of hemp
products worldwide are projected to reach $150 million. Domestic cultivation of
hemp would not only boost the economy and benefit our environment; it would also
reduce our need for petroleum, trees, and imported textiles and clothes.
there has been an encouraging development: California, Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas,
North Dakota and Missouri have introduced or passed legislation to legalize the
cultivation of industrial hemp in their states.
USEFULNESS OF INDUSTRIAL HEMP
Stalks – The Fiber and Pulp
The hemp stalks are dried and broken down
into two parts: thread-like fibers called the "bast" and the inside
pulp or "hurd." They have some applications in common, yet each one
has its own very individual and distinct applications as well.
long bark fiber from the stalks is cleaned and spun into threads and yarn for
cordage, rope, carpets, or knit or woven into a variety of durable high quality
textiles which can be used for an endless variety of products including clothing,
curtains, upholstery, shoes, backpacks, and towels. The variety of fabrics made
from hemp range from those as tough as burlap and denim, to cotton-like fabrics,
to those as fine as silk, or as intricate as lace. The original Levi’s were made
of hemp cloth and today designer Giorgio Armani, as well as other clothing manufacturers,
is weaving hemp into clothes. Shoe companies are now using it in the manufacture
of shoes. Within the last few years many cottage industries, offering an amazing
array of hemp products, have sprung up.
fabrics have added beneficial qualities of being stronger, more insulative,
more absorbent and more durable than cotton and they don’t stretch out of shape.
Natural organic hemp fiber "breathes" and is biodegradable. It is remarkable
that hemp will produce 1500 pounds of fiber per acre, whereas cotton will produce
only 500 pounds per acre and it is estimated that half of all agricultural chemicals
used in the US are employed in the growing of cotton.
inner core of the stalk or hurd contains cellulose and can be made into tree-free,
dioxin free paper. Paper made of hemp is longer lasting than that made from trees
and because it is acid free, does not crack, yellow or otherwise deteriorate.
In turn, the paper may be used for any product that wood pulp paper is used to
manufacture including diapers, newsprint, cardboard, filters, packing, non-woven
and absorbent paper products. The long fibers from the stalks are also used to
make paper alone or in combination with the pulp. The resulting paper utilizing
the fiber is rougher, but stronger than the paper made from the hurd alone.
hemp paper can be bleached with environmentally safe hydrogen peroxide
instead of the chlorine bleach used in processing wood pulp paper and hemp paper
requires only a fraction of the chemicals as does paper produced from wood. Over
a 20-year period, one acre of hemp will produce as much pulp as 4.1 acres of forestland.
This is an extremely important point because today only 4% of America’s old-growth
forest remains standing! Yet another bonus: hemp paper has the capacity of being
recycled 7 times as opposed to the 3 times for wood pulp paper.
methanol, methane, and gasoline, can be manufactured utilizing the hemp hurds.
Fuels made of plants using a distillation process called "pyrolysis"
are called biomass fuels. Biomass fuels are clean and virtually free from metals
and sulfur, so will not produce the level of air pollution fossil fuels do. Equally
as important, burning biomass fuels will not increase the level of carbon dioxide
in the Earth’s atmosphere.
hurds are also used in the manufacture of non-toxic inks, paints, stains, varnishes,
lubricants, and sealants, as well as industrial fabrication materials and construction
materials such as insulation, particleboard, and medium-density fiberboard. The
hemi-cellulose from this part of the plant is utilized in the manufacture of plastics
such as cellophane and phenol.
use of hemp in building construction is not new. In Europe hemp has been used
for manufacturing building materials and in construction for many years. French
archeologists made and intriguing find when they discovered old bridges that were
built with a process that mineralizes hemp stalks into a long lasting "cement."
The process requires no synthetic chemicals and the end product, which is called
Isochanvre, is gaining popularity in France. It is used as a filler in building
construction and as drywall. It is strong, durable, and acts as an insulator of
heat and noise.
the 1930’s Henry Ford constructed an entire automobile body from hemp and
presently auto manufacturers such as BMW and Mercedes are beginning to incorporate
hemp into car bodies, door panels and dashboards.
chips are useable as horse-stable bedding and, when mixed with manure, make good
leaves and roots of the plant also deserve mention. The hemp plants drop their
leaves when they are mature, which reintroduces minerals and nitrogen back to
the soil. Even hemp’s deep roots offer an important contribution; they anchor
and aerate the soil to control erosion and mudslides. When hemp is used as a rotation
crop, the crops that follow it are stronger and healthier.
Oil and Seeds
seeds were not allowed to be imported into the U.S., unless they were steam sterilized,
until fairly recently. The reason for this was that hemp cultivation is effectively
illegal in America, and steam sterilization assured that the seeds could not germinate.
A newly developed process of hulling the seeds has been perfected making the
hulled, raw, unsterilized seeds available in the U.S. This is good news because
this prevents germination, yet preserves the nutritional content of the hemp seeds.
of the questions often asked concerning Cannabis sativa is whether it contains
any psychoactive substances. New plant varieties contain an extremely small percentage
(0.1%) of THC (tetrahydro cannabinol) in the sticky resin produced by the flowering
tops of the female plants before the seeds mature. However, the strains of hemp
grown for commercial purposes have an extremely low resin content and after the
seeds are hulled and cleaned for use in various products, there is virtually no
THC remaining. Certainly not enough to perpetuate any psychoactivity.
is one caveat worth mentioning. Due to the extreme sensitivity of
the urine drug test for marijuana, it is possible for the test to show positive
after one has eaten hemp seeds or taken the oil. This is more likely to happen
if unhulled seeds or products made from unhulled seeds were ingested as some resin
could stick to the seed hull. It is also interesting to note that a drug test
may read positive for opium if one ingests a poppy seed bagel or muffin before
nuts (seeds) can be pressed for the oil, which has a wide variety of cosmetic
uses in salves, lotions, soaps; massage oils, hair care products, and lip balm.
These have proven quite beneficial for the skin and hair. The oil is also used
as a base for printing inks, paints, varnishes, and detergents and can also be
used in the production of non-toxic diesel fuels.
oil contains superior nutritional and therapeutic components and is an extremely
healthful addition to one’s diet. Hemp seed oil is more than 75% EFA’s (essential
fatty acids) in a well-balanced 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3. Like the seeds,
it also contains GLA (Gamma-linolenic Acid). In his book, Fats that Heal Fats
that Kill, Udo Erasmus states that "hemp seed oil can be used over the
long term to maintain a healthy EFA balance without leading to either EFA deficiency
Acid Profile for Hemp Oil
Omega-3 (Alpha-Linolenic) 19.0%
Omega-9 (Oleic) 12.0%
Gamma-linolenic (GLA) 1.7%
Stearic Acid 2.0%
oil also contains the carotenes and Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols)
that are naturally present in the seed.
seed is the richest source of EFA’s in the plant kingdom and contains a relatively
low percentage of saturated fats. The EFA’s in the oil and seeds promote cellular
growth, healthy skin, hair, and eyes, aid in immune response, disease prevention,
weight control, and even in cognitive functions. The human brain is 60% fat; therefore
the EFA’s are critically important to its proper function and good health. EFA’s
are also the raw material the body needs to produce hormones, the body’s communication
network for cellular activity.
oil supports the body’s detoxification process due to the fact that the LA (linoleic
acid) and ALA (Alpha- linolenic Acid) have the ability to carry toxic substances
to the surface of the skin, intestinal tract, kidneys, and lungs where they can
be eliminated from the body.
deficiencies can lead to a myriad of health problems including impairment
of vision and neurological function, growth retardation, motor incoordination,
tingling sensations in arms and legs, behavioral changes, high triglycerides,
hypertension, sticky blood platelets, tissue inflammation, edema, dry skin, loss
of hair, skin eruptions, liver and/or kidney degeneration, drying up of glands,
susceptibility to infections, sterility in males, miscarriage in females, PMS,
hormonal imbalance, and impaired wound healing and cell growth.
are various studies that indicate many common conditions and illnesses are related
to fatty acid deficiencies and that dietary supplementation of EFA’s, particularly
if included with a healthful, whole foods diet, will often prevent, improve, or
cure these illnesses. These include atopic eczema
and psoriasis, acne, high cholesterol levels, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid
arthritis, and other inflammatory diseases such as chronic bladder infection,
ulcerative colitis and Chrohn’s disease, osteoporosis, PMS and menopause.
Hemp oil has also been used to treat nutritional deficiencies exacerbated by
tuberculosis (Czechoslovakia Tubercular Nutritional Study, 1955).
fatty acid metabolism is implicated in multiple sclerosis and some studies
indicate that supplementation with EFA’s or GLA will improve the condition. EFA
supplementation would also be a beneficial adjunct for those suffering with cancer,
diabetes, chronic depression, postpartum depression, attention deficit disorder
and schizophrenic psychosis. Because hemp oil contains both EFA’s in
balance and also provides two of the EFA metabolites, it may be more beneficial
than other oils for those with these conditions or those who have problems assimilating
oil can be integrated into the diet in many ways: use in the preparation of salad
dressings, marinades, dips, spreads, add to smoothies, drizzle on any food such
as potatoes and cooked grains, or simply take by the spoonful as an adjunct to
a healthy diet. Hemp oil has a very pleasant, nutty taste similar to sunflower
is important to purchase hemp oil that is organic, made from non-sterilized
seeds, pressed at cool temperatures and not chemically extracted (hexane),
so the vital and delicate nutrients are intact. The oil should be in opaque, dark
colored containers in a refrigerated section of the store.
the removal of the oil from the hemp seed another useful raw material called the
meal or seed cake is left behind. This meal is high in protein, about 30% if
hulled hemp seeds are used and 50% if un-hulled seeds are used. The meal can
be ground into flour and used to replace up to 20% of other flours in baked goods.
Hemp meal is also used by microbreweries as an ingredient in the mash and adds
flavor and body to beer.
results have been realized with the use of hemp meal in animal feed for horses,
cattle, sheep, pigs, catfish, and chickens. The mash still contains nutrients
such as the amino acids, which are present in the whole seeds. Hemp seeds have
long been used as bird feed.
hemp seeds are tiny nuts that develop on the female flowers of the hemp
plants. As they mature in late summer, they develop a thin, crunchy hull, gray
or brownish in color with a fine, whitish, marbled pattern and a smooth shiny
surface. These nut-like fruits are nearly egg-shaped in outline and flattened
at the margins. The fibrous husk protects the nutrient dense whitish embryo inside.
When hulled, the hemp seeds are slightly larger than sesame seeds. The hull of
the seed consists mainly of dietary fiber, which is indigestible, and also contains
small amount of chlorophyll. It is the meat or embryo that contains the powerful
nutrients that are so beneficial.
nutritional content of the hemp seed is impressive, offering 30% complete and
highly digestible protein and containing over 36% essential fatty acids, which
is 16% more than flaxseed. It is the best source of Omega 3, Linolenic acid
and Omega 6, Linoleic acid, as well as GLA, Gamma Linoleic acid (approximately
3%). Hemp seed contains protein, lipids, choline, inositol, enzymes, vitamins,
minerals, phospholipids, phytosterols, and all eight essential amino acids. The
amino acid profile is superior to soybean, human milk, and cow’s milk.
complete protein in the hemp seed not only provides all the essential amino acids
required to maintain health, it is 65% globulin edestin, contains albumin, and
it is remarkably similar to the protein found in human blood plasma.
Analysis of Hemp Seed / 100g
Fat 5.0 g
Fat 5.0 g
Fat 36.0 g
Dietary Fiber 6.0 g
Sugars 2.0 g
A (B-Carotene) 4.0 IU
(Vit. B1) 1.4 mg |
(Vit. B2 .3 mg
B6 .1 mg
C 1.0 mg
E (d-A-tocopherol) 9.0 IU
Fatty Acids |
Linoleic acid 18:3 1-4 %
acid 18:4 0.4-2%
acid 20:1 0.5%
unsaturated fatty acids 89-91%
Fatty Acids |
acid 16:1 6-9%
acid 18:0 2-3.5%
acid 20:0 1-3%
acid 22:0 <0.3%
saturated fatty acids 9-11%
Acid Assay / per gm
Acid + Glutamine 47.95 mg |
Acid + Asparagine 27.28 mg
4.82 mg |
+ Cysteine 1.65 mg
= Essential Amino Acid
nuts have many delightful applications in the culinary field. They can be substituted
for dairy, soy or rice protein in the production of nondairy beverages, frozen
desserts, tofu, and cheeses. The seeds have a delicious nutty flavor and may be
eaten whole and raw as a snack with or without added seasonings. Toasting lightly
enhances the delicious nutty flavor of the seeds, but eating them raw will preserve
all the nutrients. Hemp seeds can be sprinkled on salads, vegetables, pasta, or
added to smoothies, granola, baked goods, soups, sauces, dips, seed cheeses, nut
milks, and nut balls. Another interesting use for the seeds is to make them into
nut butter in a Champion juicer.
Nut butter may also be made in a blender or Vita Mix, but this method will require
that extra oil be added to make the nut butter spreadable. Nut butters can be
made with or without added seasonings.
we have seen, hemp seeds and/or oil contain important nutrients that are vital
to human health and well being and the plant provides many materials for clothing,
shelter, and fuels. Consequently, it is important to support the use of hemp products;
it is highly beneficial for health, the environment and the economy. Hemp is truly
an amazing plant!
1/3 cup organic raw pumpkinseeds (soak overnight)
2 - 3
Tablespoons hemp seed (seeds may be soaked)
1 Tablespoon lecithin granules
1/2 cup ripe banana
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
3 Tablespoons organic brown
rice syrup (or 2 – 3 teaspoons Stevia leaf powder)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups purified water (use less water if you like a thicker seed milk)
all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
from Not Milk…Nut Milks by Candia Lea Cole
1-1/4 cups hulled hemp seeds
1 small garlic clove
hemp oil or olive oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
sea salt and pepper (optional)
one cup of the seeds in a blender. Combine the rest of the un-ground hulled seeds,
the ground seeds, oil, and pressed garlic in a small bowl, and blend them thoroughly
with a fork. Season with soy sauce, salt and pepper. Add more oil for a softer
consistency. Store the butter in a glass jar in the refrigerator.
Another way to produce nut butter is to grind the hulled seeds in a Champion
juicer using the blank attachment.
Hemp Foods & Oils for Health, Gero Leson and Petra Pless
1 cup shredded red cabbage
2 chopped green onions
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup hemp seeds
2 tablespoons dark sesame
juice of 1/2 lime
Salt and pepper to taste
first four ingredients in a salad bowl. In a small bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients
as a dressing, then pour over cabbage mixture and mix well.
and Crunchy Hemp Seed Balls
2 cups dates, pitted and mashed
hulled hemp seed, toasted (or raw)
1/4 cup hazelnuts or cashews or sunflower
2 cups coconut flakes or 1 cup raisins
1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup sesame seed or hulled hemp seeds
hulled hemp seeds in pan. Grind seeds and hazelnuts in coffee grinder. Mash and
pit dates. Mix ground seeds, hazelnuts, dates, coconut flakes, and oats and knead
thoroughly, then mix in honey. Form small balls and roll in sesame seeds. Instead
of sesame seeds, roll in coconut flakes, cracker crumbs, or coarsely ground nuts.
Dates may be substituted with dried figs.
Hemp Foods & Oils for Health, Gero Leson and Petra Pless
That Heal Fats That Kill by Udo Erasmus
Hemp Cookbook by Raif Hiener
Hemp Cookbook: From Seed to Shining Seed by Todd Delatto
Foods & Oils for Health by Gero Leson
Horizons: The Comeback of the World’s Most Promising Plant by John W.
Hemp Manifesto by Rowan Robinson
Hemp: Practical Products-Paper to Fabric to Cosmetics by John W. Roulac
Fats by Michael A. Schmidt
are some sites where hemp products may be purchased. There are many more, which
may be found by searching the web for the type of product you are interested in.
Oil and Seeds
Supply (clothing, fabric, body care)
(handpainted hemp clothing)
(This site has the names and links to several sites)
(This site will help you locate stores in your area that sell hemp products)
David, "Grown in the USA?" Mother Earth News, 06/16/97
Udo, Fats that Heal Fats that Kill Burnaby, BC Canada, Alive Books, 1993
the Boundaries of Hemp"
April 5, 1999
Asked Questions About Hemp Foods"
April 3, 1999
the 1901 USDA Yearbook"
April 6, 1999
May 17, 1999
Foods: More Legal Than Coca-Cola"
May 3, 1999
Friend to People and Ecology" Los Angeles, CA, Business Alliance for Commerce
in Hemp, April 1994
History and Facts"
May 3, 1999
April 8, 1999
April 6, 1999
Good Habits" New York, The Economist, v347: n8079.p55, 8/01/98
Can Hemp Be Used For Cloth?"
May 18, 1999
Can Hemp Be Used As Food?"
May 18, 1999
Can Hemp Be Used As Fuel?"
May 18, 1999
Can Hemp Be Used To Make Paper?"
May 18, 1999
Phil, "Field of Opportunity" Canadian Geographic, 03/19/99
Judy, "High Hopes for Hemp" Vegetarian Times, 03/95
Gero and Pless, Petra, Hemp Foods & Oils for Health Sebastopol, CA,
Brigett; Andersen-Parrado, Patricia, "Hemp Madness" Better Nutrition,
Lynn, "Hempseed Nutrition"
May 4, 1999
May 1, 1999
Richard, "Hempseed Foods"
April 13, 1999
Michael A., Smart Fats Berkley, CA, Frog, Ltd., 1997
Andrew, M.D., " Therapeutic Hemp Oil"
May 5, 1999
Is True Hemp?"
April 1, 1999
Other Uses For Hemp Are There?"
May 18, 1999
Throughout this entire website, statements are made pertaining to
the properties and/or functions of food and/or nutritional products.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration
and these materials and products are not intended to diagnose, treat,
cure or prevent any disease.