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Uses of hemp

Chapter 3

Hemp is mainly grown for industrial purposes. It was highly cultivated in the past, but it declined after countries began to ban it as highlighted in chapter one. Currently, there are more than 50,000 known uses for hemp, and more are being discovered as research into the plant intensifies. Some of the main advantages of using hemp industrially are its fast maturation rate, its gross output per square foot of land and its low usage of water and chemicals such as herbicides and pesticides. Its applications vary from medicinal and food nutrients to fuels, paper, textiles, and even bioremediation, and we shall discuss these uses below.

Textiles Industry

Hemp stems are a rich source of bast fiber. This is the kind of fiber that is derived from organic sources for example plants stems. Hemp fiber is particularly useful because the plant has a high fiber yield and its short maturation time means it yields more in a year than some fiber plants like cotton. Materials made from hemp have several distinct advantages. They are very breathable and can be worn in extreme weather, e.g., winter or summer. They are also antimicrobial therefore discouraging organisms from growing on them. They are very strong, and get softer with every wash meaning, they get more comfortable with time. Odors do not stick to them and they easily merge with dyes though they also come in a variety of colors. Furthermore, they can be blended with other materials to produce different textures. Hemp fibers are also very ecofriendly as they are biodegradable, their growth is mostly organic, and their processing requires the use of few chemicals.

Hemp Textiles

Hemp is used in making various types of clothing, for example, socks, sweaters, jackets, t-shirts, skirts, and dresses. They are also used as a material for sturdier items such as bags, belts, shoes, jeans and even wallets. In home and décor, they can be used to make bed sheets, blankets, curtains, and even carpets. They are used to make collars and leashes for animals and even sturdy chew toys. The material tends to be hypoallergenic so they can also be used to create reusable diapers for children and people with skin sensitivity to certain fabrics. All in all, hemp use in the textile industry is highly versatile.

Medicine and nutrition

The most nutritious part of a hemp plant is its hemp seeds. They are eaten whole, ground into hemp powder and compressed for hemp seed oil. When eaten whole, they can be consumed shelled or unshelled by being incorporated into smoothies, salads, cereals, in baking and in making hemp milk. Hemp powder is included in all the above uses while also being used by food and snack processors in their products and also in making protein powder. The reasons these seeds are considered to be so nutritious is because they are a rich source of proteins, fiber (the shelled seeds), essential fatty acids, minerals and B vitamins. The seeds are one of the few plant proteins that contain all essential amino acids and are therefore also used as supplements for vegans and those facing food shortages.

CBD is the component of cannabis that contains most of the medicinal value. It is not found in the seed though trace amounts may be found in hemp seed oil if it had adhered to the grain. It is derived from the stem of the plant and has other phytonutrients from the plant. It interrelates with the human Endocannabinoid System (ECS) which is involved in a variety of body systems. It is used in hormone regulation, pain relief, and mood regulation.

the many benefits of CBD oil

Furthermore, it has neuroprotective, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-convulsing and antidepressant properties making it vital in managing a lot of chronic and non-chronic diseases. Animals for examples pets also have endocannabinoid systems and undergo similar problems as humans, so they too benefit from CBD. A lot of research is, however, ongoing to verify many of these medicinal properties using specialized drug trials. Generally, CBD is mainly ingested in the form of the oil or through supplements.

Agriculture industry

hemp hurds

Farmers are purchasing hemp hurds to use them as livestock bedding. They are very good at insulating; therefore, keep the animal warm in extreme cold seasons. They last much longer than regular bedding and can protect the soil from harmful toxins in the animal’s litter. They are also being used as mulch around plants for the same reason. As mulch, they also help the farmer reduce the frequency of watering because they can hold more than three times their weight in water. Hemp plants are useful in intercropping and crop rotation because they restore most of their nutrients to the soil. Furthermore, they can help a farmer gain organic certification because they grow too densely for weeds to grow and they are resistant to pests eliminating the need for agrochemicals such as herbicides and pesticides. Farmers who grow cash crops can switch to hemp for many of the same reasons, because it requires less water than most other cash crops and because they mature very fast.

Fuel industry

Currently, most of the fuel we use is from fossil fuel sources that increase pollution to our environment. However, our fossil fuel sources are fast getting depleted as they are nonrenewable and organic fuels may be the next best thing. Hemp seed oil is convertible to biodiesel, and the rest of the plant can be used to make methanol and ethanol through various methods. Biodiesels produce less CO2 to the environment compared to fossil fuels. Also, when they spill, they enrich the soil or the water while fossil fuels tend to poison aquatic life and introduce toxins to the soil.

Bioremediation

Bioremediation is the process by which toxins are removed from the water, soil or the air. Hemp can be grown in sewage water, and it will absorb the toxins therein and break them down. It is also being used in the removal of agricultural toxins from the soil for example chemicals from petroleum. It has been shown that when hemp is grown in land that had oil spills, it will absorb the oil, therefore, making the land usable again. Hemp has also been seen to be useful in removing radioactive isotopes from the soil, and it was used to clean up a nuclear accident site in Chernobyl, Russia. In countries that have a lot of industries, it can be grown in rooftops of buildings to absorb some of the CO2 and chemicals thereby reducing smog. Hemp grown for remediation cannot be used for consumption but can be used to make plastics and biofuels.

Making plastics

plastic bottles made from hemp

Plastics made from organic matter are known as bioplastics. In 1941, Henry Ford made a car entirely out of bioplastics such as hemp. It was shown to be resistant to hard blows and stronger than steel. Usually, plastics are made from fossil fuels, but they are inorganic and are therefore non-biodegradable. Bioplastics are made from cellulose from plant and organic matter such as hemp. Making plastics from organic matter is the future of sustainability as a very high rate of pollution to our environment and aquatic life can be attributed to inorganic plastics. Currently, automobiles are using composite bioplastics to make some of their parts, and most recently, In Florida, an entire sports car’s body was made from tightly interwoven hemp fiber covered by a super hard resin. These plastics are also being used to make chairs, pens, etc. and its products will increase as it gains popularity.

Skin and beauty industry

hemp beauty supply products

Hemp oil is perfect for skin, and it is being incorporated into many skin care and beauty products. Hemp oil has a good balance of omega-3 and omega-6 and has autoxidizing and anti-inflammatory properties which make it very good for the skin. It has proven to be useful for many skin conditions such as eczema, acne and atopic dermatitis. It is useful for oily, dry and itchy skin. Beauty industries are incorporating hemp oil into moisturizing creams and lotions. Furthermore, hemp oil is also being incorporated into soaps, shampoos, and detergents. This is because the fatty acids make a good base for these soaps and also because they are hypoallergenic to the skin.

Paper industry

paper being made from hemp

The first paper was made from hemp fiber in China. For more than five decades, hemp was the main ingredient for pamphlets, bonds, stocks, bank notes, etc. Hemp paper is very strong. The main advantage of using hemp to make paper is that it contains 65 – 75% cellulose and it grows very fast. This is compared to trees which comprise 30% cellulose, the rest of which has to be obtained using toxins, and which take more than three years to grow. Currently hemp paper production is costly but hopefully, as it gains popularity, innovative ways will come up to reduce the cost of production. This will be very good for the environment by reducing deforestation and also because hemp paper is recyclable up to eight times compared to tree paper which is only recyclable three times.

In construction

man building with hempcrete

Hemp shives, when combined with a lime-based binder, is used to make hempcrete. This is not strong enough to be load bearing, but it is being used to form insulating material for all parts of the house as well as in making lightweight roofing tiles. Hemp houses help reduce the carbon footprint of the owner by absorbing CO2 and consequently getting stronger. Hempcrete is also very breathable and vapor permeable therefore decreasing the likelihood of mold growing in humid areas. In addition to this, hemp insulation may help reduce the utility bills of a home, particularly in extreme temperature, for example, winter, because they have excellent thermal performance.

Hemp is the ultimate cash crop. It has such versatile uses and requires very few chemicals in its growth and processing. Hopefully, as it regains popularity, more applications will be found and utilized so we may use it efficiently.

Hemp CBD oil in the food industry

Hemp has a very high CBD content, and is used in many industries. CBD is obtained from the hemp plant or seeds. It is consumed in liquid form, infused into snacks and drinks and added to supplements. The main difference between hemp seed oil and CBD is that it contains some phytonutrients from the plant. Hemp is being applied in many industries as mentioned above in the skin and beauty industry and for medicinal purposes. When it comes to the food industry, many processors of snack for example protein bars and granola bars incorporate CBD oil in their meals. This is because of the precious nutrients contained in the oil. It can also be applied at home for example by including it into smoothies, baking, and hemp milk. Currently, there are a lot of restrictions on transporting and selling CBD products which we hope that in good time will be lifted and people can fully embrace the true potential of the hemp plant.

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