India is witnessing a speedy adoption of a variety of hemp products. From hemp seeds, oil, and protein bars to hemp shampoos, bedsheets, and clothes—consumers are discovering the versatility of hemp in a number of different ways. But, what is hemp? This is the Ultimate Guide to Hemp in India that helps you learn what is hemp, what is hemp used for, how is it grown, the different ways in which it can be used, and how and where to buy hemp products in India.
Chapter 1: What is Hemp?
Chapter 2: History of Hemp
Chapter 3: Ecology of Hemp
Chapter 4: Engineering/Processing of Hemp
Chapter 5: Uses of Hemp
Chapter 6: Hemp & Health
Chapter 7: How to Buy Hemp Products in India
Chapter 1: What is Hemp?
What is Hemp?
Hemp is a strain of the cannabis Sativa plant species. Hemp is often understood in relation to marijuana—another strain of the same species. While botanically they are from the same species of a plant, they are genetically different forms of cannabis. The two are distinguished on the basis of their use, chemical composition, and cultivation practices.
Hemp is cultivated for use in the production of a wide range of products including nutritional supplements, foods and beverages, personal care products, fabrics and textiles, paper, construction materials, and some other manufactured and industrial goods.
1a. Chemical Makeup
Hemp is the richest source of cannabinoid CBD in the cannabis species. In fact, the general characterization of hemp is done through plants that contain negligibly low amounts of THC (the dominant psychotropic cannabinoid in the cannabis plant). As opposed to THC, CBD is non-psychotropic which is why hemp is sometimes also called the non-high cannabis.
Cannabinoids are the unique chemical compounds in the cannabis plant that exhibit a range of physiological and psychological effects.
CBD makes up about 40-60% of the hemp plant. THC is present in negligible amounts that often range from 0.03-1%. In addition to these, it contains some other cannabinoids and terpenes.
Apart from the characteristic cannabinoids of cannabis, hemp seeds contain a rich profile of nutrients. This is what amounts to its high nutritional value. Whole hemp seeds contain approximately 25% protein, 30% carbohydrates, 15% insoluble fibre, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, sulphur, calcium, iron, and zinc along with vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, C, and E.
Hemp seeds also contain essential fatty acids in the optimal ratio of 3:1 (omega-3: omega-6)
Hemp is a stout, aromatic, erect annual herb. It has slender cane-like stalks that are hollow except at the tip and base. The leaves of hemp are palmate in shape and the flowers are small and greenish-yellow.
The flowers of hemp that produce seeds grow together in elongate spike-like clusters. These grow on female plants. The flowers that produce pollen grow to form multi-branched clusters on male plants.
1c. Cultivation Practices
In the general sense, the cultivation process of hemp is largely different from that of marijuana. The prime reason behind the cultivation of marijuana is to promote the complete development of flowering tops and leaves of the psychoactive plant varieties. It is important for these to have high levels of THC.
The cultivation practices for hemp, however, vary according to its intended use. Hemp is cultivated particularly for the industrial uses of the products that can be derived from its fibre, seeds, and flower.
Hemp for Fibre
In the case of fibre, the desired plant material is the stalk i.e. bast fibres and hurd or core fibres. The plants are grown in dense spacing to discourage branching and flowering. Typically, for fibre, around 30-50 plants are grown in one sq. foot.
These hemp plants are tall with small stalks and less leafy material. Their harvest height is 10-15 feet. And they are typically harvested using hay equipment. They are first mowed, then retted for 2-3 weeks, and then rolled into balls.
Plants grown in these conditions yield 1-5.5 tons of dry matter per acre. A very important post-production process here is decortication in which the bast fibre (tough woody interior) is separated from the hurd/core fibre (soft fibrous exterior).
The bast fibre is used for paper, composites, insulation, and textiles. The core fibre is used to create animal bedding, concrete, oil absorbents, and fibreboards.
Hemp for Seeds or Grains
In the case of seeds or grains, the desired plant material is the dried plant because it has a high oil and protein content. The plants are grown in dense spacing to discourage branching and flowering. Typically, for seeds, around 30-50 plants are grown in one sq. foot.
These hemp plants have small stalks and less leafy material. Their harvest height is 6-9 feet. It is important to harvest them in a short window to avoid seed scatter issues.
Plants grown in these conditions yield up to 0.8 tons/acre of dry matter. A very important post-production process here is dehulling and pressing of dried seeds or grains. These are typically used for food and body products.
Hemp for Flower
In the case of flowers, the desired plant material is the dried flower bud and floral material. The plants are grown with enough space between them to allow for branching and flowering. Typically, for flowers, plants are grown 3-5 feet apart.
These hemp plants are bushy with wide branching. Their harvest height is 4-8 feet. Their harvesting is highly labour intensive. The plants need to be dried down to 10% moisture and a close check is kept on the degradation of the plant material.
One plant grown in these conditions yields about 1 pound of dried material. However, this quantity keeps varying. These are used for extracting CBD and other cannabinoids and in nutraceuticals and wellness products. Post-production here involves extraction using different methods such as CO2 extraction, alcohol infusion, extraction using other chemical solvents, solvent-free extraction etc.
These varieties and their respective cultivation practices are discussed in more detail in Chapter 4.
1d. Uses of Hemp
Hemp is a truly versatile plant that can be grown as a renewable source for raw materials that can further help in the manufacturing of thousands of products. Every part of the hemp plant can be used for one purpose or the other.
The seeds and flowers of the hemp plant are popular ingredients in health foods, organic body care, and other nutraceutical products.
The seeds are a complete source of protein and essential minerals. These are regularly used in making healthy food items such as cereal, granola bars, lactose-free dairy products, and protein powder. Hemp seeds are also used as animal food.
We discuss the nutritional benefits of hemp seeds thoroughly in Chapter 6.
The oil from the seeds is cooking oil, a skincare supplement, and an ingredient in hemp plastics and oil-based paints.
From the fibre and stalk of the hemp plant, we get hemp clothing, construction material, paper, biofuel, plastic composites, and more.
The bast fibre can be used to make textiles that are 100% hemp. These are also blended with other fibres such as cotton, silk, or flax to make woven fabrics for apparel and furnishings.
We discuss the processing and uses of hemp fibre thoroughly in Chapters 4 & 5.
What is Hemp? | Chapter 2: History of Hemp
Hemp is believed to be the first crop domesticated by man. It is among the first fibres to be spun into fabric. This chapter discusses the evolution of hemp right from its recorded origin to its earliest uses to its classification as a Schedule-1 drug.
2a. The Origin of Hemp & Early Uses
From what we know from research, Hemp originated in Central Asia. The cultivation of hemp for use as fibre was recorded in China back in 2800 BCE. It then spread to the Mediterranean countries of Europe in the early Christian era, spreading to the rest in the Middle Ages. In 1500, Chile started planting hemp and a decade later, North America was involved in the hemp cultivation too.
The earliest evidence of hemp usage is traced all the way back to 8,000 BC in Taiwan where hemp cords were a prime ingredient in pottery. If archaeology reports are to be believed, traces of hemp cloth were found in Mesopotamia around a similar time period.
It was around 6,000 BC that hemp seeds and oil were being used as a food source in China and in 4,000 BC, evidence of hemp textiles was found in the same region. Around the same time, hemp served as a warfare tool in China.
Beyond Food and Fashion
The first 4,000 years of the history of hemp indicate that the various uses of the plant were limited almost exclusively to China and some parts of Middle East. Moving forward to 200 BC, China invented its first hemp-based paper. This was established by crushing the hemp fibres, mixing them with bark, and adding water. The oldest documents written on hemp paper are Buddhist text from the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD.
Though China kept this invention hidden for until the 5th century, it eventually found its way to other cultures, the true value coming on when it became a part of the Gutenberg Bible—the world’s most expensive, and most translated, book.
Once the plant caught the eye of the American entrepreneurs, a different door into the hemp industry was opened. Hemp was now the second most common material for making boats. While this was happening, China continued to use the plant and its various ingredients for curing a multitude of illnesses and as a source of nutrition.
Multiple folk remedies and ancient medicines refer to the curative values of the leaves, seeds, and roots of the hemp plant. In the ancient times, hemp seeds and flowers were recommended for difficult childbirth, rheumatism, insomnia, arthritic joints, and convulsions.
2b. The Middle Ages
Moving on to the middle ages, hemp became an important crop of great economic and social value. It served much of the world’s need for food and fibre. Owing to thrice the strength of cotton and resistance to saltwater, hemp ropes found popularity in sailing ships. Up to the 1920s, 80% of the world’s clothing was made of hemp.
2c. Popularity and Trade Organisation
It was only a matter of time before the crop would spread to regions across the world and find its way into every aspect of life. In 1994, forty companies met in Arizona to form the Hemp Industries Association. The aim of this faculty was to promote hemp and define product standards—very similar to the trade organisations promoting cotton, wool, and linen.
Eventually, hemp became the most versatile crop with its use in food, tax-payment, clothing, and whatnot.
2d. Crisis for Hemp
The main crisis for hemp arose in the 1930s because of the propaganda created by companies entrusted in the new petroleum-based synthetic textile industry. They saw the hemp industry as the enemy and the US government, under the influence of these companies, proposed prohibitive tax laws and levied an occupational excise tax on hemp dealers.
This was in September 1937 following which the production of hemp was banned altogether. The Canadian government followed the American government and prohibited the production under the Opium and Narcotics Act on August 1, 1938.
The rest of the world followed soon after. Eventually, hemp was scheduled as a narcotic drug and its production, trade, and consumption was either prohibited or highly governed by strict guidelines.
2e. Hemp for Victory Campaign
The Hemp for Victory campaign is perhaps one major movement in the history of hemp that deserves special mention. Hemp plant helped US defeat Japan in the Second World War. World War II provided a new chance for the revival of the hemp industry.
The 1942 Japanese invasion of the Philippines cut the United States off from their major source of imported hemp. To meet the demands of the war, the governments of Canada and United States lifted the bans and restrictions. Multiple farmers were given a special permit to grow hemp during the war period.
The United States Department of Agriculture released a film titled Hemp for Victory in the same year. The film stated that “patriotic farmers at the government’s request planted 36,000 acres of hemp seed, an increase of several thousand per cent. The goal for 1943 is 50,000 acres of hemp seed.”
The agenda of the film was to encourage farmers to grow hemp for war effort. It featured a short history of hemp and hemp products, a quick manual on how hemp is grown and processed into rope, cloth, cordage, and other products.
The Curse Continued
Though hemp helped the United States’ victory in the Second World War, the ban on growing this plant continued after the war. Its association with marijuana cursed it to suffer the fate of a narcotic drug.
Despite its strong commercial record, it couldn’t convince the Controlled Substances Act to make a distinction between hemp and marijuana. Industrial hemp was labelled as a Schedule 1 drug, its cultivation and use strictly prohibited.
2f. India’s Historical Relation to Hemp
Cannabis has been considered one of the five holy plants in Hinduism since before the compilation of Atharvaveda. In local linguistics, cannabis is lexicalised as charas (resin), ganja (flower), and bhang (seeds and leaves). The cannabis sativa plant is one of the many plants that were used to prepare soma in the Vedic period. The plant, and its many therapeutic benefits, has been praised in the Rigveda, the Atharvaveda, the Ayurvedic texts, and the tantric texts.
Things for Indian hemp changed when, in 1798, the British Parliament enacted a tax on cannabis as an attempt to reduce the consumption of cannabis. While these attempts were mooted and continued in 1838, 1871, and 1877, and mooted again, it was in 1961 that the international treaty Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs classed cannabis with hard drugs. When the Indian delegation opposed this, the treaty laid out a strict definition of cannabis and India agreed to limit the export of Indian hemp.
The treaty gave India a time period of 25 years to clamp down on recreational drugs. By the end of this period, the Indian Government passed the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 which banned the production and sale of cannabis resin and flowers but allowed the use of leaves and seeds asking the states to regulate the latter.
It is important to note the difference between decriminalization and legalisation. Legalisation of cannabis refers to the process of removing all legal prohibitions against the plant. If legalised, use, possession, and sale of cannabis would no longer be illegal. Decriminalization of cannabis means that cannabis would still remain illegal but the authorities will not prosecute a person for possession under a specified amount.
An attempt to re-legalise cannabis in India was made in 2015 by the Great Legalisation Movement of India. The idea of decriminalising cannabis in India for industrial and medicinal purposes was supported by multiple ministers.
However, among these restrictions, the National Policy on NDPS continued to recognise cannabis as a source of biomass and fibre. The cultivation of cannabis for industrial and horticultural use is legal in India.
In July 2019, the Delhi High Court agreed to hear a petition filed by the Great Legalisation Movement Trust challenging the ban on cannabis defining its grouping with other drugs under the NDPS Act as “arbitrary, unscientific, and unreasonable.”
What is Hemp? | Chapter 3: Ecology of Hemp
Ecology is defined as the branch of science that studies the interaction among organisms and their biophysical environment including both biotic and abiotic components. In this chapter, we understand how Hemp interacts with other components in its surrounding and take a look at the environmental conditions for growing hemp.
3a. Location and Topography
Industrial hemp is a unique plant in the sense that it is an annual crop. It is among the fastest-growing plants and requires no or minimal pesticides.
For a profitable hemp harvest, ideal places are away from the equator and closer to the poles. It is best to avoid steep altitudes of more than 400m above sea level. Hemp requires flat fields with good per-location in combination with hot days and cool nights.
Hemp can grow on as little as 1 hectare of land.
Industrial hemp is a versatile crop that can grow on a wide variety of soil types. The crop prefers a sufficiently deep, well-aerated soil with a pH value of 6 or greater. This is in addition to good moisture and nutrient-holding capacity.
Soils that offer a favourable water balance, good water permeability, and great nutrient-accumulation potential are very rich black mollisols, brown steppe, and brown rendiza soils.
The recommended phosphorous, sulphur, and calcium levels are medium to high (greater than 40 ppm), good (greater than 5,000 ppm), and not in excess (less than 6,000 ppm) respectively. It is possible that hemp may react poorly to the herbicides present in the soil. However, with time, it is possible to develop a reasonable yield of hemp on soils previously damaged. In this way, hemp helps in improving soil health.
If hemp is grown in a soil with high Cadmium level, it should not be used for consumption. A well-irrigated area is ideal as it allows the plant to access water and prevents it from drowning at the same time.
In an ideal growing area, like the one above, the roots will grow to a depth ranging from 15 to 30 cm.
How to prepare the soil for growing industrial hemp?
Uniform germination of hemp seeds requires a fine and firm seedbed preparation. Ideal methods are drilling and conventional seedbed preparations. If the seeds are placed at a depth greater than 2 inches, the seedlings will not emerge uniformly. No-till systems often yield good results.
It serves well to employ tillage methods that retain precipitation, sustain porosity, incorporate the nutrients into the soil, and keep the surface smooth.
The most important nutrient for hemp is Nitrogen. Hemp is a nitrophilic crop and requires an adequate supply of readily available nitrogen throughout the vegetative period. The nitrogen uptake is most demanding in the first 6 to 8 weeks. However, an extreme excess of nitrogen can reduce fibre quality and quantity.
Hemp requires less than 1/3rd of the nitrogen and less than ½ of the phosphoric acid required by cotton.
The next important nutrients for hemp are Potassium and Phosphorous. They are imperative for good elasticity and tensile strength of fibre cells and fibre quality respectively. The consumption of these nutrients is intensive in the process of flowering and seed formation.
3d. Climatic Conditions
Hemp requires a lot of moisture. The best climatic conditions for hemp are temperate weather with distinctively hot summers and cold winters.
The temperature range for optimal hemp growth is between 19°C to 25°C. Hemp is relatively insensitive to cold temperatures and can withstand frost down to -5°C. The seeds of the plant can germinate down from 1°C to 3°C. For the earlier varieties to mature, hemp requires a high amount of heat.
Industrial hemp prefers a mild climate, humid atmosphere, and a rainfall of at least 25-30 inches per year. Since the amount of rainfall is unpredictable, it serves well to make use of early soil moisture.
Additional irrigation is required only if the plant is dry in the first few weeks. It is best to avoid flooding the young crop. Ensuring adequate irrigation often produces good hemp yields.
3e. Seeds & Breeding
The seeds ideal for optimal hemp growth are fresh, bright, clean, and plump glossy. If the seeds are more than 2 years old, test for fertility.
The seed density determines the growth of industrial hemp. A high seed density gives the plant little space for branching out thereby resulting in thin, long stems. This condition is ideal for growing hemp for fibre. Depending on the soil type, soil fertility, and seed variety, the ideal seeding rate is 250 to 400 viable seeds per square meter.
A low seed density allows the plant to branch on the sides with each branch bearing more seeds. This condition is ideal for growing hemp for seeds. Depending on the soil type, soil fertility, and seed variety, the ideal seeding rate is 175 to 185 viable seeds per square meter.
Time of Seeding
It is the weather and climate conditions that dictate the best time to seed hemp. Taking plant rotation into consideration, hemp can be seeded two weeks prior to corn if the optimum soil conditions are present. At the same time, it is important to ensure that seeding should not begin until soil temperatures have reached a minimum of 6°C to 8°C.
When growing hemp for fibre, it is best to seed as early as possible whereas when growing for grain, seeding should be done later to minimize stalk height.
In the Northern hemisphere, the best time to plant hemp is between March and May. In the Southern hemisphere, it is between September and November.
The uniformity of the crop is assisted by regular spacing. The ideal seed depth is 2 to 5 cm; deeper for light soils. Cultivators use grain drills or other conventional seeding equipment to sow hemp seeds.
Green or wet seeds need to dry soon after harvesting (preferably within 24 hours). The ideal moisture level to store them is between 9% and 10%. This helps in preserving viability.
There are three classifications of varieties:
- Monoecious varieties: when male and female flowers develop on the same plant.
- Dioecious varieties: when distinct male and female flowers grow.
- Female predominant varieties: come into existence on pollinating dioecious female plants with monoecious plants.
Generally, hemp plants are dioecious in nature.
Industrial hemp is usually classified into two varieties based on their use:
- Fibre cultivars: with long stalks and little branching.
- Seed/Grain cultivars: with shorter stalks, larger seed heads, and numerous branches.
3f. Crop Rotation
Hemp is among the very few plants that can grow on the same land for years in succession. However, rotation with other crops always adds to the yield quality. Hemp is versatile in that it responds well to most preceding crops.
The best-recommended pre-crops for hemp are legumes, clovers, and lupins because they enhance the nitrogen level and organic matter content of the soil.
Inter-planting hemp with assorted tree species provides wind protection and improves water balance.
Hemp can potentially benefit the crops grown after it. Therefore, it is generally grown before winter crops. The advantages here include weed suppression, loosening of soil, and positive effect on soil tilth.
3g. Weed Control
When hemp is planted in well-drained, fertile soils under closely optimal temperature and moisture conditions, it germinates quickly. In such a condition it reaches a height of 30 cm in 3 to 4 weeks from planting thus providing 90% ground shade. This condition is best to suppress weed growth because of the exclusion of light from the soil.
Rapidly growing hemp (with a final population of 200 to 250 plants per square meter) can suppress nearly all weed growth including twitch grass.
However, weed suppression is not a permanent condition. It is possible that weeds may appear in the same field next year if alternate crops are planted.
When hemp is grown for grain, there is comparatively less weed suppression. The lower plant population and increased branches allow more light to penetrate into the soil thus aiding the germination of weed seeds.
Overall, industrial hemp is a low maintenance crop and requires no registered chemicals for weed control.
3h. Diseases & Pets
Hemp plants can be vulnerable to various pathogens such as fungi, bacteria, nematodes, viruses, and other miscellaneous pathogens as well. These diseases often result in reduced fibre quality, stunted growth, and sometimes in plant death.
In fibre hemp crops, the most commonly occurring pests are Heliothis, Red-Shouldered leaf beetles, Lucerne Flea, and Green Veggie Bug. These infections are prevalent in clay soils and/or in regions where frequent watering occurs.
Nematodes, especially root-knot nematodes, can occur in the root systems of hemp in cropping soils. This infection can drastically reduce plant yield.
In the Southern hemisphere, the most common type of pathogen is fungi. Some of the well-known ones are Yellow leaf spot, hemp canker, grey mould, downy mildew, fusarium wilt, and fusarium stem canker.
The THC levels of hemp usually inhibit most viruses. Yet some mites that can attack the hemp plant include spider mites and hemp russet mites. At times, birds can also act as a pest for hemp at the early stages of germination, particularly to seed crops.
Hemp is usually ready for harvest in 3 to 4 months of time. Fibre hemp readies before seed hemp. If the ultimate use is for textile, it serves well to harvest the plant a little earlier. Otherwise, fibre varieties of hemp are harvested as soon as the last pollen is shed.
Harvesting for seeds occurs 4 to 6 weeks later than harvesting for fibre. The ideal condition is when 60% of the seed has ripened.
Smallholder plots can be harvested by hand. The harvesters cut the plant at 2 to 3 cm above soil and leave them on the ground to dry. Another common harvesting method, especially for larger plots, includes the use of simple and/or specially adapted cutter-binders.
The process of harvesting is often incomplete without the process of retting. The process of retting yields the best fibre bundles.
Retting refers to the process of leaving the plant in the field to dry after harvest.
Depending on the weather conditions, it can take 14 to 21 days to complete. The stem is turned over a couple of times during the process to allow for even retting. The process is complete when the fibres turn golden or greyish in colour and separate easily.
The output growth of industrial hemp relates directly to the levels of photosynthetically active radiation including heat. On well-drained loamy soils, the yield expectation ranges from 3 to 4 tons of baled hemp stalks per acre.
3k. Work Skill
Though hemp is a low-maintenance crop, in orchid-style operations, as many as 2 people per acre may be required during harvest. This may increase during the process of cure drying.
On extensive farms, the manual work skill requires is comparatively less.
What is Hemp? | Chapter 4: Engineering or Processing of Hemp
Hemp is a versatile plant offering thousands of applications across a plethora of industries. From nutritional applications to fashion, textiles, fuels, and plastic replacement, the possibilities of the crop are expanding as we learn more about it. Industrial hemp has the potential to disrupt not only the agricultural industry but medical, health care, pharmaceutical, energy, and tech industries as well.
In this chapter, we understand the different processes different varieties of hemp undergo to yield different products.
4a. Hemp Varieties
Different varieties of hemp perform differently under different environmental conditions. While some varieties are more suited for medicinal purposes, others are better suited for creating biomass or textiles.
Traditionally, industrial hemp has been divided into three main categories:
- High-Cannabinoid producing
Fibre Hemp Varieties
Fibre varieties of hemp produce long fibres and biomass. These types of hemp find usage in building materials, textiles, composites, pulp/paper, and fuel industries. The hemp fibre cultivars are slender, ranging from 10 feet to 18 feet in height.
These varieties are cultivated and harvested for bast fibre and hurd—both with a great potential to be used in fabric, construction, and some manufacturing operations. Fibre varieties of hemp call for the development of the processes and infrastructure that can support large scale harvesting, transportation, and processing. This is because hemp bales are voluminous and ideally require processing facilities in proximity to the grows.
Grain Hemp Varieties
These are the varieties of hemp that find prime usage in food and nutritional applications because of their high fibre, protein, and fatty acid content. Traditionally, these varieties yield lower cannabinoid content.
Grain hemp seeds are thin-walled and fragile and thus require careful handling during processing and transportation. With grain crops, it is imperative to conduct proper harvesting, processing, transportation, and storage processes to ensure the optimal value for the harvested grain.
Cannabinoid Hemp Varieties
These are the varieties of hemp that find prime usage in food and nutritional applications because of their high fibre, protein, and fatty acid content. Traditionally, these varieties yield lower cannabinoid content.
These are currently the most productive of the varieties. However, they can present regulatory challenges according to the end product that comes from them.
Hemp contains a molecule called Cannabidiol (CBD) which has a varied range of applications as pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, and dietary supplement. Because of hemp’s association to marijuana, the regulation of CBD varies from region to region.
High cannabinoids varieties are generally grown only as female plants because the combination of male and female plants leads to seed production and alleviated cannabinoid yield.
4b. Cultivation of Hemp
Even though hemp can be cultivated for seeds and for psychoactive substances, its main product remains bast fibre. Traditionally bast fibres were used for making ropes, twines, hand-wearing fabrics, and bags.
In recent times, the potential applications of the bast fibre have widened. Apart from textile destinations, bast fibres are used in the production of speciality paper. Some studies have evaluated the possibility of using the entire stem to produce paper pulp.
In addition, a promising destination for hemp bast fibres is the production of insulating products and fibre-reinforced composites.
Hemp seeds are healthier than flax and chia seeds and have more nutritional value. A 100 gram serving of hemp seeds can serve as much as 64% of our daily nutritional value.
That is not to say that the cultivation of hemp for seeds and psychoactive (and non-psychoactive) substances is not prevalent. Cultivated hemp seeds were most commonly used as animal seeds but in recent times, multiple food and industrial applications are emerging.
As for the psychoactive substances present in hemp, the CBD industry has, and continues to grow drastically. The extraction of CBD oil for numerous health benefits is gaining traction. And oil extracted from the seeds is gaining popularity as a cosmetic and skincare supplement.
4c. Harvesting of Hemp
The harvesting of the hemp crop takes different shapes according to the end use. Each end-use of the crop calls for different cultivation practices. For instance, the cultivation techniques vary greatly when hemp is grown to obtain long fibre bundles and when it is cultivated for seeds and fibre.
Hemp harvesting, in the present time, has taken two shapes:
- Longitudinal Hemp Harvesting
- Disordered Hemp Harvesting
Longitudinal Hemp Harvesting
The main products obtained at the end of the traditional hemp production are parallel fibre bundles also known as long hemp. These can be spun into yarn by the process of wet spinning.
For this, harvesters mimic the operation of creating stem hoods that were once carried out by hand. A reaper and binder cuts the stem in a single passage ties them into bunches and drops them on the field where manual labour arranges them for efficient drying. After drying, the stems are baled with common flax balers.
Disordered Hemp Harvesting
With the increasing technical applications of bast fibres, it was important to develop techniques that enabled and improved the supply of raw material w.r.t to the quality requirement of the successive processor. The most common technique to achieve this is based on the principle of a one-knife cutting drum. This system is mounted onto tractors with a rear driving system. There is a header and an adapted one-knife cutting drum with mass balancing. The hemp stalks are lengthwise fed into the chopping drum, cut into 600-700 mm long pieces and placed onto the field directly under the drum.
Multiple field experiments have shown that this method enables adequate retting and drying behaviour of the mowed and cut plant.
Further Advancements in Hemp Harvesting
Another important development in hemp harvesting came with the idea to preserve the original array of the hemp plant until it is cut into 600-700 mm long pieces. After it has been cut, eccentric steered conveyor elements snatch up the hemp stalks in a vertical position.
The cutting discs, located at fixed positions, then chop the upright stalks multiple times before laying them on the ground. This harvesting system is suitable for all field and weather conditions because the cutting discs can be interchanged.
In addition, the simple cutters that have been used to harvest industrial hemp for decades have been developed into multi-level cutters to cut hemp into shorter pieces.
4d. Processing of Hemp
The crop is processed in the industrial factories following two main processing routes. Longitudinal hemp for clothing textiles is obtained in processing lines which always keep the fire bundles aligned to avoid tangle. This ensures maximum fibre yield.
Old hemp processing lines are still available in parts of Eastern Europe. These scutch entire stems and yield hemp fibre bundles that are as long as the stems.
For processing, short hemp crops or to cut hemp stems to an appropriate size, flax scotching lines can be employed.
As for disordered hemp, since their fibres and fibre bundles have no preferred orientation, multiple processing lines have been developed.
Retting is a process of employing the action of microorganisms and moisture on plants to dissolve or rot away much of the cellular tissues and pectins surrounding bast-fibre bundles.
Irrespective of the processing route, hemp stems of fibre bundles have to go through the process of retting.
This process facilitates the separation of the bark from the core and loosens the binds between single fibres. This is done in order to ensure that after the extraction process, cleaner and finer fibre bundles are obtained.
Traditionally, hemp is retted by soaking it in ponds and rivers to produce high-quality fibre bundles. The water penetrates to the central stalk portion, swells the inner cells which burst the outermost layer and increase absorption of both moisture and decay-producing bacteria.
In the process of water retting, retting time has to be carefully observed as under-retting makes the separation harder and over-retting results in weakened fibre.
Natural water retting uses stagnant or slow-moving waters (ponds, slow streams, and rivers). Bundles of hemp stalk are weighed down with stones or wood for approximately 8 to 14 days depending upon the temperature and mineral content of the water.
More modern techniques for retting hemp fibre bundles include dew retting. This method is popular in areas that have limited water resources. In dew retting, the harvested plant stalks are spread evenly in grassy fields where the mutual action of sun, bacteria, air, and dewdrops lead to fermentation which dissolves much of the stem material around the fibre bundles.
The fibres are separated usually within 2 or 3 weeks. Dew-retted fibre is darker in colour and poorer in quality than water-retted fibre.
4f. Extraction of Hemp Products
The hemp crop is used to make a variety of commercial and industrial products. Hemp’s applications spread across food, fibre, building material, jewellery, paper, plastic, hemp concrete, and biofuels. In this section, we’ll take a brief look at how each of these products is derived from the crop.
More commonly known as Hempcrete, hemp concrete is a bio-composite material that uses the inner woody core of the hemp stalk to produce a mineral matrix that forms a non-toxic, carbon-negative, and energy-efficient building material.
Hempcrete is one of the most sustainable construction materials available today. Hemp stalks are mixed with lime and water to make concrete-like blocks. The silica content in the stalks binds with lime and results in a lightweight cementitious insulating material.
Hemp concrete is not used as a structural element but only as an insulating infill between the frame members.
The first use of hempcrete was witnessed in 1986 in France when Charles Rasetti renovated the Maison de la Turquie.
Hemp Paper contains exclusively or to a large extent, pulp obtained from fibres of industrial hemp. Compared to wood pulp, hemp pulp offers four times longer fibre, a considerably lower lignin fraction, and high tear resistance and tensile strength.
The main products made from hemp paper are speciality papers such as banknotes, cigarette paper, and technical filter paper. The production cost of hemp paper is four to five times higher than that of wood paper which is a major reason why hemp paper is not used for mass applications such as printing and packaging paper.
Hemp ropes are among the oldest rope fibres known to man. From the age of classic sail to the present times, hemp has remained a soft, supple, and strong rope versatile for use in decorating, design, marine, sports, and theatrical applications. A typical hemp rope is used through the following process.
The hemp fibres are separated and cut into lengths approximately twice as long as the desired length rope. The cutting is continued till we have a bundle of fibres that are half the size of the desired diameter.
The bundles are folded in half secured by a dowel rod. The fibres of the bundles are smoothed along the length of the cord. The bundles are then divided into two parts. Each bundle is rotated clockwise until the cord begins to kink and loop.
The two cords are then twisted together wrapping one over the other in a counter-clockwise motion. The ends are secured with overhand knots beginning with the end in the maker’s hand. Once the first end is tightly tied, the rope is slipped off the dowel rod and tied.
Hemp can provide mankind with two types of fuels—hemp biodiesel and hemp ethanol/methanol. Hemp biodiesel is obtained by pressing hemp seeds to extract oil.
What is Hemp? | Chapter 5: Uses of Hemp
So far, we have seen that hemp has a plethora of applications across a number of industries. In this chapter, we take a detailed look at all the different products that can be made from hemp.
5a. Hemp Textiles
Hemp is not a trendy new fabric but a classic. Hemp has been a utilitarian fabric since antiquity. And in today’s ecology-conscious fashion market, it is popularly becoming the fabric of choice.
The hemp textile industry today encompasses manufacturers of all sizes. Pure, 100% hemp makes an appearance in its natural off-white colour in designs today. But manufacturers are blending hemp with cotton and silk too. While blending sacrifices strength in comparison to a pure hemp product, it gives better moisture-wicking and a lower price.
More and more enviro-wear companies are beginning to make use of hemp. For instance, a San Francisco based company—Used Rubber—that makes belts, bags, and accessories from recycled rubber added hemp as the first fabric in their line.
In early 1995, a recipient of the UN’s Fashion Industry and Environment Award, Deja Shoe, introduced a line of hemp fabric footwear.
Look & Feel
Many people believe that hemp looks like a burlap. When in reality, the strength and coarseness of hemp fabric depend on how the fibre is spun and woven. Hemp can be woven into many grades—from canvas to fine linen. If processed properly, hemp fabric can be made softer than cotton.
Hemp fibre bundles up to 15 feet long as compared to cotton fibres that are almost ¾ of an inch. This gives hemp 8 times the tensile strength and 4 times the durability of cotton. Hemp fabric is machine washable and dryable. While it wrinkles like natural linen, it has a superior absorbency that takes dyes beautifully.
This also makes it an ideal choice for towels, diapers, and baby clothing. Table linens, upholstery fabric, and high-quality linen are all potential markets for hemp.
This fabric is not susceptible to shrinkage and is highly resistant to pilling. Because the fibres from hemp are long and sturdy, hemp fabric is very soft and highly durable.
In addition, hemp fabric is lightweight meaning that it is highly breathable. It effectively facilitates the passage of moisture from the skin to the atmosphere and is, therefore, ideal for hot climates.
Hemp fabric is also resistant to mould, mildew, and harmful microbes. It softens with each wash and is more sustainable than other fabrics in all manners.
Benefits of Hemp FabricNaturally pest-resistant (is grown pesticide-free)Durable and long-lasting4x more durable than other natural fibresSustainable and renewableAll-natural fibreHighly absorbent
5b. Hemp Paper
Hemp can significantly contribute to the world’s economy and ecology by enabling the comeback of plant-based papers. Mankind has been using trees for paper since the mid-1800s. However, before that cloth rags and annual crops such as papyrus and hemp were major sources of paper.
Hemp paper refers to varieties of paper that consist exclusively or to a large extent pulp from the fibres of industrial hemp. The process of manufacturing paper from hemp starts by breaking down the bast fibres in the plant’s outer stem layer. This results in a pulp slurry that is moulded into the desired shape and size.
The process is fairly similar to that of producing paper from wood pulp but more ecological.
Fibre paper is thin, brittle, tough, and rough. The chemical composition of hemp hurds is similar to wood which makes it a good choice for an alternative raw material. The quality of hemp paper is actually higher than wood paper.
Hemp paper is more durable and holds its colour and texture for much longer. It can be recycled 7-8 times and yields more pulp per acre than trees. One acre of hemp produces the same amount of paper as ten acres of trees. And it takes only 4-5 months to grow.
Hemp has a higher cellulose content (about 85% in comparison with 30% in wood) and less lignin content (5-24% in comparison with 20-35% in wood)—both factors that add to hemp paper’s superiority over wood paper. The content of cellulose is what gives paper strength and lignin needs to be removed from the pulp before processing it into paper.
A Tree-free Alternative
One of the most significant harms of the paper industry is deforestation. Almost 27,000 species of life go extinct every year because of the 296 million acres of forest that we have destroyed in the last 20 years.
With increased globalisation and technological advancement, our demand for wood-derived products such as paper, building supplies, and fuel is increasing. About 40% of trees are destroyed to make wrapping tissue papers.
Hemp, here, offers a ray of hope not only by providing more paper with less amount of plant but also by enriching the soil and preparing it better for the crops that follow. While hemp is not the only tree-free alternative to fibre, it is the best.
5c. Seed-Oil Products
The most beneficial part of the hemp plant is its seed. It exhibits a rich amount of nutrients and essential fatty acids along with antioxidant and anti-inflammation properties that make it a great wellness and skincare supplement.
Hemp seeds are a treasure trove of the two most important essential fatty acids—linoleic (LA; omega 6) and linolenic (LNA; omega 3). The seeds contain at least 30% oil where LA and LNA are in a 3:1 ratio. This ratio is optimal for the human diet.
In the form of oil, hemp seeds become a convenient and healthy addition to our lives. Cold-pressed hemp seed oil can serve as an ideal replacement for cooking oil and as a healthy salad dressing.
It can also be used as a massage oil to nourish the skin and scalp. An increasing number of cosmetic companies are now using hemp oil as the prime ingredient in cosmetic products such as creams, balms, shampoos, and body cleansers. This is majorly because of its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and other healing properties.
5d. Hemp as a Renewable Resource
In the middle of the global climatic and environmental crisis today, sustainable ecological agriculture calls for the revival of traditional multi-crop cultivation. Hemp is arguably the best choice for this purpose for more reasons than one.
Hemp is an easily biodegradable plant. Its disposal, therefore, presents virtually zero problems of waste management. The plant requires relatively fewer fertilizers than other fibre crops. Because it practically has no natural predators, the need for pesticides is also minimal.
Low Maintenance Crop
Hemp is rightfully a low maintenance crop that grows in most climates. Unlike other majority crops, it does not deplete the nutrients of the soil and helps prevent soil erosion with its deep tap-root system.
Hemp yields 4 times more fibre per acre than other crops. In the process of doing so, it absorbs heavy metal contaminants from the soil. Hemp acts as its own mulch by naturally shading out weeds thus reducing the need for costly herbicides.
After harvesting hemp, the field is virtually weed-free for the next crop.
Challenging the Cotton Waves
Cotton—the most popular cash crop today—is the pesticide king. While cotton eases our everyday lives in a number of ways, the environmental cost of cultivating cotton is incalculable.
Cotton grows on 3% of the world’s arable land and uses about 26% of the world’s pesticides. It is a demanding crop in that it needs heavy irrigation consuming more than 7% of annual fertilizer use.
Developing countries continue to heavily grow cotton because of their desperation for a cash crop. In the meantime, food crops are ignored and people go hungry in addition to depleting natural resources.
The large-scale monoculture of cotton around the Aral Sea in Russia has led to the shrinking of the sea thereby changing the regional climate drastically.
Hemp, in comparison, has few insect enemies and naturally resists weeds. It is hence a better candidate than cotton to produce good, high-quality, sustainable, and organically-grown fibre.
5e. Hemp as an Energy Resource
Hemp seeds and stalks produce some of nature’s finest biofuels.
Hemp seed oil can easily be converted into diesel fuel. Its burning quality and viscosity rating are fairly similar to petroleum oil. It is substantially thicker than processed liquid fuel and can benefit a lot from the addition of methanol.
This leads to the production of a premium oxygenated liquid fuel that has a similar boiling range and viscosity to petroleum fuel. This can produce full engine power with decreased carbon monoxide and 75% less soot and particulates.
Hemp Stalk as an Energy Source
Using the stalks of the hemp plant is more productive than seed oil. The woody stalk of the plant can be removed and baled or bundled and burned directly for heat and to power electricity-generating boilers.
The cellulose and hemicellulose present in the core can be broken down into starches. We can ferment these into alcohol fuels which can further be converted to methanol, ethanol, or methane gas.
Hemp’s Potential as a Biofuel
Hemp showcases good potential as a biofuel resource. Both the seeds and the stalks of the plant can help cut down on waste and pollution created by fossil fuels. It is true that in most cases the cost of its fibre and seed will be greater than the cost of the energy it will produce.
However, the waste produced at any point in this production chain can be converted into fuel and used to reduce the buying cost of energy.
The use of hemp as a source of fuel will help energy companies cut down significantly on the costs of pollution-control equipment. For the Third World nations where energy sources are scarce, hemp biomass is all the more important.
What is Hemp? | Chapter 6: Hemp & Health
6a. Hemp as a source of Nutrition
The hemp crop is fondly called a superfood for its naturally-rich culture of nutrition. Hemp foods are continuously expanding on grocery shelves and across natural food stores all over the world.
Hemp seeds, and oil from them, are edible in addition to being good medicinal and cosmetic supplements. Hemp seeds are good for consumption in their raw, sprout, and powder form. These can also be made into a liquid and used for baking or for beverages such as hemp milk.
Some more examples of hemp food products that are currently popular in the world are salad dressings, waffles, granola bars, chips, pasta, nutrition bars, bread, cookies, frozen dessert, and cold-pressed oil supplements.
The Hemp Seed
Hemp seeds contain all essential amino acids and fatty acids. It is also the most complete protein that exists in the vegetable kingdom. Hemp seeds contain 26-31% crude protein along with 5-10% fat, 12% crude fibre, and 10% moisture.
Like most other oilseeds, hemp nuts contain oil (typically 44%), protein (33%), dietary fibre, and carbohydrates (12%). In addition to this, the nut contains vitamins, phytosterols, and trace minerals.
Hemp’s high nutritional advantage over other edible oils lies in the composition of its oil which contains healthy fatty acids and in its protein which contains all the essential amino acids.
Essential Fatty Acids in Hemp Seeds
Most oil seeds contain plenty of essential fatty acid Linoleic Acid (LA) from the omega-6 family but offer little of the essential fatty acid Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA) from the omega-3 family. Health organisations across the world agree that humans should ingest these two essential fatty acids in the ratio of 4:1.
The human body needs essential fatty acids (EFAs) for a number of functions such as formation of healthy cell membranes, regulation of hormone production, and proper thyroid adrenal activity. EFAs are also important for the proper development and functioning of the brain and the nervous system. Regulation of blood pressure, liver function, immune system, inflammatory responses, and blood clotting are also managed by EFAs. These are crucial for the transport and breakdown of cholesterol and support healthy skin and hair as well.
However, the present diets contain a ratio of approximately 10:1 or higher. Clinical studies find that this imbalanced ratio is a major co-factor in health conditions such as Arthritis, cardiovascular diseases, Diabetes, and skin and mood disorders.
Hemp nut and oil offer an omega6/omega 3 ratio of 3:1 or less according to the variety of the plant. No other vegetable oils have been studied to offer such an optimal ratio of essential fatty acids.
Super Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids
Moreover, hemp oil provides a substantial amount of the more rare super polyunsaturated fatty acids, gamma-linolenic acid and stearidonic acid. These are produced naturally in the body from LA and ALA respectively. Supplementation with these helps in the reduction of symptoms of atopic dermatitis and other skin disorders.
Saturated and Trans-Fatty Acids
Trans fats or trans-fatty acids are a form of unsaturated fat that comes in natural and artificial forms. Natural trans fats occur in the meat and dairy from animals such as goats, sheep, and cattle.
Artificial trans fats, or industrial trans fats or partially hydrogenated fats, occur when vegetable oils are chemically altered to stay solid at room temperature.
While the moderate consumption of natural trans fats does not appear harmful for the body, artificial trans fats can increase your risk of heart disease. These raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol and also lower your HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
Excessive consumption of trans fats increases your risk for type 2 diabetes and cause you to gain weight.
Typically, hemp oil contains less than 10% saturated fatty acids and zero trans-fatty acids.
Protein in Hemp Seeds
The human body uses protein to build and repair tissues. Proteins are made up of essential and non-essential amino acids. The human body cannot produce essential amino acids and thus needs to intake these from a diet. Non-essential amino acids are produced in the body.
Proteins are also used to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.
Hemp protein is, naturally, of exceptional quality in terms of amino acids composition and protein structure. All essential amino acids are present in hemp protein in nutritionally significant amounts and at a ratio closer to complete sources of protein (i.e. milk, eggs, and meat).
Hemp protein consists of 33% of Albumin and 67% of Edestin—a structure closely similar to proteins manufactured in our blood. This makes hemp protein easily digestible. In studies, hemp protein appears to be free of anti-nutrients and thus there is no interference with protein uptake.
6b. Hemp as a source of CBD
Industrial hemp is the richest source of the non-psychotropic cannabinoid CBD. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds present in the cannabis plant that interact with the Endocannabinoid System in the human body and alter body functions.
This interaction is what causes the high when people smoke marijuana. However, the high-causing sensations come from another cannabinoid called THC.
THC and CBD are the two most important cannabinoids. Though they belong to the same family and are present in the same plant, the percentage of each varies in different species and strains of cannabis.
For instance, marijuana contains a high amount of THC whereas hemp contains a high amount of CBD.
The effects of CBD appear to be a blessing to the human body. CBD is primarily a relaxant and interacts with the body in a way opposite to that of THC. While THC causes euphoric sensations, CBD calms the body down and helps relieve pain and stress.
An increasing number of scientific studies vouch for CBD’s therapeutic effects on the body. Among these relieving inflammation and neuropathic pain are the most prominent.
Many people are now seeking CBD as an alternative to harsh pharmaceuticals for medical conditions such as depression, anxiety, and epileptic seizures. Scientific research points towards CBD’s potential to help with metabolic syndromes, autoimmune disorders, neurological diseases, skin diseases, gut disorders, and cardiovascular function as well.
The CBD Source
CBD exists in abundance in the leaves, flowers, and buds of the hemp plant. With the help of different extraction processes, CBD is extracted from hemp in the form of oil and/or tinctures and then used to create a wide range of products.
The good quality hemp plant can yield the finest CBD that helps in promoting a sense of well-being in addition to assisting with the medical conditions mentioned above. Typically, hemp is the go-to source plant for CBD. However, depending on which type of CBD one needs to extract, the source plant can sometimes be the parent cannabis plant as well.
Extraction of CBD
CBD is one of the 113 identified cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. Each of these cannabinoids interacts with the human body in a different capacity. While THC and CBD are most researched, other cannabinoids have their effects as well.
CBD is typically extracted in the form of oil. Technological advancements today enable the use of four types of extraction processes:
- Whole Plant Extraction: This is the least quality-compromising extraction process. In whole-plant extraction, the plant’s (in our case, hemp’s) therapeutic compounds are retained to the optimal level.
As the name suggests, in whole plant extraction, we process the entire source plant (and not any specific parts) for desired compounds. A whole plant extract, therefore, contains all the chemical compounds originally present in hemp.
In the CBD industry, whole plant extracts are commonly famous as full-spectrum CBD. Here, CBD is just one of the many cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other compounds.
A 2015 study by Israeli scientists says that whole plant extracts especially in the case of CBD are better than isolates. The prime theory behind the superiority of whole plant extracts over other types is the entourage effect.
When multiple cannabinoids act at the same time, the therapeutic benefits of each combine together and offer a better, enhanced experience. Together, THC and CBD have the ability to affect multiple targets in the body, improve absorption of active ingredients, minimize adverse side-effects, and overcome bacterial defence mechanisms.
- Alcohol Extraction: This is perhaps the original extraction method for CBD. In alcohol extraction, an alcoholic solvent such as ethanol or isopropyl combines with the dried source material.
As a solvent, it pulls out THC, terpenes, and other cannabinoids from the plant. The process then further separates the solvent and the extract.
More often than not, alcohol extraction is used to extract CBD isolate or broad-spectrum CBD. Both these types of CBD differ from whole plant extract in the sense that they do not contain any THC.
Chemical compounds other than CBD are completely removed in CBD isolates. In the case of broad-spectrum CBD, only and only THC is removed.
Alcohol extraction yields a pure, finished cannabis product or concentrate. It usually occurs in two ways:
a. Soaking in Alcohol: is the method where the extractors soak the entire plant in alcohol and evaporate the alcohol after extracting the desired cannabinoid(s).
b. Roto-Vap: is the method where we first soak the plant material in ethanol and then use extra heat to speed up the evaporation process. This captures the ethanol that is reused later.
Alcohol as a solvent is the best method to create a quality CBD tincture. When carried out correctly, these can eliminate the need for winterization or dewaxing of CBD Oil
- CO2 Extraction: This is the most preferred and the most expensive process of extracting CBD. It uses CO2 as a solvent because it is non-toxic and does not leave any residue behind. CO2 extraction uses pressurised CO2 to remove the desired phytochemicals from hemp (or any source plant). The CBD extracted here is clean with minimal impurities.
Because CO2 is a solvent that the extractor can control according to his/her needs, it is a very versatile method for creating a range of high-quality products.
What is Hemp? | Chapter 7: How to Buy Hemp Products in India?
Things get a little confusing for users when it comes to adopting hemp products. More often than not, they aren’t sure of which product to begin with and where to buy it from. This chapter focuses on some important questions users must as themselves before buying hemp products.
7a. Why am I buying hemp?
It is important for users to know their exact reasons behind making a switch to hemp. Is it because you’re fascinated by this wonder crop or are you inspired by someone else’s experience? Are you just curious or do you genuinely believe in its power as a nutritional and renewable resource?
Answering these questions helps you narrow the kind of hemp products that interest you and allow you to make a wiser decision. For instance, if you’re buying hemp for its nutritional value, you may be more interested in hemp seed oil, hemp hearts, or hemp seed powder.
While, on the other hand, if you’re drawn to the rugged and raw look that comes with hemp fibre, you’re more likely to buy hemp accessories such as bags, wallets, hats, etc.
7b. What product do I want to buy?
Because you know why you want to buy hemp, you’ll have an initial idea about the kind of product you’d like to buy. Here is a list of possible hemp products that you can buy to help you sort your decision further.
Hemp foods are the go-to products for those interested in the nutritional power of hemp. Hemp seeds contain omega-6 and omega-3 in the optimal ratio of 3:1 along with all essential nutrients and minerals.
Hemp food items are your quickest, easiest way to grab a share of hemp nutrition. The following three edible hemp products are the most common.
The superfood of the superfoods! Hemp seeds can be eaten in their raw form straight out of the packet or sprinkled onto your cereal. You can also blend these into your smoothies, glass of milk, and salads.
The most interesting thing about hemp seeds is that they are easy on the body. They contain proteins in the exact DNA structure of the human body. This makes their absorption and digestion in the body easier.
Hemp Seed Powder
Hemp seed powder is the purest plant-based source of protein. It comes from hemp seeds and is completely independent of soy, gluten, dairy, and lactose. And it is 100% vegan. But it is not vegan-only.
Hemp seed powder can be added to your everyday bread, roti, or cake batter and used to boost the nutritional value of your diet. You can also consume it like your average protein powder after a workout.
Hemp Seed Oil
This, too, comes from the hemp seeds and is a much healthier and wholesome replacement to other vegetable oils that contain a high amount of trans fats. Hemp seed oil can be added to shallow fry and sauté foods and it makes a healthier salad dressing as well.
Hemp seed oil is now a prime ingredient in many skin care and personal care products. Because of its anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and anti-ageing properties, it’s taking the organic cosmetics industry in a completely new direction.
There are a plethora of hair and skincare products that use hemp seed oil as the prime ingredient. Many brands combine them with other, naturally therapeutic oils to enhance the effects. Here is a list of the most common hemp cosmetic products.
Hemp Seed Oil
Hemp seed oil is multi-purpose in the sense that it also has applications as a skincare supplement. Hemp oil can be used in the stead of other hair and massage oils. Its rich omega-6 and omega-3 content help nourish the skin and keep it moisturized. The anti-inflammatory properties help soothe irritation and localised pain.
Hemp Balms & Creams
Hemp lip and massage balms are very common products in the market today. Combining hemp with strawberry and peppermint flavours, brands are launching new products every day.
Hemp seed oil infused with other anti-inflammatory agents is being used to make massage balms and lotions that can help relieve inflammation and localised pain and keep skin moisturised respectively.
Hemp Shampoos and Face Cleansers
Hemp cosmetics also have a fairly decent variety of hair and face cleansers that help keep the skin purified.
Hemp Moustache & Beard Oil
A product that’s still developing, hemp moustache and beard oil and cream caters to the cosmetic needs of men. Combined with just the right ingredients, hemp moustache and beard oils and creams can help you keep all that facial hair well and hydrated!
Hemp Clothing and Accessories
Every part of the hemp plant can be used to make something useful. Hemp fibre is used to make a wide range of accessories such as bags, wallets, hats, footwear etc. And when spun into fabric, it can be tailored into virtually any piece of clothing.
Hemp Shirts and Dresses
The most common seem to be shirts and dresses made out of hemp. However, they are not the most popular. Better still, a range of hemp clothing is a way of adopting a sustainable and better lifestyle.
As we have learned in chapter 5, hemp fabric is anti-bacterial and more breathable than any other fabric. It is thus a wise decision to choose hemp fabric for your body.
Hemp Bags, Hats, & Wallets
Similarly, hemp fibre is stronger, more durable, and longer-lasting than other common fibres. Plus its production is free of pesticides and chemicals and uses minimum water in comparison to other, more popular crops.
7c. Who is making my product?
It is all the more imperative for users now to care about where their product comes from. When browsing through the product of your interest, extend your research to the brand too.
Understand the dynamics of the brand you’re looking at. Where are they sourcing their hemp from? What cultivation practices are they using? Are their products legit? Who else is using their products? What has their customer relations been like? Do they know what they’re doing? Are they willing to walk you through the process of adopting/using their products? Are they answering all your questions clearly?
These are just some of the things you should research before deciding to buy a hemp product.
In the case of edibles and skincare products, users need to vary mislabelling practices and keep an eye out for a genuine product. In the case of fabric and fibre products, you must be able to identify if you’re buying hemp fabric or fibre.
As we have learned, hemp fabric spun in different ways gives off different fabric feels. This, unfortunately, allows for wiggle room for passing off the non-hemp fabric as hemp.
Bonus Chapter: A Step-by-Step Guide to Buying a Hemp Product in India
- Open your browser.
- Visit www.itshemp.in
- Browse through their awesome collection of hemp products.
- Identify the products that interest you.
- If you have questions, contact them with your queries and have a conversation with them until you’re satisfied.
- Go back to the platform and add your product choices in your cart.
- Make the payment and wait for your hempy present to arrive!
- Unwrap it gently.
- Read the instructions for use carefully.
- In case of edibles and skincare products, start with small quantities.
- Keep your observing eye open to notice changes.
- Go back to the platform and share your honest feedback with them.
- Enjoy a hempy life!