The History Of Hemp
Hemp and Cannabidiol
Hemp oil has a long and storied past. However, as little as a quarter of a century ago, no one had ever heard of Hemp. Today, modern science has identified a family of molecules known as cannabinoids as well as the human endocannabinoid system. We’re just beginning to understand how Hemp affects the human body.
The History of Hemp Oil in Ancient Times
The earliest written record of the use of cannabis appears in ancient China around 6000 B.C., shortly after human civilization arose, but the most direct evidence of the use of cannabis as medicine began to appear around 2700 B.C.
In 2737 B.C., as recorded in the first editions of the Pen Ts’ao Ching, Chinese emperor Shen-Nung was using cannabis in topical ointments and teas to aid in pain relief.
As time went on and human civilization progressed, writings espousing the medicinal benefits of hemp began to appear in pharmacopeias across Asia.
The use of cannabis extracts as a blood thinner and anesthetic first appeared in the second century B.C. in the writing of Hua Tuo.
Around A.D. 77, the Romans began using hemp extensively in the healing arts. In his writings, a scholar by the name of Pliny the Elder claimed that cannabis extract was helpful for pain relief.
In India, cannabis was considered a sacred plant gifted by the gods. The Atharvaveda was considered a storehouse of knowledge that was useful for everyday life. This manuscript details the use of flowers and seeds in a variety of balms and tinctures.
Cannabis has even been found buried in the tombs of Ancient Greeks and Egyptians who also notated formulations for cannabis remedies.
The History of Hemp Oil in the West
By the sixteenth century, cannabis was being cultivated all over Europe. Hemp was so valuable to society at that time that, in 1533, Henry VIII required all farmers to grow hemp.
Many physicians of the age, such as Garcia de Orta and Li Shih-Chen, were documenting the use of hemp extract as an appetite stimulant and antibiotic.
In the 1600s, hemp cultivation came to North American colonies. The colony of Virginia even created laws which mandated the cultivation of hemp by farmers. Similar laws were passed in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Hemp seeds were even considered legal tender and used to pay for goods and services in Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
A popular medical text of the time called, “Anatomy of Melancholy,” written by Robert Burton, noted that hemp extract was helpful in dealing with mental health disorders.
By the eighteenth century, hemp’s medicinal uses were documented in “The New England Dispensatory” and “Edinburgh New Dispensatory”— two highly respected pharmacopeias of the day.
As the industrial age was unfolding, a surgeon named W. B. O’Shaughnessy began to extol the virtues of hemp remedies in the American Southwest. A professor at the Medical College of Calcutta, O’Shaughnessy conducted experiments to determine the effects of hemp extracts on animals and humans suffering from rheumatic diseases, cholera, tetanus and hydrophobia. His writings discussed the ability of hemp extracts to relieve pain and relax spastic muscles.
Hemp extract is also listed in the third edition of the U.S. Pharmacopeia as a pain reliever, sleep aid and antidepressant. And near the end of the 18th century, a doctor named J.R. Reynolds was conducting research into the ability of hemp extract to reduce tics and help asthma.
The History of Hemp Oil in Modern Times
In the early 20th century, medicines such as opioids began to be developed. The use of cannabis-based preparations to relieve pain began to decline. However, many medications were developed which combined cannabis with other pharmaceuticals in everything from cough syrup to sleep aids.
By the late 1930s, the war on cannabis erupted, and the cultivation of cannabis became illegal. Again in 1970, cannabis cultivation was banned by the Controlled Substances Act, which listed cannabis — including both hemp and marijuana — as Schedule I substances with no medicinal benefits and a high risk of dependence.
In the late 1960s the mysteries of cannabinoids, including Hemp, began to unfold as researchers discovered the role of the human endocannabinoid system in maintaining good health. We’ll discuss this in more detail shortly.
As the 1970s progressed, however, cannabis extracts were once again being used for healing. A quarter of a century later, in 1996, the state of California legalized the medicinal use of cannabis for a list of serious medical conditions.
Over the past few decades, there has been an explosion of research into the health benefits of Hemp and other cannabinoids.
Hemp has been quickly gaining acceptance in the U.S. as a result of media coverage by respected health experts such as Dr. Sanjay Gupta. The message of Hemp’s healing powers is beginning to reach the masses.
Today, Hemp oil is available to everyone and research into Hemp’s effect on the human body has ramped up substantially.
Modern technology has provided methods of refining and isolating Hemp, and even increasing the bioavailability of Hemp oil through technologies such as nanoemulsions which make Hemp water-soluble and increase its potency.
The demand for Hemp is growing so quickly that sales are expected to surpass $1 billion by 2020.
Hemp has a very vast history that cannot go unnoticed. We are very excited to be at the forefront of what we believe is the most valuable commodity to mankind.
Hemp is grown in temperate zones as an annual cultivated from seed and can reach a height of up to 5 metres (16 feet). Crops grow best in sandy loam with good drainage and require average monthly rainfall of at least 65 mm (2.5 inches) throughout the growing season. Crops cultivated for fibre are densely sowed and produce plants averaging 2–3 metres (6–10 feet) tall with almost no branching. Plants grown for oilseed are planted farther apart and are shorter and many-branched. The slender stalks are hollow except at the tip and base. The leaves are compound with palmate shape, and the flowers are small and greenish yellow. Seed-producing flowers form elongate, spikelike clusters growing on the pistillate, or female, plants. Pollen-producing flowers form many-branched clusters on staminate, or male, plants. Maximum yield and quality are obtained by harvesting soon after the plants reach maturity, indicated by the full blossoms and freely shedding pollen of the male plants. Although sometimes pulled up by hand, plants are more often cut off about 2.5 cm (1 inch) above the ground.
Fibres are obtained by subjecting the stalks to a series of operations—including retting, drying, and crushing—and a shaking process that completes separation from the woody portion, releasing the long, fairly straight fibre, or line. The fibre strands, usually over 1.8 metres (5.8 feet) long, are made of individual cylindrical cells with an irregular surface. The fibre, longer and less flexible than flax, is usually yellowish, greenish, or a dark brown or gray and, because it is not easily bleached to sufficiently light shades, is rarely dyed. It is strong and durable and is used for cordage—e.g., twine, yarn, rope, cable, and string—and for artificial sponges and such coarse fabrics as sacking (burlap) and canvas. In Italy some hemp receives special processing, producing whitish colour and attractive lustre, and is used to make fabric similar to linen.
Although only the hemp plant yields true hemp, a number of other plant fibres are called “hemp.” These include Indian hemp (Apocynum cannabinum), Mauritius hemp (Furcraea foetida), and sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea).
Different Cannabis species
Within the genus cannabis there are three different species: indica, ruderalis and sativa. Of all the approximately 680 different substances that cannabis contains, 144 are cannabinoids. This means that they are psychoactive substances that affect the psyche.
Hemp includes all varieties of the Cannabis genus that contain negligible amounts of THC, the chemical that makes marijuana psychoactive and gets you “high”. The Cannabis family has several different breeds, yet it is most infamously known for marijuana (“weed”). This is the main reason why people confuse the term hemp with marijuana. Hemp actually refers to the industrial, non-drug variant that is cultivated for its fiber, hurd, and seeds.
Hemp is completely different from marijuana in its function, cultivation and application.
Hemp and marijuana serve completely different purposes. Marijuana, as it is widely known, is used for medicinal or recreational purposes. Hemp is used in variety of other applications that marijuana couldn’t possibly be used in. These include healthy dietary supplements, skin products, clothing, and accessories. Overall, hemp is known to have over 25,000 possible applications.
Hemp and marijuana can be differentiated by looking at its appearance, makeup, and natural adaptability. Marijuana and hemp have noticeable and contrasting differences.
Marijuana looks contrastingly different from hemp. When you observe their leaves, marijuana’s shape tends to either be broad leafed, a tight bud, or look like a nugget with organd hairs. Hemp, on the other hand, has skinnier leaves that’s concentrated at the top. Few branches or leaves exist below the top part of the plant. When you observe the plants from afar, marijuana looks like a short fat bush. Hemp is typically skinnier and taller (up to 20 ft). At times, it almost looks like long ditchweed – hemp was actually found to grow among weeds in Nebraska. In general, when you compare a marijuana farm with those of industrial hemp, you’ll notice that they are clearly very different from one another.
The main difference between the two is in its chemical composition, specifically in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the chemical responsible marijuana’s psychological effects.An average batch of marijuana contains anywhere from 5-20% THC content. Some premium marijuana can have up to 25-30% THC. Hemp, on the other hand, has a max THC level of 0.3%, essentially making it impossible to feel any psychoactive effect or get a “high”. This threshold is heavily regulated in other countries that have legalized hemp.Hemp also has high cannabidiol content that acts as THC’s antagonist, essentially making the minimal amount of THC useless.
The environment in which hemp and marijuana are grown is strikingly different. Hemp is grown closely together (as close as 4 inches apart) and are typically grown in large multi-acre plots. It can also grow in variety of climates and its growth cycle is 108-120 days. Unlike hemp, marijuana requires a carefully controlled, warm, and humid atmosphere for proper growth. Its growth cycle only 60-90 days. Medical cannabis also cannot be grown too close to each other. They are typically grown 6 feet apart. If, somehow, marijuana grows among (or close to) a hemp field, the hemp’s pollen would immediately ruin the marijuana crop, diluting marijuana’s psychoactivity.
Sativa strains are typically taller, loosely branched and have long, narrow leaves. They are usually grown outdoors and can reach heights of up to 20 feet. Sativa plants typically have higher concentration of Hemp enzymes, essentially causing no mind-altering effect.
Indica strains are shorter, densely branched and have wider leaves. They are better suited for growing indoors. Indica plants contain higher THC content, which has an intoxicating effect of causing a “body buzz”.
*Many hybrids of these plants have been developed recently, so it is more important to examine the exact THC level of a plant rather than strictly categorizing them “sativa” or “indica”