In any discussion about hemp, we must first clear up any misunderstandings that seem to follow this incredibly useful plant. In the United States, where debates about legalization of marijuana have been going on for years, there is the risk that the cannabis indica L plant containing high levels of THC (the cannabinoid that produces the psychoactive effects we all know about) gets confused with the cannabis sativa L plant that is low in THC but high in CBD, which actually blocks the effects of THC!
Hemp, or Cannibis sativa L. is the plant we are referring to. It’s one of the oldest plants in continuous use by humans, dating back 10,000 years. A piece of fabric made of hemp fibers is one of the oldest human artifacts on earth. Carl Sagan even suggested in 1977, that hemp just may have been the world’s first organized agricultural crop, leading to civilization itself! We first see hemp rope in what is now southern Russia, in about 600 BC. Herodotus mentioned hemp clothing in his Histories from 450 BC. The earliest evidence of hemp being used to make paper in China is from around 100 BC. Hemp rope was being used in England by 100 BC, and paper making soon followed, continuing for centuries thereafter. The tomb of Merovingian queen Arnegunde (570 AD) contained not only gold and jewels, but hemp cloth as well. Hemp fabric went on to become the primary fabric used in sail-making as well as clothing, its popularity lasting up through the American Civil War, when cotton then moved to the forefront.
It may seem that hemp usage throughout the ages was only about fabric, rope and paper. While we may not have as much documentation about consumption of hemp seeds per se, we do know that seeds were used to make butter, hemp milk, oil and flour. Hemp seeds have been a basic part of the food supply all over the world for millennia.
Today, we know precisely why hemp seed can play an important part in our healthy diet. Considered by some to be the most nutritionally complete food in the world, it contains all essential amino acids and essential fatty acids necessary to maintain life. The amino acids are in a highly digestible form, making them completely available to the body.
While hemp seed isn’t the only seed to possess all the essential amino acids, it stands out because hemp seed protein is 65% globulin edistin, a type of plasma protein. Hemp seed has the highest botanical levels of essential fatty acids. Its perfect 3:1 ratio of Omega-6 linoleic acid and Omega-3 linoleic acid lends powerful support to both the cardiovascular system and to the immune system.
The results of a study in which over 13,000 people participated, suggests that individuals may be able to decrease their risk for cardiovascular disease by following a diet that is high in arginine foods (of which hemp seed is one).
Possessing a perfect fatty acid profile of Omega-3 fats and gamma-linolenic acid, hemp seed helps to naturally balance inflammation levels. The British Journal of Cancer reported that hemp seed can stop and possibly reverse a deadly form of brain cancer (glioblastoma multiforme), and researchers from the University of Rostock, Germany found evidence that hemp seed can inhibit cancer growth and metastasis, especially in lung cancer.
Knowing what we do about hemp seed nutritional value, and the ways it can help in preventing some serious but all too common medical conditions, it just seems to make sense to add it to our routine diets.
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