Hemp is no longer just thought of as the fiber used to make those hippie rope and beaded necklaces of the '90s. Today, people are recognizing that this environmentally friendly plant, which has been used for thousands of years as both a medicine and fiber, is a highly nutritious and powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and pain reliever.
What exactly is hemp? Industrial hemp, aka "hemp," is one of the varieties of the Cannabis sativa L. ("cannabis") plant species. Cannabis can describe both marijuana and hemp, so although they come from the same species, they are distinct plants. The most important difference to note between marijuana and hemp is that marijuana contains more tetrahydrocannabinol ("THC"), the compound responsible for the psychoactive properties of the plant. Hemp, on the other hand, is naturally very low in THC.
Put simply, hemp can be used to obtain the medical and nutritional benefits of the cannabis plant without the "high" associated with marijuana.
Curious to learn more about how you can add hemp to your health routine? Here are five uses for hemp you need to know:
1. Hemp seeds are a great plant source of protein.
More than a quarter of the calories in hemp seeds come from protein. And because they contain all of the essential amino acids, they are considered a complete, plant-based protein source. In fact, hemp seeds contain more protein than chia seeds or flax seeds. And because they have such a mild flavor, they can be sprinkled in smoothies, cereals, yogurt, and salads.
2. Hemp is great for your skin.
Hemp is full of vitamins, amino acids, and fatty acids. You probably know that essential fatty acids, like omega-3 and omega-6, are good for the body. But they're also great for your skin because they help give the skin a supple appearance.
At the same time, amino acids can help your skin to generate collagen and elastin, allowing the skin to stay moisturized and preventing wrinkles.
3. Hemp-derived CBD can help with soreness and pain.
You know that feeling you get the day after an intense yoga or CrossFit class? You realize just how intense your workout was because every little movement hurts. That soreness is, in part, caused by inflammation in your muscles.
Here's where topical cannabis products can help: cannabidiol ("CBD") is one of the compounds found in both marijuana and hemp (i.e., the Cannabis sativa plant species). Unlike Bengay or other topical pain relievers, CBD-infused topicals aren't just working on a surface level to distract you from your pain. CBD, when it's infused into topical products like creams and salves, acts as an analgesic (pain reliever) and anti-inflammatory.
4. Hemp can help manage PMS.
As most women have experienced at some time or another, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) can cause physical and emotional discomfort during your monthly cycle. One of the causes of PMS is a hormonal imbalance that leads to a lack of gamma linolenic acid (GLA) in the body. Hempseed oil contains GLA and essential fatty acids, which have been shown to help alleviate the symptoms of PMS by bringing hormone levels back into balance.
5. Hemp and its components are anti-inflammatory.
Some inflammation in the body is healthy; it's your body's way of fighting off an infection. However, when inflammation is chronic, it can lead to all kinds of problems and is associated with everything from arthritis to heart disease.
Hemp and CBD have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, so adding hemp to your diet and using it topically, like through a CBD-rich hemp cream, has therapeutic potential for managing inflammation-related discomforts.