CBD products on retail shelves may be something new, but the hemp plant itself — from which CBD is cultivated — is as old as … well, pretty much any crop out there. Hemp isn’t a new trend. It actually has a strange, interesting and, at times, wild history.
Don’t worry if the details around hemp seem fuzzy. After all, hemp cultivation was only recently legalized on the federal level. But since the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, the CBD industry and other hemp-derived products have exploded in popularity — and the industry continues to grow at a rapid pace.
So, if you’d like to learn a little more about this fascinating crop, join us for a little trip in the Wayback Machine …
1. Hemp Is an Ancient Crop
Humans have been cultivating hemp for thousands of years, making hemp one of the oldest crops in the world. In fact, remnants of hemp date back to 8000 B.C. in modern-day Iraq, and China has been growing hemp for over 6,000 years.
Hemp first gained popularity as a crop because the plant is full of naturally strong fibers. Hemp fiber is one of the strongest plant fibers in the world.
Because hemp fiber is so durable and flexible, many believe it was one of the first fibers used to make clothing. And since it is also naturally less prone to rot than other natural fibers, it was also used to make practical goods, like building materials or everyday objects like rope.
2. Hemp Is an Impressive Crop
Farming ain’t easy, but some crops can be less finicky than others. When it comes to agricultural cultivation, hemp is one of the easiest, and most beneficial, crops to grow.
Hemp can be grown in most climates, as long as the soil isn’t too wet year-round. For farmers looking to grow a valuable crop in a short period of time, hemp has become a popular option. When the hemp plant is grown for seeds and fiber, it also provides a great source of pollen for honeybees, helping the local flora and fauna ecosystem.
The benefits of cultivating hemp don’t stop at farms. Hemp’s unique bioaccumulator qualities are sometimes used to help improve environments that have been polluted or contaminated.
During bioaccumulation, a plant absorbs materials like chemicals and heavy metals from its environment, faster than it expels them as waste.
Hemp was famously planted in the early 1990s around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the then-Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Researchers found that hemp removed and cleaned waste from the soil better than any other plant, and since then it has been used for bioremediation at a number of different polluted sites around the world. Hemp is one hard-working plant!
As a side note, while bioaccumulation is a net positive for things like cleaning up ecosystems, when it comes to the hemp plants you are consuming via your CBD products, this reality makes finding trustworthy products made with organic CBD oil extra important.
3. Hemp Is Part of America’s Founding
Bet you didn’t see this one coming: our country, until somewhat recent times, celebrated growing hemp.
You already know hemp is versatile, and is used in a wide range of products. Because of this versatility, hemp was considered a super valuable crop during the early years of the United States.
At one point, hemp was even considered legal tender — which meant that farmers could use it to pay taxes!
Even our most famous founding fathers recognized the benefits of hemp. Both President George Washington and President Thomas Jefferson grew hemp on their farms and wrote about its value as a crop.
Praising the plant for its usefulness, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Hemp is of the first necessity to the wealth and protection of the country.”
4. Hemp Used to Be a Common Paper
Long before it was used for CBD products, hemp was used to make all types of paper products. Because of its fibrous structure, it can be used for everything from cardboard to tissue paper to writing paper.
On average, a single acre of hemp produces as much paper as two to four acres of trees. While that may sound strange, think about it this way: trees need to grow for years before they are ready for harvest. Hemp, on the other hand, can be planted and then harvested around 120 days later. This quick turnaround is one reason why hemp paper is a new, fast-growing industry.
Since hemp fiber can be grown more quickly and efficiently than tree fiber on the same amount of land, some environmentalists advocate for more hemp paper products over tree-pulp products. Hemp also requires fewer toxic chemicals in the manufacturing process, and it can also be recycled and repurposed repeatedly.
Interestingly, hemp paper is nearly acid-free, so it doesn’t yellow over time as quickly as paper made from tree pulp. It is more durable than tree-based paper and can last longer without degrading.
With that in mind, if you’re looking to write down some deep thoughts that you want to pass on to posterity, maybe consider purchasing some hemp paper for your literary masterpiece!
5. Hemp Is Healthy
Amongst all this talk about hemp as a manufacturing material, it’s worth a reminder that hemp is also a delicious source of a ton of different fats, proteins, vitamins, and nutrients!
Hemp seeds are recognized as one of nature’s superfoods. Hemp “seeds” are technically a nut, which means they are rich in healthy fats, like omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Servings of hemp contain high amounts of nutrients, like vitamin E, and minerals, such as phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron, and zinc.
Hemp seeds are also a great source of protein. By weight, hemp seeds are comparable to the protein available from beef. In addition, hemp seeds are a “complete protein source,” containing all the essential amino acids that your body can’t produce on its own.
6. Hemp Has a Lots of “Green” Potential
Many scientists and manufacturers are now re-examining hemp as a new substitute for a ton of manufactured products. Hemp may turn out to be a “greener,” more sustainable material for everything from clothing to packaging materials.
We’ve known about hemp’s green potential for decades. Back in 1941, Henry Ford (the founder of Ford Motor Company) actually built a car that ran on hemp and other plant fuels. The body of the car was partially made out of hemp fibers, making it “10x stronger than steel.”
As people try to limit how many single-use plastic products they consume, hemp offers an environmentally friendly alternative. Hemp-based composite products can replace many petroleum-based plastic products without a discernible difference to the consumer. And as opposed to plastics, hemp-based composites are also biodegradable!
The construction world has been exploring “hempcrete,” a plant-based concrete made out of the dried woody core of hemp stalks and mixed with lime as a binder. Hempcrete doesn’t function the exact same way as concrete, but it has lots of exciting potential as a green building material for walling and insulation, in particular.
They say that if you wait long enough, whatever is in your closet will eventually come back into style again. It turns out the same thing can be said about even the crops that we grow. Hemp is coming back into style again, this time as an environmentally friendly material.
You may have already appreciated hemp because of any CBD products you use in your day-to-day life. However, now that you know a few more facts about the crazy history of hemp, you can better appreciate the true magic of the hemp plant.
Feeling inspired to explore our full selection of hemp-derived CBD products?
Start with our CBD Oil Tinctures today!