Hemp: The Missing Ingredient

How Hemp Supports Your Neural Pathways, Skin and the Planet

Hemp. It’s cropping up all over the place—on milk cartons, energy bars, swanky hand creams. Previously (and erroneously) conflated with marijuana and the unwanted effects of THC (the Cannabis cannabinoid responsible for its psychoactive properties) hemp lost its once vital place in the American diet. Now, as hemp sheds its century-old stigma doctors, beauty gurus and customers alike have savvied to its myriad nutritional benefits.

But if hemp has been missing from our lives for so long, do we really need it? It’s easy to dismiss the hemp-hype as just another wellness fad overvaluing a benign ingredient. Fortunately, medical and dermatological research show that hemp really does deserve its moment in the Whole Foods spotlight (and boy has it fought for it!) Find out how hemp nourishes you from the inside-out and helps the earth while it’s at it.

A Brief History 

Hemp Cannabis has been a part of human life for centuries. Archeological evidence suggests that hemp and humans first crossed paths around 10000 BC. The most commonly accepted theory—heavily supported by an abundance of excavated pottery—points to the Yangshao Culture in China. The Yangshao first processed hemp fibers and textiles around 5000 BC and there’s evidence that they also used the plant as a therapeutic and analgesic agent.

All around the world—including the United States—humans were surrounded by Hemp Cannabis. They processed hemp into clothing fabric and used it as a “cure all” home remedy for an assortment of daily ailments. Hemp seeds were fed to livestock, whose animal products our ancestors consumed. Through animals, humans were micro-dosed with Cannabis-Hemp for millennia and, with the discovery of the human Endocannabinoid System in 1990, scientists learned that phytocannabinoids in Hemp Cannabis played important roles in nourishing the human body’s’ neural pathways.

So, what happened to hemp, a crop once farmed by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson?

In the early 20th Century, attitudes toward hemp progressively shifted. Anti-marijuana laws popped up in various states between 1914 and 1927. By 1937, the U.S. Congress passed the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 which levied a heavy tax on anyone who dealt commercially in Hemp and criminalized the drug, effectively crippling the industry to the point of atrophy.

While industrial hemp earned a brief reprieve during World War II, with the government encouraging famers to cultivate hemp in support of the war efforts, by 1970 the Controlled Substances Act made it illegal to grow without a permit. Thus hemp—a non-psychoactive plant long used to feed animals and nourish and dress humans—fell out of the American diet.

Hemp + Health

Fortunately, scientists began to recognize the health benefits of hemp and, while hemp is only legally grown in ten of the fifty United States (with indications that other states will soon legalize its industrial growth), hemp products can be found in pharmacies and grocery stores across the country. Whether it’s hemp milk, hemp hearts or full-spectrum hemp extract, hemp-rich foods offer specific nutrients your body needs for optimal health.

How, you may ask?

When the Endocannabinoid System was first discovered in 1990, scientists learned that the body had a vital network comprised of neuromodulating lipids1 and receptors working within the nervous system to regulate neurotransmission. (Murillo-Rodriguez, 2017) In layman’s terms, the Endocannabinoid System directs the traffic of information that travels between cells. Its overall purpose is to establish homeostasis2 and physiological balance throughout the body, which it does by controlling the processes that modulate mood, memory, appetite, digestion, pain levels and the reward center in your brain. (Cervantes, 2015) (Pagotto U, 2006)

Scientists have learned that the same lipids our body produces as part of the Endocannabinoid system, are also found in the Cannabis Hemp plant. (Cervantes, 2015) These lipids, known as “endocannabinoids” when endogenously produced in the body, and called “phytocannabinoids” from the plant, are essential to the workings of the Endocannabinoid system.

By re-introducing hemp and its powerful phytocannabinoids into our bodies, we aid the body’s neuropathways and cell-to-cell communication. Moreover, hemp seeds are a wonderful source of protein and are rich in Vitamin E, as well as Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty acids. Not a bad ingredient to add to your morning oatmeal!

Hemp Seed Oil: Transforming Your Skin

Hemp’s benefits don’t stop there. Hemp seed oil offers remarkable solutions to a variety of skin and beauty concerns. Easily absorbed by the epidermis, hemp seed oil helps the skin retain and draw-in moisture. Containing an optimal 3:1 ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 essential fatty acids, it protects the skin and, unlike other oils, doesn’t clog pores and can help reduce breakouts. Moreover, hemp seed oil contains powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that help reduce redness and can even be used to treat eczema.

Worried about wrinkles? Hemp seed oil contains linoleic acid that, along with its wealth of amino acids, help reduce signs of aging, keeping skin look plump and young.

The Planet Hemp (And So Do We!)

Hemp doesn’t just nourish our bodies, it also strengthens the planet! A strong and sustainable plant—and one that can be farmed in most climates—Hemp Cannabis provides the soil with plenty of nutrients, including nitrogen, and reduces large quantities of carbon dioxide per acre.

More importantly, hemp cultivation combats global warming. Hemp can be manufactured into biodegradable plastics and fabrics, thereby supporting a multitude of industries and offering a green alternative to less eco-friendly materials. It’s capacity to be processed into paper and fiberboards means that it can help conserve tress and habitats destroyed for their production. To top it off, hemp offers a clean alternative to fossil fuel (an acre of hemp can yield over 1,000 gallons of fuel!)

Whether you’re looking for a healthy source of Omega-3,-6, &-9, craving an effective moisturizer or just searching for eco-friendly products, hemp offers a natural solution. Hemp products nourish one of the body’s most important regulatory systems and treat a wide range of skin concerns—all while creating a more sustainable environment. If hemp’s missing from your kitchen, closet or vanity, think of adding it: you might just make yourself and the planet a little healthier!

1 LIPID: Any one of various substances that contain fat and are non-soluble in water. Along with proteins and carbohydrates they constitute the principal structural components of living cells.
2 HOMEOSTASIS: a relatively stable state of equilibrium or a tendency toward such a state between the different but interdependent elements or groups of elements of an organism.