Hemp is one of the most versatile plants in the world and can be made into tens of thousands of different products. Although CBD has recently made hemp a popular topic, hemp has actually been used for various reasons for thousands of years and some say it was the first cultivated crop. At Purelix Wellness we are obviously big fans of the plant that produces CBD and want you, too, to learn about all of the benefits hemp has to offer.
Here are some facts about hemp that you may not yet know.
Hemp has been a part of U.S. history for centuries.
The 2018 Farm Bill changed history by legalizing hemp nationwide, finally making it legal after almost a century. But few know that hemp has a very definite place in U.S. history.
In 1619 it was, in fact, illegal not to grow hemp in Jamestown, Virginia. There were similar laws mandating hemp production in other states such as Connecticut and Massachusetts and from the mid-1600s to the early 1800s you could even pay your taxes with hemp.
Our founding fathers were also smart enough to believe in the promise of hemp. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams all cultivated hemp and were proponents of industrial hemp production. George Washington has been quoted as saying, “(O)n my farming plantation(s), I wish…to make the most of hemp and plant it everywhere on my farmlands that haven’t been previously reserved for other things.”
Believe it or not (it’s true!), Thomas Jefferson wrote the original U.S. Constitution on hemp, Benjamin Franklin owned a paper mill that produced hemp paper and the first U.S. flag was reportedly sewn by Betsy Ross using hemp.
After the U.S. government determined that hemp was “illegal” in the 1930s, it made a brief reappearance during World War II. In 1942, the U.S. government produced a film called Hemp for Victory and encouraged farmers to grow and cultivate hemp because hemp fiber was badly needed domestically to make rope and other materials used in the war effort. These much needed goods were usually imported from abroad and were in short supply but after the War was over, it returned to its illegal status.
Hemp can remove heavy metals and toxins from soil.
Phytoremediation is defined as a process that uses various types of plants to remove, transfer, stabilize, and/or destroy contaminants in the soil and groundwater. Hemp, in particular, is a superstar when it comes to completing this process and has been used in an effort to clean up our environment. It has a fairly deep root structure and is immune to many of the toxins that may be present in the soil in which it’s planted.
Hemp is so effective at phytoremediation that it was planted at the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site to get rid of the contaminants present following the catastrophe. In an effort to confirm those findings, a team of German researchers conducted a study in 2001 proving that hemp was able to extract lead, cadmium and nickel from a plot of land contaminated with sewage sludge. Other studies that have used hemp as a method to clean contaminated soil include the following:
- In 1998, a group of scientists from a company known as Phytotech found that hemp’s ability to draw radioactive material from the soil was superior when compared to other plants and reported that “hemp is proving to be one of the best phytoremediative plants we have been able to find.”
- In Italy a steel plant had been depositing toxins into the soil for years. When the levels of toxicity reached alarming levels in 2012, farmers began growing hemp plants in a successful effort to reduce the damage.
- A 2003 study found that hemp is excellent at soaking up nickel, chromium and cadmium from polluted soil.
- In 2005 researchers found that hemp can withstand root concentrations of cadmium up to 800 mg/kg without suffering any damage.
As a result of these recent findings, researchers all over the world are continuing studies to find how hemp can clean up contaminated soil in the future.
Hemp could ease our dependence on fossil fuels.
Experts agree that our present consumption rate of fossil fuels means we will run out by 2060. Could hemp help ease our dependence on fossil fuels? Perhaps!
Hemp biodiesel is created when oils and fats are extracted from hemp seeds. These materials are then further refined until they take the form of a fuel that can be used in diesel-run automobiles. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, diesel and biodiesel engines are so similar that both can be run on biodiesel fuel without modification.
Hemp can also be used to make ethanol fuel which in turn can be used in flex-fuel engines. These revolutionary engines are designed to work with ethanol, gasoline or a combination of both. And some countries are already taking advantage of these environmental advancements. Currently, 20% of automobiles in Brazil run on 100% ethanol fuel.
Both hemp biodiesel and ethanol are also considered far safer to transport than their petroleum counterparts and diesel engines that use biofuel are thought to last longer than those utilizing petroleum diesel fuel.
Hemp can help reduce carbon emissions.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the number one cause of damaging climate change, and accounts for 80% of the warming increase since 1990. Recent studies have suggested that hemp could be an invaluable tool for reducing emissions in the future.
Thanks to the emissions from the fossil fuels that power our world, levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have reached their highest point in human history.
Carbon sequestration is a process that captures and stores CO2 from the atmosphere. This carbon sequestration is one method used to absorb CO2 in an effort to help reduce climate change and hemp is known to be exceptionally effective at performing this process.
The U.S. emitted an estimated 5.1 billion metric tons of energy-related CO2 in 2017. Just one ton of hemp is capable of absorbing 1.63 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere. Based upon these numbers, it’s safe to say that hemp could do wonders to reduce carbon emissions and clean up the atmosphere.
Hemp could help save declining bee populations.
It’s no secret that the bee population is rapidly declining all over the world and this is a potential emergency of epic proportions. In some areas the number of bees have declined up to 90%. According to National Geographic, bee colonies have been disappearing in what’s referred to as “colony collapse disorder” for the last 15 years.
In 2018 alone, the managed bee population in the U.S. decreased more than 40%, hitting a sad and frightening record setting number. According to environmental experts, “these are unsustainably high losses” and could greatly damage food production in the long run.
Most produce we buy in our local grocery stores is pollinated by managed bees, so if bee populations continue to decline to the point of extinction, we will have about half the fruits and vegetables available for public consumption.
There are efforts being undertaken to save declining bee populations as many believe action must be taken to avoid a total collapse. This is where the hemp plant enters the picture.
A study published in early 2019 by researchers at Colorado State University discovered that industrial hemp crops could be the key to saving declining bee populations.
Hemp crops typically flower in July, August and September, a time when there is a lack of pollen production in other crops. While hemp doesn’t contain any nectar, the flowers are rich in pollen and happen to be attractive to pollen-hungry bees, especially when there isn’t any other food to be found.
Over 2,000 bees were collected during the 2019 study, including 23 different types, representing 80% of all types of bees in the region. This significant increase is promising!
Dr. Whitney Cranshaw, an entomologist at Colorado State University where the study took place, says that in parts of the country that don’t produce stable populations of flowering plants, hemp could save the bee population. Cranshaw says, “I don’t think it’s that big a deal if you’re on the East Coast where there’s lots of other flowers, but you grow it in an arid place like Colorado—particularly in a drought year…—I mean the bees are going nuts in the hemp. It’s a wonderful resource.”
And, of course, CBD!!
Extractors (that’s what we call the professionals who separate the CBD oil from the plant) have the ability to source their CBD from both the hemp plant AND the marijuana plant. It should be noted that most mainstream CBD brands, including Purelix Wellness, use primarily hemp-sourced CBD. This type of oil is legal at the federal level thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill and must contain less than 0.3% THC. CBD that is extracted from marijuana is only available in states that have already passed medical and/or recreational marijuana laws. Again, our tinctures, edibles and topicals are all sourced from hemp and are all THC free.
While there are certainly more information that the facts we’ve listed here and we encourage everyone to learn more about this incredible plant as it’s popularity increases. Now that, thanks to the Farm Bill, hemp is legal to grow in the U.S., we are excited to see how much hemp improves things for future generations.