What is hemp?
The hemp plant, also called cannabis, belongs to one of the most developed plant families on earth. Hemp belongs to the cannabaceae, a plant family to which hops also belongs. It is, similar to hops, a dioecious plant, meaning that it posseses both male or female reproductive organs. Naturally there are also intersexual hybrids. Grown for a year, the roots of this unique plant can reach up to 2 meters into the ground. Hemp uses sunlight more efficiently than any other plant does and, with just a short growing period of a year, ‘can reach heights between 1,5 to 7 meters.
Domestic hemp carries the Latin name Cannabis Sativa: This sort of hemp has a growing period of approx. a year and can reach a height of 7 meters. Cannabis Sativa has a pronounced fibre development, but with only a small quantity of resine. The name "Sativa” means “useful", so this corresponds to "useful hemp".
What you should know about hemp.
Hemp is useful in a variety of ways, more so than most other plants. Hemp provides clothes and food, oil and energy, paper and material for building. Hemp cultivation requires no pesticides and still produces three times as much fibres as an equivalent cotton field and four times a much paper as a forest.
In our climate, hemp can be cultivated easily and has been at home here for centuries. The plant grows up to four meters high in 100 days and improves the soil at the same time. It’s ideal for crop rotation and demands no monoculture.
Hemp generally produces the most durable natural fibers. They’re three times as tearproof as cotton. And, because at cultivation, harvest or processing no harmful chemicals are used, hemp textiles reach our skin fully toxin-free.
With much less chemical and energy costs, hemp is processed to much better paper than wood is. Because of special fibre quality, hemp paper can be recycled more than double so often as paper made from wood can.
Appart from fibres for textiles, building material and paper, hemp produces a valuable oil. In many parts of the world hemp seed, from which the oil is pressed, has always been a staple food for humans and animals. It contains over 20 % proteins and essential fatty acids.
In comparison to all oils used for food, hemp offers the optimal combination of unsaturated fatty acids. Regardless if as edible oil or for cosmetics, the concentration of therapeutic, valuable gamma-linoleic acid (valuable when used against neurodermitis and other skin ailments) gives hemp, a unique effectiveness.
For centuries, worldwide, hemp has been one of the most important natural resources for humans and, it delivers some of the best and also inexpensive products. There is no other plant that used sunlight so beneficially for us all.
The texts were compiled in cooperation with the.www.nova-institut.de. (Authors: D. Kruse / M. Karus.)