Hemp (Cannabis sativa) is an annual, dioeciously plant. Dioeciously means that the species has masculine and feminine plant members. The plant flowers from June till August with greenish flowers. The stamen flowers (masculine) stand in plumes and the carpel flowers (feminine) in the leaf armpits in spikes. The leaves have a long stem with five to nine lancet form slips and have a saw tooth shape. The plant becomes 1 to 2 meters high.
Marijuana and industrial hemp are not the same. Marijuana is the hemp that is especially used for its psychoactive properties and contains also a high percentage, 5 to 20 percent, THC (the most important psychoactive component). Industrial hemp is used for its fibres and seeds,
and has a THC percentage of 1% or less. Industrial hemp has because of that almost no psychoactive properties.
The plant is cultivated and is sometimes found in flower bound. It is found rarely in the wild. In subtropical areas, it is these days cultivated on a large scale, but important production countries are also Italy, Hungary, Poland, Japan and China.
Cultivate hemp yourself.
According to the Dutch legislation it is not allowed to cultivate more than three hemp plants.
Well drained and nitrogen rich soils.
The seeds can be sown from the beginning March till the end of May.
Long time one did not know to which family hemp should belong to. Firstly the plant was classified to the stinging nettle family or Urticaceae, later on by the mulberry or Moraceae and now is spoken by a separate family, the hemp family or Cannabinaceae. That counts only two families, Cannabis (hemp) and Humulus (hops).
Originally hemp was found in Western and Central-Asia, now it grows almost everywhere.
In India, cannabis became used somewhere between 2000 and 1400 BC and in the Arabic countries in the thirteenth century AD. Parts of the hemp plant were also found in the mummy of pharaoh Ramses II (approximately 1200 BC). Also the Romans and Greeks knew about the properties of cannabis and used it as a medicine. In Western-European countries, cannabis became used in the middle Ages especially for making rope and clothes, although some also knew of the psychoactive properties.
As stimulant cannabis among other got acquaintance by the French writer Baudelaire who under influence of cannabis wrote a few of his most famous works. In the United States cannabis had an important recovery during the ban on alcohol in the twenties. In the sixties, cannabis became a part of the "flower power" movement and began to be used by a large part of the younger people out of all levels from the population in the United States and Europe.
In the previous century, extracts of cannabis had an important place in the Dutch pharmacies. They were applied among others for cramps, coincidences, asthma, sleep disturbances and migraine. However in the course of the years better medicines were developed and cannabis became slowly used less. It remained however until 1958 an official medicine, under the name "Extractum Cannabis indicae". Since a few years the use of cannabis as a medicine is again to discussion.
The research on cannabis began in the nineteenth century. In the forties, two important compounds were isolated from the hemp plant, cannabinol and
cannabidiol. In the sixties, the compound delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) was isolated from the hemp plant, this is the most important psychoactive compound. Soon after this, many other compounds were isolated from the hemp plant and their structures were revealed. At the end of the eighties the natural
receptors (cannabinoid-receptors), on which cannabis seizes was discovered in the human body. At the beginning of the nineties anandamide was discovered, one natural in the human body occurring compounds that seizes on the same receptors.
The masculine plant is in the first place an unsurpassed fibre plant that supplies the fibres from which rope and paper are made. From hemp seed, oil is pressed that is applied in paint and varnish. Also it serves as bird foot seeds.
The plant is in many regions a fence in the agriculture. Fossil fuels can be partly replaced by hemp.
Primary hemp fibres
The primary fibres are the long, strong fibres that grow in the length around the wood like core of the stem. When
hemp is harvested the fibres of the stem are taken away.
This is done by letting the stems lay some weeks on
the field and the fibres of the stem are released by the influence of rain, soil liquid and bacteria. This process is called "dew rotating".
The fibres are average 20 cm long. The fibres can be spun or woven to form a good linen like tissue. The matter is strong and arranged for the making of clothing, soft furnishings, pile up, sail etc.
Hemp fibbers can also be mixed with wool, cotton, linen or other fibres. Because of this the matter can be stronger and can be the more comfortable to wear.
Core fibres come from the weak, wood like stem of the hemp plant. These fibres absorb two times more water then
wood curl and is because of this a perfect ground for animals and for in the garden. Because of the large quantity of
cellulose, it can be used in the production of plastics.
A good quality paper can be made of hemp. This paper can be recycled a couple of times more then paper that has been made of wood. Because hemp contains much less wood matter (lignin) pulp can be made from hemp with fewer chemicals. The pulp is used in making paper. The pulp yielded from a hectare hemp is four times larger than that of a hectare pine forest.
Hemp seeds are rich in proteins, vitamins and minerals. The seeds have no psychoactive properties, because it contains no THC. The seeds can be pressed for oil or peeled for the nutritious content of the seeds. Hemp seeds contain gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).
Peeled hemp seeds.
Hemp seeds are a good source of proteins and are better to digest then soybeans.
The peeled seeds can be grilled or can be used in many different foods. It is used in bird feed and is also a good ingredient in (pet) animal feed.
Hemp seed oil.
The seeds of hemp contain 25 to 35 percent oil and contain much essential fatty acids. The cold press oil is light green and has a light grass taste. This oil can be used in many dishes as tofu and margarine and can be used together or instead of olive, walnut and sunflower oil. The oil is also used in paint, shampoos and soap.
Hemp seed oil is rich in essential fatty acids, linoleic and linolenic acid and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). It has no psychoactive properties, because it contains no THC. Hemp seed oil is recommended by the treatment of skin problems (eczema, psoriasis), high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, rheumatism, inflammations and diabetes.
In the previous century in the Netherlands, cannabis was used by different problems, as cramps, seizure, asthma, sleep disturbances and migraine.
As a medical herb the in the flowering time collected tops of the feminine plant are used.
Properties and character.
Soothing, cramp preventing, psychoactive, relaxing, appetite increasing, sleep promoting.
To the effect of hemp on the next conditions still research is done. Already prove exist that hemp hereby can have a favourable effect.
- Pain by cancer
- Nausea and vomiting because of chemotherapy
- Extreme weight loss, loss of appetite by AIDS
- Muscle spasm and multiple sclerosis
- Anorexia nervosa
Applications with ethereal
These days there is THC free ethereal oil of hemp available and has thus no psychoactive side effects. It is a light yellow oil. The smells of the ethereal oil is flower, wood and herb like. The taste is bitter.
Anti-Inflammation, decreased swellings, anti allergic, the smell capacity is improved, relaxing, strengthening.
To use by:
Cough, bronchitis, weakens smell sense, asthma, hay fever and other allergic reactions, skin irritations, eczema, inflammations, nervousness, insomnia, fears, restlessness.
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In the plant present compounds.
In the hemp plant more than four hundred different compounds are found.
Approximately sixty of them are unique and are not found in any other plant. These compounds are also called cannabinoids.
The compound that is the most responsible for the physical and psychological effects of hemp is tetra-
hydrocannabinol (THC). Other compounds in hemp are cannabinol (CBN) and cannabidiol, these compounds influence the effect of THC.
THC dissolves just as other cannabinoids well in fat, but not well in water.
Active compounds in the Ethereal oil.
The most occurring components in the ethereal oil of hemp are the terpenoids myrcene, b- and trans-caryophyllene
Other components in the ethereal are:
Monoterpenoids: alpha- and beta-pinene
Sesquiterpenoids: alpha-humulene, allo-aromadendrene
Terpenoid oxides: caryophyllene oxide, bisabolol
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Use no hemp during the pregnancy.
The high feeling that cannabis can cause can be annoying in medical use. Cannabis has negative effects on the driving ability as alertness, concentration, co-ordination and reaction ability.
Lengthy and intensive use of psychoactive cannabis has presumable consequences for the cognitive function (memory) and can lead to dependence and abuse.
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The genus Cannabis knows three kinds, namely: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica and Cannabis ruderalis.
They differ for growth place, qualities of the fruits and the structure of the wood like parts. Moreover per
kind, everywhere where hemp was imported, arose to the climate adapted types. The Chinese hemp is more than 6 meters, the
Dutch only 2 meter.
Leaf of Cannabis indica
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Here some photographs of hemp (Cannabis sativa) are shown.
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. Rüdt, U.; - Therapeutic and poisonous plants - First edition; Zutphen:
B. V. W. J. Thieme & Cie (1973). ISBN 90-03 94630 , 2
. Pim Cuijpers; - Cannabis - First edition; Wooden/Diegem: Bohn Stafleu Van Loghum (2000)
. Thijs Caspers; - Plant drugs - First edition; Apeldoorn Tilburg: Dutch Police
Museum (1998) ISBN 99-24-197(099-24-033)