What is Hemp: An Introduction


It shouldn’t be surprising that much of what we know about human history is derived from the things we leave behind. Between fossils, decayed structures, and megalithic formations (think Stonehenge), the high cost of recovery efforts do little aid in filling the gaps of recorded history.

The story of hemp is, indeed, a very old and prosperous one; however, it’s prevalence within social structures of the 20th century had been diminished, if not abandoned, and replaced with laws prohibiting its cultivation. From the early 1900s till the near the end of the 20th century, States in the US went through a cycle of acceptance then ban, back to acceptance, an effect we still feel across the globe today.

But there is hope. The result of over 20 years of Medical legislation, lobbying, and fighting regulatory oversight has drawn support for reconsidering the prohibition on the cannabis plant, and it’s never been higher.

A Brief History

Before I inundate you with all the good information, answering “what is hemp used for” and so much more, I think we should pause to appreciate the modern sciences that allow us to better understand what is hemp through a common history.

The earliest evidence of hemp usage by humans was found in the Czech Republic in 1997. The clay fragments contained fibers akin to hemp, nettle, and other wild plants and were dated to between 27000-25000 BCE. While we obviously can’t ask these “ice age hunter-gatherers” what is hemp used for, we can use the pieces to understand a bit about the human relationship to hemp. The resulting answer, hemp was used by ancients to make nets, with which they used to catch food and carry things.

Jump up to the days of ancient Greece, China, and Africa. Leading up to the rule of Chinese Emperor Shen Nung, hemp (as far as we can tell) remained a fiber grown and harvested to produce cloth and building fibers. Presumably, people of this time had also experimented with the hemp plant as food, because in 2800 BCE, Emperor Shen Nung published in his pharmacopeia the benefits of hemp.

For more information on the history of hemp and humans, check out The Hemp Connoisseur.

The Necessary Shift

Today, cannabis plants can spread their leaves in an increasing number of cities and states under a growing positive perception campaign with a backbone of scientific evidence. States, such as Colorado, have entirely done away with the prohibition, with a few caveats like age and purchase limits. We can see the effect in the hemp market as well, with revenue projections estimated to top several billion in the next 5-10 years.

Due to the illegality of the cannabis plant on the federal level in the US, those wondering what is hemp used for are likely to be greeted by concerns on where to get it. While a majority of hemp in the United States comes from foreign sources (EU, China, Canada, etc. . .), the growth expected in the production of hemp in the US largely sits on the Farm Bill of 2014.

While the farm bill ultimately paved way for the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, it didn’t do much by way of defining what activities would federally warrant research. The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015 helped to define what concentrations of cannabinoids would separate hemp from cannabis. An additional reference was released in August of 2016, relating information on what is hemp used for under the Farm Bill.

Since it’s induction into law, thirty states have chosen to retool how they deal with hemp. Unfortunately, public understanding of the effects of hemp hasn’t disseminated as well.

What is Hemp Oil?

Searching “what is hemp used for” is likely to yield a swath of adverts from pop-up hemp oil sellers. Under the Industrial Hemp Farming act, hemp is defined as cannabis containing less than 0.3% THC (the psychoactive, get you high cannabinoid) by dry weight.

Hemp oil is the oil extracted from the seeds of male cannabis plants. The seeds are extremely low in cannabinoid concentrations while being incredibly nutritious and tasty. Rich in protein, fat, and fiber, hemp seeds are low in carbohydrates and provide sustainable nourishment and plenty of nutrients.

It has been said that the Buddha even lived for a time on just one seed a day. If you are wondering what is hemp used for, these attributes are among the reasons hemp oil is largely considered a health product.

CBD Hemp Oil

As positive information regarding cannabinoids accumulates into the collective psyche of society, it is important to be aware of the differences in hemp oils. As I mentioned above, the definitions of the Farm Bill and subsequent Industrial Hemp Farming Act leave a void in which cannabinoids except THC can find their way into your hemp products. To offer an expanded understanding of what is hemp used for, it is definitely worth mentioning CBD Hemp Oil.

CBD is the most prevalent cannabinoid aside from THC. While we spent all that time cultivating cannabis plants to have high THC concentrations, the hemp plants were cultivated to be low in THC. CBD just happened to be naturally present in the low-THC plants. Over time and through breeding of plants, that concentration became higher. Today, CBD hemp oil is extremely common, and for good reason.

Exercise Caution

When hemp oil producers buy the hemp from unregulated markets, from unverified sources, or generally don’t have total production control, it is hard to guarantee consistency. On top of that, it’s possible that pesticides which can be harmful or agitators of certain conditions were used in the growing of the hemp.

But not to worry, I still add CBD hemp oil to my morning coffee; just exercise your best judgment before purchasing. I like to use the decarboxylated CBD hemp oil by Hemp Health Inc. It’s been activated already so I can just add it to whatever food I am making or drink I’m sipping.

Still curious, wondering what is hemp used for? Check out this Facebook testimonial:

Julie Harris reviewed Hemp Health, Inc. – 5 star

October 20, 2015

“My husband and I love Hemp Health! My husband has been fighting brain cancer and has been on CBD oil during and after his treatment and it has helped him tremendously! It helped with his symptoms from chemo and all the stress that comes along with cancer. I take it too for its anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory properties. Even our dogs are on it! Thank you Hemp Health for providing a safe and natural alternative for our family!”

Cannabis Oil

While it is still illegal to process hemp oil of this variety, it’s definitely worth mentioning. As more and more states progress the prohibitive laws around cannabis, oils can be created from the plant that aren’t tamed of THC. In fact, many of these oils are incorporated into medicated edibles, salves, lotions, and bath bombs already, and hemp oils of this variety (containing THC) are included in hemp and marijuana market growth estimates.

Final Thoughts

Do some research, friends — the hands on type — as answering what is hemp used for can’t always be done with a search bar.