Hemp as a SuperFood

CanabisThe hemp plant has caused much debate in the American society regarding its safety and legalization in many states.  In fact, hemp has been around for at least 12,000 years and used to make fiber textiles, paper and food.  Both George Washington and Benjamin Franklin grew hemp and some believe that the Declaration of Independence was written on hemp since it was commonly used to make paper in Southern Europe.  Today, companies like Mercedes Benz and BMW are using hemp fibers for the interior of their new cars to make them more eco friendly.  Hemp fibers are longer, stronger, more absorbent and more mildew-resistant than cotton.  Fabrics made of at least one-half hemp block the sun’s UV rays more effectively than other fabrics.

During the growth process the hemp plant absorbs a large amount of nutrients from the soil, making it extremely nutrient dense and launching it to the top of the list of SUPERFOODs.  The seeds are highly dense in proteins, carbohydrates, fiber, essential fatty acids, vitamins and trace elements.  In fact, hemp contains all the essential amino acids and fatty acids that are essential for life and is considered the most digestible form of plant protein on the planet, even more than soy.  As an oil, hemp contains both Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids which is necessary for normal brain function and growth and development.  The hemp nut is the only food item containing every essential fatty acid (EFAs)  including rare stearidonic acid (SDA), and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), or super Omega-6, which is absent in flax and other major oils. GLA helps treat neurodermatitis, arthritis, and PMS, and together SDA and GLA reduce symptoms of atopic dermatitis and other skin diseases.  EFAs also aid in cardiovascular health, which one out of two Americans will die from as a result of a poor diet.  EFAs also help stop sudden cardiac death, help improve mood in bipolar cases, support the immune system, guard against viral infection, help the reproductive system and should be consumed regularly by all pregnant women, because EFAs are vital to infant development.  Anyone with a neurologic disorder should also note that EFAs are vital to nerve health and regeneration.

The United States Government has banned hemp farming since the 1960’s.  It is thought that Drug Enforcement Administration is unable to distinguish between hemp for marijuana use and industrial hemp.  However, marijuana cultivated for drug use contains between 3 and 10 percent of the active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Industrial hemp typically contains 0.3 percent or less of this active ingredient-as a result, it has no value as a drug.  We are still able to obtain hemp fibers from places like Canada, where it is legal to grow it.  Many believe the government should lift the ban on industrial hemp farming because of its versatility and economic benefits to our country.  Farmers are frustrated by looking at the hemp fields, right over the Canadian border, knowing that we are missing a huge opportunity to service the American consumers.  Medicinal hemp is already becoming legal in states like California and people are allowed to grow their own plants.  The ironic thing, medical marijuana may become legal before the Obama Administration lifts the ban on industrial hemp.

As for nutrition, I highly recommend the use of hemp as part of a healthy diet.  Consider it when buying your next protein shake mix or cooking oil because the health benefits are SO amazing.

Dr. Wendy Norman, D.C.

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