Guest Post By: Victoria Ward
Not many people know that hemp was the first human agriculture crop. Today, corn and rice have taken over as the most abundant crops for their dense nutritional value and culinary versality. But, in a time where resources were scarce, hemp did just about everything.
From textiles to medicine, hemp has a long and dynamic history of human use. It was first planted and harvested approximately 10,000 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia where it soon became a prevalent textile material. This trend continued for 6,000 years until its medicinal properties were discovered in North India.
Once word of hemp’s medicinal, textile, and recreational value spread, its use across the globe followed suit. Over the next two millennia it would travel like wildfire across Europe, China, and Africa. In the Hindu religion, hemp would attain the label of ‘sacred grass’ and start a long tradition of ritual use.
So, how did such a functional plant lose favor in the last century? In short, its frequent use as a recreational item led to worry about possible dangers that may be associated with its use. It was only with advanced testing practices that hemp’s medicinal value has been fully realized, and we’ve thus seen a resurgence in the past decade of hemp use in a medical setting.
Scientific testing reveals that hemp oil may help with ADHD, Alzheimer’s, anxiety, arthritis, cancer, depression, diabetes, migraines, pain, schizophrenia, seizures, sleep, and more. Since the hemp plant is partly or wholly regulated in many countries, and its use is frequently banned outright, it’s been difficult to prove any of the listed benefits.
Time and time again, anecdotal evidence in favor of hemp’s benefits have surfaced around the world but has been largely ignored by naysayers and government authorities. So, in spite of these limitations, why has hemp made such a powerful comeback in the past decade? Simple—word of mouth has catapulted hemp, especially hemp derivatives like CBD oil, into the public eye.
Environmentalists are loving this trend, which is having a very positive impact on preserving our natural resources and cutting down on deforestation. How is that? Well, for starters a single hemp plant can replace cotton, maize, rice, and many medicinal plants. This extreme versatility allows farmers to plant 1/3 of the crops, saving land and maximizing the efficiency of resources.
We can only hope that more countries see these positive aspects of the hemp plant and lower restrictions so more farmers can grow this valuable crop. As soon as that happens, we could expect to see a drastic change in our use of global resources, especially non-renewables. In shrinking our current use of farmland we’re providing more room for future growth that would have otherwise led to an expansion of deforestation.
Expect to see these changes implemented over the next several decades, and to watch hemp replacing many modern medicines and textiles. It can be predicted that a full transition to hemp would be a turning point in humankind; one where we could begin to undo all the harm we’ve caused the environment over the past century.