The Body Shop® Blog
The History of Hemp
Posted: 23 Feb 2009 09:40 AM CST
Way back in the 90’s, when The Body Shop first launched our line of hemp skincare products, the press went a little crazy, thinking we were endorsing the use of marijuana. The story made headlines in the UK and other parts of Europe, but what news sources didn’t realize at the time is what an amazing sustainable ingredient that hemp is. More importantly, they didn’t realize that hemp is not marijuana. Hemp requires no pesticides to grow, and it re-grows just like grass: if you cut it down, it sprouts back. Hemp’s presence as a highly durable and renewable resource has long been overshadowed by its relationship to marijuana, but hopefully, some of the info you’ll find here will clear up the confusion.
Hemp Origins & Facts
Hemp is an annual herb with distinctive long stalked, serrated leaves. Its fruit is a shiny greyish-green achene (‘hemp seed’). Native to Central Asia and India, hemp is widely grown in other parts of the world for its tough fibers and seed oil as well as its medicinal properties. Hemp was probably first cultivated in ancient China and was brought to Europe for growing in the early 16th century. The restrictions on growing hemp vary from country to country.
Hemp cloth has long been used as an alternative to linen for its durability and accessibility.
In the USA, up until 1820, 80% of all textiles and fabrics for clothes, linen, rugs, drapes, quilts, sheets and towels were made from hemp.
The great writings of Confucius were transcribed on hemp paper. Due to the fact that hemp paper doesn’t turn yellow or brittle, the great philosopher’s wisdom was passed from generation to generation.
Hemp can be a high performance substitute for a literally thousands of materials and products, including wood, cotton, soya and petrol.
Levi jeans were once made out of hemp sailcloth and rivets for the California gold-rushers so that the pockets would not rip when filled with gold.
Hemp & Health
Not only is hemp a valuable resource when it comes to textiles, but the health benefits of this misunderstood weed are advantageous to humans as well as the Earth. Hemp provides a healthy, cheap, safe alternative to the planet’s fast dwindling resources, particularly fossil fuels. As a crop, hemp is very low maintenance, needs relatively little fertilizer, does not deplete the soil of its nutrients, has few predators and can be grown in most climates. This means that farmers will use less fertilizer, pesticide and herbicide, all of which have polluted ground water and river systems.
What’s more is that hemp is packed with nutrients and essentials for human health. High in protein, just a handful of hemp seeds contain enough to fulfill the daily requirement for adults. Hemp seed oil also contains all 21 amino acids, including 8 essentials that can’t be produced by the adult human body.
Hemp seed oil is not only a terrific byproduct of hemp for economical and environmental reasons, but as an amazing component in maintaining heart, skin, and brain health. Hemp seed oil contains some of the highest known levels of Essential Fatty Acids (EFA) in the plant kingdom. UEFA’s are fatty acids that are essential to the human body for growth and healthy living. These fatty acids are effective health benefactors that can show a decrease in inflammatory and heart diseases.
For skin, hemp oil has a variety of benefits. It can help soothe dry skin, alleviate symptoms of eczema, and protect against nature’s harsh elements. Dry skin is considered to be deficient in essential fatty acids. The topical application of hemp seed oil helps to immediately condition skin and help prevent moisture loss, providing an extremely efficient method of tackling the problems associated with dry skin.
We’re proud to use hemp oil in our skincare products, because of its economical benefits to environmental and human health. Despite the fact that hemp is useful in so many different ways, it still remains illegal to produce in many places including the United States. Maybe with a little education and more tolerance, this wondrous weed can eventually beat the misconceptions and be seen in the light that it deserves.