Recently, I published a children’s book, Elkie Meets The Hemp Fairy, which seeks to educate children about how hemp could clean and protect our soil, air and water.
For me, the two main things that make hemp or cannabis stand out are the potentials it holds for medicine and environmental sustainability. I have been learning about CBD paste (cannabis extract with no psychoactive effects) and have heard and seen how it transforms lives. The fact that hemp needs no fertilisers or pesticides and actually leaves the soil in a better state than before it was planted feels exciting- as does the fact that the fibres grow so much faster, and are stronger, than wood.
In the promotion and distribution of Elkie Meets The Hemp Fairy I have connected with a fascinating and diverse group of people. I am planning to get us all together and create a festival to educate people about hemp. There are musicians, builders, artists, activists, farmers… people all over the world, thanks to social media, have found out about and bought this little book.
Below are some facts about hemp. To find out more about its incredible medicinal uses, search for the work of Dr Bob Melamede on Youtube: a fascinating speaker and all-round lovely man, he has made it his life’s work to rigorously study the effects of cannabis on the human body.
Farmers have been growing hemp for thousands of years: it is one of the planet’s oldest industries. Hemp is a plant, which grows from seed and can reach up to 15 to 20 feet tall. It is an annual, herbaceous, long-fibre plant similar to flax, nettles and jute. It’s the sister plant to marijuana but it won’t get you “high.” This is because, although hemp and marijuana are both from the cannabis species, hemp contains virtually no THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
A Popular Mechanics article from 1938 stated that over 25,000 different products could be made from hemp; in oil, seed or fibre form. Some assert that this is why, with the burgeoning oil and paper industries, fear and negative propaganda was promoted about marijuana, and hemp was banned along with it. The plant is recovering from its bad press but there is still some way to go.
The hemp plant is highly resistant to most insects and disease, largely eliminating the need for pesticides and herbicides. The plants grow fast enough to shade out weeds; and the leaves, after harvest, provide a self-mulching eco-system.
The stem of the cannabis plant consists of a woody inner hurd surrounded by an outer cortex of bast fibres. The hurds are used as an animal bedding, compressed into fibreboard, made into “Hempcrete”, or even plastics. The bast fibres are used in cordage, fabrics, insulation and paper-making. The word canvas (a fabric traditionally made from hemp) comes from cannabis (Latin). Hemp is anti-microbial, anti-mildew, naturally UV-resistant and readily takes on eco-safe plant-based dyes. Frequently blended with cotton, silk, bamboo and other fibres, it produces a wide variety of fabrics with various attractive properties. It is also an efficient insulator, keeping you warm in winter and cool in summer. Hemp softens with each washing, without fibre degradation; it is very hard-wearing. As the saying goes: “Hemp doesn’t wear out, it wears in.”
One acre of hemp (grown in a single season) yields as much paper as up to 4 acres of trees (which take many years to grow). Hemp paper is stronger, acid-free, has a longer shelf-life and costs less than half as much to process as tree paper. Hemp paper can be recycled 10 times whereas wood-based paper can only be recycled twice without losing integrity and requiring additional virgin fibre content.
Hemp is one of the highest yielders of bio-mass (10 tons per acre in approximately four months), which is simply compressed into solid fuel blocks or easily converted into clean burning bio-ethanol. Hemp seed oil also runs diesel engines. The exhaust emissions of carbon monoxide from biodiesel are 47% lower than carbon monoxide emissions from diesel. Any CO2 released from burning hemp as fuel matches the CO2 the plant had beneficially taken from the environment while growing, creating what is called a closed carbon cycle – protecting the Earth’s atmosphere. Hemp can offer a significant contribution to the world’s environment as well as its economy. All products made solely from hemp fibre are biodegradable, compostable and recyclable. It is a worker-friendly non-toxic material, a lightweight product that brings ease of handling and greater fuel efficiency in transport.
The seeds of the cannabis plant provide us with a perfect balance of the key essential nutrients that our bodies need in an easy to digest form. Hemp seed oil is high in a perfect balance of essential fatty acids (EFAs: Omega-3, 6, 9) considered to be necessary to maintain health. Hemp’s EFA profile provides a healthy alternative to fish oils, which can be high in mercury and other toxins. Hemp’s overall protein content of 35% is comparable to soybeans and is higher than that found in nuts, other seeds, meats, dairy products, fish or poultry. 65% of the proteins in hemp are “edestin,” which are easily digestible and act as precursors to such vital body components as hormones, hemoglobin, enzymes and antibodies. Hemp’s edestin structure is the highest in the plant kingdom, making it more digestible than soy and many other plant foods. Hemp also contains a healthy 35% of dietary fibre, the highest of all commercial flour grains, and it is high in the natural antioxidants Vitamin E, Vitamin C and chlorophyll. Hemp should not be cooked at temperatures over 170c because at this temperature the fats are in danger of becoming “trans” and thus unhealthy.
From the earliest medical texts, cannabis has been referred to as a “superior healing herb”. Queen Victoria’s physician, Dr Reynolds, stated that, “when pure and administered carefully, cannabis is one of the most valuable medicines we possess”. Cannabis is used in the treatment of cancer, arthritis, MS, and all forms of pain management.
At no other time has our planet so needed the healing medicine of hemp. My hope is that my little book goes some way to helping us to love and protect our beautiful home, safeguarding its future for the generations to come.
Elkie Meets The Hemp Fairy is now available to buy on Amazon.