A long history
Different civilisations, over the millennia, have understood and used the healing properties of Hemp.
It is cited for its anti-inflammatory properties in one of the oldest medical texts, traditionally dated around 2700 BC in Emperor Shen Nung‘s China, and was prescribed as a treatment in Ancient Egypt, according to the Papyrus of Ebers (around 1550 BC).
In the first century AD, in Nero’s Rome, Dioscorides (Greek physician, botanist and pharmacist, also mentioned in the Divine Comedy as one of the “great spirits” of limbo), lists its pharmacological properties and therapeutic uses in his De Materia Medica, a pharmacopoeia and botanical treatise that would remain in use over the following 1,500 years.
Food and medicine
According to the botanist Hui-lin Li, the early development of hemp for medical use in China derived from the fact that the seeds were already used as a food source, so its medicinal properties were discovered naturally.
Hemp seeds are considered a complete protein food, containing all the essential amino acids (the bricks from which our body builds the proteins that are useful for its functioning).
Not just tonics
Hemp seeds also serve an anti-inflammatory purpose, thanks to the balanced content of omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids (in a ratio of 3:1, optimal for regulating the body’s metabolic activities) and antioxidant, due to its vitamin content (especially vitamin E and group B vitamins).
Cold pressed to keep the properties of the seeds unchanged, hemp seed oil – to be used raw as a condiment or in cosmetics as nourishment for the skin – is equally rich in essential fatty acids.
Top of the class
Hemp’s benefits are many: it grows without the need for fertilisers or pesticides, and captures four times more CO2 than trees, carrying out both a fertilising and phyto-purifying action on soils.
And there’s more: Hemp is a very natural resource with a thousand uses: as a textile fibre, cool in summer and warm in winter, and effective in blocking UV rays; as a building material, breathable, antiseptic and providing thermal and acoustic insulation; as a paper fibre, more productive and less polluting than paper from tree pulp; as a renewable biodiesel with a very low environmental impact; but also as animal feed, packaging, non-toxic paint, recyclable bioplastic, ecological detergent.