Is Hemp Fabric Eco-Friendly? Here Are the Pros and Cons
Updated 3 weeks ago
Let’s clear up one thing right from the start: hemp and marijuana are not the same things. True, they are both the same species of plant, but that does not mean that they have the same uses or possess the same qualities. Nevertheless, this familial connection has given hemp an heir of controversy that is just not warranted.
There are many pros and cons to the development and distribution of hemp fabric, a naturally-occurring fiber that has become guilty by association with its cannabisian cousin. There are many advantages to using hemp as a fabric but a handful of disadvantages as well. To fully explore these facets, however, we first need to determine what hemp is and what it is not.
How is hemp different than marijuana?
Hemp, or rather, industrial hemp, is a variety of the cannabis sativa plant. This means it’s related to the same species of the plant responsible for many philosophical conversations in Eric Foreman’s basement. They differ in several ways. First, hemp will not get you high.
This is because the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in hemp is less than 0.3 percent. A marijuana plant, on the other hand, is any cannabis sativa plant with a THC content of greater than 0.3 percent, though even 0.4 percent won’t result in any psychoactive effect. This is all according to the FDA, of course.
Unlike marijuana, hemp is not illegal. And though marijuana’s legality is a topic of much discussion in states and countries around the world over in recent years, its recreational use is still largely forbidden by law. Thanks to the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, also known as the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp agriculture and products are perfectly legal in all 50 states.
What are the advantages of hemp fabric?
Hemp is one of the strongest and most durable organic fibers available today, which makes it an excellent choice for outerwear. Hemp clothing is even said to have triple the tensile strength of cotton. It blends easily with other fibers to produce a hemp-hybrid material, and this technique retains the strength of the hemp fibers while adding the comfort of softer, more refined fabrics.
Hemp has been farmed since the beginning of agriculture, and that added longevity makes it an excellent choice for those looking for reliable garments. On top of that, the cultivation of hemp for the purposes of creating fabric has a fairly low environmental impact. This makes it ideal for those who are interested in green living.
Is hemp a renewable resource?
Hemp is easily grown in most regions of the world, though it prefers temperate or tropical climates. Hemp also possesses a natural resistance to many insect species and requires very little water. It grows fast and can be harvested up to three times per year. This makes it cheap and fast to cultivate and easy to care for. According to Good On You, hemp is one of the most renewable, sustainable fibers available for creating clothing.
What are the disadvantages of hemp fabric?
If hemp has any disadvantages at all, they are due to the fact that it is a natural fiber. Organic fabrics like cotton tends to wrinkle and crease in certain areas. This is compounded by the fact that most organic clothing isn’t treated with the same anti-wrinkle chemicals as synthetic garments.
This repeated creasing can often lead to weak points in the fibers, which can create holes in the clothing. Luckily, hemp fibers are naturally stronger than cotton, and so they tend to last far longer on average, according to WayofLeaf, anyway.
The only other real disadvantage to hemp clothing is that, like many organic or natural products, it tends to be more expensive than other options. This is based on several factors, from means of production to the fact that hemp is still not as mainstream as other options. Still, its durability and low environmental impact means that it is most definitely worth the cost.
What do people think about hemp clothing?
Above all else, hemp’s main problem is its street cred. Even though it is a perfectly legal crop and a perfectly viable fabric, hemp’s affiliation with marijuana has made for a problematic image. Hemp’s innate eco-friendliness also means that hemp clothing is closely associated with hippie culture, a subculture that is, in turn, almost synonymous with getting high.
For many people, this association is actually helpful, as it makes the fabric more desirable to those wanting to live a low-impact or zero-waste lifestyle. But brands today are not just selling knitted pullovers for after-school smokers. These brands are knitting hemp into modern styles and fashions, making products that were once very limited in scope and production into something novel and, dare we say, chic.
Hemp is a durable substance that can be used to make many things, including fabric, but what are the advantages and disadvantages to utilizing this unique resource?
Hemp Seeds: Are They Good for You?
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- Nutrition Information
- Potential Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds
- Potential Risks of Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are a rich source of nutrients. Part of the hemp plant, these seeds are technically a nut that can be eaten raw or used to make milk, oil, cheese substitutes, or protein powder.В
While related to the cannabis plant, hemp seeds have little to none of the psychoactive compound THC found in marijuana. For centuries the seeds have been used for oral and topical applications to treat and prevent certain health issues. A growing body of modern clinical research is backing up many of these claims.В
Hemp seedsвЂ™ nutty flavor and versatility also make them a great substitute for the levels of protein, essential fatty acids, and other nutritional benefits found in meat and dairy products.
Hemp seeds can be:
- Eaten raw, roasted, or cooked
- Shelled as hemp hearts
- Cold-pressed to produce hemp seed oil
- Used for non-dairy hemp milk and hemp cheese
A 30 gram serving (three-tablespoons) of raw hemp seeds contains:
- Calories: 166
- Protein: 9.47 grams
- Fat: 14.6 grams
- Carbohydrates: 2.6 grams
- Fiber: 1.2 grams
- Sugar: 0.45 grams
Hemp seeds are also good source of:В
Hemp seeds also contain high levels of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids.В
Studies have shown that the ideal ratio for the fatty acids in hemp seeds is 3 to 1. At this ratio, these fatty acids help to support healthy cholesterol levels, immune system function, and may help regulate your metabolism.
Potential Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are an excellent source of plant-based protein. They contain all nine essential amino acids, and research suggests that hempвЂ™s protein content is well-absorbed by our bodies.
In addition to this protein load, hemp seeds history is tied to their potential health benefits. Many modern studies have backed up several of these claims.В
Hemp seedsвЂ™ health benefits include:В
Hemp seeds are a great source of magnesium, which helps regulate your heartbeat and is linked to the prevention of coronary heart disease. They also contain Linoleic acid, which one study found reduced participantsвЂ™ cholesterol levels by 15% and may act to reduce blood pressure.
One of the omega-6 fatty acids in hemp seeds is gamma-linolenic acid (GLA,) which may have anti-inflammatory effects similar to drugs like ibuprofen. One study found a 75% reduction in arthritis-associated pain in participants after nine months of GLA supplementation.
Hemp oil can be used in cooking to add nutritional benefits to your meal, and it can also be applied topically to the skin. Studies have found that hemp seed oil can relieve the symptoms of eczema and improve dry or itchy skin.
Research is ongoing, but hemp seed oilвЂ™s antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects may also help to treat acne.
The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in hemp seeds is the optimal level for nutritional benefit. This balance supports both heart and cognitive health and is often lacking in most diets..
Hemp seeds also contain plant compounds called terpenes. While research is ongoing, studies suggest that terpenes may help protect the brain and prevent tumor growth.
Potential Risks of Hemp Seeds
While the fat content in hemp seeds comes primarily from its healthy essential fatty acids, eat them in moderation to meet your recommended daily consumption of fat. High fat intake can also cause nausea or diarrhea. В
Other things to consider before adding hemp seeds to your diet include:В
Hemp seeds may interact with certain medications including anticoagulants.В
Studies have shown that hemp seeds reduce blood clotting, which can interact with blood-thinner prescriptions.
There is not enough clinical research to show that hemp is safe either orally or topically for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, so it is not recommended.В
Hemp seed shells can contain trace amounts of THC, the active psychoactive compound in marijuana. People with a previous dependence on cannabis may consider looking for an alternative.В
The fiber content in hemp seeds can cause digestive discomfort like bloating, nausea, or constipation in large amounts. Make sure to drink plenty of water when eating hemp seeds to help avoid gut problems.В
Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. вЂњCannabis sativa (Hemp) Seeds, О”9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, and Potential Overdose.вЂќ
Biochemical Education: вЂњThe action of vitamin K and coumarin anticoagulants.вЂќ
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: “Evaluating the Quality of Protein From Hemp Seed (Cannabis sativa L.) Products Through the Use of the Protein Digestibility-Corrected Amino Acid Score Method.вЂќ
Journal of Dermatological Treatment: вЂњEfficacy of dietary hempseed oil in patients with atopic dermatitis.вЂќ
Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostatis: вЂњDietary hempseed reduces platelet aggregation.вЂќ
Oilseeds and fats, Crops and Lipids:вЂњA short review on sources and health benefits of GLA, The GOOD omega-6.вЂќ
Mayo Clinic. Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet.вЂќ
Nutrients: вЂњDietary Magnesium and Cardiovascular Disease: A Review with Emphasis in Epidemiological Studies.вЂќ
Nutrition & Metabolism: вЂњThe cardiac and haemostatic effects of dietary hempseed.вЂќ
Plant Science: вЂњTerpenes in Cannabis sativa вЂ“ From plant genome to humans.вЂќВ
PLOS One: вЂњThe ameliorative effect of hemp seed hexane extracts on the Propionibacterium acnes-induced inflammation and lipogenesis in sebocytes.вЂќ>
The British Medical Journal (BMJ): вЂњThe importance of a balanced П‰-6 to П‰-3 ratio in the prevention and management of obesity.вЂќ
The Brown University Child and Adolescent Behaviour Letter: вЂњFDA on CBD in pregnancy and breastfeedingвЂќ
USDA FoodData Central: вЂњSeeds, hemp seed, hulled.вЂќ
Find out what the research says about hemp seeds, who should have them, and how they may affect your health.