Often confused with the psychoactive variant of the Cannabis plant, hemp is not the same - and as such, has different uses.
Despite looking and smelling alike, hemp flower produces different cannabinoid concentrations than what many know as ‘Marijuana’.
...So, what’s the difference?
Over time, people bred cannabis for different things. Sometimes, they would breed shorter, denser varieties to produce more seed per acre.
Others, taller plants for more fiber. And as people started using it recreationally, they basically started breeding it for strength. As a result, we have the high-THC variation of cannabis Sativa known as ‘Marijuana’.
But even more recently, people started utilising modern breeding practises to breed THC out of the plant.
Why? So the plant produces more CBD. CBD is medicine.
So now we have two classes of ‘cannabis Sativa’: Hemp and Marijuana. ‘Hemp’ is any plant grown for seed, fibre, or CBD hemp flower. ‘Marijuana’ is basically just a hemp flower that contains over 1% THC.
So now we’re past that, let’s take a deeper look at what hemp flower can be used for.
Hemp flowers are found on both the male and female hemp plants. However, on the female plant, they are elongated, spike-like clusters that produce seed when pollinated.
On the male plants, the flowers are responsible for producing pollen, and form more clustered branches
The main flowers (also known as colas, tops, or heads) are found at the apex of the plant.
Hemp flowers do contain THC. However, this concentration is low and contains high-CBD. THC, Tetrahydrocannabinol is the substance that produces the mind-altering effect of psychoactive strains of the cannabis plant.
Hemp must contain less than 1% THC in Australia. The law is set this way so that it is virtually impossible for users to experience the psychoactive effects no matter how much they consume.
Research demonstrates that hemp contains more than 500 chemical compounds and though one of this is THC, its quantity is negligible.
Hemp flowers are legal in most countries including the US, and the majority of EU countries. But in Australia, if you have a licence to grow Hemp, you are unable to use the flower or leaf.
Flowers are very easy to grow and harvest, and can be done by hand or machine. The less mechanical processing, the more of the naturally occurring cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other organic compounds remain intact in the plant - and that’s what you want for medicine.
Smoking hemp is the most used method of flower consumption, however, trends are moving towards more health conscious methods of consuming CBD.
It has a relaxing effect without producing any “high”. It can come as pre-rolled CBD cigarettes. Smoking in itself is not a healthy habit, but CBD cigarettes seem to be helpful for people searching for alternatives to nicotine cigarettes and psychoactive breeds of cannabis.
Healthier options include using the flower in cooking or brewing as tea, although this method requires trial and dosing.
Hemp seeds are actually a type of fruit botanically. They belong to a group called an achene. They are formed from the pollinated hemp flowers, just as with any other type of true fruit. This means that a hemp farmer can choose from one of two paths each crop: seed or CBD (and that’s before even using the stalks, leafs, and roots!)
Hemp seeds can be eaten with or without the shell. Whole means unhulled, that the seeds still have their shells. The ‘whole’ variants of hemp seed are crunchy, contain lots of fibre, and serve as a great source of minerals. They can be sprinkled on top of salads, yoghurt or sandwiches - and you can never have too much!
Hulled (dehulled) hemp seeds are hemp seeds with their shells removed. Also called hemp hearts and hemp nuts, they’re actually the only type of hemp seed available as food to us over here in Australia.
Currently, it’s required that hemp seeds have their ‘hull’ (shell) removed in case they contain leftover cannabinoids from the plant they came from, though there are no cannabinoids in the seed itself, this only occurs if the seed has not been cleaned probably. Also, you may grow a plant in your back garden!!
Hemp seed can be ground up into different forms such as…
Hemp Flour is made from raw hemp seeds which are made up of about 30% oil. After the grinding process, the hemp oil is extracted. It is also known as hemp powder or bran. It is much cheaper than protein powder.
The production of hemp protein requires an abundance of healthy and ripe hemp seeds. Hemp seed oil is first extracted from the seeds by cold pressing and hemp cake is obtained as a by-product.
The hemp cake is then sieved several times. If the cake is only “roughly” sown, it produces hemp flour, which is rich in dietary fibre, most of which is retained in the seed shells.
Further high granulation sieving removes larger particles of hemp seed shells which leaves much more protein-rich particles that are found inside the seeds (hemp hearts). Thus, hemp protein powder is obtained.
Hemp as seed, flour, or protein is rich in gluten-free fibre which helps with digestion and can assist in the prevention of a number of health issues. Similarly, the seed oil is rich in heart-healthy oils including omega 3 and 6 fatty acids (the only plant source of this essential fatty acid).
CBD is one of over 100 cannabinoids in the hemp plant. It accounts for 40% of any extract from the flower. There are different ways to extract it from the flower but the most popular and most accessible method is “Carrier oil solvent”.
It’s obviously a bit more complicated than this - and probably not legal to share the whole process. So, here’s the quick version.
After flowers are obtained, they are put into a container as small as a crockpot or as large as an industrial drum, along with a carrier oil - coconut oil, for example.
The mixture is subjected to low heating. A perfect balance must be created between the temperature needed for extraction and not damaging the nutrients in the flower. The oil is stirred at regular intervals and “cooked” for nothing less than 3 hours.
The mixture is then strained, the new CBD oil is bottled and stored.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a popular natural remedy for a variety of mental and physical ailments From anxiety to PTSD, and pain management to epilepsy.
It is used topically, orally, and even through suppositories in order to provide relief for a number of medical issues that at times, may not have been possible through traditional medicine.
So, why is CBD so effective? Because of the body’s endocannabinoid system.
CBD is also well known for its application in cancer management. It helps to reduce nausea and vomiting associated with cancer treatment. Research is also finding that it is neuroprotective and can be used in the treatment of epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.
And now we’ve been through that, let’s get back to the point.
Isn’t it incredible how many different things that just the flower of this simple plant can be used for?
Next week, we’re going to get to talking about the stalk.