Hemp

Latin Name: Cannabis sativa

Historically hemp had had a number of uses, the stems have been (and still are) used to make rope and cloth, the seeds have been used as a food source and some varieties have been used to produce the well known hallucinogenic drug.

Hemp has been used medicinally since ancient times the Roman author, a naturalist and natural philosopher Pliny the Elder wrote:

Hemp originally grew in the forests, where it is found with a blacker and rougher leaf than in the other kinds. Hempseed, it is said, renders men impotent: the juice of this seed will extract worms from the ears, or any insect which may have entered them, though at the cost of producing head-ache. The virtues of hemp, it is said, are so great, that an infusion of it in water will cause it to coagulate: hence it is, that if taken in water, it will arrest looseness in beasts of burden. A decoction of the root in water, relaxes contractions of the joints, and cures gout and similar maladies. It is applied raw to burns, but it must be frequently changed, so as not to let it dry. (Pliny the Elder AD 77, The Natural History translated by John Bostock, H.T. Riley)

Culpeper wote of hemp in the 17thC:

The seed of Hemp consumes wind, and by too much use thereof disperses it so much that it dries up the natural seed for procreation; yet, being boiled in milk and taken, helps such as have a hot dry cough. The Dutch make an emulsion out of the seed, and give it with good success to those that have the jaundice, especially in the beginning of the disease, if there be no ague accompanying it, for it opens obstructions of the gall, and causes digestion of choler. The emulsion or decoction of the seed stays lasks and continual fluxes, eases the cholic, and allays the troublesome humours in the bowels, and stays bleeding at the mouth, nose, or other places, some of the leaves, being fried with the blood of them that bleed, and so given them to eat. It is held very good to kill the worms in men or beasts; and the juice dropped into the ears kills worms in them; and draws forth earwigs, or other living creatures gotten into them. The decoction of the root allays inflammations of the head, or any other parts: the herb itself, or the distilled water thereof doth the like. The decoction of the root eases the pains of the gout, the hard humours of knots in the joints, the pains and shrinking of the sinews, and the pains of the hips. The fresh juice mixed with a little oil and butter, is good for any place that hath been burnt with fire, being thereto applied. (Complete Herbal by Culpeper 17thC)

We don’t recommend you try any of this at home!

Modern research suggests that taken orally hemp seeds have a broad range of positive effects in the for the digestive system, the cardiovascular system, the central nervous system, and the immune system. Recently, hemp seed extracts were reported for their anti-aging effects and the potential to improve impaired memory and learning. Hemp seed extracts on the skin have been investigated as a potential treatment of acne, through their anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-lipogenic, and collagen-promoting properties (link). In soap making hemp oil produces a stable and conditioning lather.

Image By BarbetorteOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

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