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What Is Hemp Used For?

hemp field

In 2018, the USDA Farm Bill made hemp cultivation legal throughout the U.S. However, the hemp plant has a history that stretches much farther back than 2018. In fact, records show that hemp was first farmed by humans as long as 2,800 B.C and may have been the first crop grown for use as a textile fiber.

While you may be most familiar with hemp in its association with CBD, the versatile plant has been implemented for numerous purposes throughout human history.

Besides textiles, hemp has long been used as a source for paper. In fact, the U.S. Constitution was written on hemp-derived paper!

In this short guide, we’ll cover the uses of hemp fiber, hemp seed products and hemp extract (aka CBD oil). Take inspiration for new ways to integrate the hemp plant into your lifestyle!

The History of Hemp Cultivation

The earliest evidence of cultivated hemp includes hemp cloth from ancient Mesopotamia. 

How does a green, leafy plant get turned into cloth? 

  • Each stalk of the hemp plant is is naturally fibrous, containing “line fibers” that grow up to 6 feet long.
  • During the natural decomposition process, hemp fibers separate from the plant’s woody core. This process can be sped up by immersing the hemp plant in water.
  • Once separated, hemp fiber could be spun (like yarn) and used for a variety of textile applications.

From the 15th to 17th centuries, global exploration and commerce began to skyrocket. Hemp was an essential crop during this period, used in everything from boat sails to hemp rope to caulking. Hemp farming and hemp production were at an all-time high.

In fact, British colonies were legally required to grow hemp. However, this period also saw the end of the hemp plant’s dominance in textiles. Although hemp crops have a greater yield per acre than cotton crops, cotton was comparatively less labor-intensive to process into textiles.

The Controlled Substances Act

While hemp gradually lost its dominance in the textile industry, it remained legal for much of the 20th century. That all changed for the hemp industry in 1970, when the Controlled Substances Act banned the cultivation of cannabis of any kind.

Are you wondering about the differences between cannabis, hemp and marijuana?

  • Hemp and marijuana both come from the same plant, Cannabis sativa.
  • The Controlled Substances Act was meant to target THC-rich marijuana plants, which are used for their psychoactive properties. However, to make marijuana illegal, the act banned the cultivation of allcannabis plants.
  • The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the use of cannabis plants containing less than 0.3% THC (aka hemp). Now, legal hemp plants can be cultivated for a variety of purposes.

Uses For Hemp Fiber

As we’ve noted, hemp fiber has long been used for hemp fabric and textiles of all kinds. While hemp eventually fell out of vogue due to the rise of cotton and, later, the illegality of hemp within the U.S., modern manufacturers are bringing hemp textiles back to the forefront.

  • Hemp textile is incredibly durable. Some note that rather than “wearing out,” hemp products “wear in” over time.
  • Hemp-derived fabric may have natural antibacterial and moisture-wicking properties.
  • The hemp plant requires comparatively less water to grow than other popular plant-based materials (i.e. cotton, flax, silk), which can make it more sustainable.

Hemp For Paper

Besides textiles, hemp has long been used as a source for paper. In fact, the U.S. Constitution was written on hemp-derived paper!

Some sustainability advocates hope that we’ll eventually switch back to hemp paper rather than using wood-derived paper, which comes from industrial processes that accelerate deforestation.

Hemp Plastics

A more recent use for hemp is hemp-derived bioplastics.

Traditional, petroleum-based plastics are not biodegradable and can never be broken down. As concern about plastic pollution mounts, hemp provides one possible solution.

While it would take significant infrastructure changes to begin manufacturing hemp plastic at scale, many individual businesses are spearheading the charge by innovating biodegradable hemp plastics.

Uses For Hemp Seeds

Besides hemp fiber, hemp’s nutritious seeds (a.k.a. hemp hearts) can be consumed raw or turned into other products.

  • Hemp seeds, which are technically a nut, are rich in protein, with more than six grams in a two-tablespoon serving.
  • Hemp-derived products feature heart-healthy fats like linolenic acid.
  • You’ll also get vital nutrients like phosphorus, magnesium and potassium when consuming hemp.

Hemp Seed Oil

Beyond raw hemp hearts, hemp seed oil is one of the most popular ways to enjoy the nutritional benefits of the hemp plant.

What is hemp oil used for? Hemp seed oil can be consumed on its own, added to salad dressings and marinades or drizzled over a dish as a finishing oil.

It’s important to note that hemp seed oil is different from CBD oil. 

  • Hemp seed oil is derived from hemp seeds, which do not contain CBD.
  • In contrast, CBD oil may be derived from the flowers, roots and stalks of the hemp plant (and usually does not contain hemp seed oil).
  • While hemp seed oil has many health benefits, they do not include the benefits associated with CBD.

Hemp Seed Milk and Milk-Derived Products

There are also consumable hemp products or hemp foods. Many popular dairy alternatives come from nuts, and hemp seed milk is no exception. Hemp milk can be used as a creamer, added to smoothies or mixed into baked goods. Likewise, hemp milk can be aged and transformed into vegan cheese alternatives. All of these products carry the same benefits as hemp hearts themselves.

What Is CBD Hemp Oil Used For?

Last but not least is the hemp plant’s most notable use of late: CBD.

CBD is one of over 100 cannabinoids that occur naturally in the hemp plant. These substances all interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a network of nervous system receptors that is thought to help regulate mood, sleep cycles, appetite, stress response and physical discomfort. 

If your dog hates thunderstorms, CBD could potentially help soothe his stress. Likewise, a CBD chew could put your dog at ease before a dreaded trip to the vet.

What is hemp extract used for? Hemp-derived CBD may have the following effects:

  • Soothes soreness – Modern life is full of minor aches and irritations, whether they surface from sitting at a computer all day or training hard at the gym. Many people find that CBD can help to reduce physical discomfort. To experience this effect, try using a CBD balm on the affected site. Need extra help? Adding a targeted CBD tablet to your daily routine could have stronger beneficial effects over time.
  • Helps reduce daily stress – Do you hate flying? Or maybe you’re at home on airplanes but a nervous wreck before big presentations. We all have stressors and tell-tale symptoms like a racing pulse or sweaty palms. Eating a CBD gummy can potentially help reduce your nerves so that you can take a deep breath and move on with your day.
  • Supports healthy sleep – Physical discomfort and racing thoughts can both keep you up at night, so it’s no surprise that CBD could potentially help you get better sleep. Besides reducing those issues, CBD’s interaction with the ECS may help you fall asleep and stay asleep. Embrace your beauty rest by adding CBD sleep tablets to your nightly routine.
  • Reduces post-exercise inflammation – Do you know the source of your post-workout burn? You’ve actually made microscopic tears in your muscles, and your body responds by sending signals to step up its repair response. The downside is the accompanying exercise-induced inflammation, which can increase discomfort. On the bright side, CBD could potentially help you recover. 
  • Boosts mood and energy – When you’re sleeping well, feeling comfortable in your body, and pushing stress aside, it’s that much easier to dedicate your time and energy to the things that make you feel good. If you’ve just been feeling off,CBD may be the perfect addition to your wellness regimen. 

CBD For Pets

Humans aren’t the only creatures with an endocannabinoid system. In fact, evidence suggests that all animals have an ECS.

What does that mean in practice?

Your pet may experience similar benefits from CBD!

If your dog hates thunderstorms, CBD could potentially help soothe his stress. Likewise, a CBD chew could put your dog at ease before a dreaded trip to the vet.

If you’re still curious, check out our CBD products for dogs.

Other Cannabinoids in CBD Oil

As we’ve noted, CBD is not the only cannabinoid in the hemp plant. In fact, full-spectrum hemp oil contains a variety of potentially beneficial compounds. These include:

  • Other cannabinoids – CBG, CBN and other minor cannabinoids can contribute to CBD’s stress-busting and sleep-supportive properties. 
    • Terpenes – Linalool and myrcene are compounds known as terpenes that give the hemp plant its distinctive scent and are also found in essential oils. For example, linalool is abundant in lavender, which is known for its soothing properties.
    • Flavonoids – Flavonoids give plants their color and are thought to have antioxidant properties that can support health.

    Choosing Your CBD Product

    Full-spectrum CBD oil contains the full range of compounds in the hemp plant, including less than 0.3% THC. Legal CBD products should not have psychoactive properties, but make sure you trust your CBD brand.

    Some people prefer to avoid the substance altogether by opting for a CBD isolate product that contains CBD (in isolation) from the hemp plant’s other compounds.

    Zebra CBD: Labeling You Can Trust

    To enjoy the best benefits that the hemp plant has to offer, it’s important to use legal hemp products that are free of pesticides, heavy metals and other potentially harmful substances.

    To that end, we’re the only CBD brand with a Label Accuracy Guarantee™. This means all of our products are tested by two independent third-party labs, ensuring that they meet their label claims. 

    So how can hemp benefit your wellness regimen? 

    Our specially formulated products combine the potential powers of hemp with other adaptogens and herbs. Browse our formulas for sleep, skin health, physical discomfort, energy and more.

    While the hemp plant is versatile and can be used for many reasons, at Zebra CBD, we harness its power for your health and vitality. 

    Choose Zebra CBD oils for optimal health

    Only the finest ingredients are selected for our full-spectrum hemp extract oils to bring you enhanced mental clarity, sound sleep and relief from stress and body aches. Simply add to your favorite beverage or recipe, or take it straight from the dropper.

    Learn how Zebra CBD oils work to optimize wellness