The New Zealand government is finally allowing the sale and promotion of hemp seed for human consumption. I and many others have been ingesting hemp seed powder/hemp seed/hemp protein, irrespective of the fact it was not legal here to be sold for human consumption and was only ever able to be marketed as an animal supplement (most of which were made to human food grade). WHY? Well, it’s an incredibly beneficial form of protein, fibre, fats and minerals, and given it is a harmless plant - that's a great thing to include in your diet on a daily basis!! Quite frankly if things like Coca-Cola and lollies are legal, I struggle to see where foods like hemp were not. At least hemp is an actual food, unlike the many other items being ingested and not questioned in our society. Hemp seed oil has been legal for a long time, and that is also a fantastic addition to any diet, and beauty regime - however, we will focus on the powder for now as that is personally my preferred product to take daily.
Cannabis Sativa - Introduction to Hemp
While hemp's biological name is Cannabis Sativa - it is a different variety to the psychoactive variety Marijuana, and only a very small amount of THC in hemp is traceable - certainly not an amount that will alter your state of mind even a fraction - it would be near impossible to get high off hemp, so let’s treat it as it deserves and start seeing how this incredibly fast-growing plant can be harnessed in our lives. Per acre this plant produces 4 times as much paper as trees that take years and years to mature, so even in that regard, it is a smart choice!
The hemp plant is very useful in so many ways, and already we use and consume hemp in things such as hemp seed oil, skincare products, clothing, and here in New Plymouth there is even a house made of hemp. It’s a shame the health and dietary benefits have been kept from New Zealand for so long, but now we can speak about and promote the use of hemp for human health, so many more people will now get to experience its benefits as a result!
Hemp and Nutrition
Hemp seeds are a high-quality protein that is super rich in essential fatty acids (linoleic and alpha-linoleic and gamma linoleic), while also being a great source of minerals like calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, potassium and sulphur - plus they are a good source of Vitamin E, so no wonder it is so good for our skin!! It is also a great source of Omega’s too so great for vegetarians and those who don’t eat fish.
Hemp seed powder is a really easy thing to add to your diet as it can be blended into smoothies or added to meals and baking, and the fact it is a very mild and unobtrusive nutty flavour means it is suitable for both sweet and savoury dishes, making it very versatile and easy to hide. If you are trying to add minerals, protein and fibre to a child’s diet, this is a fantastic way to do it as you can add a small amount to meals or baking.
Because the hemp seed provides all essential amino acids (which are unable to be produced by the body), they are an exceptional “complete protein” source. Quinoa is another example of this, but generally, it is very rare to find complete proteins in plants - so hemp is a great addition to the diet of a vegetarian or vegan who would otherwise be limited in their choice of complete protein sources. Hemp seed may also aid digestion and is said to be more readily digestible than nuts and grains as a protein.
Fibre - the gut driver
But protein isn’t the only thing hemp has going for it - Fibre is also high on the list of added benefits! Fibre, the hero of the bowel and also critical for digestive health - hemp seed is one of the best sources of this and contains both soluble and insoluble fibre - both equally important for things such as diabetes, constipation, obesity, diverticulitis, and overall gut health and digestion. Soluble attracts and absorbs water, morphing into a gel substance and slowing down digestion. Think things like fruits and vegetable, nuts and beans.
Insoluble doesn’t absorb water and therefore passes through mostly intact providing roughage, cleaning and more laxative effect; speeding up the passage of food through our system. Think things like whole flours, whole grains, whole rice, root vegetable skins, high fibre vegetables. Hemp seed falls into both of these categories providing well-balanced gut nutrition!
Hemp Consumption Rules - yes they still have rules…
You can get hemp as a whole seed, but here in New Zealand you still need a license for it in any respect of its’ use - it’s hilarious that the government guidelines for use state that hemp is not a medicine, and then they state you need a license issued by Medicines Control… go figure!!
If you get hulled seed with the outer casing removed (so it is unable to be germinated), you do not require a license.
The most common hemp seed product consumers will come across is hemp seed oil, but I suspect hemp powder or hemp protein, which is ground and often used as a flour-like substance, or in smoothies will become a very popular form of protein the more widely known and accessible it becomes.
What about CBD and medicinal marijuana - is that hemp too?
Cannabis Sativa in its’ various forms has a long history of being used internally and topically as medicine, and in the near future New Zealand will also be having a referendum on using medicinal marijuana in the form of pharmaceutical medicine through CBD products and CBD oil (CBD is Cannabidiol, which is just one of a possible 113 cannabinoids. The human body has cannabinoid receptors, which are part of the endocannabinoid system and impacts things like pain sensation, nerves, and communication between neurons - which is likely one of the reasons we see great benefit in the use of CBD products when it comes to conditions such as epilepsy and Parkinson's disease).
We will never fully see the benefits of all of these elements of the Cannabis plant in all of its’ forms from Hemp oil, to hemp seed protein, to CBD oils and strongly concentrated extracts until we see more legislative change like the United States Federal Law changes over recent years - and that in my opinion that will only ever be a good thing - giving access to ALL the benefits - natural medicine (CBD) and food (hemp) that supports our system.
There is a clear difference between hemp and medicinal marijuana as Hemp does not contain the naturally occurring cannabinoids, and therefore it is highly nutritional but not “medicinal”. However it is my firm belief, just like Hippocrates that we shall “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food”, and through the ingestion of such nutrient-rich foods as hemp seed protein, we are healing our gut and providing the medicine it requires to live and sustain itself over time - that ‘medicine’ is simply vitamins, minerals and nutrients - critical to an ongoing, healthy and well-functioning body.
Try hemp products and you will see the benefits for yourself - cold pressed hemp oil applied topically can be very healing and nourishing for dry and cracked skin. We have seen great results on eczema and psoriasis sufferers alike.
Hemp seed taken internally provides a great range of amino acids, essential fatty acids, proteins, fibre, and iron among many others… I personally noticed a difference in my gut feeling more settled than it usually did. I have I.B.S so notice my gut feelings on the daily and found the little-added fibre hemp gives, and perhaps a different type of protein to that which I was used to has been serving me well for the past 8 months and I have only been having a few tablespoons per day too, so also very cost-effective!
I can only recommend (rather highly) trying it for yourself and seeing the benefits the many products derived from Hemp can offer!