Hemp in matresses, hemp in duvets, hemp as fibre

HEMP: A thousand years of history & rediscovery for today

As an agricultural crop hemp can be traced back to 7,000 BC and is proven to be the plant first made into woven cloth. As the sturdiest plant in existence the Phoenicians, approx 1,000 BC, used it to make sails and ropes.

Since then, and up to the second half of last century, hemp was the most popular crop in cultivation. The first president of the Unites States, George Washington, instructed his estate manager to grow hemp on a large scale. In 1619 the first marihuana law was introduced which stipulated the cultivation of hemp. Those who did not comply often faced fines or prison. Such was the importance assigned to hemp that it was deemed a capital offence to export the crop.  

Hemp as paper and printing base

The paper used by Gutenberg in 1455 for the first printed bible, as well as Luther‘s paper used in 1517 for his 95 theses - all made from hemp. In terms of quality, paper made from hemp is far superior to paper made from wood because it is much more durable. Benjamin Franklin, also one of the US presidents, established the first factories making paper from hemp.

From an ecological perspective too, it would be a matter of urgency to go back to hemp for the production of paper. The yield per field is 5 times higher for hemp and we would not needlessly have to continue to deforest our wooded areas. OUR FORESTS WILL BE GRATEFUL TO US!

Hemp as food

To fight famine Charlemagne, in the year 800, ordered his subjects to grow hemp. This is because the sturdy, many-meter high stalks of the hemp plant survived even the most severe weather. The seeds were not only used to make oil for lamps but also highly prized as valuable food stuff. Today we know that hempseeds contain all essential fatty acids. Additionally, hempseeds are the only food stuff to contain gamma linolenic acid, otherwise only found in human breast milk. Pre-mature early weaning is nowadays often associated with the development of neurodermatitis and psoriasis. Reports suggest that taking hempseed oil internally or applying it to affected areas can heal these skin conditions.  

Hemp as currency

Already in the year 800, under the rule of Charlemagne, farmers were allowed to settle their taxes in hempseeds. Between 1631 and the early 1800‘s cannabis was considered legal tender in large parts of North America  

Hemp as an intoxicant

The psycho-active effects of hemp (even Schiller and Goethe smoked joints!) have been used for thousands of years. Its medicinal use has even been described in humankind‘s oldest surviving pharmacopoeial, the Chinese ‚Pen Tsaa‘, from the year 2737 BC. Until the end of the 19th century medicines based on cannabis were the most widely sold products in pharmacies in the US and Europe 

Hemp as insulation

Particularly its durability and the fact that it does not go mouldy when wet made hemp an indispensable insulating material for plumbers and heating engineers. Today the residues of the fibrous part of the plant‘s stem, that is leftover in textile production, is used to make high quality insulation material. 

The historic "death" of hemp

Until its cultivation was banned in the US in 1938 and after WW II in Europe, almost all textiles in all cultures were made from hemp. Already prior to this, mechanical cotton processing and the growing power and influence of the ‚cotton barons‘ became more and more prevalent, resulting in an ever decreasing importance of the cultivation of hemp.

It seems the legal ban of hemp cultivation served mainly the economic interests of the cotton, lumber and pharmaceutical industries. After the prohibition of alcohol failed in the 1920‘s, 8,000 civil servants, police men and law enforcement officers found themselves unemployed. The US government set up its drug squad, the ‚Federal Bureau of Narcotics‘, specifically to help in the fight against hemp which started in earnest in 1937. This move finally sealed the decline of the hemp plant.


SOURCE: Die Wiederentdeckung der Nutzpflanze Hanf ISBN 3-86150-641-6     |      Info.hempage.de