11.3.10 What Woody Knows

Hemp seeds 790 xxx
photo by gluttonforlife
Woody Harrelson once traveled to the west coast on a hemp-oil-fueled biodiesel bus. It was the subject of a documentary, Go Further, that explores the idea of the individual as the key to large-scale transformational change. Also on the bus were a yoga teacher, a raw food chef and a hemp activist, among others. In case you didn’t know, these are Woody’s peeps. He has long been a vocal proponent of hemp, the soft, durable fiber that is cultivated from plants of a slightly different variety of cannabis than the one that gets you high. (He is also a proponent of that kind.) One of the earliest domesticated plants known, hemp is currently used for a great many commercial purposes, including paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, food, fuel and medicine. I even use a hemp-based deodorant that is totally natural and quite effective.

Hemp is a very environmentally friendly crop, requiring few pesticides and no herbicides. While more hemp is exported to the United States than to any other country, in typically obtuse fashion our government does not consistently distinguish between marijuana and the non-psychoactive cannabis used for industrial and commercial purposes, and so forbids its cultivation.

Nutritionally, hemp has a lot to offer. Sold as hulled seeds and the milk made from them, it is full of essential fatty acids; protein; vitamins C, E, B1, B2, B3 and B6A; as well as calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron. Eating hemp seeds can help lower blood pressure, enhance cardiovascular circulation, reduce symptoms of inflammation and arthritis, and improve dry skin and even eczema. The seeds are eaten raw, ground into a meal, sprouted, made into milk and oil, prepared as tea and used in baking. They have a subtle nutty flavor and a richness from the fatty acids that helps give hemp milk a certain realistically unctuous quality I find lacking in rice and soy milks.

In my area, Tempt hemp products from Living Harvest are readily available. As always, I recommend you buy unsweetened products, although even their sweet and creamy hemp ice cream is a healthier alternative than traditional dairy, with considerably less saturated fat. I like to mix a couple of tablespoons of hemp seeds into smoothies, pancake batter, banana bread and oatmeal. And the milk makes a great substitute wherever you normally use cow's milk, although I have found that it curdles a bit with certain teas (chai, Earl Grey). I really think this wonderful plant helps with the strange pains in my hands that I have come to suspect may be arthritis. So hop on the bandwagon with Woody and me, and give hemp a whirl.


Hemp seeds are also a strong laxative for many people, so beware (or be happy...). We gave some friends about 2 Tbspns each of hemp hearts to eat (they liked the taste) and they were rather shocked at the effect!
Peggy on November 3, 2010 at 9:53 am —
Thanks for the warning, though I have not noticed that effect...yet!
laura on November 3, 2010 at 10:48 am —