Useful hemp (Cannabis sativa L. 1753) is a species of the genus Cannabis. This species is mainly cultivated for textile, construction and paper production. Cannabis sativa contains some narcotics, in varying percentages depending on the variety. According to some, it includes a single species, Cannabis sativa, which is the historically most widespread plant in the West, which includes three species: C. sativa, C. indica and C. ruderalis.
From a systematic point of view, beneficial hemp belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, the Kingdom Plantae, the Tracheobionte Substitution, the Spermatophyta Superdivision, the Magnoliophyta Division, the Magnoliopsida Class, the Hamamelidae Subclass, the Urticales Order, the Cannabaceae Family, and then the Cannabis Genus and the Species C. sativa.
The Italian term derives from the Latin “cannabis” which is also the scientific name of the species (Cannabis sativa). The Latin name comes from the Greek kànnabis and this in turn, in all likelihood, by Sanskrit: “çanas” (which indicates precisely the plant). This plant in the sacred Indian texts is quoted several times. Assyrians called it “qunubu” or “qunapu” and in semitic it was said “kanbos”. In short, the root is always the same without a doubt.
Others argue that the name comes from the Greek “kanna” for the shape of the plant and the suffix “bis”, referring to the terms “bosm” (hebraic) and “busma” (aramaic) with the meaning of odorous, aromatic.
In Provencal and even in the ancient language of the Oc, which are very similar, it is said “canebe”. The port of Marseilles is called “la Canebière”; Perhaps because it has to do with the ropes that were used on ships that were hemp. Or in that area simply there were hemp fields. Anyway, to continue with the nomenclature of this plant: in French we say “chanvre”, in Portuguese “canhamo” and “cañamo” in spanish, in canonian “kanup”, and again: in Armenian “kaneph” in russian “kanopljà “In Polish conopi or penek, in flemish kemp, in dutch hennup, in Danish hampa, in bulgarian kenvir, in japanese asa, in turkish nasha, in syrian cannabis, in cannabis, etc ..
Finally there are all the more or less gergali names related to its playful or religious use (from marijuana to ganja, the divine grass of rastafarianism).
Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Cannabis sativa is native to central and southern Asia. In fact, cannabis prefer a warm and humid climate even if the plant is very resistant and can live in many habitats, provided the pH of the soil is between 5 and 7.
This species requires good sun exposure to grow, in fact hemp needs at least 12 hours of light to begin flowering. The optimum for the vegetative phase and THC production is with 18 hours of light.
For its adaptability Cannabis can live in a different set of climates and can become poisonous. During the Second World War, cannabis was planted extensively in Iowa for the production of hemp ropes. These fields were later converted to cultivate corn, but cannabis plants have become poisonous and difficult to control.
Cannabis sativa has a variable height and can reach up to 5 meters (average between 1.5 and 2 meters), with resinous, angled, sometimes hollow, escalations, especially above the first pair of leaves. The basal leaves are opposite, the highest alternate, palmate, rarely single, lanceolate, pointed tips up to 10 cm in length, 1.5 cm in size. Flowers can be monoic or dioic. The male flowers (staminiferi) are assembled in end cuttings and each has 5 melted tepals at base and 5 stamens. The feminine flowers (pistilliers) are grouped in groups of 2-6 at the armpits of short-forming ears; Each one shows a membranous chalice that closely encircles a super-unilocular ovary, topped by two styles and two stitches.
The fruits have a brown color with bright sparkles.
Hemp has a long rooting root and a stem, erect or branched, with resinous, angled, sometimes hollow, escalations, especially above the first pair of leaves.
For the cultivation of this species, it should be noted that industrial cultivation in Italy is allowed by the ministerial circular of MIPAF no. 1 prot. 200 of 8 May 2002 and limited to certified hemp varieties, specially selected for having a negligible content of THC, which constitutes the active pharmacological and psychotropic principle.
Although in Italy since 1998 it has begun to cultivate it, we know that we have a solid tradition behind us, still alive in the social fabric of families, countries and entire communities. Although industrial hemp cultivation has never been expressly banned in our country, the bad interpretation of the drug laws has led the law enforcement forces to halt and abolish the cultivations of those who in the 1970s and 1980s had tried to resume cultivation Of fiber or seed hemp. This uncertainty persisted until 1997, the year of the circular of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry containing provisions concerning the cultivation of Cannabis sativa, supplemented by Circular No.1 of 8 May 2002. Another circular of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Health of 22/05/2009 allows the production and marketing of hemp-based products for use in the human food sector, even if it does not solve the problem of possible THC content in foods. European legislation is based on Regg. 953 of 2006 and 507 of 2008.
Ultimately, cannabis in Italy can be cultivated on condition that seeds are harvested in the European Union and have a maximum content of THC certified 0.2%.
Farmers therefore no longer need permission to sow certified cannabis varieties with a THC content of up to 0.2% so that communication to the nearest police station (State Police, Carabinieri, Guard of Finance) through a complaint form, is no longer necessary.
The only obligations for the farmer are to keep the seed of the purchased seed for a period of not less than twelve months and to keep the seed purchase bills for the period provided for by current legislation.
The percentage of THC in the analyzed plants may fluctuate from 0.2% to 0.6% without any problem for the farmer. Any controls will be carried out by a single subject and always in the presence of the farmer, and the control personnel are required to release a sample taken for any counter-checks. If the percentage of THC exceeds the threshold of 0.6%, the judicial authority may have the seizure or destruction of the crop, but in this case “the farmer is not responsible”.
For the plantation, it should be remembered that if it is cultivated to collect the stems, to obtain fiber and canapulus, cellolose biomass, then it is preferable to use genetic varieties, among them: Carmagnola, CS, Fibranova, Eletta Campana, Tiborszallasi. If you want to harvest seed, you must also use monochrome varieties, such as Futura, Felina, KC Dora, Monoica, Usage 31.
Hemp is able to adapt to the most varied environments, although the best productive results are obtained in wetlands and temperatures of 20-25 ° C throughout the cycle and in clay and fertile soils.
Genetic improvement (also made in Italy in the past) has resulted in the formation of highly-varieties of fiber.
Hemp is a growing crop, requires deep plowing and subsequent soil refinement work shortly before sowing. Sowing should take place between April and early May and should be made at distances of 15 to 18 cm in order to obtain, at harvest, an investment of 100-200 plants per square meter, reaching about 60 kg / ha Of seed. From the nutritional point of view, hemp is very sensitive to nitrogen fertilization: the deficiency of this element results in a significant reduction in the development of the plant. For reasons explained in other parts of this site, we always advise on the use of nitrogenous nitrogen fertilizers with good rotation and in any case the use of organic fertilizers, preferably by the company itself.
Normally irrigation is superfluous in the North. As far as heifers are concerned, hemp has no problems since the emergency phase has ended because it has a very rapid development and manifests a high level of competitiveness.
If harvesting is exclusively for plant production this is carried out at the flowering of the female (first half of August); If you also want to produce achens, it is postponed to the end of September. Once the harvest was made by hand; Today it is mechanized, also because hemp is now used for products other than those of the past. For the preparation of special papers, in fact, the green wand is used, which undergoes the stunning process to separate the wood part or canopus from the fiber. Good production of stems (green wand) is 120-150 quintals per hectare. The fiber obtained (12-15 quintals) is used for the fabrication of thermo-acoustic fabrics, filters and insulators. The female seed can also be used (up to 15 quintals per hectare), used for extraction of oil used for the production of colors and paints. The material that remains from the stalk can be used as a litter, while the extraction panels are used in feedingstuff feed. In short, a multifaceted plant and many uses (even pharmaceuticals if seriously worked on its regulation).
Among the adversities it is recalled that the wind is a fearsome enemy of hemp because, especially if it is strong, can injure the cortex following mutual rubbing of the stems or, in extreme cases, breaking them; If the plants are still at the earliest stage, they may be subjected to lure phenomena.
Rain, if violent, can cause rupture or twisting of the plant at its early stages of development, while hailstones, if read, can open wounds and predispose to fungal diseases; If they are violent, they often cause deep tears, resulting in fiber depletion, or even stalks breakage. Late bouts can easily damage young seedlings. Finally, drought affects the production and quality of the product.
Among the parasites of this species we have a parasitic orangutan fanerogama (Orobanche ramosa L.) which is one of the most damaging hepatic parasites, and some fungi such as Peronoplasmopara cannabina (Ott.) Peglion, dendrophoma marconii Cav. , An agent of the drug, and Sclerotinia Liberty Fuck, an agent of sclerotia. Among the animal parasites there are some harmful bugs including the crickets (Gryllulus desertus Pall and Gryllulus chinensis Webb.), The beetle (Melolontha melolontha L.), the aphid of hemp (Phorodon cannabis Pass.) And the altica ( Psylliodes attenuated by Koch.).
Uses and Traditions –
Hemp has been providing excellent textile fiber for millennia. Hemp has been cultivated in ancient times in Asia and the Middle East. The commercial production of hemp in the West took off in the eighteenth century, although cultivated in the sixteenth century in eastern England. Because of the colonial and naval expansion of the time, economies needed large amounts of hemp for string and string.
Important producer countries are China, North Korea, Hungary, the former Yugoslavia, Romania, Poland, France and Italy. Textile canvas fiber is obtained from the floem or book, the stems of Cannabis sativa plants and other similar congeners.
The fibers of this plant are still largely used by hydraulics as gasket and have been important raw material for the production of textiles and strings. For hundreds of years, until the second half of the twentieth century, they were the raw material for paper production.
As a textile use, hemp culture has an ancient tradition in Italy. It was used since antiquity for resistant fabrics and cordage. Much linked to the expansion of the Maritime Republics, who used it greatly for ropes and sails of their fleets of war. The tradition of using it for household utensils is very ancient, Roman canvas tablecloths decorated with copper molds in the two classic rusty and green colors are handicraft items that continue to be produced today.
The resin of this species may contain up to 60 cannabinoids, 100 terpenoids, 20 flavonoids depending on the case.
The chemical structure of cannabinoids can be described as that of a terpene combined with an alkyl-substituted resorcinol, or as that of a benzopyran ring system. The two descriptions also imply a different nomenclature, with the former the main cannabinoid being defined as delta-1-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-1-THC) while the latter becomes delta-9-THC (both called simply THC).
The cannabinoids so far found can be divided into various types; Bypassing the chemical aspect of these, it is recalled that in varieties with psychoactive effects, the percentage of THC may vary from 7% to 27%.
It has been hypothesized by some that the illegal market of British cannabis is dominated by extremely rich varieties in THC, up to four times the normal levels, or up to a concentration of 30%, but in September 2007 unpublished university studies Of Oxford claim that as far as the British cannabis market is concerned, the THC content of drugs sold is not on average greater than 14%, ie they have only doubled from 1995 to 2005 and that the sample with the highest THC would not exceed 24%. Facilitating the path to higher percentages was the indoor culture technique, which allows to optimize the quality of the product. In fact, it is not said that there are no richer varieties in THC, but they are not dominant on the market and are likely to be limited to a narrower slice of the market.
Among the Terpenoids, the main ones are: beta-mircene; beta-caryophyllene; d-limonene; linalool; pulegone; 1,8-cineol; alpha-pinene; alpha-terpineol; terpinen-4-ol; p-cymene; borneol; delta-3-carene; beta-farnesene; alpha-selinene; phellandrene; piperidine.
Among the main flavonoids are: apigenine; quercetin; cannaflavina.
Beyond controversy over the use of hemp as astonishing, it must be considered that it has been a major medicinal plant for thousands of years until the advent of cannabis prohibition. However, in the last few decades there has been some research into the pharmacological activities of cannabis and its possible applications.
The well known promoter, as well as scholar, of the therapeutic uses of the cannabis plant and its decriminalization is prof. Lester Grinspoon, psychiatrist and emeritus professor at Harvard University. This clarifies how cannabis is one of the least known toxic drugs, and suggests alleviating repressive policies arising from economic interests opposed to scientific ones.
Among anti-prostitutional activists, we remember the American Jack Herer, author of the 1985 best-selling Emperor Wears No Clothes.
It is interesting to note that a meta-analysis of 2001 (which analyzes all clinical studies published until 2000) concludes that cannabis is effective in neuropathic and spastic pain, less in other types of pain. But subsequent clinical trials have also shown significant effects in tumor pain, and have confirmed the good activity for neuropathic pain and painful symptoms in multiple sclerosis (spasticity, bladder symptoms, sleep quality).
Let’s see some of the possible therapeutic uses:
Against nausea and vomiting, anorexia and cachexia, spasticity, painful conditions (in particular neurogenic pain)
Against movement disorders, asthma and glaucoma
Against allergies, inflammation, infections, epilepsy, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, addiction, abstinence syndrome;
Against autoimmune diseases, cancer, neuroprotection, fever, blood pressure disorders.
There are also numerous testimonies of those who have managed to overcome alcohol or cocaine dependence through the use of cannabis, which unlike the previous substances does not lead to a physical dependence comparable, for example, with that generated by nicotine.
It should be noted that drugs are also being tested in the world containing a synthetic version of some of the active ingredients of cannabis (dronabinol, HU-210, levonantradol, nabilone, SR 141716 A, Win 55212-2), but these have for many More side effects and disadvantages than the natural plant.
Apart from the mechanisms of action of cannabinoids contained in this plant (which we refer to in-depth medical texts) it is recalled that only a few parts are used, predominantly female flowers (marijuana) and their smoked resin (hashish) , Inhaled or ingested. The main psychoactive agent of cannabis is THC. The high temperature reached during cooking or combustion results in the decarboxylation of tetraidrocannabinoic acid in THC, increasing the absorbed amount of the latter.
Commercially-prepared hashish contains a large amount of variable (natural and non-volatile) substances in order to increase their weight to gain more profit. Hemp is a “dispersive” drug that amplifies sensations, and the effects of hiring are therefore multiple. Among the most frequently described, one can list: a feeling of well-being, hilarity, greater involvement in recreational activities, alteration of the perception of time and absence of aggressive acts or violent reactions (as opposed to alcohol). The general intensification of feelings and emotions can also include those related to unpleasant, normally tolerable, or unconscious, situations or thoughts and may, in these cases, have been extremely anxious, paranoid attitudes and thoughts, limited to the duration of the state of intoxication.
In March 2007, the scientific journal The Lancet published a study outlining the lesser danger of marijuana than alcohol, tobacco or benzodiazepines: research confirms this study. There are no documented cases of overdose due to the abuse of this substance, as THC has extremely low toxicity and the most used recruitment methods do not allow it to absorb such an amount; The ratio between the lethal dose and the one required to saturate the receptors is 1,000: 1. A research by Professor David Nutt of the University of Bristol confirms the lesser risk of cannabis than alcohol and tobacco.
In addition, several studies and studies conducted at various universities in the world have shown that the active substance THC could have antitumor effects.
The first scientific studies in which such anticancer properties have been sufficiently confident are dated back to 1975.
The seeds of this plant, too, are very rich in linoleic acids, vitamins and essential amino acids, and constitute a complete food; They are also used for squeezing an oil, hemp seed oil, which has a nutritional use but is also useful as a fuel.
The thing that has to be done to reflect the rulers is that with the prohibition of hemp the greatest use of the plant in Western countries has reduced to the recreational one.
Hemp seeds constituted a traditional ingredient of many oriental kitchens (eg in Nepal) and some areas of Russia, which used them in a kind of flour, typically in times of famine. Hemp seed in fact provides man with a very high nutrition, so few plant sources can compete with his nutritional value. The flour obtained from the grinding of the hemp seed can also be used to make a pasta similar to that of soft wheat, but from the darkest color.
The protein composition of hemp seed is virtually unique in the vegetable kingdom, and is among the richest sources of polyunsaturated fatty acids. 65% of the proteins are Einthly globulin; The exceptionally high content of edestin, combined with albumin, another globular protein present in all seeds, immediately makes available all amino acids. Cannabis seed proteins then allow for maximum nutrition for those suffering from tuberculosis, and other diseases that cause a digestive system block.
Extracts of hemp seeds, such as soybeans, can be flavored to taste chicken, beef or pork, and can be used to produce some kind of tofu, cream or margarine at a lower cost Than that of soy beans. The germination of any seed increases its nutritional value, and even hemp seed can be malted and used like everyone else in salads or in recipes. From the seeds it is possible to extract milk (with hazelnut flavor) like soy beans. They can be milled and used as flour, or cooked, sweetened and mixed with milk to make it a nutritious breakfast, similar to oatmeal or wheat. This type of flour is known as gruel, that is, almost an oatmeal.
Hemp seeds contain protein and carbohydrates as well, an oil rich in linolenic acids without any psychoactive effect. The oil has a strongly linoleic taste and is still used as spicy oil. It is also widespread in many cosmetic products. The by-product of the pressed seeds to extract the oil is a highly protein agglomerate. This agglomeration has been one of the main animal feeds until the last century. Hemp seed can provide a nearly complete diet for all domesticated animals (dogs and cats), for many farm animals and poultry, and allows them to reach their maximum weight at a cost lower than that of the feed used and without the Need to use steroids for artificial growth and other potentially toxic drugs.
It is also recalled that cannabis oil can be used in some types of engine, particularly as biodiesel.
It is very common (and likely) that proclamation of prohibition laws against cannabis in the United States before World War II has also been linked to competition between the emerging chemical industry and the possibility of using this plant oil as fuel.
From the stem of the hemp plant can be obtained ethanol through a fermentation process.
It is well known that hemp is cultivated from the night of the times. Historical and archaeological finds would confirm that Cannabis sativa probably was the first ever plant to be trained by man to meet his own needs.
Evidence of the use of cannabis has been in place since the Neolithic times, as evidenced by the discovery of some fossilized seeds in a cave in Romania. The oldest human artifact found is a piece of canvas dating back to 800 BC Cannabis has been a good textile fiber for millennia, and for this reason it began to be cultivated in ancient times, in Asia and the Middle East. Already in the sixteenth century it began to cultivate it in eastern England, but its commercial production began in the West in the eighteenth century. Hemp fiber has been the raw material for paper production for hundreds of years, but since the mid-twentieth century, with the advent of prohibition, the use of hemp fibers has been considerably reduced.
In China to 4,500 BC Was used for many uses, both textiles and doctors (the use of hemp for menstrual pain, for example, practice that has been handed down to almost today, even the most severe queen Vittoria used it for this purpose.
Radical 200 (麻 or má), the Chinese character to indicate hemp, depicts two plants placed under a shed. The use of cannabis in Taiwan dates back to at least 10,000 years ago.
The importance of cultivating hemp in the eighteenth century is attested by the poem The Canapajo of the priest Girolamo Baruffaldi, a typical product of Georgian-didactic literature.
The writer François Rabelais in the third Book of Pantagruele devotes two chapters to hemp, describing its qualities and usefulness, especially for navigation, considering it so outstanding that the name of its protagonist is to be attributed to it.
From the Renaissance to the nineteenth century, Cannabis became an object and a narrative tool increasingly present in European literature, especially French. We find extraordinary descriptions of effects in works by authors such as Gerard de Nerval, Théophile Gautier, Charles Baudelaire, Honoré de Balzac, Father Alexandre Dumas.
In the Poet of the Haven of Artificial Paradise, Charles Baudelaire describes his experiences with the substance in pages marked by vivid and profound contradictions. On the one hand, he exalted the visions and abductions caused by smoking, and on the other he denounced the damage that this caused to consciousness, will and even literary creativity.
Regarding psychotropic use, antiquarian cannabis smokers were Hindu populations of India and Nepal. In Arab countries, the hemp plant resin was consumed for centuries due to its mind-altering properties, in particular from the Hashashin, present in Syria, from which it was named hashish.
Cannabis was also used by the Assyrians, who learned their psychoactive properties from the Aryans and, thanks to them, was also introduced to Sciti and Traci, who began to use them even during their religious rites. Emperor Shen Nung, father of Chinese medicine, included hemp in his pharmacopoeia, one of the earliest medical texts and first description of this herb dated 2700 BC Chinese culture was mainly concerned with healing potential, omitting those who were the secondary results caused by its intake. It was mainly used as a drink to treat painful internal diseases, while in the form of smoke it was used to treat toothache, pustules or tears in the oral cavity. In 2003, a leather bag containing some traces of cannabis and seeds dating back 2,500 years ago was found in China.
The repeated migrations of nomadic populations of Asia favored spreading in the Middle East, in the Mediterranean, and finally in Western Europe. Some sources have made it back to Greece in 800 BC. The Greek historian Herodotus in the 5th century a. C. recounts that in the Shi’ite, Indo-Iranian nomadic populace, this herb often went around and was smoked in banquets and funeral ceremonies to make fun.
In central Europe, even before the Roman Empire was expanded, cannabis was already cultivated and used in British Isles by the Celtic and Pitti tribes (III-IV sec. BC). Pliny the Elder in Naturalis History mentions the therapeutic properties of the herb, and further references can be found in Juliana’s Nerone Discoprite physician. In the Middle Ages the use continued lawfully until 1484 when a papal bubble forbade its use for the faithful.
In 1800 the use of hashish in Europe became a real fashion: introduced by the French psychiatrist Jacques-Joseph Moreau, who in 1840 described the effects of the drug in a scientific report after having tested it on its own, soon spread species In the artistic environments of that time; So much that in Paris was born the Club des Hashischins, attended by poets and writers such as Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Charles Baudelaire, Honoré de Balzac and Théophile Gautier.
In Europe, the use of cannabis as a psychoactive substance is fairly recent, probably due to the fact that the Cannabis sativa species spread more widely in Europe, while Cannabis indicates, richer than amazing active principles, has entered Europe much later, Nineteenth, probably thanks to Napoleon, interested in the property of this plant to relieve pain and its sedative effects.
Methods of Preparation –
Recently, hemp is often encountered in the pot or in the glass: from the canned pizza served with mozzarella buffalo tartar and corberian tomato, to the Treja, a brewery brewed with honey with cannabis sativa, myrtle and pink pepper.
Today hemp cultivation and the processing of its derivatives in the Roero area is a real trend: from fresh pasta to ice cream, to fine loaves.
Some chefs after studying the nutraceutical properties of the plant and its food derivatives such as flour, decorticated seeds and oil – which, for example, prove to be precious in the treatment of psoriasis and acne – have worked on the consistency and on the ‘Sensory look to make them even more appealing and interesting. Usually the use in hemp’s kitchen is quite limited but in recent times it is a highly developed matter that can give great satisfaction to both the worker and the person who eats it.
Gourmet dishes are created where the oil is used not only to condiment raw (the nutraceutical elements contained therein are thermolable and should be lost by cooking) but also to marinate raw meat and fish and to add a special touch to the dessert, thanks To its crisp aftertaste; The decorticated is used to create unprecedented panura for a second dish, texture and particular taste, while flour can be used – “cutting it” with other gluten-rich flours such as spelled or gluten-free flour, rice, tapioca And manioc in the case of celiac preparations – to prepare fresh pasta, bread and sweets.
In Italy we mostly know the taste of extra virgin olive oil or butter; If you use different oils you have to get used to it a bit at a time but the important thing is that using hemp, like any other product, is treated with the necessary knowledge and without all the negative speculations that you make of it.
And last but not least, the use of textiles.
If we think that cotton is one of the most polluting crops on the planet, while hemp does not need nearly evergreens or pesticides, we would have another reason to go this way, even though it is not an indifferent investment. Let us imagine, however, the value that a hemp made in Italy, cultivated with our genetics, could give birth to garments made in Italy. As a fabric, thanks to its hollow fiber, hemp remains fresh in summer and warm in winter. It has antibacterial and antifungal properties and is able to absorb the moisture of the body while keeping it dry; Also absorbs infrared rays and UVAs up to 95%.
The tear resistance is three times as high as that of cotton and among the natural fibers is the one that best resist wear.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. The Health of the Lord’s Pharmacy, Tips and Experiences with Medicinal Herbs, Ennsthaler Publisher
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora d’Italia, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (eds.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
Attention: Pharmaceutical applications and surgical uses are indicated for information purposes only; they do not represent any prescription of a medical type; Therefore, no responsibility for their use for any curative, aesthetic or food use is considered.