Hemp

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Chapter: Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry : Fibres, Sutures and Surgical Dressings

Hemp is the pericyclic fibre obtained from Cannabis sativa Linn., belonging to family Cannabinaceae.


HEMP

 

 

Biological Source

 

Hemp is the pericyclic fibre obtained from Cannabis sativa Linn., belonging to family Cannabinaceae.

 

Geographical Source

 

Hemp is grown at any altitude from Norway to the Equator. The raw materials are imported from China, Hungary, America, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, France, and Norway.

 

History

 

The history of Cannabis sativa dates back to more than 6,000 years. The history of China has in its credit of having a Hemp textile production even before 4,500 B.C. which later spread to Asia in around 1,000 B.C. and reaching Europe by 800 B.C. In 1175 Cannabis sativa was grouped under taxable goods, and in 1535 an act came into force which compelled all land owners to sow 1/4 of an acre, or otherwise they be fined was formed by Henry VIII. During this period Hemp became a major crop and till 1920s about 80% of clothing was made from Hemp textiles. Traditionally, Hemp was processed by hand, which required huge labour and was costly. In 1917 American George W. Schlichten invented and patented a new machine for separating the fibre from the internal woody core (‘Hurds’) reducing labour costs. By 1930, due to the tough competition by the other varieties of hemp imported by Philippines and Mexico, the hemp production by United States had fell to less than 200 acres. Later on during World War II, farmers in the United States were encouraged to cultivate both cannabis hemp and flax for the purpose of war under the banner of ‘Hemp For Victory’, In 1937 the production of Cannabis sativa was restricted except for industrial use or research purpose but in 1970 its production was categorized as illegal for all purpose. In 1992/93 the first licenses were granted for growing Hemp of the low THC varieties (THC is the narcotic substance found in the leaves) under the ruling that Hemp is grown for ‘special purposes’ or ‘in the public interest’. At present, approximately 2,500 hectares are being grown.

 

Chemical Constituents

 

Hemp mainly consist of cellulose and lignin.

 

Uses

 

Hemp is mentioned historically to have more than 25,000 diverse uses. The historically mentioned uses are printing inks, paints, varnishes, paper, bibles, bank notes, food, textiles (the original Levi’s jeans were made from Hemp cloth), canvas and building materials. Due to its high tensile strength, bast fibres are ideal for such specialized paper products as: tea bags, industrial filters, currency paper, or cigarette paper.

 

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