Cannabis sativa L. (hemp) is very long used crop in Lithuania. It is believed that hemp (and millet) was one of the earliest cultivated plants. Their seeds and hemp twine residues were found in the mid-Neolithic Narva culture settlements of Šventoji (III millennium BC). Male plants are lower than female; they grow faster, and bloom earlier. Hemp is nutritious, fast growing, resistant to weeds and pests plant. The seeds are nutritious; they have more protein and amino acids than cereal grains, so seeds usually are used for oil extraction. Food eating habits are still live in Samogitia (Žemaitija).
Hemp fiber is very strong and resistant to water. Withered from hemp rope dates back to 2500 BC. All rigging (rope, sails, etc.) in sailing ship era (XV-XVIII c.), used for shipping, was made from hemp fiber, clothing most of the sailors was made also from hemp, so hemp was very important strategic raw material in most countries.
Standard hemp fabrics are similar to flax fabrics by moisture absorption and ergonomics. However, hemp is much easier to grow than flax, and fiber yields are several times higher from the same parcel. Modern textile can produce textile of different thickness and softness. Hemp advantage over cotton is that the land must not be poisoned by chemicals in huge quantities for their production.
Hemp textile together with linen cloth by old merchant is called in generic term (from henep, according to ancient English). Hemp term is used for vegetable fiber fabrics or fiber plants. Therefore, according to written sources, it is difficult to determine, from what specific plant the textile has been made, as is often the case, it is used the term hemp. Only nowadays this term is used for hemp fabrics.
Flax and artificial fibers almost completely replaced hemp fibers from the market after the Second World War.
Hemp stems have a lot of cellulose, so paper production is the other very important hemp use. The first paper, invented and produced in China, was from hemp. The famous US Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper. It is much easier to obtain cellulose from this plant, than wood; in addition it is consuming less harmful chemicals, and for this reason hemp paper mills are far less poisoning the environment. Paper is produced cleaner, whiter, and stronger. Forest is growing at least 60 years till deforestation, and the hemp crop in tropical climate may be harvested to three times a year.
Currently hemp boom is in full swing in the world, as more and more companies are taking care on the environment and the consumers; hemp fiber is used for textiles (for example, Suit Supply line, H&M line); machinery (BMW i3). Hemp is not only a historical farming culture; it’s very modern, reliable, and environmentally friendly raw material for industry, textiles, and healthy life style!
The plant can also be used for the production of beer, instead of hops. Lithuania is allowed to grow the hemp varieties with not more than 0.2 per cent of tetrahydrocannabinol, and which have been approved and entered into the European Union allowed to grow hemp list.
Hemp seeds / grains:
- Protein makes up to 36% of the total seed mass;
- Protein in hemp seeds contain no trypsin inhibitor, which impedes the absorption of proteins in the human body;
- Oil makes up to 35% seeds by weight;
- Hemp oil contains up to 80% of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Omega-3 and omega-6 ratio of 3: 1 to 57%: 19%;
- Oil has 8% of saturated fatty acids.