Why all the fuss about hemp?

Why all the fuss about hemp

Over the last few months I’ve started to see hemp products appearing on New Zealand supermarket shelves. They include hemp milk, hempseed oil, hempseed hearts and hemp snack balls.  

I’ve also started to notice .co.nz online shopping sites for hemp products, mainly food and skincare.  

Radio NZ has been conducting interviews with hemp growers. 

And then there’s the omega-6 to omega-3 balance debate. Some are saying hempseed oil has the perfect balance of omega-6 to omega-3. We’re even hearing it’s a good alternative source for omega-3 fish oil. 

I was starting to see a trend and wanted to find out for myself if there was something real behind all the hype. And is there? Absolutely.  I found solid research to back up the claims for hemps nutritional, therapeutic and sustainable benefits.  Which is why I have total confidence in Hemp & Co products. You can too.

Just a plant?

Plants provide us with food and can also have amazing health benefits—St John’s wort, for instance. Others provide timber for construction and pulp for paper. Still others supply the raw material for fabric, rubber, and other commercial uses. However, all these plants have their limitations. Hemp doesn’t. 
Hemp can feed you, house you, heal you, clothe you and more. This plant is staggeringly versatile. When you think of healthy skin, nutrition, a baby’s soft blanket, construction for housing, and sustainability, think hemp. This plant is an abundant contributor to us AND to our planet.  That’s a powerful combination.

Hempseed is nutritious and great for your skin

Technically, hemp isn’t a seed (although we say hempseed). It’s a nut with a hard outer shell. This little nut is packed full of goodness—chock-a-block full of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and a rich source of omega-6 and 3, the essential fatty acids.


Omega-6 and 3 are critical for the healthy functioning of our immune system. Probably no other single oil offers a more favourable human dietary source of these two essential fatty acids. 

Hemp has the distinction of being a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. It is a ‘high-quality’ protein, comparable with meat and eggs.

Our skin loves hempseed oil. A number of studies have looked at the benefits of plant oils for our skin, specifically borage and evening primrose oil for individuals suffering from eczema. Results were mixed; some showed improvements and others were inconclusive. However, a study undertaken in Finland of people with eczema showed significant improvement in skin dryness and itchiness when they consumed hempseed oil. The study compared hempseed oil to olive oil (Callaway, 2005).

Hemp and the health of our planet

By 2050 it’s estimated that the world’s population will reach 10 billion.  Providing healthy diets from sustainable sources for the growing world population is an immense challenge. 

A report by the EAT Lancet Commission recommends a diet rich in plant-based foods with fewer animal source foods as a solution (The EAT Lancet Commission, 2017). As a plant-based source, hemp is a sustainable food solution and has tremendous potential for benefiting the environment. 

Looking beyond food hemp also has a key role to play. For example, in the textile and fashion industries. Sweden, a country which aims to be world leading in sustainable fashion, recognises the damage this industry has on the global environment.  The fashion industry is a huge consumer of water and generator of wastewater.  “It accounts for a staggering 8%–10% of global carbon emissions—more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined” (Stories:Sweden, 2019). Compared to cotton, hemp produces twice as much fibre per acre and uses only 2.12L of water to grow 1kg of fibre; cotton needs 9.75L.

Hemp can be grown on the same land consecutively for 14 years without soil depletion or yield reduction. It can be relied on in a drought-induced famine for its high protein seed. Hemp can be grown without the use of  herbicides or pesticides. And, like a weed it is very tolerant of marginal soil conditions. (Tourangeua, 2015).

Hemp has a multitude of uses

Our survival as a species has been due in part to our ability to utilise resources from our natural environment. It comes as no surprise that the hemp plant has played a leading role. For thousands of years hemp has been used to produce paper, clothing, rope and canvas. New Zealand was discovered by a ship rigged by hemp rope and sails. 

The multitude of applications for hemp fibre is due, in part, to the fibre’ s durability and strength. Prof Kim Pickering from Waikato’s School of Engineering sees hemp as a sustainable manufacturing material. She says along with European flax, hemp is one of the strongest natural fibres she has assessed.

(Pickering, 2017) In his book ‘The Great Book of Hemp’ Rowan Robinson emphasised the importance of growing hemp in the USA during World War II. Farmers were encouraged to grow hemp so the fibre could be used for making rope as well as fire hoses, parachutes, and shoelaces. (Robinson, 1997)

Today we are starting to see a revival of hemp products. What we see on our supermarket shelves is just one example of this resurgence. It comes as no surprise that this is the case, but I wonder: why has it taken us so long?


Callaway, J. (2005). Efficacy of dietary hempseed oil on patients with atopic dermatitis. Journal of Dermatological Treatment, 87-94.

Pickering, K. (2017, October 26). Creating sustainable manufacturing materials. (K. Hill, Interviewer) Retrieved from https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/2018619284/creating-sustainable-manufacturing-materials

Robinson, R. (1997). The Great Book of Hemp: The Complete Guide to the Environmental, Commercial, and Medicinal Uses of the World’s Most Extraordinary Plant. New York: Park Street Press.

Stories:Sweden. (2019, June 24). Retrieved from United Nations website: https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/sweden-pioneer-sound-chemical-and-waste-management

The EAT Lancet Commission. (2017). Home Knowledge. Retrieved from The EAT Lancet Commission: https://eatforum.org/eat-lancet-commission/

Tourangeua, W. (2015). Re-defining Environmental Harms: Green Criminology and the State of Canada's Hemp Industry. Canadian Journal of Criminology & Criminal Justice, 57 (4): 528–554.

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