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The Hemp plant is a quite famous plant in the Cannabaceae family with a very rich history in human culture. Hemp has been employed to make cloth, paper, and food since the first Neolithic human societies began in Central and Southeast Asia. Cannabis sativa has also been used as a sacred religious plant in Buddhist, Hindu, Hebrew, African, and Caribbean cultures. Its medical use dates back to 5,000 years ago, when Chinese physicians prescribed Cannabis for fatigue, malaria, and rheumatism. The American Eclectic physicians of the early 1900s preferred Cannabis extract to support healthy urinary tract function, and to support healthy digestion, mood, and sleep. Over the centuries, humans carefully evolved the genetics of Cannabis into several different strains, hybridized mainly for its use as a drug or its use as a fiber and seed oil plant. Cannabis sativa var. sativa has narrow leaflets and is often referred to as narrow leaflet Hemp. It is commonly known as Industrial Hemp, and is differentiated from its cousin known as Marijuana, in that it produces only trace quantities (<0.3%) of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary intoxicating cannabinoid that is associated with recreational use. Hemp produces over 100 different cannabinoids, the more recently famous of which is known as cannabidiol or CBD. Cannabinoids are constituents found in the Hemp plant that led to the discovery of the endocannabinoid receptor system. Since then, many other species of plants that interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system have been discovered. Until very recently, cultivation and use of Hemp was federally regulated on the same scheduled level as marijuana, however it has now been recognized that these two plants are distinctly different. The passage of the 2018 US Farm Bill declared that all parts of the Hemp plant containing no more than 0.3% of THC are now legal, and the Hemp plant has been removed from the Schedule 1 class of controlled substances.


Hemp seed contains the essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6, and has been used as a nutritional food source, generally consumed as whole hulled seeds and pressed oils. Hemp flower is a source of over 100 different types of cannabinoids. First discovered in 1988, the endocannabinoid system is a system in the body that regulates homeostasis in mood, sleep, memory, immune function, and pain through supporting healthy cellular communication. It consists of two main cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, found on individual cells all throughout the body. The body produces its own endocannabinoid compounds, but phytocannabinoids from Hemp or cannabinomimetics found in the diet can also influence this system. Cannabinomimetics are compounds found in other plant species, such as Echinacea and broccoli, which interact with the body’s CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. Cannabinoids from the Hemp plant have often been labelled as non-psychoactive, however this is not completely accurate, as the endocannabinoid system can have an impact on the nervous system and mood, but they are not associated with altered states of consciousness. Hemp also produces terpenoids like its cousin which are responsible for the aromatics of the plant. These terpenoids, found in the Hemp flower essential oil, also have the ability to interact with the nervous system just like essential oils found in plants like Lemongrass and lavender, and they may also have synergistic activity with cannabinoids. Beta-caryophyllene, a terpene found in Cloves, Oregano, Hops, Black Pepper, and Holy Basil, can also interact with the cannabinoid receptors, and therefore presents a strong case for synergistic activity with all of the other cannabinoids in Hemp. The synergy of full spectrum cannabinoids and terpenes to create a stronger effect together is known as the “entourage effect”.

Uses of Hemp


This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.

Active Constituents

Cannabinoids (<0.3%THC), terpenoids, flavonoids, fatty acids, phenols

Parts Used

  • Flower, seed oil

Important precautions

Not to be used during pregnancy or lactation. If you have a medical condition or take pharmaceutical drugs, please consult with your doctor before use.

Additional Resources

Bonini SA, Premoli M, Tambaro S, et al. Cannabis sativa: A comprehensive ethnopharmacological review of a medicinal plant with a long history. J Ethnopharmacol. 2018 Dec 5;227:300-315.

Felter HW. 1922. The eclectic materia medica, pharmacology and therapeutics. Available at

Gertsch J, Pertwee RG, Di Marzo V. Phytocannabinoids beyond the cannabis plant – do they exist? Br J Pharmacol. 2010 Jun;160(3):523-9.

Ligresti A, De petrocellis L, Di Marzo V. From phytocannabinoids to cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids: Pleiotropic physiological and pathological roles through complex pharmacology. Physiol Rev. 2016;96(4):1593-659.

Upton (ed.) Cannabis inflorescence: Standards of identity, analysis, and quality control. American Herbal Pharmacopoeia. 2013. Scott’s Valley: American Herbal Pharmacopoeia.

Russo EB. Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. British Journal of Pharmacology. 2011;163:1344-1364.

Wilson RI, Nicoll RA. Endocannabinoid signaling in the brain. Science. 2002;296(5568):678-82.

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