Go shopping for beauty products, pet care products or food and wellness items and you will see hemp everywhere on the shelf. As we are almost towards the tail end of November, which is also World Vegan Month, let’s celebrate hemp which is a high-quality vegan protein, containing all nine essential amino acids, plus fibre, healthy fats and minerals. No doubt that for various industries it seems to be the new hero ingredient. We speak to people who work with hemp regularly to find out more about it.
BOHECO, Spaceman & Company and Intergalactic Beverages recently announced the launch of their contemporary range of beverages — Blissful. Fascinated by natural adaptogens and hemp’s ability to positively impact our state of being, Blissful harnesses these benefits through handcrafted, naturally flavoured and mindful seltzers and lemonades infused with functional ingredients designed to stimulate focus, creativity and energy.
Talking about how hemp can be incorporated in various aspects of our life and how it is beneficial, Yash Kotak, co-founder and CMO, BOHECO, says, “In addition to being a superfood, hemp leaves have immense medicinal value. The full-spectrum cannabinoids present in hemp leaf extract have been known as a remedy for various lifestyle and chronic ailments including stress, insomnia, arthritis, dermatitis, period cramps, PCOS, and even epilepsy, mood disorders and chemotherapy-induced nausea. As a source of nutrition, hemp seeds include vitamins, minerals, and other substances that may have important health advantages. Hemp seeds are a rich source of beneficial fats, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which are well known for enhancing heart health by lowering triglycerides, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Hemp seed oil is also a source of vitamin E, which is crucial for strengthening the immune system. Besides its resilience as a fibre and versatility as a textile, as a plant in itself, hemp has excellent carbon sequestration, with the ability to absorb approximately 15 tonnes of carbon dioxide per hectare. This makes a compelling case for large scale commercial cultivation considering its potential in combating climate change.”
Prashansa Sahani, founder & CEO, Hemis, says, “We were the first ones to bring hemp to Hyderabad. Now that people are waking up to more sustainable ways of living, we are getting more response. It is especially post Covid-19. Hemp is the best vegan protein even when compared to fish. Hemp seed oil is very good for the body and hemp can be used in accessories, clothes, everything.”
Elaborating about the evolution of hemp in India and Hyderabad, Varun Gupta, co-founder, Hemp Republic, “Hemp has its origins in India, the variant name indica of marijuana and hemp is a cousin brother of Marijuana. Hemp evolved more as a crop to ease one’s living. In fact there used to be a lot of hemp mills in Kolkata. The current form of NDPS came into effect from 1985, till then there were no restrictions to grow hemp in India. For almost more than 30 plus years, the plant was ignored as there was a restriction to grow until 2018 where Uttarakhand became the first state to legalise hemp farming which led to a lot of education about the benefits of the plant across various sectors and now we can see the industry picking up. We have organised Project H, an industrial hemp expo in the year 2019 which was attended by more than 1,200 people from Hyderabad and also other metroes, participated by around 12 hemp companies existent at that time in the country. Currently we can see more than 40-50+ brands/companies dealing with various hemp products majorly hemp food and CBD. Currently there are two companies in Hyderabad dealing with hemp products and we being the only ones who deal with multiple categories in hemp products.”
Hemp in food
The FSSAI announcement that recognised hemp seeds and its derivatives as a legally permitted food item soon followed s range of hemp-based food items. Hemp is now progressively becoming widely accepted among the general populace. Hemp seeds and their derivatives such as hemp seed oil and powder, which are superfoods, may be added to any meal from any cuisine to immediately improve its nutritional profile. “Hemp seeds and their derivatives can be used for a variety of cuisines and desserts, from khichdi to khow suey, as well as in cakes, rotis, pancakes, waffles, and other baked goods. Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which has potent anti-inflammatory qualities, is found in abundance in hemp seeds. Foods high in GLA are frequently used to treat inflammatory skin diseases like acne and eczema as well as nerve damage and arthritis in the joints. Hemp in food has found easy acceptance among people, with the influx of cafés serving hemp-based cuisine across India. With a rise in niche D2C brands like Blissful which are utilising the high nutritional content of hemp seeds to make conscientious and healthy beverages, helps us understand the ingredient’s versatility and immense potential,” concludes Yash.
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