Why You Should Know Where Your Hemp Comes From

 

It seems like hemp products are everywhere lately. And for good reason. There’s evidence that hemp has a wide range of health benefits. However, there is also good reason to do a little research before you buy any hemp products. Not every product you see has been grown or processed with your health in mind. In fact, some actually contain chemicals that are not good for your body at all.

Here are a few things to consider when shopping for hemp. Whether you’re eating it, wearing it against your skin, or taking concentrated doses in the form of an oil like CBD, a little research can help you find a product that really is good for you.

 
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Hemp Is Really Good at Absorbing Toxins

One of the most important things to be aware of is that hemp can become contaminated with invisible but harmful chemicals while it’s growing. Hemp has a reputation for having many remarkable health benefits, but a lot of people don’t realize that this plant has another extraordinary quality. It’s a bio accumulator, which means it’s really good at absorbing things from the place where it’s growing. Being able to easily absorb nutrients from the soil helps hemp grow quickly. However, if there are any harmful toxins like heavy metals or pesticides present, it will absorb these too. It’s so good at this that in some places hemp has been planted specifically to help clean polluted soil. Unfortunately, some of these toxins are stored in the plant, which is bad news if you’re planning to eat the hemp or use it in a concentrated form like CBD. If your hemp has been grown in polluted soil, or been treated with pesticides, your hemp product could contain residues of these chemicals.

There hasn’t been much testing to show exactly how common hemp contamination is. However, a number of researchers have tested marijuana plants, which absorb toxins and pollutants in the same way. Some of these tests have revealed high levels of pesticides and other contaminants. For example, a 2017 investigation of 44 marijuana products sold in California stores revealed that 93 percent had high levels of pesticides. Experts worry that pesticides and other contaminants are causing serious harm to marijuana users, and they worry that testing on hemp would show similar health hazards.

Beware of Processing with Solvents

Hemp can also be contaminated during processing. One of the most popular hemp products right now is CBD oil. CBD is popular because it’s believed to have tons of health benefits such as relieving pain and anxiety, and helping with insomnia and stress. If you’re using CBD though, you might want to find out how it was extracted from the hemp plant. That’s because there is more than one extraction method, and some methods can leave behind residues of dangerous chemicals.

Most experts agree that a method called CO₂ extraction results in the purest CBD. This technique uses pressurized carbon dioxide to pull CBD from the hemp plant. It’s believed to be one of the best ways to preserve the potency of the CBD and has a minimal risk of contamination. Unfortunately, CO₂ extraction is also the most expensive method because it requires hi-tech equipment and a lot of skill.

Because CO2 extraction is so expensive, some companies use other methods instead. Solvent extraction is very common because it’s relatively cheap and easy. With this method, solvents like propane, butane, or ethanol are used to separate the CBD from the rest of the hemp plant. The problem with solvent extraction is that residues of these harsh chemicals can be left in the final product, and consuming solvents like propane is definitely not good for you. In addition, solvents can destroy some of the beneficial properties of the CBD.

Alarming Lack of Oversight

Yet another thing to be aware of when you buy hemp is that because of persisting confusion over the legality of hemp and hemp products in the United States, the market for these products is not well regulated, or in some cases not regulated at all. This means that it can be difficult to know what you’re getting, even if you read the label thoroughly. For example, some researchers have discovered hemp products that don’t actually contain what they say on the label. 

An example of this is the popular CBD market. While thousands of people in the United States use CBD, it hasn’t been approved as a dietary supplement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that it isn’t subject to strict regulation like other dietary supplements, and as a result it can be hard to know what you’re getting. The FDA recently tested a number of CBD products, and reports that many of them didn’t have the level of CBD stated on the label. In many cases, the level was much lower. 

What Can You Do?

So if you can’t always trust the label, and you can’t detect invisible contaminants or pesticides yourself, is there anything you can do? Finding out where the hemp was grown might give you some information about how it was grown. Hemp is cultivated in a number of different places around the world, and regulations and monitoring vary. For instance, Canada produces a large quantity of hemp, and hemp cultivation there is strictly regulated by the government. Growers and manufacturers must be licensed by Health Canada, a government agency, and are only allowed to grow approved varieties of hemp. In addition, the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance reports that a lot of Canadian hemp is certified organic, which means that growers can’t use pesticides. 

In addition to finding out where the hemp was grown, try to find out how it was processed. For example, if it’s a CBD product, was it extracted with a solvent that may have left behind harmful residue? Also look at any other ingredients. Some people believe that if a product has hemp in it, then it’s automatically healthy. However, it’s a good idea to understand whether any other ingredients have been added to make the product look or taste better, and whether these ingredients are good for you too.

Another way to evaluate a hemp product is to see whether it’s been tested for purity and contamination. Ideally, testing should be done by a third party so that the results will be unbiased. A number of hemp companies now use third-party laboratories to test their products for potency, and for the presence of contaminants such as mold, pesticides, and heavy metals.

Most important of all though, don’t let the potential dangers scare you away hemp products. Yes, it’s true that there are some things to look out for, but that’s true of any product. Do your research before you buy, then have fun exploring the exciting world of hemp!


Written By:  Andrea C. Nakaya