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Hemp is a form of the same plant as marijuana that generally has much lower levels of the psychoactive cannabinoid compounds. The seed and seed oil have probably been used for food, cooking, and lamp oil in Asia and North Africa for millennia. Hemp is believed to come from China. The nutty seeds normally have a hard shell which has to be removed to make it edible. Today, in order to be legal in most countries, the seeds must be treated so that they cannot be planted and grown.
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Hemp is known from archeological and historical records to have been used for a very long time for making fiber for clothing and ropes. The edible seeds and oil expressed from the seeds are noted in ancient Chinese medicine for their medicinal effects as well. Known as huo ma ren (literally “fire hemp seed”), hemp seed is used primarily for alleviating constipation as a bulk-forming laxative.1 Hemp is also mentioned in ancient Egyptian medical texts such as the Ebers papyrus as well as other places for use in making rope.2
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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2016.
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