From Ancient Remedies to Modern Skincare and Wellness: Hemp's Timeless Journey

From Ancient Remedies to Modern Skincare and Wellness: Hemp's Timeless Journey

Hemp is a remarkable plant deeply interwoven with human civilization for millennia. Its captivating history continues to resonate  in today's skincare and wellness industry. Hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) has re-emerged as an effective option for those seeking natural remedies and skincare solutions. In this blog we explore the fascinating history of hemp and its multifaceted contributions to humanity.

Hemp's story begins in ancient civilizations, where it held tremendous cultural, medicinal and economic significance, with evidence of its cultivation dating as far back as 8000 BCE. Ancient healers and medical practitioners in China, India, and the Middle East incorporated hemp into their remedies. The plant's therapeutic potential was documented in ancient texts such as the Chinese Pharmacopoeia and the Ayurvedic tradition. These early civilizations recognized the myriad uses of hemp, harnessing its fibers to craft textiles, ropes, and paper, using the seeds for nourishment and the oils for lamps and medicinals.

Ancient Egypt embraced cannabis, possibly as far back as 5,000 years ago. Some speculate that depictions of the Egyptian Goddess of writing, Seshat, are brimming with cannabis-inspired themes. In many renderings, she’s shown with a star-shaped leaf atop her head and a fibrous rope in her hand. Pharaoh Tuthmosis III referred to her as Sefkhet-Abwy, denoting her as the one with seven points. Additionally, Ebers Papyrus, an ancient Egyptian medical text, contains notes of cannabis being used for treating inflammation. Cannabis was also believed to aid in glaucoma treatment and used in enemas, with evidence of its presence found on the mummy of Pharaoh Ramses II.

Throughout medieval Europe, during the "Age of Sail," hemp played a vital role as a staple crop. Its resilient fibers were woven into clothing, sails, and ropes, supporting the expansion of maritime exploration and trade.

historical map of hemp

When North America was colonized, hemp was introduced for the purpose of creating clothes and paper. Several of the founding fathers, notably George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, were avid hemp cultivators. Hemp became indispensable in the development of the emerging nation, with its fibers used in the production of paper, clothing, and shipbuilding materials. However, it would take another 200-300 years before the therapeutic uses of cannabis/CBD were introduced and widely used.

In the 20th century, hemp faced legal challenges and restrictions due to its association with its psychoactive cousin, marijuana. However, attitudes towards the plant  began to shift in recent decades, leading to a resurgence of interest and cultivation. The 2018 US Farm Bill in the United States legalized hemp development. This paved the way for the development and extraction of cannabidiol (CBD), one of the many beneficial compounds found in hemp. 

Here in the Southwest where Respect Wellness resides, abuelas (grandmas) and curanderas (women healers) have been adding hemp to their teas and homemade ointments for generations. There is a newfound appreciation for CBD’s ability to promote relaxation, reduce discomfort, and support overall well-being. Today, its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties make it a sought-after ingredient in serums, creams, and oils. For instance, CBD-infused skincare products like GLOW help to alleviate redness, skin irritation, and promote a healthy complexion. CBD continues to be developed and researched with the benefits of sustainable practices across the supply chain. 

Beyond skincare, CBD has found its way into various wellness products. From tinctures and capsules to bath bombs and edibles, CBD is being embraced for its potential to alleviate stress, promote restful sleep (Night Sky), and support a balanced lifestyle (Menopause Balance). Respect Wellness, is part of this movement with an eye on supporting women during their Second Spring (peri/menopause). 

As we reflect on the vital history of hemp and its transformation into a powerful skincare and wellness ingredient, it’s clear that this plant has stood the test of time. From ancient civilizations to the modern age, hemp has continually evolved and proven its worth across cultural, medicinal, and commercial contexts. Embracing hemp and its derivatives, such as CBD, allows us to reconnect with the wisdom of our ancestors while exploring innovative ways to support our overall well-being.