Most people have heard of the beneficial effects hemp products can have on our health, but what about hemp cigarettes? Along with the more well-known benefits, hemp cigarettes are touted for their ability to allow CBD to be absorbed into the bloodstream more quickly, as well as CBD’s ability to combat addiction. But there are some downsides. What to know more? Let’s find out.
What Is Hemp?
Hemp is known the world over as a multipurpose crop. Until World War II, hemp was renowned as one of the most valuable crops in human society. In addition to its use to our ancestors as a fabric, it is currently making a come-back through its use in the animal husbandry sector, automotive industry, construction industry, and as a medicine and a nutritional supplement (1).
This incredibly desirable niche crop has been grown for thousands of years. Hemp has been known to be cultivated from at least 6000 years ago in Asia, making its way into Europe in the 15th century (2). Despite this, with the advent of synthetic fibers, hemp all but disappeared by the 1960s. Nonetheless, in the 1990s, hemp started to make a valiant return, currently cultivated on up to 15,000 hectares in the European Union alone (3).
Among the long list of uses, there has been one product that has been growing exponentially: this is hemp cigarettes.
What are Hemp Cigarettes?
Most people are aware of the beneficial effects of taking hemp, or Cannabidiol (CBD). CBD, a major phytocannabinoid from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa, is well known for its anticonvulsant, anxiolytic, anti-inflammatory, antipsychotic, and neuroprotective properties (4).
As a result of major changes in the legal landscape surrounding hemp and its derivatives, around the world, there has been an influx of hemp products in both the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical markets (5).
A large number of consumers have been adapting to the use of CBD since its legalization, with up to 55% of individuals reporting to have used CBD to aid stress, pain, and relaxation, and for sleep (6). Typically, the most commonly used CBD products are edibles (56%), followed by tinctures (54%) and topical creams (30%) (7).
However, all these products have one major failing: the fact CBD has a low oral bioavailability. This leaves consumers with a conundrum: how to maximize the delivery of CBD to achieve the greatest benefits. This is where hemp cigarettes come in.
Hemp cigarettes are exactly what the name implies. They consist of dried hemp flowers, and currently represent only 2% of the overall CBD market. Hemp cigarettes have an advantage over other oral hemp products as the inhalation of CBD results in CBD reaching high concentrations in the bloodstream much more quickly (8). This means that the therapeutic effect of CBD is likely enhanced through inhalation. This is something most consumers would agree is important, especially so when it is high-quality CBD, such as that from Silver Lion Farms.
What are the Benefits of Hemp Cigarettes?
Help with Addiction
Along with the deluge of positive effects CBD has on the body, there is one which is particular to hemp cigarettes: this is its ability to significantly help addiction. Several studies have shown that hemp can act as an effective treatment for heroin (9), cocaine and amphetamine (10), and of course nicotine tobacco cigarette addiction (11).
Inhaling CBD through hemp cigarettes, vapes and inhalers has been shown to reduce the number of cigarettes smoked by individuals trying to quit, by up to 40% in the first week alone (12).
CBD acts on the brain to suppress the behavior associated with withdrawals. This works through the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is an endogenous signaling system in the body whereby receptors, CB1 and CB2, bind with CBD. This results in the beneficial effects many people associate with CBD (13).
CBD works with the endocannabinoid system to reduce the thoughts of a particular type of behavior, such as smoking and reduces bias towards continuing the addictive substance (14).
What are the Downfalls of Hemp Cigarettes?
Despite the beneficial effects of hemp cigarettes, there are some downfalls. The biggest one is that combustion of hemp before inhalation, such as through smoking, poses adverse health risks.
Most people know the risks associated with tobacco smoke, including the fact most tobacco cigarettes contain more than 4000 chemicals, including carcinogenic and toxic compounds such as formaldehyde (15). However, much less is known about whether hemp cigarettes also contain similar chemicals when they are burned.
Studies have shown that hemp cigarettes can produce harmful concentrations of chemicals that can be damaging to our health, however at significantly lower concentrations compared to tobacco cigarettes (16). This suggests that, despite the clear benefits of CBD, inhaling smoke from hemp cigarettes can harm your health, especially as these chemicals can be carcinogenic and toxic to the respiratory system.
Despite the downfalls, CBD does have several clear benefits. This leaves an opportunity for the producers of hemp cigarettes to minimize the harmful impacts of smoking. There is a clear gap in the market to produce hemp cigarettes which are lower in these carcinogens, allowing hemp to continue as a therapeutic pharmaceutical or nutraceutical without adverse health effects (17).
The Bottom Line
The hemp cigarette is a new CBD product making its way into the consumer spotlight. There are many benefits of the hemp cigarette, with the biggest being its ability to help combat several addictions, including cigarette smoking. However, with most products being inhaled, there are some adverse effects, including the inhalation of chemicals. With the speed of research and development, this new “stellar” product is worth keeping two eyes on.