Hemp refers to non-intoxicating varieties of the cannabis plant that are grown for their nutritious seeds, strong natural fiber, and therapeutic flowers. Growing hemp was recently legalized in the United States in 2018, and hemp based products are catching on fast. From nutritious energy to improved recovery and even protection from the elements, outdoor enthusiasts are discovering that hemp has a diverse range of uses and benefits for their active lifestyles.
Hemp foods provide nutrition and energy
Hemp seeds have an impressive amount of nutrition, even more than flax and chia. They are a complete source of plant-based protein and actually have more protein per gram than chicken breast. Hemp’s quality protein is easy absorbed by the body and is not only needed to maintain strength and energy on the trail but is also important in repairing muscle and other tissues after physical activity.
Hemp seeds are also rich in dietary fiber that slows your digestion, meaning you stay full and energized for longer. Other foods low in fat and fiber create a quick energy boost but are often followed by a crash. Dietary fiber also helps maintain a healthy gut, which decreases the likelihood of digestive issues, including some that can quickly ruin a day on the trail. Maintaining a healthy and regular digestion (with the help of hemp seeds) not only makes your hikes more comfortable, it also gives you more energy and motivation to get outside.
Unsaturated fats like Omega fatty acids aid in virtually every major bodily function and are critical for maintaining good heart and brain health. However, while other plant oils have way too much Omega-6, which can actually cause inflammation, hemp seeds contain Omega-6 and Omega-3 fats in the perfect 3:1 ratio for human health and will even help to balance out other oils. The healthy fats in hemp seeds are known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects that protect body tissues and promote post-hike recovery.
Hemp seeds have 10x more iron than spinach, 23x more Vitamin B1 than pork, 50x more magnesium than broccoli, 3x more potassium than chia seeds, and 50% fewer carbs than almonds. They are very rich in potassium, which aids in muscle recovery and also works with sodium in your body to maintain water levels and thus reduce cramping. With more potassium than flax or chia, and with a host of other vitamins and minerals, including B-vitamins, Vitamin E, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, and zinc, it’s easy to see why this superfood belongs in every hiker’s nutritional arsenal.
Here are a few ways to enjoy hemp seeds on the trail:
- Take a couple of hemp nutrition bars with you
- Add hemp hearts into your hiking meals or take a bag with you to snack on
- Add hemp protein powder or hemp milk into your pre-hike smoothie
- Take a serving of hemp seed oil before and after your hike for an anti-inflammatory boost
- Try some hemp seed coffee to get healthy Omega fats in your morning cup
CBD can help with recovery
Extracts from the hemp flower are rich in plant-based nutrients that won’t get you high but instead may provide many relieving and soothing benefits. Though the science behind hemp extracts is still emerging, many studies combined with mounting anecdotal evidence suggest that they could be useful in reducing inflammation and calming nerves while promoting a balance in body and mind called homeostasis. Research suggests this may be due to hemp extracts interacting directly with a particular family of receptors found throughout the body that regulates many important functions.
While many people have reported increased enjoyment from their outdoor activities when supplementing with hemp extracts, until there is more research, the only way to find out is to try it for yourself. Keeping a hiking journal is a great way to find out whether supplementing with hemp extracts provides you with personal benefits. Pay attention to any effects you feel and be honest with yourself. Most importantly, make sure to only purchase hemp extract products that have been tested for potency and purity. Don’t buy products from retailers that can’t provide lab reports. Buying certified USDA organic provides additional assurance in the quality of the final product.
Hemp creams protect skin from dryness and damage
Repetitive movements and adverse weather like wind, rain, and cold can dry and damage skin. Dry and chapped skin in the face, hands, or joints can be unpleasant and even painful. Prevention and care is simply matter of applying the right product at the right time.
Hemp seed oil, rich in Omega fats and anti-oxidants like Vitamin E, provides the moisturizing and protecting qualities that hikers need to face the elements while also giving UV protection, healing sun damage, and reducing inflammation. The Omega fats found in hemp seed oil build on your skin’s natural oil barrier to help maintain moisture and flexibility. Hemp seed oil can be added to a variety of creams, lotions, balms, and salves, but like coconut oil, it can also be applied directly to the skin to gain its many benefits.
Topical products that contain hemp extracts rich in cannabinoids may benefit from additional soothing and anti-inflammatory power that in some cases may even relieve joint stress*.
Hemp seed oil alone has SPF 6 but should not be relied on solely for protection from burns. However, its anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, and moisturizing properties are great for preventing your skin from drying out while you’re outside and also to care for your skin after sun exposure. Think of hemp creams like aloe vera on steroids.
Smokable hemp can elevate your outdoor experience
(without the high)
There are a variety of smokable hemp products on the market, such as vape pens, pre-rolls, and raw hemp flower. While we don’t necessarily advocate for hikers to put anything in their lungs but fresh air, for those who choose to occasionally indulge while in the great outdoors, these can be a great option. Since smokable hemp lacks the strong intoxicating effects of hemp’s illicit cousin, it won’t compromise your ability to get back safely should you enjoy a toke during your trip. Smokable hemp products are rich in the same cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids as ingestible hemp extracts but in fast-acting form. They can calm, soothe, and are a perfect for on the trek or after returning home. For those with sensitive lungs, it’s best to avoid smoking hemp flower with fire. Vape pens and portable flower vaporizers provide a more comfortable experience and better taste while minimizing lung irritation. While best used in moderation, smokable hemp can be the perfect cherry on top of your next outdoor adventure.
Hemp gear is durable and funk-free
Hemp fiber is renowned for its toughness and durability. That translates to clothing and accessories that can take a beating and last a long time, which is precisely what you want out of your hiking gear. Hemp fiber used to be uncomfortable with a rough, scratchy texture, but many brands today, including Patagonia and Prana, have figured out how to improve the softness of hemp textiles without sacrificing their strength or longevity. Hemp fiber is also anti-microbial and stain resistant, so clothing made from it is less likely to look and smell like you’ve been living in the woods for weeks.
Moreover, prices for this resilient material have been on the decline in recent years thanks to growing demand, so hiking clad in hemp won’t hurt your pocketbook any more than buying hiking attire made with other premium materials, like merino wool.
Many outdoor performance materials use synthetic fibers made from unsustainable petroleum oil. Hemp is a natural fiber that is even more ecologically friendly than other fiber crops like cotton or flax. While hemp grows, it captures carbon and aerates the soil, so you can feel good knowing your hemp hiking gear is in harmony with nature.
Hemp is good for your furry companion
A hike just isn’t the same without your dog. As it turns out, hemp extracts have the same potential benefits for our pets as they do for us. That’s because they share the same family of receptors that the nutrients in hemp extracts interact with. They may be especially useful for dogs who tend to become anxious or excitable when outside. While a pull up the mountain may be helpful on occasion, being pulled down is a much different matter. Reducing your pet’s anxiety through the soothing effects of hemp extracts may reduce pulling and avoid rowdy pup encounters on the trail. Due to their smaller body sizes, hemp extract products formulated for pets usually have a lower potency, and it’s always best to start with a smaller serving to see how your pal reacts.
Beyond hemp extracts, hemp seed oil rich in anti-oxidants and Omega fats provides the same anti-inflammatory and health-promoting benefits that people enjoy. Simply pour a serving on your dog’s food to add this powerful supplement and help them get the nutrition they need for your next outdoor venture together.
Dogs aren’t the only animals that benefit from hemp. Horses do, too! Though they need quite a bit more, hemp extracts and hemp seed oil are similarly effective with our equine friends. Horse owners have reported healthier, shinier fur coats and improved performance after only four weeks of adding these hemp supplements. The nutritional benefits of hemp are especially important for horses when grazing grasses become scarce, which is where horses normally get their essential nutrients.
So whether you’re trekking with your Pomeranian in a backpack, riding your horse through a prairie, or being pulled down a hill by your great dane house cow, hemp can help with that!
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