Interview conducted by Lucia Rivas-Herry for an original article on Nutrition Is Medicine blog.
I had a read of the “About Us” link you sent me and it’s very interesting as you call it the “Tree of life” can you tell us a bit about The Cannabis Co and what inspired you to team up with Richard Jameson?
First of all, thanks for your interest and for writing some interesting questions for us Lucia. The Cannabis Company’s long-term goal is to make cannabis available to everyone – in a safe, sustainable and transparent manner. Although things are improving (last year it finally became legal to sell hemp foods here in Australia), there’s still a long way to go. Scientific research is starting to show what people have known both anecdotally and in folk medicine traditions for millennia: cannabis is good for you. The next step for us is to ensure the availability of cannabidiol, or CBD as it’s also known. CBD does not get you “high” (THC is the name of the substance in certain strains of cannabis which gets you “high”). Australia’s more conservative stance on CBD availability compared with the rest of the world means that this is currently unavailable for us to sell. Therefore, we currently supply products made from the seeds of industrial hemp that does not contain any medicinal cannabis components.
These products include cold-pressed Hemp Seed Oil, Hemp Flour and Hemp Protein. There are many, many additional products which can be made from the “Tree of Life” which we are currently researching, from textiles to bio-fuels. There are two reasons why I got involved in this. Firstly, I needed a change from academic research because it was becoming so highly regulated that it took away my ability to be a visionary…I was wasting my time dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s. Secondly, I was inspired by Richard’s passion for medicinal cannabis and its future in Australia. It was clear that we had an important role to play together.
I have watched many a documentary and articles calling Cannabis the miracle plant, why do you call cannabis the tree of life? What are some of the key health benefits?
Cannabis has been known as the Tree of Life for millennia due to its multifaceted benefits as a food, as a medicine, and as a functional material. Medicinally, there is no other plant in the world with so many medical applications – you can see the full list of ailments which cannabis has been successfully used to treat here. It’s the only food which supplies all your dietary needs from one source – no other plant alone can sustain human life without extra sources of nutrition. It’s also the world’s most sustainable plant and can be cultivated with ease in a variety of areas. It does not deplete the soil and requires less water than other crops, plus a mature hemp tree can be harvested in 120 days. It provides more protein than soy, produces more paper than any other source, and can even be used as fuel.
In fact, it’s so good for the planet that it’s been grown on the same land for 20+ years with no real depletion of the soil! So you can see why we’re so excited about it. Indeed, there are biblical scholars who believe it is the cannabis plant which was referenced as the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden, and some believe that the miracles of Jesus were due to his anointing of people with cannabis oil. We are just seeing the tip of the iceberg with the various applications of the cannabis plant. Last month we had a meeting in Los Angeles with the folks from Sana Packaging, who are currently producing plastic made from hemp: 100% biodegradable and plant-based. Big things are happening; we need to start saving this planet. Otherwise our children’s children will be the ones who suffer. Cannabis is our hope for the future of the earth.
Your website mentions the difference between marijuana and hemp and their psychoactive chemicals, can you explain to us the various parts of the plant and their health benefits? What parts have been incorporated into Cannabis Co products?
Our existing products are derived from the seed of the hemp plant. The benefits of this are primarily related to protein, fibre, amino acids and EFAs (essential fatty acids, also known as Omega 3, 6 and 9). Part of why hemp is so important as a dietary staple is because of the balance of Omegas. A lot of people use fish oil, which is terrible for the planet and disgusting to eat. The Omega content in fish oil is in the wrong balance, meaning your body can’t absorb it. So we’re actually depleting the oceans and harming the environment for nothing. Without getting too technical, Omegas are known as Essential Fatty Acids because they’re essential to your health but your body can’t produce them – you need to get them from your diet. The balance of Omega 3 to Omega 6 needs to be in a ratio of 3:1, which is the way it comes naturally packaged in hemp. Fish oil has Omegas, but they’re in the wrong balance, so they’re not absorbed – they just go straight through you. Sorry to get so nerdy with this, but it’s really relevant! In the future, we intend to incorporate CBD into forthcoming products, which is derived from the flowers of the plant.
As a scientist, from your perspective, why should people start incorporating Cannabis Co products into their diet? How is your product different from others on the market?
Our products are some of the very few on the market which are actually grown and bottled here in Australia. Most others are imported from Canada or China, which unfortunately has a very poor track record in terms of food safety, not to mention all those unnecessary food miles. We want to keep it local as far as we possibly can.
Our Hemp Seed Oil contains 3 amazing ingredients.
- Omega 3, 6 and 9: each of the essential fatty acids, meaning our body cannot make them but we need them badly! This is because they keep our cells healthy and also reduce any inflammation in our body.
- Antioxidants that are really good at keeping our skin and immune system in good shape.
- Phytosterol is a plant cholesterol that is not only healthy but can swap with some of the bad cholesterol in our bloodstream leading to healthier hearts and cardiovascular health!
Hemp Protein contains every amino acid which are the building blocks of proteins and also contains high fibre to keep your gut healthy.
Hemp Flour contains every amino acid AND omega-3,6 and 9. Therefore you get an awesome combination from the oil and the protein! Also, it has over 50% fibre and is gluten and wheat free.
I have lots of followers who aren’t sure about hemp seed products and I bought the hemp seed oil recently but I don’t know how I should use it? What is the easiest way to start incorporating this oil into my diet and does it replace other oils? Such as coconut or olive oil?
This is a common challenge! Firstly, it’s amazing in salad dressings. Try substituting it into your usual recipes and you’ll experience whole new flavour dimensions. It’s also amazing as an alternative to olive oil in pesto. It’s great in smoothies and anything which you’d like to have a nutty flavour. A lot of the hemp seed oil available here in Australia is processed in a less-than-premium way, which leaves a bitter aftertaste. Ours is cold pressed, leaving it as smooth and silky as can be, full of all its nutrients. The way we tend to convince people is simple – the taste test. Just try it alongside other hemp seed oils; taste buds don’t lie! We love both olive oil and coconut oil too, but the benefit of the Omegas means that hemp seed oil is more nutritious. It doesn’t go rancid like coconut oil either. However, it DOES have a low smoke point of around 165ºC, so we don’t recommend cooking with it – use it raw. It’s fine (and delicious!) to splash on your food after it’s cooked though. I had some with a minestrone soup the other day and it was divine! It’s also excellent for topical use, on skin, nails/cuticles and hair. We’ll soon be publishing recipes on our website, so keep an eye out for ideas on how to use Hemp Seed Oil in the kitchen – or if you already have some nice recipes + photos, get in touch or tag us on social. If we publish yours, we’ll send you heaps of free cannabis product!
Cannabis Co also sells animal hemp products, can you tell us the health benefits for animals?
There are loads of benefits for dogs, cats, horses, birds, pigs, rabbits – pretty much all mammals. Our Hemp Seed Oil for Pets can be applied topically to your pet’s skin, fur, paws, claws, joints or nose. Its primary use is to assist and heal issues around dryness, inflammation, dandruff, uncomfortable itchiness and may help senior critters suffering from arthritis and painful/damaged joints. Used as a food supplement, it can provide a nutritional boost whilst alleviating issues related to inflammation. We also have Hemp Seed & Flax Oil for Pets. Unlike our Hemp Seed Oil For Pets (which is purely the cold-pressed oil of the hemp seed), the Hemp Seed & Flax Oil contains the hull of the hemp seed. This provides extra nutrition, particularly in the Amino Acid area. Some of the most common ailments currently presenting amongst pets are anxiety, depression and mood-related disorders. These products help largely because of their Tryptophan content (an EFA which is a precursor to serotonin, which is responsible for feelings of happiness and wellbeing). Hemp Seed & Flax Oil is not intended for topical use, as the manner in which the seed is processed is not as refined, meaning that although it retains more nutrients, it’s not as gentle for direct applications on your pet’s skin or fur. To summarise, Hemp Seed Oil For Pets can be used as a daily supplement, whilst Hemp Seed & Flax Oil is designed for a shorter term health boost! We also have Hemp Doggy Biscuits; healthy vegan dog snacks made from only two ingredients – hemp and chick peas. Packed full of protein, these biscuits deliver the perfect balance of omega fatty acids for your pooch!
Given Australian law – currently – has not legalised medicinal cannabis, do you think there is a stigma in people about using hemp products as nutritional supplements?
There most certainly is. People think cannabis = stoner. I can assure you that is most certainly NOT the case. I am a PhD biochemist in my 50s and I consume hemp seed oil daily, but I have never smoked marijuana and I have never been “stoned” or “high” in my life. It’s unfortunate that such a stigma exists, but as with many other things, it’s primarily due to vested interests. The petro-chemical industry, the pharmaceutical industry, cotton industry, plastic producers etc. All of these industrialists lose money when people use cannabis to its full potential. That’s why for almost 100 years these people have lobbied extremely hard for the public to see cannabis as a harmful narcotic drug. I mean, you say the word “cannabis” or “marijuana” to people and watch their response! Even “hemp” gets a reaction. We have an uphill battle ahead of us!
If there was one thing you wanted readers to know about hemp products, what would it be?
Cannabis can save the world. Leading climate scientists currently estimate 15-20 years before climate change is irreversible. We’re committed to pushing this industry forward as hard and fast as we can before it’s too late – for industrial, agricultural and medicinal use, we NEED the world to adopt cannabis and start using marijuana and hemp for all its wonderful applications. Education is key. The tide is inevitable – it’s happening! We hope you’ll join us!