Industrial hemp- simply known as hemp- comes from the cannabis sativa L. plant which contains 0.3% tetrahyrdocannabinol (THC) or less in the leaves and flower. Hemp belongs to the cannabaceae plant family that contains over 270 species and 11 genera and is often confused with cannabis plants that are uses as a source of the drug, marijuana; however, hemp does not have any psychoactive or drug properties and is often identified as an agricultural crop. In this section you will find the history and plant anatomy of hemp; including antibacterial properties.
Hemp Plant Components
A hemp plant consists of four (4) main components; stalk, leaves, seeds and flower. The hemp stalk is tall, dense and strong with the capability of reaching over ten (10) feet tall. The stalk is composed of two layers, the inner layer known as hurd or shiv and the outer layer know as bast fiber. At the top of the stalk are the hemp flowers where the seeds accumulate, and all along the stalk are jagged palmate shaped leaves. See our consumer products section for the many uses of hemp.
Hemp has been shown to possess antibacterial properties against a range of pathogenic bacteria, including B. subtilis, S. aureua and E.coli. These properties are contributed from cannabinoids, alkaloids, and other bioactive compounds of the hemp plant.
Hemp hurd, the woody core of the hemp stalk, has a high lignin content of 19-21% as well as high hemicelluloses content of 31-37%. In a series of test, it has been found that hurd has a strong antibacterial property against E. coli, bacteria found to infect the lower intestine, and the ability to restrain the growth of micro-organisms such as S. cerevisiae, B. licheniformis, and A. niger.
Additionally, the hemp stalk has also been found to have antibacterial properties against B. subtilis, bacteria that commonly infects the gastrointestinal tract, as well as S. aureus, bacteria that infects the nose, on the skin and in the respiratory tract. Furthermore, the stems and leaves of the hemp plant have also been found to have excellent antimicrobial properties against S. aureus. Hemp grown in the northern latitudes of the world has higher CBD compounds; leading to stronger antimicrobial properties. While hemp has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, it however does not have antifungal properties.
Khan, B. A.; Warner, P.; Wang, H. Antibacterial Properties of Hemp and Other Natural Fibre Plants: A Review. Bio Resour. 2014, 9 (2), 3642–3659.