Obscure Historical Hemp References

Here are more Hemp citations found in academic literature that I commissioned in 1999 for my book The HempNut Health and Cookbook. The source was an agriculture database which is not online, with perhaps a million references. All were originally sourced by hand from libraries around the world for at least the past 45 years by William Shurtleff of the Soyfoods Center.

Highlights: first mention of edestin was 1881, and it is not just found in hempseed but also wheat and oats. Hempseed can be used to make filaments, silk, and films. Hemp was cultivated before 10,000 BCE (soya was 2,700 BCE). Kellogg (of cereal fame) worked with hempseed. The enzyme Protease was discovered in hempseed in 1909. In 1911 Southern high schoolers were routinely taught how to grow hemp.

This is the earliest document seen that mentions Hemp:
Harlan (1992) states in Crops and Man (p. 198): “Among the earliest compilations of Chinese literature is the Book of Odes (Shih Ching) assembled from bits and fragments from the 11th century to the middle of the 6th century BC. Botanically, it is the most informative of early literatures and mentions about 150 plants as compared to 55 in Egyptian literature, 83 in the Bible, and 63 in Homer (Ho, 1969). In the Odes, Panicum millet is mentioned 27 times, the mulberry 20 times, and Artemesia is mentioned 19 times with some 10 varieties. The soybean is first mentioned in 664 BC in connection with tribute paid to the Chou by the Shan Jung (Mountain Jung) tribe.”

I can’t help but think that if Thomas Jefferson knew Cannabis could be stony (medicinal) he would have grown it with his hemp:
Jefferson, Thomas. 1781. Notes on the state of Virginia. Unpublished manuscript. Summary: This document contains an early reference to the peanut in Virginia. The section of this work titled “Plants” appears as Appendix V (p. 644 48) in Thomas Jefferson’s garden book, 1766 1824, edited by Edwin Morris Betts (1944, American Philosophical Society). Betts notes that it “was written in the year 1781 in answer to a series of questions from M. de Marbois, of the French Legation in Philadelphia [Pennsylvania], who had requested some statistical accounts of the State of Virginia for the use of his government.” The book was first published in France in 1784-85, but was dated 1782. In the section titled “Plants,” Jefferson lists “those which would principally attract notice as being 1. Medicinal, 2. Esculent, 3. Ornamental, or 4. Useful for fabrication; adding the Linnaean to the popular names, as the latter might not convey precise information to a foreigner. I shall confine myself too to native plants.” “The following were found in Virginia when first visited by the English: … Tobacco, maize, round potatoes, pumpkins, cymlings (Cucurbita verrucosa), squashes (Cucurbita melopepo)… Besides these plants, which are native, our Farms produce wheat, rye, barley, oats, buck wheat, broom corn [broomcorn], and Indian corn. The climate suits rice well enough, wherever the lands do. Tobacco, hemp, flax, and cotton are the staple commodities. Indigo yields two cuttings. The silk worm is native, and the mulberry, proper for its food, grows kindly. “We cultivate also potatoes, both the long and the round, turneps [turnips], carrots, parsneps [parsnips], pumpkins, and ground nuts (Arachis).” Among the many other plants mentioned are valerian, ginseng (Panax quinquefolium), chinquapin (Fagus pumila), whortleberries, catalpa, American aloe, and Virginia hemp (Acnida cannabina) [actually this is amaranthus cannabinus, or “willow hemp.” Used by Native Americans to make nets, ropes, thread, and purses, and the seeds were eaten. RR]. Address: Virginia.

This is the 1935 work on which Henry Ford likely based his “Hemp Car” development (“edestin” is hempseed):
Chibnall, Albert Charles; Bailey, Kenneth; Astbury, William Thomas. 1937. Improvements in or relating to the production of artificial filaments, threads, films, and the like. British Patent Specification 467,704. June 22. 6 p. 5,797. 2 p. Applications filed 22 and 24 Oct. 1935 and 28 July 1936. 193. Complete specification left, 22 Oct. 1936. Specification accepted 22 June 1937. Summary: In the application of 22 Oct. 1935 the protein filaments are made from 43.5 gm of urea and 8 gm of edestin (the protein from hemp). The protein is denatured, then dissolved in a solvent. “The solution is forced through a capillary orifice into a large bulk of cold water. A silky filament is obtained… [which has] many of the properties of natural silk and wool. In the final specification of 22 Oct. 1936, page 4 states: “Any vegetable globular protein capable of degeneration and/or denaturation may be employed in the present invention. The strongest filaments, threads and the like will be obtained if during the process of manufacture the change through degenerate to denatured protein is made as complete as possible, so that when stretched, the filaments, threads and the like show a typical B keratin structure on X-ray analysis (cf. Astbury, Dickinson and Bailey. 1935. Biochemical Journal. Vol. 29, pages 2351 2360). We have obtained the most consistently good results from vegetable proteins of the globulin class e.g. ground nut globulin, edestin, soya bean globulin and castor bean globulin… ” In example 1 (p. 5), the main ingredients are 35 parts of air dried ground nut seed globulin, 25 parts of crystalline urea, 5 parts of crystalline thiourea, and 1 part of sorbitol. “For spinning the filaments or fibres the ripened solution is transferred to a spinneret immersed in a bath containing the following solution…”

The enzyme Protease was first discovered in in plants in hempseed:
Ritthausen, Heinrich. 1881. Krystallinische Eiweisskoerper aus verschiedenen Oelsamen [Crystalline protein bodies from various oilseeds] Joumalfuer Praktische Chemie 23:481 86. [Ger] Summary: This is the earliest document seen showing that Edestin, in crystalline form, is found in the seeds of hemp.
Vines, S.H. 1909. The proteases of plants (VI). Annals of Botany 23(89):1 18. Jan. [23 ref] Summary: The author was the first to find the enzyme protease in plants. From ungerminated hemp seed he isolated a “vegetable trypsin.” Address: F.R.S., Sheridan Prof. of Botany, Univ. of Oxford

The inventor of Kellogg’s cereals advocated using hempseed oil:
Kellogg, John Harvey. 1921. The new dietetics. What to eat and how: A guide to scientific feeding in health and disease. Battle Creek, Michigan: Battle Creek Modern Medicine Publishing Co. 950 p. Summary: This is the first edition of this important book; subsequent editions were published in 1923 and 1927. Contents: Foods: Food Principles. The digestive process: The liver, mastication, hunger. Metabolism: The energy of food, the calorie. The physiology of eating: The protein ration, fats, carbohydrates starches and sugars, food salts, vitamins, cellulose, the acids of foods. Wholesome foods: Cereals (incl. wheat bran), vegetables, green vegetables, root vegetables, vegetable or garden fruits (incl. tomato, cucumber, eggplant, watermelon, muskmelon, squash, vegetable marrow, pumpkin, chayote), legumes (incl. the adsuki [azuki] bean, the Hahto bean, the soy bean, composition of the soy bean, soy bean milk, tofu, soy sauce, soy bean sprouts), fruits, nuts (incl. the ground nut, the peanut, peanut butter, flour from the peanut, peanut milk, malted nuts), animal foods, condiments, tea and coffee, poisoned foods, water drinking. Medical dietetics: Introduction, scientific tests of the nutritive functions, regimens and dietaries, diet in disorders of the digestive organs, diet in disorders of nutrition, diet in joint diseases (rheumatism, arthritis, gout), diet in disease of the heart and blood vessels, Cardio vascular renal diseases, diet in disorders of the nervous system, diet in disorders of the urinary organs, diet in diseases of women, diet in management of fevers, diet in chronic infectious diseases, diet in diseases of the skin, diet in surgical cases, diet in diseases of the eye, ear, nose, and throat, infant feeding, the rice regimen. The world’s foods: Making the bill of fare. Index.
A table (p. 138) titled “Vegetable fats” lists “The principal sources of edible vegetable fats… “including: Coconut meats 36%, corn 5%, hemp seed 32%, palm nut 72%, peanut 52%, sesame seed 51%, soy bean 20%…”

Kentucky grew 24,881 acres of hemp in 1889, declining to 7,647 acres in 1909 because of imported jute:
Capone, Giorgio; Grinenco, Ivan. 1923. United States (Document part). In: G. Capone & I. Grinenco, eds. 1923. Oleaginous Products and Vegetable Oils: Production and Trade. Rome, Italy: International Institute of Agriculture, Bureau of Statistics. 545 p. See p. 131 35, 140 41, 144 47. [Eng] Summary: Crop production: Tables (p. 131 32) show the area under and production of oil yielding crops in the USA from 1849 to 1922. In 1849 and 1859 census data, only linseed production data was recorded: 14,050 long tons (1 long ton = 2,240 lb) in 1849 and 14,175 tons in 1859. Though small amounts of flax were grown for fiber (to make linen) prior to 1900, the plant has always been cultivated mainly for its seed, linseed. But starting in 1869 72 we see that cottonseed was by far the leading U.S. oil yielding crop, with 1,176,465 tons produced, compared to only 43,250 tons for linseed. The earliest cottonseed oil press was established in 1834, but the process was not widely adopted in the U.S. before 1870. Cottonseed remained king; in 1922 more than ten times as much cottonseed was produced as linseed, the second largest oil crop. Production of hemp is first shown in 1889 with 24,881 acres that year, decreasing to 7,647 acres in 1909; the plant was grown exclusively for its fiber, and mainly in Kentucky. The decrease in cultivation is due mainly to the increased use of jute.

China produced 105,868 long tons of hempseed oil in 1914:
Capone, Giorgio; Grinenco, Ivan. 1923. China (Document part). In: G. Capone & 1. Grinenco, eds. 1923. Oleaginous Products and Vegetable Oils: Production and Trade. Rome, Italy: International Institute of Agriculture, Bureau of Statistics. 545 p. See p. 222. [Eng] Summary: Production of oil yielding crops: “China may be reckoned among the richest countries for oil yielding crops both from the point of view of various kinds of cultivation and also of the extent of the area cultivated. Unfortunately complete figures on the area and production of the principal crops are not available. The Statistical Year Books of the Chinese Republic, published in Chinese, contain data on cotton, linseed, hemp, rapeseed, groundnuts, soya, etc., but they are partial figures obtained each year for a variable number of provinces, so that the areas and the totals of production differ enormously from year to year. For this reason, it does not seem exactly the right course to reproduce these figures.” Production of vegetable oils: hempseed oil: 105,868 long tons in 1914. Rapeseed oil: 119,426 tons in 1914. Groundnut oil: 70,065 tons in 1914. Wood oil: 39,076 tons in 1914. Cottonseed oil: 23,382 tons in 1916. Unspecified vegetable oils: 114,517 tons in 1916. Address: 1. Doctor of Economics; 2. Doctor of Agronomics. Both: IIA, Rome, Italy.

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