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It is possible that the tourists are not advised to stroll down the Ramblas of Barcelona does not stop at the sheets that are part of the central fragment of the monument to Christopher columbus. A sculpture that was designed for the universal Exhibition of 1888 by Gaietá Buïgas (1851-1919). The branches represented in the sculpture in question is hemp.

The truth is that the choice could not be more correct, since in the ships of the first voyage of columbus was, at least, 80 tons of hemp in the form of nets, ropes, sails , and other useful. Had it not been for this plant is quite possible that the genoese sailor did not come to the New World.

The cousin least sexy of marijuana

The hemp (Cannabis sativa) is a plant easy to cultivate, fast growing and productive. In reality, it is a variety of cannabis with certain singularities . On the one hand, produces fibers of excellent quality and, on the other, contains less than 0.2 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol, the head of the well-known psychoactive effect of cannabis.

Its history is about 10,000 years old. The chinese were the first to cultivate it and to use it for medicinal purposes, we know that they used their roots to dissolve blood clots and treat some types of infections.

Dioscorides –personal physician of the emperor Nero– he was the pharmacist most famous of antiquity. He wrote a book entitled “Materia medica” where he compiled more than six hundred medicinal plants, among which included the hemp.

Was precisely this galen roman the which baptized it with the Latin name with which we know it today, at the time he recommended its use for soothing the ear pain and decrease the sexual appetite.

Centuries after the arab physician Avicenna also included it in his well-known “Canon of medicine” which was for years one of the textbooks used in european universities.

navigation for the role

throughout History, hemp has enjoyed a huge role.

The greeks used it for making textiles, clothes, and bridges . Between the ages of six and fifteen, he played a crucial role in the navigation, since all the boats were rigged with ropes and sails of hemp.

In the THIRTEENTH century acquired a new performance, the production of the paper. Were printed on paper made with this plant the Gutenberg Bible (1455) and the Declaration of the Independence of the united States (1776), among others.

To all this, addition to their therapeutic uses, the hemp was administered for centuries as a tonic relaxant and pain reliever during childbirth . All of these utilities were supportive of that –in the nineteenth century– a treaty the French refer to hemp as the plant most useful of the History of Mankind.

The plant that we took to America

The threads of the velámenes and the cordage of the caravels columbian were made of hemp, as well as the tinder that is placed between the planks before being zakonopacheny. These utilities were supported by the resistance of the fiber to the effect of the salt water.

But the use of this plant was not limited to the aprestos, the clothing of the sailors was also made with hemp fiber , the diary of the captain was hemp paper, as well as the Bible printed that is carried on board. Which is read in the light of lamps, and how not, of hemp oil.

likewise, in the holds of the boats there were tons of seeds of hemp, which were used as food during the months that lasted the trip. It was not a bad choice, since they contain a high amount of fiber and a high concentration of lipids. These seeds are rich in alpha-linolenic acid and omega-3 fatty acids, whose protective function cardiovascular is more than proven.

M. Jara

Pedro Gargantilla is a internist in the Hospital of El Escorial (Madrid), and author of several popular books.

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