Women’s History Month: Influential Women In Hemp History

Every March, women worldwide are recognized for their contributions in everything from agriculture to the arts. These contributions include the long-fought mission of hemp advocacy. 

Hemp, a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant with trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), has had a long and complex history throughout the world. In eras known for their traditional and conservative values, women all over the globe took huge risks in growing awareness for a plant with wondrous healing properties.

We aim to acknowledge their dedication to the cause. Below is a list of notable women throughout history that have fostered the importance of hemp:

Hatshepsut

Hatshepsut was one of the few female pharaohs ruling Egypt in the 1400s B.C. According to a 2006 Smithsonian report, Hatshepsut utilized hemp to alleviate menstrual discomfort. Interestingly, this was a common practice among women throughout that era, with various ancient Egyptian texts reporting that women used hemp for pain relief during childbirth and other gynecological concerns. 

The Ebers Papyrus is an Egyptian medical papyrus that contains information on ancient herbal remedies. The Papyrus is the oldest and most important medical reference in Egypt’s history. Thanks to Hatshepsut, the Papyrus documents the use of hemp for multiple medical conditions— not only for female reproductive issues but also for depression, inflammation, and general pain relief.

Hatshepsut’s reign lasted longer than any other female pharaoh, and Egyptologists consider her to have been one of the most successful pharaohs in history. She was truly an influential woman in hemp and a strong example of female empowerment.

St. Hildegard von Bingen

Due to hemp’s controversial nature in history, you would think a Catholic nun to be an unlikely ally. However, Hildegard von Bingen, a nun from Germany, reportedly used hemp in lieu of pharmaceutical treatments. During the Middle Ages, women were unlikely to venture into scientific and academic studies as they were expected by society to be silent and subservient. Hildegard did not fit into this mold— she pursued her scientific discoveries on herbal and plant-based treatments.

Hildegard von Bingen chronicled her findings on paper to spread awareness, stating that hemp could be used to treat a wide array of illnesses. A 2013 cannabis study by Ethan B. Russo confirmed Hildegard’s written theories of hemp having the capability to alleviate various pain-related concerns, some of which include headaches, pregnancy pain, wounds, and inflammation issues.

In 2010, Hildegard was canonized as a saint. Due to her bravery in using her voice amidst adversity, she is now the patron saint of musicians and writers. How interesting that a Catholic Saint was one of the first people to blaze the trail for hemp.

Betsy Ross

Elizabeth Griscom Ross (more commonly known as Betsy Ross) is a notable woman in the history of the United States. She is most well known for sewing the first American flag. Betsy Ross knew that she needed material that was sturdy, would withstand any weather, and that would not fade in the sunlight— the perfect choice was hemp. 

According to the USA Hemp Museum, “Betsy Ross made the first flag of the United States of America out of the finest, strongest fiber available, hemp fabric. It is also said that the finest laces of the olden days were always made of hemp in preference to any other fiber.” 

Thanks to Betsy’s contribution, hemp is forever ingrained in American history. Betsy Ross is an American icon and a true pioneer in the practical application of hemp fabric.

Women in Hemp Today

Zera Hemp Labs wants to express an enormous ‘thank you’ to the women who represent the hemp industry today. From the farmers to the scientists to the product manufacturers, we recognize the hundreds of thousands of women in the hemp industry that continue to strive for progress. 

We celebrate Women’s History Month to honor the strong women of our past and to pave the way for women of the future.