What Started with Chronic Back Pain is Now a Hemp Biz Run by Sisters Earning Rs 50 Lakh

During Shalini’s treatment of chronic back pain, the sister-duo stumbled upon the benefits of hemp in pain management, and eventually started ‘India Hemp and co.’, which today earns them Rs 50 lakh in revenue.

Did you know that Hemp, commonly known as bhaang, can do wonders for your body? It consists of several antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In some cases, it is even proven to mitigate anxiety.

Bengaluru’s sister duo, Jayanti and Shalini Bhattacharya, realised this superfood’s powers on their journey to recovering from chronic pain and eventually founded India Hemp and Co.

Chronic back pain led to the discovery

Jayanti’s sister, Shalini, suffered from chronic back pains which would leave her isolated. “It seemed to have brought her entire life to a standstill. From being a very social and outgoing person, the back pain pushed her into a shell. She would refrain from meeting people, dressing up and getting out of the house even. Even simple tasks, like picking up a small bag from the floor, were beginning to hurt her,” says Jayanti (41).

It was Shalini’s treatment phase that led the sisters to Cannabidiol (CBD), an extract from the hemp plant, which helped in managing chronic pain.

“A lot of what I was experiencing was inflammation and, very often, scans would not even catch it; therefore, treating it became difficult. Using CBD helped to deal with the inflammation a great deal,” says Shalini (37).

The duo started researching more about the benefits of the plant and in 2019, they founded their company. Their products are available across online and offline retail platforms like Amazon, Big Basket and Nature’s Basket.

Hemp for pets
The duo launched a pet care range which includes hemp oil and treats for dogs and cats

Hemp — the new superfood

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) allows the use of hemp seeds in limited quantities in food and beverages. The plant can help in protecting the brain, heart and skin. And while it has numerous health benefits, it is also good for the environment.

Vouching for hemp, Jayanti says, “Hemp is perhaps amongst a handful of plants on earth that benefits both its end user and the environment. Hemp helps to protect the heart, brain, and skin. Its carbon-negative nature absorbs more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it takes to grow — one tonne of hemp absorbs over 1.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide.”

“Hemp is the most sustainable plant on the planet and has both nutritional and medicinal benefits. What’s more, it can be easily consumed in its various forms — like powders, oils and tinctures, which makes it very versatile. After all its parts are put to use, whatever is left, including the husk, is used up as fodder,” she adds.

Hemp seeds are also used to extract hemp seed oil which can be used as a nutritional supplement. Hemp seed oil can be consumed raw or used as a salad dressing.

Staying true to their goals of producing a sustainable product, their packaging is made of 100 per cent biodegradable material and recycled paper.

The duo initially sold three products — hemp hearts, hemp trail mix and hemp protein powder. They later expanded to selling noodles, boondi, Bombay mixture and vermicelli made out of hemp. The duo also launched a pet care range which includes hemp oil and treats for dogs and cats.

Busting myths around hemp

Besides setting up a business, the duo also bust myths around the plant. The most common one — will we get “high” if we consume hemp?

“Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychoactive compound found in cannabis. In a marijuana plant, there is an average of 10 to 20 per cent THC, while hemp contains no more than 0.3 per cent of THC by law. This amount of THC will not get you “high”. Consider hemp as the sober and more responsible of the two,” says Jayanti.

Another question the duo often get is — Do hemp and marijuana come from the same plant?

“The simple answer to this is yes and no. Yes, because hemp and marijuana come from the same species of plant (Cannabis sativa) but are very different cultivars,” says Shalini.

If you are interested in starting a business like this, learn all about it from Jayanti herself. In this video, Jayanti shares her business secrets, the do’s and don’ts while starting a venture, and her biggest mantra for becoming a successful entrepreneur. Find more details here.

(Edited by Pranita Bhat)

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