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A Look Into The Ancient Medical Uses of Cannabis In History

A Look Into The Ancient Medical Uses of Cannabis In History

Kresstine Fernando
A Look Into The Ancient Medical Uses of Cannabis In History

Cannabis, for a long time, was a drug that was maligned and disparaged within our modern day society. It is only recently that cannabis was accepted as a viable treatment for various diseases, but there are still many who question its medical therapeutic benefits. Here, let’s take a look into the ancient medical uses of cannabis in history.

Throughout the course of history, cannabis has been used for various different purposes – including medical. Evidence suggests its use more than 5,000 years ago in what is now Romania. Even the book of Exodus notes that cannabis was used as an anointing oil in the bible. 

According to some historians, the Chinese Emperor Fu Hsi (ca. 2900 BC), whom the Chinese credit with bringing civilization to China, seems to have made reference to ma, the Chinese word for cannabis, noting that cannabis was a very popular medicine that possessed both yin and yang. Cannabis was used vastly in ancient China for a variety of conditions plaguing the community at the time. The use of cannabis for medical purposes predates recorded history with the earliest written reference found in the 15th century BC Chinese pharmacopeia, the Rh-Ya.

Cannabis was found on the mummy of Ramesses II, who died in 1213 BC. Prescriptions for cannabis in Ancient Egypt include treatment for glaucoma, or pressure in the eyes, inflammation, cooling the uterus, as well as administering enemas.

In 1000 BC bhang, a drink infused with cannabis and milk was used as an anesthetic and anti-phlegmatic in India. People in India believed cannabis could quicken the mind, prolong life, lower fevers, induce sleep, cure dysentery, even cure leprosy.

In ancient Greece, cannabis was used as a remedy for an earache, edema, and inflammation.

In more recent times, it has been reported that William Shakespeare and Queen Victoria may have used cannabis for creative and medical purposes. The Jamestown settlers also may have brought the marijuana plant, commonly known as hemp, to North America in 1611, and throughout the colonial period, hemp fiber was an important export.

In the ancient world, hemp was a common agricultural crop that was harvested for its high-protein seeds, oil, and fiber used for rope and clothing.

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With all of these ancient medical uses, it’s no wonder cannabis was regarded highly in the ancient medical world. Unfortunately, that changed once politicians in the early 1900s used the drug for personal agendas and policies and vilified it.

Hopefully, now with a better understanding of the drug, we can begin to reach back into its ancient therapeutic ways to treat current illness without the stigma.



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