The History Of Medical Cannabis Across The Globe

April 5, 2023

The History Of Medical Cannabis Across The Globe

Cannabis has been used across different parts of the world since the ancient times. Its uses span a wide range of health issues and ailments, from depression to gout. The history of medical cannabis traces its spread through conquest, nomadic travel and economic exchange. Its use was embraced and popularized in many near-east civilization centers, and it was even brought to France by Napoleon in 1799.

Ancient Greece

The ancient Greeks harnessed cannabis for a number of medical uses, including treating sores on horses. The plant was also used as a perfume, and it was said that the leaves and seeds could be steeped to treat inflammations of the ears. The plant was also used by the nomadic Scythians and Massagetae tribes who inhabited northern Greece and Asia Minor, as outlined by Herodotus in his Histories (c. 440 BCE).

Ancient India

Medical cannabis dates back thousands of years & has been used by peoples throughout Asia, the Middle East and parts of Africa. Ancient India was one of the first places where it was widely cultivated and used for its medicinal benefits. Hindu scriptures also referred to cannabis as the “source of happiness,” “joy-giver,” and “bringer of freedom”. It was also consumed at religious ceremonies in the form of bhang. Evidence of cannabis cultivation dates back to the first millennium BC. It was found in a tomb in Xinjiang-Uighur autonomous region of China, and dated to the time when the people were still a nomadic group speaking an Indo-European language.

Ancient Egypt

Cannabis was widely used in ancient Egypt. Evidence of its use can be found in papyrus scrolls, wall paintings in ancient tombs, and references by historians who visited the region. The plant was a central component of Egyptian society and culture, and it was a vital part of their medical practices. It was used for many different purposes, including pain relief, anxiety, and depression. It was also prescribed as a cure for menstrual pain and to reduce hemorrhoids. One medicinal formulation from the Ebers Papyri calls for Shemshemet (cannabis) to be ground in honey before being applied inside the vagina to cool the uterus and eliminate heat.

Ancient Rome

Ancient Rome was a great center for the cultivation and consumption of cannabis, as evidenced by its many references in the world’s oldest medical texts. It was used to treat ear blockage, burns and cuts, muscle aches, inflammations, tumors, gastro-intestinal issues, the eyes, gout and tremors. The ancient Romans also wrote about the use of cannabis as a narcotic, which they used to treat pain and sleep disorders. Intoxication from these drugs would enliven rituals and enhance banquets. In 1947, Soviet archaeologists found cannabis seeds from a burial mound near Pazyryk, in Siberia, that were likely used for a similar ritual to the one described by Herodotus in 5th century BCE. This is the first recorded documented evidence of hallucinogenic psychoactive plants being used as a religious sacrament in ancient times.

Ancient China

The history of medical cannabis across the globe is a long and storied one. Ancient Hindus and Buddhists believed that smoking or chewing cannabis lowered their fevers and appeased their gods, while medieval Europeans used hemp as a treatment for wounds. The earliest evidence of clinical use of cannabis is thought to have occurred in China around the 2700s BC, and it was then traded throughout the world. Early Chinese texts, such as the Song Dynasty text Illustrated Classic of Materia Medica (Tu Jing Ben Cao), mention a preparation of cannabis that inhibited movement. While it is not certain what the ingredients were, the fact that it was indicated for tetany suggests that it may have contained D9-THC or some other cannabinoid.

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