Ancient Use Of Medical Cannabis
3 min

Ancient Use Of Medical Cannabis

3 min

The use of cannabis for medical reasons is becoming increasingly more widespread. But what about the days of ancient Greek rulers and Chinese emperors, did they have medical cannabis back then?

The Ancient Greeks And Cannabis

The ancient Greeks called it kannabis - Greek sailors traded the durable material crafted from tough hemp stalks across the Aegean Sea as early as the sixth century BC and archaeologists found hemp fiber bundles in a Carthaginian trade ship that had sunk near Sicily around 300 BC. Herodotus, the great Greek historian, wrote in 450 BC, that the Thracians produced fine quality hemp clothing.

Four hundred years after the fact, Plutarch wrote that the Thracian people would dispose of the top part of the kannabis plant and throw it in the fire, the smoke provided by it would cause the people to become intoxicated by the smoke they would inhale. It was a custom that the wine-loving people of Zeus weren't familiar with.

A small reference is also found from the use of kannabis in Greek literature as far back as 400 BC for back ache pain but this was the only known medical use in ancient Greece. It is known that both the Arabic and Hebrew people used kannabis for medical reasons at the very same time period.

The Big Greek Book On Medical Marijuana

In 70 AD a physician from Greece known as Discordes employed by the Romans for research and collected a wealth of knowledge on medical plants. Discordes created a book with his travels entitled "Materia Medica"; in this book he documented descriptions, local names, habitats and indications for treatments for certain symptoms.

Overall he documented 600 plants and among them he identified Cannabis Sativa L. (from the Greek "kannabis"). It was useful in creating rope and producing seeds whose juices could be used in lessening ear aches and reducing sexual desire. Discordes's Meteria Medica was hugely successful and was translated to every language possible and remained as a key manual in western medicine for at least 1500 years.

The Ancient Greeks And Cannabis

Medical Cannabis In Ancient China

Healers in ancient China tried to cure all kinds of diseases by beating the headboards of their patients' beds with hemp stalks emblazoned with snake figures while reciting incantations and spells in order to exorcise demons who were believed to cause physical illness.

Japanese Shinto priests used a short wand bound with undyed hemp fibers for a similar ceremony based on the thought that the purity of white hemp would expel evil demons. The rational thinking might dismiss this coincidence as superstition, but wouldn't it be interesting to know the origin of such long-lived rituals?

Cannabis Within Yin & Yang

A Chinese emperor who ruled the nation around 2800 BC, Shen-Nung, was deified for introducing medicines to the people. This mythical emperor was said to have a translucent abdomen and he allegedly ate as many as 70 different plants per day to observe their effects and various qualities. The compilation of all the hundreds of medicines he identified is called Pen Ts'ao which is one of the oldest medical texts.

The flowers of the female marijuana plant contain, according to the Pen Ts'ao, the biggest amount of yin energy - in the Chinese philosophy and medicine "yin" is associated to female attributes, with the opposite being "yang", the male, creative element.

The Ma-fen (flowers of the female cannabis plant) were used to counteract a loss of yin, such as in menstrual fatigue, rheumatism, malaria, beri-beri, constipation, and absentmindedness. In the Pen Ts'ao was written that eating too many hemp seeds could cause one to see demons, but that on the other hand, the repetitive continual consumption of Ma seeds could enable one to get in contact with spirits. The cultivation of hemp for clothing and other textile uses has been instructed to the Chinese people by Shen-Nung as well and this agricultural art is still being practiced in rural areas of China.

Medical Cannabis In Ancient China

Ma-Yo, An Ancient Anesthetic

In order to cause visions, Taoist alchemists inhaled the smoke of burned hemp seeds in the first century AD. Those visions were considered a means to achieve immortality and marijuana was said to rejuvenate the body and mind.

A famous surgeon of the second century AD, Hua T'o, carried out complicated surgery using Ma-yo, a mixture of hemp resin and wine, as an anesthetic. By employing Ma-yo those surgeries were relatively painless, even amputations. In the tenth century AD Ma-yo treatments were employed to cool fevers, to ease childbirth, cure rheumatism and to clean the blood.

Medical Cannabis In Hindu History

Apparently starting from China, cannabis spread its way west throughout Asia, Asia Minor and across the Mediterranean and was used by many early cultures. From there over time, cannabis made its way through almost all civilizations throughout the world according to western historians. Hindu teaching tends to differ, as Cannibis Indica is recorded in the Vedas which is one of the four most scared books.

It was written about 4000 years ago, the Vedas tells the legends of conquest, struggle and spiritual development that effects and shapes every part of traditional Hindu life. Among many other myths, The Vedas tells the Lord Shiva, one of the three of the main Hindu gods, refreshed in the heat of the day by eating marijuana leaves.

Lord Shiva made this his favorite food and was given the title Lord of the Bhang. Bhang is an ancient Indian drink made of cannabis mixed with numerous herbs and spices and has been popular in India for many years. The fourth of the Vedas, the Athaaveda which loosely translates into the Science of Charms, calls Bhang one of the five kingdoms of Herbs which releases us from our anxieties.

Traditional Indian medicine has been used for a a long time and in a variety of different ways, it was used in the treatment of illnesses such as fever, sunstroke ,dysentery, and leprosy. Cannabis is said to make digestion quicker, sharpens a persons intellect, help clear phlegm, increase alertness and act as an elixir vitae. Hindu medicine unlike western science addresses spiritual awareness, it is said that Ganja pleases Shiva, the king of the gods who is always pleased with the offering.

The connection between Shiva and Ganja is considered to be very important in maintaining physical and psychological balance. According to the the Rajvallabha, a 17th century Hindu text this desire-fulfilling drug was thought to have been obtained by men for the welfare of all people. It is said that the people that use it regularly it creates joy and lessens the feeling of sorrow.

Medical Cannabis In Hindu History


Written by: Zamnesia
Zamnesia has spent years honing its products, ranges, and knowledge of all things psychedelic. Driven by the spirit of Zammy, Zamnesia strives to bring you accurate, factual, and informative content.

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