Cannabis has been prized throughout human civilization for its therapeutic properties. While the last century saw the plant vilified by mainstream society – mostly led by prohibition in the United States – that has not always been the case for Cannabis in the rest of the world, where it has been used in sacred, healing, and ritual practices for eons.
CHINA // 10,000 YEARS AGO
The mind reels trying to think this far back into history. To our time-bound minds, 100 years seems like a very long time. But there is evidence to suggest that Cannabis and hemp were incorporated into daily life by the ancient Chinese. The first written history we have of the ancient use of Cannabis in China comes from the pharmacopeia of the shaman Shennong, who describes its usage in medicinal and spiritual practice, typically as ‘juice’ or tincture
NETHERLANDS // 4,500 Y.A.
The Beaker culture existed sometime around 2500 BCE in what is now the Netherlands. In 2007, a Neolithic grave site was found containing an unusually large concentration of Cannabis pollen, along with the indigenous herb meadowsweet. Meadowsweet was used for its fever reducing properties, so it is likely that the person whose grave was discovered was seriously ill and using Cannabis for its pain relieving properties.
EGYPT // 3,500 YEARS AGO
In ancient Egypt, the Ebers Papyrus describes the usage of medical Cannabis as through suppositories for relieving the pain of hemorrhoids, and through a ‘paste’ applied to treat sore eyes. The goddess Seshat (goddess of wisdom) is portrayed with a Cannabis leaf above her head. There are also many hieroglyphs that portray Cannabis being used in religious ceremonies
ANCIENT INDIA // 1,000 BCE
Surviving texts from ancient India demonstrate that the psychoactive properties of Cannabis were recognized and respected by physicians for treating insomnia, headaches, gastrointestinal disorders, and pain management – sound familiar? Indians utilized bhang, which is finger-hash combined with milk,
to cure these hosts of ailments.
GREECE // 2,500 YEARS AGO
Ancient Greeks used Cannabis to dress the wounds on their horses. For humans, Cannabis leaves were used to treat nose bleeds, and Cannabis seeds were used to expel tapeworms. Green Cannabis seeds were also steeped in tea or wine and used to treat earaches. Cannabis was also used in steam baths, which drove participants to a frenzied state.
MIDDLE EAST // 1,000 Y.A.
1,000 years ago in the medieval Islamic world, Arabic physicians used Cannabis for a range of reasons, including its antiepileptic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antipyretic properties from the 8th-18th century. Most of these treatments used dry-sift hashish applied to different formulations.
story by Pacer Stacktrain for Leaf Nation