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HomeArchaeologyMarijuana for All that Ails You: Cannabis in the Ancient World

Marijuana for All that Ails You: Cannabis in the Ancient World


Marijuana, also referred to as hashish, has been utilized by people for hundreds of years for each medicinal and leisure functions. Its versatility and effectiveness in treating a variety of illnesses have made it a helpful plant in many historic civilizations. From its use as a pain-relieving anesthetic throughout surgical procedures in historic China, to its medicinal properties for treating hemorrhoids, irritation, and even glaucoma in historic Egypt, and its non secular significance in non secular rituals in historic India, we discover six wonderful methods historic civilizations used marijuana.

1.Ancient China – Anesthetics and Ointments

The historic Chinese had been recognized to have used marijuana as a type of anesthetic throughout surgical procedures. This unbelievable medicinal plant was first recorded in the Pen Ts’ao Ching, an historic Chinese medical textual content written by the Emperor Shen Nung in 2737 BC. Not solely did the textual content describe the use of marijuana as an anesthetic, however it additionally listed its medicinal properties, similar to the capability to alleviate ache, cut back irritation, and promote the therapeutic of wounds.

But the historic Chinese did not simply depend on oral consumption of marijuana for surgical procedures. They additionally used it in the type of a topical ointment, utilized on to the pores and skin earlier than surgical procedure. This methodology was believed to supply a simpler type of ache aid, as the lively compounds in marijuana, similar to THC and CBD, had been in a position to penetrate the pores and skin and attain the bloodstream extra shortly. The anesthetic properties of marijuana had been so extremely valued that it was used in surgical procedures properly into the nineteenth century earlier than being changed by extra superior types of anesthetics, similar to chloroform and ether.

Magu, the Hemp Maiden and Goddess of Longevity. This painting reflects her description in the Biographies of Deities and Immortals by Ge Hong (284-363) of the Jin dynasty. (Public Domain)

Magu, the Hemp Maiden and Goddess of Longevity. This portray displays her description in the Biographies of Deities and Immortals by Ge Hong (284-363) of the Jin dynasty. ( Public Domain )

2.Ancient Egyptians – Hemorrhoids, Inflammation, and Glaucoma.

There is proof from historic Egyptian texts and medical papyri that marijuana was used for medicinal functions in historic Egypt . One of the earliest recognized references to the medicinal use of marijuana may be discovered in the Ebers Papyrus , a medical textual content relationship again to 1550 BC. The papyrus describes the use of marijuana for the remedy of hemorrhoids, irritation, and glaucoma. Additionally, there have been archaeological findings of marijuana pollen in tombs of historic Egyptians, which suggests that it might have been used in funerary rituals as properly.

To deal with hemorrhoids, the historic Egyptians would combine the plant with different components, similar to honey and myrrh, to create a potent ointment that was utilized on to the affected space. The historic Egyptians additionally used marijuana as a treatment for varied eye circumstances, together with glaucoma, irritation, and redness.

A figure of the goddess Seshat carved on the back of the throne of the seated statue of Rameses II. Above her head, there is what is argued to be a marijuana leaf. (Jon Bodsworth / Public Domain)

A determine of the goddess Seshat carved on the again of the throne of the seated statue of Rameses II. Above her head, there may be what’s argued to be a marijuana leaf. (Jon Bodsworth / Public Domain )

3.Ancient India – Religious Rituals

Ancient Indians have an extended historical past of utilizing marijuana in non secular and non secular rituals. They believed that the plant had the energy to convey them nearer to the divine, and it was typically used in rituals to advertise non secular development and understanding. The plant was thought-about sacred and was typically used in choices to the gods and in non secular ceremonies.

The use of marijuana in historic India was not simply restricted to non secular practices; it was additionally used for medicinal and therapeutic functions. The plant was believed to have therapeutic properties and was used to deal with quite a lot of illnesses, similar to ache, insomnia, and anxiousness. The historic Indian medical system, Ayurveda, additionally made use of marijuana as part of its remedy routine. The plant was used to steadiness the physique’s energies and promote general well being and well-being.

4.Ancient Greece – Marijuana for Nosebleeds and More

The historic Greeks had been recognized for their intensive information of drugs and their use of assorted herbs and vegetation for therapeutic. One of those vegetation was marijuana, which they used to deal with quite a lot of circumstances, together with nosebleeds. The anti-inflammatory properties of marijuana had been believed to assist cut back the irritation in the nasal passages, whereas its astringent properties helped to constrict the blood vessels, thereby stopping the bleeding. The Greek doctor, Galen wrote about the use of marijuana as a nasal decongestant and as a remedy for nosebleeds in his medical texts. He described how the dried leaves of the plant had been crushed and blended with different components, similar to frankincense and myrrh to create a poultice, which was then utilized to the nostrils to cease the bleeding.

The use of marijuana as a remedy for nosebleeds was not restricted to simply the historic Greeks. In reality, it was a standard follow in historic drugs and was additionally utilized by the Romans and different cultures. The effectiveness of this remedy was well-known, and it continued for use for centuries earlier than the creation of contemporary drugs.

A funerary kantharos (Attica, circa 780 BC), a type of ancient Greek cup used for drinking. (Public Domain)

A funerary kantharos (Attica, circa 780 BC), a sort of historic Greek cup used for consuming. ( Public Domain )

5.Ancient Romans – Earaches and Recreational Use

The historic Romans had been recognized to have used marijuana for each medicinal and leisure functions. According to historic texts, the Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder wrote about the use of marijuana as a ache reliever for earaches and gout in his e book Natural History , written in the first century AD. The Romans additionally used marijuana as a sedative, mixing it with different herbs to create a relaxing and soothing impact.

Additionally, historic Romans had been recognized to have used marijuana for leisure functions. The Roman poet, Ovid, in his work Tristia, wrote of a “hempen wreath” that was used to “drive away care” and produce on sleep. Moreover, archaeological proof similar to clay pipes and pottery depicting marijuana leaves have been discovered in historic Roman settlements, additional indicating its leisure use. It is believed that the marijuana plant was launched to the Roman Empire by the conquering troops from Egypt, the place it was used for medicinal functions.

Cannabis sativa from the Vienna Dioscurides, 512 AD. The Vienna Dioscurides is an early 6th-century Byzantine Greek illuminated manuscript of an even earlier 1st century AD work, De materia medica by Pedanius Dioscorides. Both ancient Greece and Rome used marijuana for multiple ailments. (Public Domain)

Cannabis sativa from the Vienna Dioscurides, 512 AD. The Vienna Dioscurides is an early Sixth-century Byzantine Greek illuminated manuscript of a fair earlier 1st century AD work, De materia medica by Pedanius Dioscorides. Both historic Greece and Rome used marijuana for a number of illnesses. ( Public Domain )

6.Central Asian Steppes – Illnesses and Courage in Battle

Ancient Central Asia was dwelling to a number of cultures that used marijuana for each medicinal and leisure functions. The Scythians, a nomadic tribe that inhabited the area from the ninth century BC to the 4th century AD, had been recognized to make use of marijuana in ritual ceremonies. They would toss the dried leaves and flowering tops of the plant onto scorching stones to create a thick smoke, which they’d then inhale. This was believed to have been executed to induce hallucinations and to speak with the spirit world. The Scythians additionally used marijuana for medicinal functions, to deal with quite a lot of circumstances, similar to complications, toothaches, and ache aid throughout childbirth.

Another historic tradition in Central Asia that used marijuana was the Sogdian civilization, which lived in the area from the fifth century BC to the eighth century AD. They used marijuana in non secular rituals and likewise as a type of foreign money. They would commerce the plant with different cultures, similar to the Chinese and the Indians, for items similar to silk, spices, and valuable stones. The Sogdians additionally used marijuana for medicinal functions, to deal with circumstances similar to gout and rheumatism, and to alleviate ache throughout surgical procedure. This is supported by the reality that Sogdians used the phrase “hashish” to explain the plant, which interprets to “a option to acquire freedom from ache.”

Ancient nomadic tribes of the steppes of Central Asia additionally used marijuana to get excessive earlier than going into battle. The Scythians and the Sarmatians believed that the plant had highly effective properties that may give them supernatural power and braveness. They would inhale the smoke from burning marijuana, or eat it in the type of a drink known as “bhang,” which was made by mixing the plant with milk or different liquids. This follow was additionally believed to have non secular and non secular significance because it was believed to assist them talk with the gods and ancestors. The use of marijuana in this context was not simply restricted to males, but additionally ladies and kids, who had been believed to partake in the rituals to realize power and braveness.

Bhang eaters in India, circa 1790. Bhang is an edible preparation of marijuana native to the Indian subcontinent. It has been used in food and drink as early as 1000 BC by Hindus in ancient India. (Public Domain)

Bhang eaters in India, circa 1790. Bhang is an edible preparation of marijuana native to the Indian subcontinent. It has been used in food and drinks as early as 1000 BC by Hindus in historic India. ( Public Domain )

Conclusion

Ancient cultures had a profound understanding of the therapeutic properties of marijuana and used it in varied varieties to advertise well being and well-being. From medical remedies to non secular practices, the historic world knew the worth of this highly effective plant.

Top Image: Marijuana and different vegetation have been used for medicinal, non secular, and leisure functions since time immemorial. The pictured Amazonian shaman makes use of ayahuasca ritualistically. Source: Ammit / Adobe Stock

By Joanna Gillan



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