Saturday, October 3, 2015

The history of medical cannabis can be traced thousands of years.


Ancient China and Taiwan

Cannabis, called má (meaning "hemp; cannabis; numbness") or dàmá 大麻 (with "big; great") in Chinese, was used in Taiwan for fiber starting about 10,000 years ago.

The botanist Li Hui-Lin wrote that in China, "The use of Cannabis in medicine was probably a very early development. Since ancient humans used hemp seed as food, it was quite natural for them to also discover the medicinal properties of the plant."

The early Chinese surgeon Hua Tuo (c. 140-208) is credited with being the first recorded person to use cannabis as an anesthetic. He reduced the plant to powder and mixed it with wine for administration prior to conducting surgery. 

The medical uses were highlighted in a pharmacopeia of the Tang, which prescribed the root of the plant to remove a blood clot, while the juice from the leaves could be ingested to combat tapeworm.

The seeds of cannabis, reduced to powder and mixed with rice wine, were recommended in various other materials medical against several ailments, ranging from constipation to hair loss.

Cannabis is one of the 50 "fundamental" herbs in traditional Chinese medicine, and is prescribed to treat diverse indications.

Every part of the hemp plant is used in medicine...


The flowers are recommended in the 120 different forms of disease, in menstrual disorders, and in wounds.

The achenia, which are considered to be poisonous, stimulate the nervous system, and if used in excess, will produce hallucinations and staggering gait. They are prescribed in nervous disorders, especially those marked by local anesthesia.

The seeds are considered to be tonic, demulcent, alterative [restorative], laxative, and emmenagogue, diuretic, anthelmintic, and corrective. ... They are prescribed internally in fluxes, post-partum difficulties, aconite poisoning, vermillion poisoning, constipation, and obstinate vomiting. Externally they are used for eruptions, ulcers, favus, wounds, and falling of the hair.

The oil is used for falling hair, sulfur poisoning, and dryness of the throat.

The leaves are considered to be poisonous, and the freshly expressed juice is used as an anthelmintic, in scorpion stings, to stop the hair from falling out and to prevent it from turning gray. ...

The stalk, or its bark, is considered to be diuretic

The juice of the root is ... thought to have a beneficial action in retained placenta and post-partum hemorrhage. An infusion of hemp ... is used as a demulcent drink for quenching thirst and relieving fluxes.

Ancient Egypt


The Ebers Papyrus (ca. 1550 BC) from Ancient Egypt has a prescription for medical marijuana applied directly for inflammation.
The Ebers Papyrus (ca. 1550 BC) from Ancient Egypt has a prescription for medical marijuana applied directly for inflammation.

The ancient Egyptians even used hemp (cannabis) in suppositories for relieving the pain of hemorrhoids.

Around 2,000 BCE, the ancient Egyptians used cannabis to treat sore eyes.
Ancient India

Cannabis was a major component in religious practices in ancient India as well as in medicinal practices. For many centuries, most parts of life in ancient India incorporated cannabis of some form. Surviving texts from ancient India confirm that cannabis' psychoactive properties were recognized, and doctors used it for treating a variety of illnesses and ailments.

This included insomnia, headaches, a whole host of gastrointestinal disorders, and pain: cannabis was frequently used to relieve the pain of childbirth.

Ancient Greece


The Ancient Greeks used cannabis not only for human medicine, but also inveterinary medicine to dress wounds and sores on their horses
The Ancient Greeks used cannabis not only for human medicine, but also in veterinary medicine to dress wounds and sores on their horses.
In humans, dried leaves of cannabis were used to treat nose bleeds, and cannabis seeds were used to expel tapeworms.

The most frequently described use of cannabis in humans was to steep green seeds of cannabis in either water or wine, later taking the seeds out and using the warm extract to treat inflammation and pain resulting from obstruction of the ear.

In the 5th century BC Herodotus, a Greek historian, described how the Scythians of the Middle East used cannabis in steam baths. These baths drove the people to a frenzied state.

Medieval Islamic world

In the medieval Islamic world, Arabic physicians made use of the diuretic, antiemetic, antiepileptic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antipyretic properties of Cannabis sativa, and used it extensively as medication from the 8th to 18th centuries.

Modern history

In the mid 19th century, medical interest in the use of cannabis began to grow in the West. In the 19th century cannabis was one of the secret ingredients in several so called patent medicines.

There were at least 2000 cannabis medicines prior to 1937, produced by over 280 manufacturers. The advent of the syringe and injectable medicines contributed to an eventual decline in the popularity of cannabis for therapeutic uses, as did the invention of new drugs such as aspirin.

An Irish physician, William Brooke O'Shaughnessy, is credited with introducing the therapeutic use of cannabis to Western medicine. He was Assistant-Surgeon and Professor of Chemistry at the Medical College of Calcutta, and conducted a cannabis experiment in the 1830s, first testing his preparations on animals, then administering them to patients to help treat muscle spasms, stomach cramps or general pain.

Modern medical and scientific inquiry began with doctors like O'Shaughnessy and Moreau de Tours, who used it to treat melancholia and migraines, and as a sleeping aid, analgesic and anticonvulsant.

At the turn of the 20th century the Scandinavian maltose- and cannabis-based drink Maltos-cannabis was widely available in Denmark and Norway. Promoted as "an excellent lunch drink, especially for children and young people", the product had won a prize at the Exposition International d'Anvers in 1894.

Later in the century, researchers investigating methods of detecting cannabis intoxication discovered that smoking the drug reduced intraocular pressure.
The marijuana extracts were then used at the University hospital as a cure for aphthae and haze.

In 1973 physician Tod H. Mikuriya reignited the debate concerning cannabis as medicine when he published "Marijuana Medical Papers". High intraocular pressure causes blindness in glaucoma patients, so he hypothesized that using the drug could prevent blindness in patients.

Many Vietnam War veterans also found that the drug prevented muscle spasms caused by spinal injuries suffered in battle.


In 1964, Dr. Albert Lockhart and Manley West began studying the health effects of traditional cannabis use in Jamaican communities. They discovered that Rastafarians had unusually low glaucoma rates and local fishermen were washing their eyes with cannabis extract in the belief that it would improve their sight. 

by 
Melanie Malin

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