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The Rich History of Cannabis Medicine in the Ancient World

Let’s take a journey back in time to the ancient world—where cannabis medicine was a well-established practice—and dive into the fascinating history of cannabis medicine to explore how people have used this plant throughout history to treat a variety of ailments.

A Tour Around the Ancient World

Cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years, dating back to ancient China and Egypt. The earliest recorded use of cannabis as medicine comes from the Chinese emperor Shen Nung, who is said to have used cannabis tea to treat a variety of ailments as far back as 2737 BCE.

In ancient Egypt, cannabis was used as a pain reliever, as well as to treat inflammation and other conditions. Cannabis seeds were even found in the tomb of the pharaoh Ramesses II, who died in 1213 BCE.

Fast forward a bit to ancient Greece, where the renowned physician Hippocrates prescribed cannabis for pain relief. The famous philosopher Galen also recommended cannabis for a variety of ailments, including digestive issues and ear infections.

Moving on to the ancient Indian subcontinent, cannabis played a major role in Ayurvedic medicine. The ancient Indian text, the Atharvaveda, mentions cannabis as a medicine, and the famous Ayurvedic text, the Sushruta Samhita, describes cannabis as a treatment for a variety of conditions, including fever, diarrhea, and dysentery.

In the ancient Middle East, cannabis was also used medicinally. The Hebrew Bible mentions cannabis as a component of holy anointing oil, and the ancient Persian prophet Zoroaster is said to have used cannabis to treat a variety of ailments.

Now, let's turn our attention to the ancient Americas, where cannabis was used by the indigenous people for medicinal purposes. The Mayans used cannabis as an anesthetic during surgeries, and the Aztecs used it to treat a variety of conditions, including pain, fever, and epilepsy.

Ancient Doctors Were Well Aware of Cannabis’ Medical Benefits 

So, as you can see, cannabis medicine has a long and rich history that spans many different cultures and time periods. But why was it so popular? Well, cannabis contains many active compounds, including cannabinoids like THC and CBD, as well as terpenes and flavonoids, which have a variety of medical benefits.

In ancient times, cannabis was often used in the form of teas or tinctures, which were made by steeping the plant in water or alcohol. Today, we have a variety of different ways to consume cannabis, including smoking, vaporizing, and ingesting edibles. 

Modern Science is Proving What the Ancients Knew About Medical Cannabis

While cannabis has been used medicinally for thousands of years, it's important to note that modern medicine has only recently started looking seriously at the plant's medical properties. In fact, it wasn't until the 1960s that the active compound THC was even identified by the Israeli scientist Raphael Mechoulam.

Today, we have a much better understanding of the many medical benefits of cannabis, thanks in large part to ongoing research around the world. Studies have shown that cannabis can be effective in treating a variety of conditions, including chronic pain, nausea, anxiety, depression, and epileptic muscle spasms. In addition, cannabis has been shown to have neuroprotective properties, and may even help to slow the progression of certain degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Despite the mounting research, much remains to be learned about cannabis, its effects on the body, and its medicinal promise. As more U.S. states legalize cannabis for medicinal purposes, and with the passing of The Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act, a greater focus on research into the plant's medical properties will no doubt begin to reveal for modern medicine the lost cannabis secrets understood by the ancients.

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