Cannabis use is nothing new to the human race. Throughout our history, strong evidence shows that cannabis has actually been used by humans in a variety of applications. The primary uses of the plant were as food, textiles, and as an intoxicating medicine. Although much controversy surrounds its federal legality as a medicine or an adult use product, it’s safe to say that cannabis isn’t going anywhere. I mean it’s not called a weed for no good reason.
Cannabis first made its way to the stage an estimated 10,000 years ago deep in the Caucasus Mountains of Eurasia. Here it was likely gobbled up by the local inhabitants like rodents, birds, and yes, humans. This wild wind-pollinated grass was a great source of nourishment with its vitamins rich leaves and seeds. Nomadic humans may have also enjoyed the mild intoxicating effects they got from munching on raw flower buds during long travel. So through the help of itinerant animals, like pre-historic man, cannabis was able to proliferate and develop outside its native inhabitance of the Eurasian Steps. This allowed the species to develop unique characteristics in each new environment it established its roots in.
As nomadic humans started creating agrarian settlements, cannabis found itself useful as more than just a traveling snack pack. Not only could the leaves and seeds be consumed raw by humans and livestock, but the seeds could be distilled into a rich oil. This oil coild be used cooking or as a fuil sorce for candles. Made up of complex essential amino acids and polyunsaturated fats, hemp seed oil to this day is a popular superfood amongst nutritionists due to its concentration of essential vitamins and minerals. Plus, the fibrous stalks of the plant were used in a number of difference fashions- like clothing, basket weaving, and eventually windsails, rope, and paper. In fact, many people don’t know this but early drafts of The Declaration of Independence were actually written on paper made from hemp. A versatile botanical indeed.
Fascinatingly enough, the medicinal and intoxicating effects of cannabis were well known and extensively documented in Chinese and Ayurvedic medical texts that date back well over 4,500 years ago. The Pen Ts’ao Ching is the oldest pharmacopeia in the world and discusses Cannabis’s euphoric effects along with its many healing properties. The Ts’ao Ching listed cannabis as an effective means to treat over 100 illnesses including menstrual cramps, gastritis, along with nausea, pain, and discomfort associated with, but not limited to, childbirth.
In 1993, archaeologists uncovered a 2500-year-old tomb in Siberia buried beneath the Tundra. The grave contained the perfectly preserved mummy of a young woman, an estimated twenty to thirty years old, buried with meat, ornaments, gifts, and a large container of cannabis flower. Known as the Siberian Ice-Princess, her body was found covered in metastasized stage four breast cancer, which was likely the cause of her death. This lead experts to the hypothesis that the cannabis flower found in her tomb was not put there as a mere “get well soon gift”, but was being used by this woman to alleviate some of the potentially blinding pain and discomfort brought on by her terminal cancer. Although the cannabis may not have been used to treat the carcinoma directly, this medicine was certainly used to alleviate her at the end of her life.
Cannabis even made its way into Western Medicine for a little while. First brought back to the west in 1840 by Dr. Willian Shaughnessy. The Irish Physician was fascinated with Indian Botanicals and brought back a popular botanical tincture called Cannabis Indica Elixir. It became such a common use drug in Britain, it could be purchased at any local general store. It was also written about in the first issue of The Lancet Medical Journal, where Queen Victoria’s physician explained how Cannabis Elixir could be used to treat menstrual cramps and discomfort.
In cessation, Cannabis has been a timeless part of our own history. While the list goes on, it is clear that cannabis was used by humans in much the same way we do today, with limitless possibility. While cannabis use is becoming more and more socially acceptable please be sure to consume responsibly but more importantly have fun!