The Healing History of Hemp

Hemp healing practices

Hemp has been used by civilizations all over the world for thousands of purposes. Written language came of age on hemp paper, the first woven clothes were made of hemp fiber, and modern medicine evolved from extractions of hemp flowers. As far back as 12,000 B.C.E., people in mongolia and siberia were cultivating cannabis plants. Once they discovered they could make paper out of the fibrous stalks, around 6000-5000 B.C.E., they began recording their uses of the plant among other things.  Hemp has been with humanity literally since the beginning of history, and these are some of the clever uses that have been applied in the field of medicine and healing over the millennia.

Hemp in Asia

The Chinese were among the first to cultivate and use cannabis.  They used all parts of the plant for many things, but medicine was the apparent emphasis.  Their records indicate that the ground roots were used to heal blood clots and infections, and that the rest of the plant could prevent stomach aches and even hair loss (modern science has proved both of these). Cannabis was one of the fundamental herbs of ancient Chinese medicine, with most of the surviving medical texts dedicated to preparations and remedies involving cannabis plants. Even the modern chinese word for “anesthesia” literally translates to “cannabis intoxication”.

In addition to physical medicine, cannabis was also a spiritual and religious cure for ailments of the mind.  It is rich in religious contexts, and there is even a revered goddess, Magu, shared by several east asian cultures and religions.  She is the goddess of youth and health, and the story goes that she used cannabis to save people from demons of the mind and body.

India is first credited with creating tincture, called Bhang.  It was used for a wide range of conditions and disorders, from gastrointestinal issues to headaches and even “mental acuity”.

Hemp in the middle east

In Egypt, the pharaoh Ramses II, who commissioned the pyramids of giza, was known to promote the use of cannabis as medicine in his empire, and was even buried with hemp seed oil. The Egyptians developed the first known topical application of cannabis extract, for the relief of inflammation and pain related to childbirth.

Arabic medicine is known to have used cannabis for a plethora of ailments for over 1000 years, from 800-1800 C.E. They were the first culture to use cannabis medicine to treat what is now known as epilepsy or seizures.  The middle east climate is very suitable for the cultivation of cannabis.

Hemp in Europe and the west

In ancient Greece, seeds and dried leaves of cannabis were steeped in boiling water or wine and then strained, with the resulting beverage consumed for the relief of inflammation, constipation, and general pain relief/analgesia.  Similar to some modern bath preparations of cannabis, the greeks were also known to bathe in steam baths where cannabis was also burned; this was used for warriors after battle or for those near death to relieve severe stress and anguish.

In the Netherlands, traces of cannabis were found in tombs dating back to the third century B.C.E., especially in tombs where other known medicinal herbs were located, suggesting it was among the arsenal of remedies known to their culture to possess medical value.

From the first colonization of North America up until the mid 20th century, when bureaucrats and crony capitalists hoodwinked the entire populace, hemp was a vital part of all industry in America.  Every US president up through Abraham Lincoln, and several thereafter were known to cultivate hemp on their farms.  There were over 2000 different kinds of cannabis-based medications on the market in the US in the year 1906, and it was the basis of almost all medicine in Europe. The therapeutic value of hemp, both preventative and reactive, is being rediscovered after a short century of silence preceded by 12 millennia of profound truth.