The mainstream use of cannabis might seem like a modern development, but this plant has been used by humankind for thousands of years. In fact, research suggests that cannabis is one of the oldest crops humanity has cultivated and that humans have been growing this plant for around 12,000 years. You might be wondering what our ancestors were doing with this naturally-occurring crop. Read on to find out.
Cannabis Around the Globe
Experts believe that this herb first emerged in Central Asia in what is present-day Mongolia and the southern parts of Siberia. It was widely used in China for many purposes including spiritual and medical. This herb then made its way through a series of trading routes from China to Korea, India, and eventually, the European countries and can now be cultivated in tropical and temperate environments, and even indoors.
In the early 20th century, cannabis reached the United States through Mexico, where it was banned by the American government. However, this herb proved to have valuable characteristics that are beneficial to modern medicine and other sectors. Let us look at how our ancestors used this herb:
- For Religious Rites
In the Ancient Egyptian times, this herb was associated with various religious and spiritual figures. The Egyptian goddess of wisdom is Sheshatt – she was usually portrayed with a marijuana leaf, perhaps due to its cerebral effects. Experts also found proof of Egyptians consuming this herb during religious rituals.
Aside from Ancient Egypt, there is evidence of the religious application of this plant in other ancient cultures too. In fact, some researchers suggest that Jesus, as a historical figure, advocated the use of Kaneh-Bosem, which was eventually identified as being an extract of cannabis
Other cultures that placed religious significance on the plant include India, China, and Japan.
- As Industrial Materials
This plant has a subspecies called Cannabis sativa L., commonly called hemp. This subspecies has very low psychoactive effects and is rich in fiber, making it perfect for crafting industrial materials. Materials derived from this variety include textile, plastic, paper, rope, food and other similar supplies. Hemp fiber is used to create boat sails and clothes, making it a valuable crop in ancient cultures.
- In Folk Medicine
From ancient to medieval times, this plant has been integrated into medical practices. In India, cannabis is known as a holy ingredient because of the role it plays in rituals. In fact, the Vedas mentioned this herb as one that ‘releases us from anxiety,’ recognizing its anti-anxiety and anti-depressant effects.
The Chinese also found this herb useful in medicine, earning it a place in the Shennong Bencaojing, a medical book that notes the various uses of different parts of the plant. Arabic cultures also applied this plant in medical treatments for illnesses.
- For Arts and Recreation
One of the most notable users of this herb is none other than the prolific playwright, William Shakespeare. In fact, scientific journals published evidence of cannabis traces in 8 pipes from Shakespeare’s garden. This writer is well known for inventing words and creating original dramas that have stood the test of time, possibly thanks to the brain high given by the marijuana he consumed.
With the cannabis plant being valued by our ancestors in the areas of religion, industry, medicine, and the arts, the legalization of this herb in modern times is well warranted. Today, it is being used to treat serious debilitating illnesses and symptoms including cancer, epilepsy, and arthritis. As such, it has proven itself to be a valuable alternative to medications and a useful addition to medical treatments that can improve the lives of many patients and even ordinary users.