The history of the cannabis plant

history of marijuana

History of Marijuana

The use of cannabis originated in central Asia or western China. Cannabis has been used for its alleged healing properties for millennia. The first documented case of its use dates back to 2800 BC, when it was listed in the Emperor Shen Nung’s (regarded as the father of Chinese medicine) pharmacopoeia. history of marijuana

We all love cannabis. How many people can boost of knowing the history of marijuana?

Cannabis has been used across the world for ages . Most reports date back to it originating from Asia before spreading to other parts of the world.”For the most part, it was widely used for medicine and spiritual purposes,” during pre-modern times, said Warf, a professor of geography at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.

It is important to distinguish between the two familiar subspecies of the cannabis plant, Warf said. Cannabis sativa, known as marijuana, has psychoactive properties. The other plant is Cannabis sativa L. (The L was included in the name in honor of the botanist Carl Linnaeus.) This subspecies is known as hemp; it is a nonpsychoactive form of cannabis, and is used in manufacturing products such as oil, cloth and fuel. [11 Odd Facts About Marijuana]

Cannabis likely spread across exchange routes along the early Silk Road

The THC-containing residues were extracted from burners from a cemetery known as Jirzankal in the remote Pamir Mountains. Some of the skeletons recovered from the site, situated in modern-day western China, have features that resemble those of contemporaneous peoples further west in Central Asia. Objects found in the burials also appear to link this population to peoples further west in the mountain foothills of Inner Asia. Additionally, stable isotope studies on the human bones from the cemetery show that not all of the people buried there grew up locally.

These data fit with the notion that the high-elevation mountain passes of Central and Eastern Asia played a key role in early trans-Eurasian exchange. Indeed, the Pamir region, today so remote, may once have sat astride a key ancient trade route of the early Silk Road. The Silk Road was at certain times in the past the single most important vector for cultural spread in the ancient world. Robert Spengler, the lead archaeobotanist for the study, also at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, explains, “The exchange routes of the early Silk Road functioned more like the spokes of a wagon wheel than a long-distance road, placing Central Asia at the heart of the ancient world. Our study implies that knowledge of cannabis smoking and specific high-chemical-producing varieties of the cannabis plant were among the cultural traditions that spread along these exchange routes.”

The medicinal properties of the cannabis plant have been known for millennia. As far back as 2800 BC, cannabis was used to treat a vast array of health problems and was listed in Emperor Shen Nung’s pharmacopoeia.

Cannabis has a long and colourful history. The use of cannabis originated in central Asia or western China. Cannabis has been used for its alleged healing properties for millennia. The first documented case of its use dates back to 2800 BC, when it was listed in the Emperor Shen Nung’s (regarded as the father of Chinese medicine) pharmacopoeia. Therapeutic indications of cannabis are mentioned in the texts of the Indian Hindus, Assyrians, Greeks and Romans. These texts reported cannabis to treat a vast array of different health problems, including arthritis, depression, amenorrhea, inflammation, pain, lack of appetite and asthma.

Hindu legend holds that Shiva, the supreme Godhead of many sects, was given the title ‘The Lord of Bhang’, because the cannabis plant was his favourite food. The ancient Hindus thought the medicinal benefits of cannabis were explained by pleasing the gods such as Shiva. Ancient Hindu texts attribute the onset of fever with the ‘hot breath of the gods’ who were angered by the afflicted person’s behaviour. Using cannabis in religious rites appeased the gods and hence reduced the fever.

Recent scientific evidence provides an alternative explanation of course. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) acts on the hypothalamus to reduce body temperature. 

A brief timeline of cannabis and cannabinoid research

  • Shen Nung's pharmacopoeia2800 BCCannabis was listed in Emperor Shen Nung’s pharmacopoeia.
  • BCHindu legend holds that Shiva was given the title ‘The Lord of Bhang’ because the cannabis plant was his favourite food.
  • 129-200 ADGalen used cannabis for its therapeutic properties and mood enhancement.
  • 1841William Brooke O’Shaughnessy introduced cannabis to Western medicine after living in India. He wrote of many therapeutic uses of cannabis, including a case where cannabis stopped convulsions in a child.
  • 1898Dunstan and Henry isolated cannabinol (CBN).
  • 1936The film Reefer Madness was released, demonising cannabis as a highly addictive drug that caused mental disorder and violence.
  • 1937The uses of cannabis for medicinal and recreational purposes were effectively taxed out of existence in the USA by the Marijuana Tax Act.
  • 1940sAdams and Todd independently isolated cannabidiol (CBD).
  • 1964Mechoulam (pictured with Dave Allsop) isolated THC from the cannabis plant.
  • 1970US introduced the Controlled Substance Act that lists cannabis as having ‘no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse’.
  • 1988Howlett discovered CB1 receptors in the rat brain.
  • 1992Devane and Mechoulam discovered anandamide.
  • 1993Discovery of CB2 receptors.
  • 1995Mechoulam and Sugiura independently discovered 2-AG.
  • 1996California legalised medical cannabis by introducing the Compassionate Use Act.
  • 1999Endocannabinoids discovered to activate TRPV1 receptors (these are the receptors activated by the spicy compound in chilli)
  • 2007Endocannabinoids shown to activate GPR55.
  • 2012CBD shown to alleviate schizophrenia symptoms in patients comparable to a conventional antipsychotic drug.
  • 2016Australia legalised medical cannabis and its cultivation for medical purposes.
  • 2017CBD demonstrated to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy in a placebo-controlled trial

Discover our researchMake a differenceDonate to our researchIts seed is said to make the genitals impotent. The juice from it drives out of the ears the worms and any other creature that has entered them, but at the cost of a headache; so potent is its nature that when poured into water it is said to make it coagulate. And so, drunk in its water, it regulates the bowels of beasts of burden. The root boiled in water eases cramped joints, gout too and similar violent pains. It is applied to raw burns, but is often changed before it gets dry.Pliny the ElderProcess_How to get medicinal cannabisAny medical doctor can prescribe medicinal cannabis in Australia with the approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and the relevant State or Territory’s Health Department. 

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