Slowly but surely, people are starting to appreciate the many health benefits that hemp may have to offer.
Until the craze of prohibition over the last century or so, hemp was widely used across the world not just for it's many industrial applications – but also its demonstrable health benefits.
It's difficult to pinpoint exactly when hemp was first used in this application, quite simply because it most likely predates the written word!
What we do know for sure is that demonstrable evidence suggests hemp being used as a medicine at least 5000 years ago. We can probably quite safely add a fair few extra millennia to that. You can find hemp clones for sale here.
The Ancient World
Hemp originated in China and was grown for many purposes ranging from textiles through to edibles. Naturally, it must have become apparent that it could also be used for health purposes too.
The earliest written record – which may have been embellished over the centuries – dates from 2737BC when an Emperor Shen Neng took it upon himself to suggest people suffering from digestive disorders, malaria (!) and forgetfulness (!!) take some hemp.
Most anthropologists suggest that this would be hemp seeds combined with it being used as a kind of incense. The distinction between hemp (almost zero THC) and 'typical' marijuana is an important one.
India was perhaps the real pioneer when it came to using hemp/marijuana for medical purposes. Over a period estimated to be from 2000-1000BC, there is confirmed proof in both scripture and archeology that it served a huge cultural purpose.
One of these applications – a drink called Bhang – is still even found today! It is a mixture of hemp/cannabis paste with milk, spices, and ghee – kind of like the ultimate stoner's milkshake. Interestingly, it was used for more psychological purposes, to settle the nerves and encourage happiness and relaxation.
Naturally, it served a very prominent part of religious ceremonies. Later it became apparent that the drink also held more practical applications, especially for settling digestive issues (especially dysentery).
Over the next 1000 years or so the use of hemp for medicine became increasingly recorded. It is believed that the first use of it being mentioned as an anesthetic date from a Chinese circa 200BC record which – quite ironically from a modern-day perspective – warned about cannabis overdose.
By this time it was being used as a standard application to help with wounds, clot blood, constipation, and even tapeworm.
The Medieval Ages
There's a bit of a gap over the next thousand years or so. It is reckoned by most experts that the likes of the Ancient Greeks and Romans used hemp medicinally – after all, the silk road was well up and running by then and spices were one of the key trades.
There is archeological proof of hemp seeds being found ground into pottery from both great empires, so we can assume that is the case. They just didn't tend to write much about it, perhaps suggesting that it was common knowledge and a mere matter of course.
Plenty of proof has been found that hemp was used for all sorts of purposes in the Islamic world as after all, alcohol was a big no-no. We can assume given their proximity to the Eastern regions that it must also have had some kind of medicinal application as well as recreational.
The Last Five Hundred Years
Arguably the truly golden age of hemp, the plant had by 1700 spread across the globe. Easy to grow and essential to everyone from shipwrights to seamstresses, there were royal degrees in numerous countries demanding that farmers apportion a percentage of their land for the exclusive growth of hemp.
As European empires expanded and became more open to the regions that they interacted with, hemp was recognized especially for its additional medicinal uses.
It wasn't until the emergence/accessibility of serious opioids in the 19th Century that people started to veer away from the use of hemp in medicine.
Opium provided a far more intense 'knockout' for surgery despite having practically no other practical medical application. However, in the age of emerging surgical interest, that was considered far more important than treating the likes of rheumatism.
During the last couple of hundred years, hemp became inaccurately entwined with marijuana and slowly became banned throughout Europe and the Americas.
While still used within some industries, superior non-organic alternatives overtook hemp's preeminence in textiles (cotton) and ropes (reinforced steel). With the power of alcohol lobbies, it was a matter of time until hemp's use recreationally and medicinally day's were numbered.
The Modern Day
As mentioned during the introduction, there are many positive signs that the times are changing. The emergence of CBD – both as an isolate and ever more so as a 'full spectrum' style – for potentially helping people cope if not cure with a huge variety of ailments is ever more clear cut.
While still not fully understood, there is a good reason to be optimistic for the future of hemp being used to treat and heal people into the future.