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History of Hemp for Medicinal Use

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History of Hemp

Slowly but surely, people are starting to appreciate the many health benefits that hemp may have to offer. Let’s take a look at the history of hemp for medicinal use.

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. 

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.

History of Hemp Ancient China

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.