A Brief History of Hemp in Medicine

First, let’s set the records straight – hemp is not marijuana. Although both come from genus Cannabis, hemp is defined as having 0.3% or less THC. When people talk about hemp, there’s no reason to be truly concerned. After all, human civilization has gained a lot from this miracle plant.

According to historical records, hemp is one of the first plants early Mesopotamian civilizations cultivated. It has been utilized for everything from building materials to clothing to medicine. Because it has many uses, the popularity of this wonder plant spread throughout the globe from where it came from. By 5,000 BC, hemp became an important aspect of various ancient cultures, especially when it comes to medicine.

Ancient Egyptians used hemp mainly as medicine. The plant has been used to treat eye problems and relieve pain. In fact, historians and archaeologists hypothesized that the plant must have been buried together with royalties.

Ancient Chinese Emperors required their subjects to grow hemp. Aside from medicine, hemp has been used to make parchments or paper. Many traditional Buddhist texts were even written on parchments made from hemp. Even Buddha was recorded to eat hemp seeds when fasting.

It was during 1,200 BC, wherein hemp started to spread across Europe. However, it was Britain that really brought the medicinal properties of hemp into modern medicine. To be specific, it was due to the efforts of William O’Shaughnessy, a 19th-century British physician. He discovered it during his travels to India in 1830s. As a scientist, he took noticed of this and began experiments and clinical trials. Unfortunately, doctors that time failed to find why hemp has medicinal properties.

It was only in 1940s, wherein researchers discovered CBD or cannabidiol. However, it took 6 more years for them to discover CBD’s non-psychotropic nature. 1993, Israeli researchers identified CBD’s physiological targets, which is the endocannabinoid system. From this, CBD research picked up steam. Various pharmaceutical companies are researching and testing hemp plant.

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Now, we could say hemp in medicine is making a comeback after long years of prohibition.