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.
Its 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.