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The ancients and cannabis

When you walk through a modern cannabis dispensary, or scroll through all the products offered by Strains-RX, it’s easy to think how brilliant we are, here in the 21st century, to have developed the technology and know-how to put the humble cannabis plant to such good use.

Sorry to burst that bubble, but mankind has known about and used the cannabis plant, in much the same way we do today, for literally thousands of years.

Cannabis sativa has been cultivated for almost as long as mankind switched from hunter-gatherer nomadic life to more settled agricultural societies. Some varieties (today we call them ‘hemp’) were grown for textiles and rope. Others were used for medicinal purposes. And the cannabis plant’s psychotropic properties were utilized for many thousands of years by shamans and priests for medicine, magic, ritual and recreation.

But cannabis consistently shows up in ancient cultures throughout history. The Assyrian and Babylonian cultures of Mesopotamia began making notes about things on cuneiform clay tablets dating back to at least 1000 BCE. The cuneiform word for cannabis was azullu, and the tablets tell us it was used for various medical purposes, including treating depression. When used in religious incense, it was called kunubu and was traded with neighboring cultures in Egypt and Judaea.

Many archeologists believe the Mesopotamians got their azullu from neighboring Bactria, which is today’s Iran, northern Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. There, the Zoroastrian priests prepared the plant as an ingredient in their religious drinks, called Haoma, or in the Indian Vedic, Soma.  

In the Kara Kum desert near the Hindu Kush mountains, a Zoroastrian temple was excavated in the ancient city of Margiana, a city along the Silk Road trade routes, and pottery found there, dating from 1000 BCE,  had residue of cannabis, ephedra and opium poppy.

In ancient India, cannabis was called bhang and ganjha (the latter means ‘twisted rope’) and there are pharmaceutical texts that prescribe the plant for treating common ailments including anxiety. In ancient Egypt, the hieroglyphic symbol shemshemet indicated cannabis and it appears to have been used medicinally since at least 1800 BCE.

In the Book of Exodus in the Talmud and the Old Testament, the holy incense and anointing oil called kaneh bosm is thought to have included cannabis. Another Talmudic text contains a recipe for wine infused with cannabis and myrrh.

The ancient Greeks knew about the Bactrian region and one of its chief exports. The God of wine and intoxication, Dionysus, was said to come from Bactria. The Greek historian Herotodus, who wrote in the fifth century BCE, told his readers about the nomadic Scythians and their funeral rites, where they fumigated cannabis on hot coals inside tents. The Greeks called this a vapor-bath.

The Scythians used horses to range far and wide, trading as they went. Their reach extended all the way to China, where they traded with the Subeixi culture in what is today’s Xinjiang province. There, archaeologists have found remnants of cannabis in graves.

The Roman naturalist Pliny mentions cannabis in several passages, including the infusion of ‘laughing-weed’ with wine to form an intoxicant. Galen, a Roman doctor of the second century CE tells us cannabis was cooked into desserts and eaten at parties for recreation, while medicinal uses included inflammation, tumors, gastro-intestinal ailments, muscle aches, gout and tremors. It was also used to treat disease in domesticated farm animals.

These ancient medicines continued to be used as history moved into the Middle Ages, both in countries of the ancient world as well as Europe. 

So remember … the cannabis plant has been well known throughout mankind’s history and has helped many millions of people with ailments, anxiety and dis-ease. 

Strains-RX utilizes thoroughly modern methods to extract and purify the chemical ingredients of the cannabis plant to provide a wide variety of products to help with health issues of many kinds.  Please visit our website for more information.

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