Medicinal Cannabis – Historical use in China


Medicinal Cannabis Historical use in China

Hemp has been used for fibre and food for millennia but it’s first documented use in medicine dates back to ancient china.

(2852-2738 BC) – Chinese Emperor Fu Hsi

(2852-2738 BC) – Chinese Emperor Fu Hsi is said to have invented the first form of character scripts and hence the first chinese written histories and medical texts date from around his time.

Chinese Emperor Fu Hsi - History of medicinal cannabis

Ma the symbol for hemp is shown here in its earliest archaic Chuan script compared to it’s more modern characters. It symbolizes two hemp plants hanging upside down and drying inside a house

Ma - Chinese Characters for Hemp Cannabis

2737 B.C. Chinese Emperor Shen Nung

2737 B.C. Chinese Emperor Shen Nung famous for his knowledge of medicinal plants, prescribed the female cannabis plant for the treatment of menstrual issues, gout, rheumatism, malaria, beri-beri, constipation, and absent mindedness.

Shen Nung-History of medicinal Cannabis

This was recorded in the chinese Classic of Herbal Medicine the Shen-nung Pen-tsao Ching The Pen Ts’ao eventually became the standard manual on drugs in China

Reference: E. L. Abel (1980) Marihuana -The First Twelve Thousand Years

(1517-1593) Li Shi Chen

(1517-1593) Li Shi Chen – Author of the Compendium of Materia Medica, a pharmaceutical text written during the Ming Dynasty of China.

Li Shizen - history of medicinal cannabis

A section talks about using hemp for treating postpartum constipation in women after childbirth.

“After giving birth to a child, there is often instances of copious and constant Sweating, and a direct influence upon the Large Intestine, so that there is also developed a pro­pensity toward Constipation. The patient is the type who hates to use medicines of any kind or reacts adversely, or is having complica­tions from other medication and treatment to the point that they strenuously resist efforts to settle themselves down.

The simple cure for this is that the use of a gruel made up from [Hemp Seed] will produce a very strong calming effect on the patient. Also it should be stated that this is not only a good formula to take in the case of conditions arising from the complications of giving birth.”

Translation by Norman Goundry

Reference: Rowan Robinson (1995) – The Great Book of Hemp

100 A.D. Shennong Bencaojing

100 A.D. In ancient China, the Shennong Bencaojing, a medical book, refers to cannabis as dama (da meaning great and ma meaning cannabis) and notes that the flowers, the seeds, and the leaves of the plant can be useful in medicine.

Reference :  Cannabis in Chinese Medicine: Are Some Traditional Indications Referenced in Ancient Literature Related to Cannabinoids?

200 A.D. Chinese surgeon Hua T’o

Using a preparation of ground cannabis mixed with wine, Chinese surgeon Hua T’o was able to make his patients insensitive to pain. Hua Tuo is believed by some to have been the discoverer of anesthetics

Among the amazing operations he performed are organ grafts, resectioning of intestines, laparotomies (incisions into the loin), and thoracotomies (incisions into the chest). He is said to have performed extremely complicated surgical procedures without causing pain.

The word for anesthesia in Chinese, mázui, literally means “cannabis intoxication.”

Reference: E. L. Abel (1980) Marihuana -The First Twelve Thousand Years


1578Bencao Gangmu Materia Medica

Ma Fen (Herba Cannabis Sativa) is acrid and balanced. It mainly treats the seven damages, disinhibits the five viscera, and precipitates the blood and cold qi. raking much of it may make one behold ghosts and frenetically about. Protracted taking may enable one to communicate with the spirit light and make the body light. The seed [Semen Cannabis Sativae] is sweet and balanced. It mainly supplements the center and boosts the qi. protracted taking may make one fat, strong, and never senile’ [Herba Cannabis Sativae] is also called Ma Bo (Hemp Erection). It grows in rivers and valleys.

The current name of this medicinal is Da Ma. It’s seed is currently called Ma Ren or Da Ma Ren In modern clinical practice, Hemp Seeds are still in wide use. They are able to dredge wind qi, related to the spleen, moisten dryness’ Promote lactation, hasten delivery, and disinhibit urination and defecation.

One action of Ma (Semen Cannabis Sativae) is downbearing to treat, for example, constipation and scanty urine.

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