For over 4,000 years, the cannabis plant has been a reliable source for textile fibers, medicine and food. The Chinese, who are renowned for perfecting herbal medicine and concocting some of the earliest effective treatments against a range of debilitating conditions, were the first civilization to cultivate and use marijuana extensively. Ancient Chinese literature documents over 100,000 medicinal recipes and almost 2 million different types of drugs based almost exclusively on plants.
China high: a cure-all with widespread applicability
Dr. Li Gou Yong, author of the Bencao Gangmu, or Compendium of Materia Medica, explains that in Chinese Traditional Medicine, marijuana is called Da Ma. Although the Chinese recognized the plant’s consciousness altering effects early on, they also took note of its potential therapeutic uses. In fact, marijuana quickly became one of the fifty fundamental herbs of Chinese medicine, which means it was added to an impressive number of recipes.
During ancient times, its versatility and low toxicity had turned marijuana into the remedy of choice for most of the common ailments affecting the Chinese people. A wide range of symptoms, from moderate pain and inflammation to ulcerations, could be improved through the consumption of cannabis. What is truly remarkable about the Chinese approach is that they would try to use the entire plant in some form or another, thereby minimizing potential waste.
The flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant can be used to treat wounds and menstrual pains. Marijuana stalks, on the other hand, are a dietary source of natural plant fibers, but can also be consumed for their diuretic effects. According to Dr. Li Gou Yong, cannabis can be used to treat hemorrhoids, colitis, anal prolapse and chronic diarrhea. In combination with other herbs, cannabis will produce remarkable synergistic effects, which can even mitigate its less desirable, psychoactive effects. Furthermore, Dr. Li does not recommend smoking the herb, as that will inevitably lead to the inhalation of harmful chemicals associated with combustion.
Scientific research backs many of the traditional claims
Modern science has shown that marijuana contains chemical compounds that have analgesic and antispasmodic effects, which can help relieve tension and soothe pain. The seeds are usually crushed for consumption, and can be added to laxative and diuretic concoctions, as well as tonic infusions. Seeds would sometimes also be used to eliminate intestinal parasites, stimulate blood flow, protect the stomach lining, and boost metabolic functions.
The oil extracted from the cannabis plant is prescribed for the treatment of hair loss, throat soreness, and sulfur poisoning. Juice extracted from the plant’s leaves can be added to various salves and poultices that are recommended against insect stings and parasite infestations. Marijuana juice has anti-hemorrhagic properties, and was traditionally used in China to stabilize mothers immediately after having given birth. Marijuana was noted to have antiperiodic effects as well, so it can be consumed regularly to ease the intensity of virtually any kind of symptoms.
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