Historical Use of Medical Marijuana in China

The Chinese have been using medical marijuana for at least 5000 years. Some speculate that it could easily go back as far as 10,000 years or more. There is early archeological evidence of cannabis in pottery found in China dating back at least 10,000 years. But there is debate. However, what is certain is that as long as there have been Chinese people and cannabis, medical applications have thrived. Historical use of medical marijuana in China paved the way for the rest of the world.

Don’t Know Much About History

The oldest medical records and historical writings mention marijuana and its capacity to treat an enormous array of ailments. One of the most revered texts is the Complete Ben Cao, otherwise known as the Compendium of Materia Medical. This is a publication from Hong Kong Baptist University. It’s comprised of historical documents from at least 800 different texts. Herbal pharmacology is well documented in the medical field from as far back as the records go.

These historical records were well preserved from one dynasty to another over the centuries. There are many accounts of the various uses of cannabis and the fact that they used not only the buds but the entire plant in different treatments. There are also many stories of the plants psychotropic properties. So, the Chinese have also been getting stoned for thousands of years. Who knew?

The Silk Road

During the Qing Dynasty in the early 1600’s the Silk Road was in full swing. The Silk Road is one of the most historically famous and important trade routes that connected the East to the West. It is hypothesized that marijuana may have originally popped up the Orient and was then carried by tradesmen to Europe where it wouldn’t take a hold medically for many years to come.

The Silk Road had multiple routes that connected East Asia and South East Asia with East Africa and Southern Europe. These traders from China would also introduce the world to opium and other hallucinogenic plants.

Cannabis usage in ancient China goes well beyond medical applications. The Chinese used hemp as an industrial textile as well in clothing and paper and rope. The Chou Dynasty over 1000 years before Christ would place cannabis in the burial tombs with royal family members.

In Shantung documents like the book The Shu King refer to cannabis usage as far back 2500 B.C. In the book there are poems that mention hemp repeatedly. Early Dynasties used hemp for warfare. Their arrows and bows were made from hemp. This gave them a huge advantage over their enemies whose arrows were bamboo. The hemp arrows were stronger and flew farther with better accuracy. Also, the Chinese invented paper. They were also the first culture to use actual paper for writing. And yes, as you have probably already surmised, those early documents were woven with hemp fiber.

Back around 3000B.C. the emperor Shen- Nung became an early Father of Chinese Medicine and his go to cure all was weed. This emperor was also a farmer who realized the healing powers of plants. He would test both poisons and antidotes on himself. He was a smart trial and error kind of kind that really modernized Chinese medicine.  

Shen-Nung immortalized his discoveries in a medical encyclopedia called The Pen Ts’ao. He also made Yin and Yang popular. And he would demonstrate this with marijuana using the feminine and masculine plants in a balanced harmony.

Ancient Chinese Secret

We have ancient China to thank for many of the early advancements in cannabis medicine. Once marijuana finally made it India the rest of the world started catching on. It wasn’t until our lifetime that marijuana became vilified and made illegal. It is only recently that the Western World is finally catching on to what Chinese knew so long ago. And for that we are all happier and healthier. Thanks China!