Chinese medicine is thousands of years old; it’s one of the most ancient healing systems of the world. It’s unique as doctors have been using this system almost unchanged all over the world for thousands of years. This sophisticated system was developed well before humans had any microscopes or machines to see inside of a person. It was all about watching closely how the human body was interacting with the natural world. As there were no antibiotics or modern-day pharmaceutical pills and tablets, doctors had to develop their own ways, so that they could cure peoples diseases.
Cannabis has played a significant role in Chinese medicine. Today Chinese doctors mainly use hemp seeds in treating constipation, because marijuana is illegal in China, but in the old days, all parts of the plants were used. The flower being the most popular part as it was the most potent and contained the most amount of THC and CBD.
The use of cannabis as a medicine in China is well recorded in old texts from thousands of years ago. The first book containing information about cannabis was released almost two millennia ago called Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica by emperor Shennong. Teachings of this book are still used today.
In this book, Shennong recommended cannabis for many different conditions, like headaches, menstrual pain, skin problems, and spasms. He also mentioned that cannabis has a psychoactive effect.
Another famous Chinese physician Hua Tuo created a formula around the third century AD which was used as an anesthetic during procedures. Sadly the original formula was lost when the doctor died; it has been thought that the main ingredient in his medicine was cannabis, as the character “Ma” in the name Ma Fei San, is the same character that is used in Chinese word ‘Cannabis.’
In 1127-1270 Bian Que listed cannabis as an anesthetic in his book Heart Text of Bian Que.
Six century AD author called Tao Hongjing added more information about cannabis effect to the Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica, saying that it helps with the healing and recovery, pain management and arthritis, as it has anti-inflammatory properties. At the same time Sun Simiao confirmed that cannabis works well as a pain reliever. He recommended cannabis juice for people with bone fractures for pain management.
Illustrated Classic of Materia Medica by Su Song recommended cannabis seed wine for patients with pain, saying that cannabis’ painkilling effect can’t be discarded.
But there was more to cannabis than to simply alleviate physical conditions; it was also used to treat mental illness. During the seventh century, Sun Simiao recommended cannabis for patients with the condition that had similar symptoms to that of depression. Li Chenghu’s Pharmacognosy and Yang Huang’s Illustrated Analysis of Medicine recommended cannabis to patients with sleep and mood problems, anger and hysteria.
Cannabis was also used to help patients with spasms and tremors and even seizures. So treating seizure with cannabis medicine was an actual thing already in the 16th century.
As the world slowly gets back to using this ancient remedy, we hope the old Chinese ways of treating humans with cannabis medicine will also come back and combine it with modern day medicine since it opens even more significant opportunities for patients all over the world. It’s always been about maintaining harmony in the body, and we know that working through the endocannabinoid system is the key to achieving this.