In Egypt, health-related cannabis use goes back for millennia.
And even though numerous distinct early cultures cultivated cannabis, the ancient Egyptians exemplified a actually holistic use of the plant. It is even attainable that cannabis — Egyptian hieroglyphs named it shemshemet — became common prior to the excellent pyramids have been constructed.
Egypt’s historical use of shemshemet seems twofold. On 1 hand hemp may well have been employed for fiber and textile on the other hand, the far more psychoactive elements of cannabis may well have been employed medicinally. Although numerous sources currently seem authoritative in their claims that the ancient Egyptians employed hemp for this and cannabis for that, a closer inspection of the proof is necessary.
Let’s take a trip back via Egyptian history, starting about the year three,000 BC.
Cannabis Hints in the Historical Record
Even though the precise timeline is significantly less than crystal clear, cannabis was probably employed in ancient Egypt as numerous as5,000 years ago. Some speculate that depictions of the Egyptian Goddess of writing, Sheshat, are brimming with cannabis-inspired themes. In numerous paintings, she’s shown with a star-shaped leaf atop her head and a fibrous rope in her hand. Was Sheshat’s inventive capability courtesy of some support from hemp? It is a enjoyable theory, but let’s move on to far more proof-primarily based examples.
Initially, it is essential to recognize the context in which Egyptian medicine located itself. The culture’s understanding of the human physique was far ahead of its time, and, somewhat speaking, extraordinarily sophisticated. Though the ancient Egyptians preceded Pasteur’s germ theory by thousands of years, they nonetheless placed a excellent worth on cleanliness and sanitation. And customs like embalming added to the Egyptian’s understanding of how the human physique worked.
This identical health-related information lent itself to the substantial use of medicinal plants. At initially, this usage blurred the lines — merged them, even — in between science and religion. As Egyptologist Barbara Watterson notes, “the earliest ‘doctor’ was a magician, for the Egyptians believed that illness and sickness have been triggered by an evil force getting into the physique.” Fortunately, plant-primarily based incantations seemed to be a ideal remedy.
Quickly adequate, cannabis was found as amongst the greatest and most effective of these plant-primarily based preparations. Its dual psychotropic and healing properties probably produced cannabis common amongst the dual physician-magicians of ancient occasions. And even though it is unclear precisely when cannabis use became mainstream, the plant’s residue has been located in Egyptian artifacts dating back to far more than four,000 years ago.
About two,000 BCE, cannabis salves have been employed to treat eye sores and glaucoma. Now science has established what the ancient Egyptians discovered via centuries of practical experience: that cannabis is a potent anti-inflammatory which reduces intraocular stress. A further Egyptologist, Lise Manniche, notes in her book An Ancient Egyptian Herbal that quite a few texts dating back to the 18th century BCE encouraged readers to “plant medicinal cannabis.”
Cannabis Referenced In Ancient Scrolls
It is now pretty frequent information that Egypt was a pioneer in the improvement of papyrus and parchment papers. With these scrolls came the culture’s capability to create and document — and our capability to take a glimpse into their planet. Papyri covering every little thing from legal subjects to mythological tales to health-related records have been located, and naturally, the health-related papyri in some cases mention cannabis.
The Ramesseum Papyri | According to The British Museum, the Ramesseum Papyri “have been described as the ‘most valuable single discover of papyri’ from pharaonic Egypt.” As 1 of the oldest health-related records ever found (circa ~ 1750 BCE), it is probably these tales reflect a cumulative buildup of the healing methods of even earlier generations.
The Ramesseum Papyri get their name from their origin: the ancient city of Ramesseum. Researchers have uncovered numerous other gems from this Ramesses II-constructed city, almost all of which points to the era’s educational prowess.
The Papyri themselves point to this, also. They incorporate information and facts about childhood illness, anatomy, recovery from volcano-induced injuries, and the birthing course of action. Plate A26 of the Ramesseum III Papyrus describes this therapy for the eyes: “celery, cannabis is ground and left in the dew overnight. Each eyes of the patient are to be washed with it in the morning.” Could this have been an helpful early THCA therapy?
The Ebers Papyri | This outstanding collection of papyrus scrolls is the world’s oldest comprehensive health-related book. Written about 1500 BC, it describes its era’s most common medicinal treatments. The Ebers Papyri gets its name from botanist George Ebers, who obtained it in the late 1800s. Like numerous other individuals in his field, Ebers was understandably interested in gleaning what ever he could from the ancients. And with 700 health-related and magical formulas spanning 110 pages, it appears there’s a lot to glean.
A formula for feminine well being is as follows:
Formula No. 821: Shemshemet (i.e., cannabis) was to be “ground in honey introduced into her vagina to cool the uterus and eradicate its heat.”
A further cannabis-primarily based formula for “a painful finger or toe” is helpful adequate that physicians are instructed to encourage their sufferers — “you should say to this patient: ‘A trouble that I can treat’.”
Formula No. 821: “honey: 1/four ochre 1/64 cannabis: 1/32 hedjou resin: 1/32, ibou plant: 1/32. Prepare as for the preceding, and dress [the affected area] with it.”
The Berlin Papyri | This slightly newer scroll (circa ~1,300 BCE) points towards the evolution of cannabis as medicine. It wasn’t just excellent for eye issues, feminine difficulties, or inflamed extremities — cannabis could be employed to treat fever and inflammation also.
The papyri’s 81st formula shows that cannabis was prescribed as an “ointment to prepare for driving away the fever.” Now, contemporary medicine has produced these identical anti-fever, anti-inflammatory qualities abundantly clear.
The Chester Beatty Papyri | Also written about 1,300 BC is the Chester Beatty papyri. This artifact is geared largely towards treating colorectal ailments. It probably mentions shemshemet at least twice and prescribes the plant’s crushed seeds as a beneficial remedy. There are even guidelines on the use of cannabis suppositories for digestive purposes.
All round, examples of cannabis use inside the papyri records are somewhat sparse. But the ones that are present are also pretty telling. As Dr. Ethan Russo quotes in a 2007 publication in the Journal of Chemistry and Biodiversity, “as a drug, it [cannabis] has remained in active use ever due to the fact pharaonic occasions. It does not seem pretty frequently in the health-related papyri, but it was administered by mouth, rectum, vagina, bandaged to the skin, applied to the eyes and by fumigation.”
Cannabis for the Pharaohs, Cannabis for All
Egyptian pharaohs may well have employed cannabis for far more ceremonial purposes, also. The remains of Ramses the Fantastic (Pharao in 1213 BCE) include traces of cannabis, as do the remains of other mummified Egyptians. In the 1990s a series of research from Nerliche, Parsche, and Balabanova reported this surprising discover. Nerliche’s study noted that mummies had a important deposition of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and concluded that this was probably obtained via cannabis smoke. As you may possibly picture, these research have been pretty controversial when they initially came out.
As time went on Egyptian use of health-related cannabis continued to create. By about 1,000 BC, it appears as even though even Egypt’s frequent individuals had caught on to the plant’s possible advantages. However, even though, there is somewhat significantly less historical information on cannabis use throughout this time period.
Could the ancient Egyptian’s understanding of cannabis have trickled down to adeptness in other places associated to well being and the physique? Possibly. In his epic operate The Odyssey, Homer notes that “everyone in Egypt is a skilled Physician”. Every person, in this case, even incorporated ladies — which was a pretty uncommon allowance in these occasions. Certainly, some of Egypt’s initially medical doctors have been ladies prized for their caregiving other ladies have been skilled as midwives.
A final papyrus-written record surfaced about 200 AD: the Vienna Papyri. This 1 seems to mention cannabis as a therapy for tumors, ear discomfort, and fevers. In some situations, the Vienna papyri propose utilizing acacia and cannabis in conjunction. Although not actually ancient, this 1 distills down information and facts gathered from prior time periods.
Translation issues make coming to a complete information of the Egyptian’s health-related cannabis use difficult, even though researchers like Dr. Greg Gerdeman agree that ancient mentions of shemshemet most certainly refer to cannabis. What can be mentioned with complete self-confidence is that the ancient Egyptians have been leaders in the health-related planet of their era — and they attained this leadership via devotion to medicinal plants like cannabis.
It is probably that sensible lessons can be discovered from their devotion, also. Possibly Dr. Russo’s assessment mentioned it greatest: “information gleaned from the history of cannabis administration in its different types may well supply helpful points of departure for study.” In the future, the wisdom of the ancient Egyptians may well actually come complete circle.
Study the original Post on The Cannigma.
Darlene Mea is a extended-standing media character in the planet of option every little thing. Considering the fact that the early 1980s she has been involved in tv, radio, print and multi-media. She represents all items organic, sustainable and life-advertising and has committed her life to going beyond the status quo message of becoming told what’s excellent for us, to supplying selections for a far more holistic life style. Considering the fact that discovering the planet of Hemp in early 2015 she has been on a mission to inform every person on how to grow to be involved in this fascinating organic item that continues to revolutionize the planet of well being, beauty and design and style.