The use of cannabis in traditional chinese medicine
Traditional Chinese medicine is an ancient system that has developed over thousands of years. The system uses treatments such as acupuncture and tai chi to bring harmony to the human body. A variety of herbal medicines are also used, and it has been documented that cannabis played a role in this system for a long time.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a medical system that originated in ancient China. This system of medicine has evolved over a period of thousands of years, and utilises techniques such as acupuncture, tai chi, dietary therapy, and qigong in order to treat and optimise the body and mind.
Although the system of medicine has age-old roots, it is still an extremely popular option in today’s world, with millions of people in the Western world now choosing to undergo such treatments every year.
Traditional Chinese medicine differs from Western allopathic medicine in many ways, with the former taking a much more philosophical and holistic approach to health and the human body. Traditional Chinese medicine views the body itself as a smaller version of the surrounding universe and aims to achieve harmonic balance between the opposing yet balancing forces of yin and yang.
The five elements: fire, earth, wood, metal, and water play a fundamental role within the system of medicine. Qi also holds an important place, and is seen as the vital energy that flows throughout the body, with obstructions being at the root of some ailments.
Herbs also play a large role in the system. Reishi mushroom and ginseng are two such examples. However, cannabis is also used by TCM practitioners for numerous reasons.
Cannabis in chinese medicine
The use of cannabis within TCM is almost as old as the system itself, having been documented for over 1800 years. It was famously used by the emperor and pharmacologist Shen Nung. Cannabis is actually regarded as one of the fundamental herbs within this system of medicine, and is utilised in order to treat an array of symptoms and disorders.
Nung wrote about the herb in a book on treatment methods that was penned all the way back in 2737 BCE. Within the tome, Nung described an elixir apparently created from the leaves of cannabis flowers.
A book written in 1 AD entitled “Pen Ts’ao Ching” also spoke reverently of the cannabis plant. The authors recommend the use of cannabis for over 100 conditions, including gout, rheumatism, and malaria.
Today, cannabis is very controversial worldwide, with many governments taking a harsh stance against the herb and placing it into illegal drug categories. Previously, nearly all parts of the cannabis plant were used in the medical system, from the flowers and leaves to the roots and stalks.
Nowadays, however, it is the seeds that take the forefront when it comes to treatment. It has also been noted within older TCM texts that, over time, the seeds started to become more prominent than other parts of the plant.
Cannabis use through the ages
During the 1st-2nd century AD, the benefits of cannabis were described in the text “Divine Farmer’s Classic of Materia Medica.” The flavours of the herb were said to be acrid and balanced. Some of its proposed medicinal uses included governance over the “Five Taxations” and damages.
The herb was said to benefit the five viscera, descend blood pressure and cold qi. The text also mentions that excessive consumption of the herb would result in seeing ghosts and frenetic behaviour (perhaps an ancient interpretation of being far too stoned).
The text argues that prolonged consumption frees the spirit light and lightens the body. The authors state that cannabis is toxic and is able to “break accumulations, relieve impediment and disperse pus.”
Later on during 6th century AD, the herb was once again documented to relieve impediments. “The Great Encyclopedia of Chinese Medicinals” also comments on cannabis as a medicine, stating that it is capable of dispelling wind and relieving pain.
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