In Egypt, health-related cannabis use goes back for millennia.
And though several various early cultures cultivated cannabis, the ancient Egyptians exemplified a really holistic use of the plant. It is even feasible that cannabis — Egyptian hieroglyphs known as it shemshemet — became preferred just before the excellent pyramids had been constructed.
Egypt’s historical use of shemshemet seems twofold. On 1 hand hemp may well have been applied for fiber and textile on the other hand, the a lot more psychoactive elements of cannabis may well have been applied medicinally. Even though several sources these days seem authoritative in their claims that the ancient Egyptians applied 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
Whilst the precise timeline is much less than crystal clear, cannabis was probably applied in ancient Egypt as several as5,000 years ago. Some speculate that depictions of the Egyptian Goddess of writing, Sheshat, are brimming with cannabis-inspired themes. In several paintings, she’s shown with a star-shaped leaf atop her head and a fibrous rope in her hand. Was Sheshat’s inventive capacity courtesy of some support from hemp? It is a exciting theory, but let’s move on to a lot more proof-primarily based examples.
1st, it is crucial to comprehend the context in which Egyptian medicine discovered itself. The culture’s understanding of the human physique was far ahead of its time, and, comparatively speaking, extraordinarily sophisticated. While 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 exact same health-related understanding lent itself to the substantial use of medicinal plants. At 1st, this usage blurred the lines — merged them, even — among science and religion. As Egyptologist Barbara Watterson notes, “the earliest ‘doctor’ was a magician, for the Egyptians believed that illness and sickness had been brought on by an evil force getting into the physique.” Fortunately, plant-primarily based incantations seemed to be a great remedy.
Quickly adequate, cannabis was found as amongst the ideal and most strong of these plant-primarily based preparations. Its dual psychotropic and healing properties probably created cannabis preferred amongst the dual medical professional-magicians of ancient instances. And though it is unclear precisely when cannabis use became mainstream, the plant’s residue has been discovered in Egyptian artifacts dating back to a lot more than four,000 years ago.
About two,000 BCE, cannabis salves had been applied to treat eye sores and glaucoma. Now science has confirmed what the ancient Egyptians discovered via centuries of expertise: that cannabis is a potent anti-inflammatory which reduces intraocular stress. Yet another Egyptologist, Lise Manniche, notes in her book An Ancient Egyptian Herbal that many texts dating back to the 18th century BCE encouraged readers to “plant medicinal cannabis.”
Cannabis Referenced In Ancient Scrolls
It is now relatively prevalent understanding that Egypt was a pioneer in the improvement of papyrus and parchment papers. With these scrolls came the culture’s capacity to create and document — and our capacity to take a glimpse into their globe. Papyri covering anything from legal subjects to mythological tales to health-related records have been discovered, and naturally, the health-related papyri occasionally mention cannabis.
The Ramesseum Papyri | According to The British Museum, the Ramesseum Papyri “have been described as the ‘most valuable single uncover 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, practically all of which points to the era’s educational prowess.
The Papyri themselves point to this, also. They incorporate data about childhood illness, anatomy, recovery from volcano-induced injuries, and the birthing approach. 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 productive early THCA therapy?
The Ebers Papyri | This outstanding collection of papyrus scrolls is the world’s oldest full health-related book. Written about 1500 BC, it describes its era’s most preferred medicinal treatments. The Ebers Papyri gets its name from botanist George Ebers, who obtained it in the late 1800s. Like several other folks 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 wellness 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 do away with its heat.”
Yet another cannabis-primarily based formula for “a painful finger or toe” is productive adequate that physicians are instructed to encourage their sufferers — “you have to say to this patient: ‘A issue 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 very good for eye complications, feminine concerns, or inflamed extremities — cannabis could be applied 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 created these exact same 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 illnesses. It probably mentions shemshemet at least twice and prescribes the plant’s crushed seeds as a worthwhile 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 really 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 because pharaonic instances. It does not seem really generally 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 applied cannabis for a lot more ceremonial purposes, also. The remains of Ramses the Terrific (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 uncover. Nerliche’s study noted that mummies had a substantial deposition of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and concluded that this was probably obtained via cannabis smoke. As you may possibly think about, these research had been really controversial when they 1st 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 prevalent people today had caught on to the plant’s possible advantages. Sadly, even though, there is comparatively much less historical information on cannabis use in the course of this time period.
Could the ancient Egyptian’s understanding of cannabis have trickled down to adeptness in other regions associated to wellness and the physique? Possibly. In his epic operate The Odyssey, Homer notes that “everyone in Egypt is a skilled Physician”. Everybody, in this case, even incorporated females — which was a really uncommon allowance in these instances. Certainly, some of Egypt’s 1st physicians had been females prized for their caregiving other females had 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 advocate working with acacia and cannabis in conjunction. Even though not really ancient, this 1 distills down data gathered from prior time periods.
Translation issues make coming to a complete understanding 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 had been leaders in the health-related globe 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 overview mentioned it ideal: “information gleaned from the history of cannabis administration in its different types may well deliver beneficial points of departure for investigation.” In the future, the wisdom of the ancient Egyptians may well really come complete circle.
Study the original Write-up on The Cannigma.
Darlene Mea is a extended-standing media character in the globe of option anything. Given that the early 1980s she has been involved in tv, radio, print and multi-media. She represents all issues all-natural, sustainable and life-advertising and has committed her life to going beyond the status quo message of becoming told what’s very good for us, to supplying choices for a a lot more holistic life-style. Given that discovering the globe of Hemp in early 2015 she has been on a mission to inform absolutely everyone on how to turn into involved in this fascinating all-natural solution that continues to revolutionize the globe of wellness, beauty and style.