First Record of Medicinal Cannabis Use

The Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing is a 2000 year old text from China that details hundreds of herbs, many of which are still useful, and many of these ancient descriptions are consistent with our understanding today.  The text mentions cannabis as one of 365 medicinal herbs, citing its energetic properties and medicinal effects.  For anyone trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine this is valuable information for understanding how cannabis should be used.

The text writes: “It mainly treats the seven damages, and disinhibits the five viscera, precipitates the blood and cold qi.”

“Seven damages” refers to 7 emotions and the damage that they can cause when in excess.  The seven emotions are; Joy, Anger, Anxiety, Pensiveness, Grief, Fear, and Fright.  This is essentially referring to the stress caused by emotions.

“Five viscera” refers to the five primary organs of Chinese medicine.  The five organs are; the Heart, Liver, Spleen, Lungs, and Kidneys.  In modern terms this would be related to hormone and fluid regulation, allowing organ function to increase.

“Precipitating blood and cold qi” likely refer to an increase of yang qi and the expelling of wind.  These properties are correlated with the well studied effects of cannabis on appetite and neuropathic pain.

The benefit to referencing this ancient knowledge is in the abstraction of its properties as part of a holistic system.  To truly understand the value of cannabis it is important to use holistic views, to help guide our usage and future research.