William O’Shaughnessy & The Begin of Hashish Drugs
The idea of medicinal marijuana has blossomed out in the last several years, opening up new markets, changing regulatory restrictions and legal mandates, and showing that popular opinion can easily change over time. How it started in the first place is not a story known to all. In fact, most people have no idea that it was an Irishman named William O’Shaughnessy who brought cannabis medicine to the Western world.
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Cannabis in history
Before getting into recent history, let’s go back to ancient times. The history of cannabis use as a medicine goes back thousands of years with tons of natural medicine traditions using the plant all over the world for different purposes. In Ayurveda it was used to increase appetite and digestion; to decrease diarrhea, as well as other gastrointestinal issues; as an anti-spasmodic and anti-convulsant; for nervous system issues; skin infections; as an aphrodisiac, or to calm sexual feelings (in later stages of the application); issues with genital and urinary tract function; respiratory issues; infectious diseases; and a host of other problems. If you look at what’s being covered here, it includes ailments of nearly every kind that were being treated by cannabis.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, cannabis seeds were used as laxatives – although they were simultaneously used to help stop diarrhea, to alleviate thirst, and relieve flux. If it seems weird that cannabis was employed for opposing issues (constipation and diarrhea), this could be explained by a normalization effect on a person’s liver. Repeated vomiting was also treated with cannabis seeds, and regular use of these seeds was said to “render the flesh firm, and prevent old age.”
The Chinese also supposedly used cannabis as an antidiabetic by boiling the seeds in water to make a paste. Cannabis was used for skin ailments, ulcers, wounds, hair loss, and diseases of the lymph nodes which included degenerative, incurable, and intractable illnesses. These are just some examples of how Traditional Chinese Medicine used cannabis. Though many texts have not been made available to the English-speaking world, it is known that cannabis was used in medical applications for at least 1,800 years, and possibly as long as 4,000 years.