Medical cannabis  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Medical cannabis refers to the parts of the herb cannabis used as a physician-recommended form of medicine or herbal therapy, or to synthetic forms of specific cannabinoids such as THC as a physician-recommended form of medicine. The Cannabis plant has a long history of use as medicine, with historical evidence dating back to 2737 BCE.

Contents

History

Ancient China and Taiwan

Cannabis, called (meaning "hemp; cannabis; numbness") or dàmá 大麻 (with "big; great") in Chinese, was used in Taiwan for fiber starting about 10,000 years ago.

The botanist Li Hui-Lin wrote that in China, "The use of Cannabis in medicine was probably a very early development. Since ancient humans used hemp seed as food, it was quite natural for them to also discover the medicinal properties of the plant." The oldest Chinese pharmacopeia, the (ca. 100 CE) Shennong Bencaojing 神農本草經 ("Shennong's Materia Medica Classic"), describes dama "cannabis".

The flowers when they burst (when the pollen is scattered) are called 麻蕡 [mafen] or 麻勃 [mabo]. The best time for gathering is the 7th day of the 7th month. The seeds are gathered in the 9th month. The seeds which have entered the soil are injurious to man. It grows in [Taishan] (in [Shandong] ...). The flowers, the fruit (seed) and the leaves are officinal. The leaves and the fruit are said to be poisonous, but not the flowers and the kernels of the seeds.

In the early 3rd century CE, Hua Tuo was the first person known to use cannabis as an anesthetic. He reduced the plant to powder and mixed it with wine for administration. In China, the era of Han Western, the 3rd century the great surgeon Hua Tuo conducts operations under anesthesia using Indian hemp. The Chinese term for anesthesia (麻醉: má zui ) is also composed of the ideogram which means hemp, followed by means of intoxication. Elizabeth Wayland Barber says the Chinese evidence "proves a knowledge of the narcotic properties of Cannabis at least from the 1st millennium B.C." when ma was already used in a secondary meaning of "numbness; senseless." "Such a strong drug, however, suggests that the Chinese pharmacists had now obtained from far to the southwest not THC-bearing Cannabis sativa but Cannabis indica, so strong it knocks you out cold.

Cannabis is one of the 50 "fundamental" herbs in traditional Chinese medicine, and is prescribed to treat diverse indications.

Every part of the hemp plant is used in medicine; the dried flowers (勃), the achenia (蕡), the seeds (麻仁), the oil (麻油), the leaves, the stalk, the root, and the juice. The flowers are recommended in the 120 different forms of (風 feng) disease, in menstrual disorders, and in wounds. The achenia, which are considered to be poisonous, stimulate the nervous system, and if used in excess, will produce hallucinations and staggering gait. They are prescribed in nervous disorders, especially those marked by local anaesthesia. The seeds, by which is meant the white kernels of the achenia, are used for a great variety of affections, and are considered to be tonic, demulcent, alterative, laxative, emmenagogue, diuretic, anthelmintic, and corrective. They are made into a congee by boiling with water, mixed with wine by a particular process, made into pills, and beaten into a paste. A very common mode of exhibition, however, is by simply eating the kernels. It is said that their continued use renders the flesh firm and prevents old age. They are prescribed internally in fluxes, post-partum difficulties, aconite poisoning, vermillion poisoning, constipation, and obstinate vomiting. Externally they are used for eruptions, ulcers, favus, wounds, and falling of the hair. The oil is used for falling hair, sulfur poisoning, and dryness of the throat. The leaves are considered to be poisonous, and the freshly expressed juice is used as an anthelmintic, in scorpion stings, to stop the hair from falling out and to prevent it from turning gray. They are especially thought to have antiperiodic properties (prevention of regular recurrence of the symptoms of a disease). The stalk, or its bark, is considered to be diuretic, and is used with other drugs in gravel. The juice of the root is used for similar purposes, and is also thought to have a beneficial action in retained placenta and post-partum hemorrhage. An infusion of hemp (for the preparation of which no directions are given) is used as a demulcent drink for quenching thirst and relieving fluxes.

“Medical use of cannabis included, rheumatism, intestinal constipation, female reproductive system disorders, malaria, and other uses” (Zuardi, 2006, 4).

Ancient Egypt

The Ebers Papyrus (ca. 1550 BCE) from Ancient Egypt describes medical cannabis. Other ancient Egyptian papyri that mention medical cannabis are the Ramesseum III Papyrus (1700 BC), the Berlin Papyrus (1300 BC) and the Chester Beatty Medical Papyrus VI (1300 BC). The ancient Egyptians even used hemp (cannabis) in suppositories for relieving the pain of hemorrhoids. The egyptologist Lise Manniche notes the reference to "plant medical cannabis" in several Egyptian texts, one of which dates back to the eighteenth century BCE.

Ramesseum III Papyrus (1700 BC)

Papyrus Ramassei III, col. 26:
<hiero>V31\:X1-F48:X1:Z1*Z1*Z1*N33-U1:X1*X1-M2-N37:G17-N37:G17*X1-M2:Z2-N29:N35-N29:N35-Z9-A55-N35-D26-N4-M17-D36:N35:N35:N35-D4:D4-N35:O34-A1-M17-G17-N14-G1-F35-N5:Z7*Z4</hiero> K.t phr.t: mɜt.t šmšm.t qnqn, sdr n ỉɜd.t, ỉc ỉr.ty n=s ỉm dwɜy
Alia praecepta: parsley, hemp and obey, in the dew of rest, wash eyes in that early in the morning

Ancient India

Surviving texts from ancient India confirm that cannabis' psychoactive properties were recognized, and doctors used it for treating a variety of illnesses and ailments. These included insomnia, headaches, a whole host of gastrointestinal disorders, and pain: cannabis was frequently used to relieve the pain of childbirth.

In India, the use of cannabis was widely disseminated, both as a medicine and as a recreational drug. Such a broad use may be due to the fact that cannabis maintained a straight association with religion, which assigned sacred virtues to the plant” (Zuardi, 2006, 3).

Ancient Greece

The Ancient Greeks used cannabis to dress wounds and sores on their horses. In humans, dried leaves of cannabis were used to treat nose bleeds, and cannabis seeds were used to expel tapeworms. The most frequently described use of cannabis in humans was to steep green seeds of cannabis in either water or wine, later taking the seeds out and using the warm extract to treat inflammation and pain resulting from obstruction of the ear.

In the 5th century BCE Herodotus, a Greek historian, described how the Scythians of the Middle East used cannabis in steam baths.

South East Asia

Patani from Asia are primary natural producers of the diuretic, antiemetic, antiepileptic, anti-inflammatory, pain killing and antipyretic properties of Cannabis sativa, and used it extensively for 'Kopi Kapuganja' and 'Pecel Ganja', as recreation food, drinks and relaxing medication for centuries.

Medieval Islamic world

In the medieval Islamic world, Arabic physicians made use of the diuretic, antiemetic, antiepileptic, anti-inflammatory, Analgesic and antipyretic properties of Cannabis sativa, and used it extensively as medication from the 8th to 18th centuries.


Modern history

An Irish physician, William Brooke O'Shaughnessy, is credited with introducing the therapeutic use of cannabis to Western medicine. He was Assistant-Surgeon and Professor of Chemistry at the Medical College of Calcutta, and conducted a cannabis experiment in the 1830s, first testing his preparations on animals, then administering them to patients in order to help treat muscle spasms, stomach cramps or general pain.

Cannabis as a medicine became common throughout much of the Western world by the 19th century. It was used as the primary pain reliever until the invention of aspirin. Modern medical and scientific inquiry began with doctors like O'Shaughnessy and Moreau de Tours, who used it to treat melancholia and migraines, and as a sleeping aid, analgesic and anticonvulsant. At the local level authorities introduced various laws that required the mixtures that contained cannabis, that was not sold on prescription, must be marked with warning labels under the so-called poison laws.

A Swedish lexicon printed in 1912 describes cannabis drug and cannabis extract as a now with us deserted method for medical treatment.

There were at least 2000 cannabis medicines prior to 1937 with over 280 manufacturers.

Later in the century, researchers investigating methods of detecting cannabis intoxication discovered that smoking the drug reduced intraocular pressure. In 1955 the antibacterial effects were described at the Palacký University of Olomouc. Since 1971 Lumír Ondřej Hanuš was growing cannabis for his scientific research on two large fields in authority of the University. The marijuana extracts were then used at the University hospital as a cure for aphthae and haze. In 1973 physician Tod H. Mikuriya reignited the debate concerning cannabis as medicine when he published "Marijuana Medical Papers". High intraocular pressure causes blindness in glaucoma patients, so he hypothesized that using the drug could prevent blindness in patients. Many Vietnam War veterans also found that the drug prevented muscle spasms caused by spinal injuries suffered in battle. Later medical use focused primarily on its role in preventing the wasting syndromes and chronic loss of appetite associated with chemotherapy and AIDS, along with a variety of rare muscular and skeletal disorders.

In 1964, Dr. Albert Lockhart and Manley West began studying the health effects of traditional cannabis use in Jamaican communities. They discovered that Rastafarians had unusually low glaucoma rates and local fishermen were washing their eyes with cannibis extract in the belief that it would improve their sight. Lockhart and West developed, and in 1987 gained permission to market, the pharmaceutical Canasol: one of the first to cannabis extracts. They continued to work with cannabis throughout the years, developing more pharmaceuticals and eventually receiving the Jamaican Order of Merit for their work.

Later, in the 1970s, a synthetic version of THC was produced and approved for use in the United States as the drug Marinol. It was delivered as a capsule, to be swallowed. Patients complained that the violent nausea associated with chemotherapy made swallowing capsules difficult. Further, along with ingested cannabis, capsules are harder to dose-titrate accurately than smoked cannabis because their onset of action is so much slower. Smoking has remained the route of choice for many patients because its onset of action provides almost immediate relief from symptoms and because that fast onset greatly simplifies titration. For these reasons, and because of the difficulties arising from the way cannabinoids are metabolized after being ingested, oral dosing is probably the least satisfactory route for cannabis administration. Relatedly, some studies have indicated that at least some of the beneficial effects that cannabis can provide may derive from synergy among the multiplicity of cannabinoids and other chemicals present in the dried plant material. Such synergy is, by definition, impossible with respect to the use of single-cannabinoid drugs like Marinol.

During the 1970s and 1980s, six U.S. states' health departments performed studies on the use of medical cannabis. These are widely considered some of the most useful and pioneering studies on the subject. Voters in eight states showed their support for cannabis prescriptions or recommendations given by physicians between 1996 and 1999, including Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, going against policies of the federal government. In May 2001, "The Chronic Cannabis Use in the Compassionate Investigational New Drug Program: An Examination of Benefits and Adverse Effects of Legal Clinical Cannabis" (Russo, Mathre, Byrne et al.) was completed. This three-day examination of major body functions of four of the five living US federal cannabis patients found "mild pulmonary changes" in two patients.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Medical cannabis" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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