Ancient Hemp Uses
One of hemp’s most popular uses is for textile fibers. Remnants of hemp cloth have been found in modern day Iraq and Iran dating back to the Mesopotamian period nearly 10,000 years ago. Cannabis use was popular in the Middle East and physicians were sure to note the benefits of the plant, including the ability to fight against inflammation, pain, nausea and vomiting, epilepsy, and kidney issues.
However, ancient hemp is most commonly associated with 6,000 years of continuous use in China. In 150 B.C.E., China produced the first documented hemp paper. References toward cultivating hemp for cloth, topical oils, and teas can also be found in Emperor Shen Nung’s work Lu Shi from the Sung Dynasty in 500 AD. Hua Tuo is known for using cannabis to treat blood clots, tapeworms, hair loss, and as an anesthetic.
Hemp became widespread across the world approximately 3,000 years ago. Ancient Roman thinkers, such as Pliny the Elder, Dioscorides, and Galen documented the use of hemp for ear pain, stomach and digestive issues, burns, pain relief, and even extracting bugs from the ear! Indians have been known to treat hemp and cannabis as sacred using pastes and drinks for medicinal and recreational purposes.
For centuries, hemp and cannabis were used not only as a manufacturing resource, but for medicinal purposes, as well. The seeds and flower of the plant were used for pain during childbirth, convulsions, arthritis, rheumatism, dysentery, and even insomnia. During the Middle Ages, hemp became vital to sailing ships, as their canvases and ropes were derived from hemp, which is stronger than cotton and resists salt water. In fact, 80% of clothing up until the 1920s was created using hemp textiles. There are 25,000 documented uses of hemp ranging from paints, inks, and varnishes, to paper, bank notes, and building materials.