The Chinese, Ahead Of The Curve Again
Weed was Medicine to the Chinese
Although the exact date humans first laid their eyes on the magical plant we know as marijuana is unknown, what we do know is that cannabis first started naturally growing on the Himalayan slopes in Asia. That being said, the Chinese were one of the first societies to have been lucky enough to reap pot related benefits. For nearly 12,000 years now, from clothing to cooking, cannabis consumption has played a huge role in the history and development of Chinese culture.
Along with rice, soybeans, and millet, ancient Chinese chiefers used cannabis seeds for nourishment. Unlike the delicious baked goods of late, they would roast these seeds and subsequently add them to porridge. So revered were the cannabis seeds that they were placed in vessels to be buried with the recently deceased to ensure the afterlife was particularly groovy. Post-war famine actually forced people to solely sustain life on nothing but wild cannabis and soybeans. Sounds like most of my college years…but I digress.
While weed is finally being recognized in modern culture for its medicinal benefits, the Chinese had this concept on lockdown well before our melting pot (pun intended) of a country was a glimmer in Columbus’ eye. Ancient Chinese pharmacists would prescribe cannabis leaves for an array of conditions including, but not limited to: malaria, constipation, absentmindedness, and, best of all, “female disorders.” First, I like your enthusiasm, China, but something tells me getting high wasn’t necessarily the best answer to malaria. Female disorders, though, what could that include?
For one, menstrual issues. Weed was used to alleviate the pain of menstrual cramps, and I’m sure to generally make what can only be described as Ke$ha throwing a rave literally inside your body slightly less miserable. As well as using parts of the stem to aid in the actual act of childbirth, smoking up was also prescribed to help new mothers combat ancient post-partum depression,.
The most notable Chinese pharmacist was a man by the name of Shen-Nung. He had this great habit of being his own guinea pig, and would test out all the newest and latest drugs himself. He even wrote this really comprehensive medical encyclopedia that lists “marijuana” as an acceptable plant remedy. Shen-Nung went on further to say that the cannabis plant embodied both qualities of the Yin (feminine) as well as the Yang (masculine), and represented bodily unity and harmony. Shen-Nung and the Chinese quickly realized that the lady-plants produced more medicine, however, and the females began to be favored over the male plants.
Well that’s interesting. The Chinese were not only a-ok with lady stoners; they went so far as to ensure their women were high as a kite by prescribing it to them. Four thousand years ago this ancient society was able to recognize that smoking pot makes women happy, and aids in a more pleasurable lifestyle. They were even open-minded enough to acknowledge and embrace the femininity of the plant itself.
So what happened?
Why, if at the genesis of humanity’s relationship with weed the Yin was not only respected, but celebrated, is it now a by-line in the boys club of getting high? At what point in history did the world start to say that much like going topless in public, women have all the capabilities of doing it, but it’s really just for men? The more “History: 420” lessons I do, the closer I hope to co