10 Historical Facts about Hemp You Need to Know (Part 1)

10 Historical Facts about Hemp You Need to Know (Part I)

by Power Biopharms

It would be more than an understatement to say that CBD is making waves right now.

According to a 2022 MJBizDaily article, data analysis firm Headset declared that CBD edibles’ profit margins rose to $1.38 billion in 2021. Back in January, alcoholic beverage magazine The Drinks Business published an article showcasing CBD drinks’ meteoric rise in popularity over the years, expecting these beverages to get a massive boost in net worth by 2032 ($46.3 billion, to be exact)!

However, we don’t have to look at these numbers to know that just like every popular trend, CBD has an origin story. But what makes CBD stand out among most other trends is its stigmatization: There’s a lot of it. So much of it that any crumb of history the plant may have would quickly be overshadowed by fearmongering and anti-cannabis propaganda.

This lack of education on hemp history is unacceptable, and we’re here to make sure you get your cap and gown! 

So, whether you’re a CBD enthusiast, new consumer, skeptic or history nerd who simply loves learning about new things from times of old, sit back, relax and let us take you through the time capsule that is cannabis history!

  • Our ancient ancestors used hemp.

  • Even though the very first recorded use of hemp dates all the way back to ancient China, research indicates that people used the plant before written records even existed!

    To clarify, a Veriheal article states that researchers have found cannabis inside two mummies: a 2,500-year-old Russian mummy they found in the Altai Mountains, and Ötzi the Iceman, a 5,300-year-old corpse. And it turns out that Ötzi had used the plant right before his death. Why he was using it is beyond our knowledge, but our personal theory is that Ötzi himself used the leaf to try to help with an ailment he may have had before his death. (For more information on our ancestors’ relationship with cannabis, take a look at this PDF here.)

  • Hemp has a rich Chinese history.

  • Despite the fact that CBD became illegal in Asia in the 1900s, China actually has a hemp history that goes back centuries! 

    A 2020 article on education platform CANNANASKIS sums it up best: Back in 2737 BC, it is said that Chinese Emperor Shen Neng (whose name translates to “divine farmer”) used cannabis tea to help with ailments such as gout and malaria. (He may have also discovered tea as well, after tree leaves fell into a pot of water, creating a fragrant smell.) 

    According to an ancient text in honor of Emperor Shen Neng, titled The Divine Farmer’s Book of Herbs, cannabis is one of the 365 herbs that he recommended, claiming that cannabis seeds were beneficial for blood flow and weight gain but should be used in moderation to prevent psychoactive side effects (or “ghosts,” as he called them). 

    The CANNANASKIS article and other sources also say that whether or not the emperor existed is up for debate. But it’s clear that the emperor’s Book of Herbs made a massive impact on many Asian cultures, because many Asian and Middle Eastern communities embraced hemp as a healing agent in ancient times. And since Thailand has recently loosened its cannabis prohibition laws, there’s still hope that the rest of Asia will follow suit!

  • Several ancient cultures and religions encouraged hemp use.

  • According to the University of Sydney – whose article includes an easy-to-read historical cannabis timeline – various cultural communities such as the Greeks, Romans and Hindus enjoyed the benefits of hemp for both treatment and religious purposes. And today, as the Hash Museum website suggests, many people believe that hemp gives them peace of mind and helps them become one with God.

    The Hindus, who worshiped the god Shiva, ingested cannabis to honor him. The plant was (and still is) considered sacred in India, and the Hindu peoples believed that bhang – cannabis mashed into an edible paste – was Shiva’s favorite food, therefore dubbing him the “Lord of Bhang” and adding the paste into their food and beverages, especially on the religious holiday Holi. A book excerpt from author Cheri Sicard titled “A Brief History of Edibles” states that although hemp became illegal in India, bhang is such an ingrained part of Hindu tradition that the government normally leaves it alone – as long as the concoction only includes hemp leaves!

  • Even George Washington was a proud supporter of the plant!

  • That’s right! Our beloved first U.S. president was a hemp user. In fact, the official Mount Vernon website states that Washington not only made his slaves plant hemp in all five of his Mount Vernon plantation farms, but he is also quoted as saying that he wanted as much hemp planted as possible! 

    He grew his hemp in an industrial, agricultural way - meaning outdoors and close rows, much like what you do with corn. This creates a tall and skinny version of the plant with stalks just right for fiber products like rope and fabric. While also the low THC version of Cannabis (like ours), it wasn’t focused on the flower and cannabinoid cultivation like our growing style is.

    Washington did consider using hemp as a cash crop but that became the plan for his wheat field, instead.

    (Look out for Part II of “10 Historical Facts About Hemp You Need to Know!”)

    (*DISCLAIMER: The information above is not a substitute for medical advice. If you are considering adding hemp to your daily routine, consult your medical professional.)

    (GOOD NEWS: Power Biopharms has recently been named Company of the Month in Cannabis World Journals! See their interview with our CEO Colt Power here!) 

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