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. 2020 May 19.
doi: 10.2174/1871530320666200520095900. Online ahead of print.

The Cannabis Spread Throughout the Continents and Its Therapeutic Use in History

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The Cannabis Spread Throughout the Continents and Its Therapeutic Use in History

Ioannis Alexandros Charitos et al. Endocr Metab Immune Disord Drug Targets. .

Abstract

Historical relevance: Cannabis sativa L. (C. sativa) is a plant whose use as a therapeutic agent shares its origins with the first Far East's human societies. Cannabis has been used not only for recreational purposes, but as a food to obtain textile fibers, to produce hemp paper, to treat many physical and mental disorders.

Aim of the study: This review aims to provide a complete assessment of the deep knowledge of the cannabis psychoactive effects and medicinal properties in the course of history covering i.) the empirical use of the seeds and the inflorescences to treat many physical ailments by the ancient Oriental physicians ii.) the current use of cannabis as a therapeutic agent after the discovery of its key psychoactive constituent and the human endogenous endocannabinoid system.

Methods: This study was performed through a detailed analysis of the studies on historical significance and medical applications of Cannabis sativa by using international scientific databases, historical and medical books, ancient Greek and Chinese manuscripts translations, library and statistical data from government reports and texts from the National Library of Greece (Stavros Niarchos Foundation), from the School of Health Sciences of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Greece). We selected papers and texts focusing on a historical point of view about the medical importance of the plant and its applications for a therapeutic purpose in the past.

Results and conclusion: Through a detailed analysis of the available resources about the origins of C. sativa we found that its use by ancient civilizations as a source of food and textile fibers dates back over 10,000 years, while its therapeutic applications have been improved over the centuries, from the ancient East medicine of the 2nd and 1st millennium B.C. to the more recent introduction in the Western world after the 1st century A.D. In the 20th and 21th centuries, Cannabis and its derivatives have been considered as a menace and banned throughout the world, but nowadays they are still the most widely consumed illicit drugs all over the world. Its legalization in some jurisdictions has been accompanied by new lines of research to investigate its possible applications for medical and therapeutic purposes.

Keywords: Cannabis; cannabinoids; drugs; history of cannabis; history of medicine; psychopharmacology; therapy.

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