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Understanding cannabis as medicine
When discussing cannabis, it is important to remember that the line between science and folklore can at times be fickle. In the context of cannabis as a treatment, for instance, there is only one direct scientific source (THC found in ashes) that cannabis was used as a medicine, around 400 AD.1
Yet, the earliest written account of cannabis as medicine date back to 2727 BC to ancient China, where emperor Shen-Nung cited the plant alongside ginseng and ephedra as an herbal remedy of significance to the health of his people. Chinese oral tradition concerning cannabis as a treatment was even incorporated into Pen-ts’ao, the world’s oldest pharmacopeia.2
Historically, the story has been similar globally. From India to Egypt, and Greece to the Americas, tradition has almost exclusively celebrated cannabis as a treatment option of merit. Since the start of the 20th Century, cannabis has morphed into a sometimes reviled, oft revered, alternative treatment option.
Over the last two decades, the once-controversial conversation surrounding medical cannabis has circled – particularly in the west and parts of Europe with liberal drug policies – around
 advancements and innovations in the space. Extraction, proper dosing and a robust product catalogue now define contemporary cannabis treatment.
In addition to being used an agent to combat general conditions like chronic pain, medical cannabis has in recent years become a supplement, of sorts, to a healthy lifestyle. Often categorized as a herbal remedy, cannabis and its extracts are more than ever being adopted by the likes of not only artists and entertainers, but athletes and academics.
Studies show that inhaled cannabis can decrease fear, anxiety and depression. And while cannabis has stereotypically been portrayed as a detriment to both cognitive and athletic performance, researchers have found that, contrary to popular belief, cannabis could actually improve oxygenation to the tissues of high-performance athletes.3
Again here, the line between fact and fiction has been blurred by decades of misinformation about the cannabis plant. As medical cannabis continues to gain more popularity, among patients, the healthcare community, and researchers alike, even more applications for the plant are inevitably going to be unearthed.

  1. “Medicinal Cannabis: History, Pharmacology, And Implications for the Acute Care Setting.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5312634/
  2. “Cannabis Pharmacy.” (Backes, 2014)
  3. “Cannabis in sport.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3717337/

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