Cannabis indica, C. sativa, C. ruderalis


Known by such names as hemp, nectar-of-delight, cementer-of- friendship, marijuana, heavenly guide and good-green-bud, cannabis has long been considered sacred and useful by diverse cultures around the world. Cannabis seeds have been found in archaeological digs dating back to Neolithic times. They were probably appreciated for their food value, which is considerable.

The whole plant was likely used for fiber, medicine and ceremony.

Cannabis has an ancient association with Chinese shamanism with a record of continuous use, as well as cultivation, from 4,000 Β.C. Chinese herbalists have long used it to treat malariaconstipation, rheumatic pains, absent mindedness and female disordersFifth century B.C. Taoists used it for divination. They believed that cannabis taken in combination with ginseng would set forward time and reveal future events. The Chinese call cannabis ma, and say that ma-fen (hemp fruit) “if taken over a long term…makes one communicate with spirits and lightens one’s body."

Scythian tombs dated 500 and 300 B.C. were found to contain the remains of cannabis leaves and seeds along with tripods, pots and charcoal. It was their custom to burn cannabis leaves and fruit in a dish of charcoal in the bath. Herodotus saw the Scythians burning cannabis on a funeral pyre, dancing and bemoaning the loss of their comrades.

The Hindus believe the gods sent hemp to humans so they might attain delight, courage and heightened sexual desires. Bhang, as Hindus call cannabis, is believed to bestow supernatural powers on its users. It is considered so sacred that it deters evil and cleanses one from sin. Sacred oaths are sealed over a cannabis pipe. Bhang is said to be a favorite drink of Indra, god of the firmament. Shiva, often depicted smoking bhang said that the word bangi must be chantedwhile sowing, weeding and

harvesting this holy plant. Tantric Buddhists in the Himalayas employ cannabis to facilitate deep meditation and heighten awareness.


In Africa, where it is known as kif or dagga, the Hottentots and Mfengu have used cannabis for centuries to treat dysentery, malaria, anthrax, snakebite and fevers. Sotho women smoke cannabis during childbirth. Masai tribes say it is a protector against physical and spiritual harm, and seal all agreements with cannabis smoked in a calabash pipe.

First Nations people in northwest Mexico practice a communal healing ceremony with Santa Rosa, that is, cannabis. They worship the plant itself, believing it acts as an intercessor with the Virgin Mother and represents a part of the heart of God. The ancient Mayans are believed to have used marijuana to help boost energy and increase stamina on their long marches.

The early Greeks drank cannabis mixed with wine and myrrh to produce visionary states. Galen wrote that it was sometimes customary to give hemp to guests to promote hilarity and enjoyment. Medieval herbalists used cannabis against “nodes and wennes and other hard tumors” and to cure coughs and jaundice.

Hildegard von Bingen characterized cannabis as hot and recommends it for stomach ailments as well as to relieve headaches. She suggests a warming cannabis compress be placed over wounds and sores. Hildegard regarded hemp seeds as salubrious, or health-giving and beneficial. Pietro Andrea Mattioli, a renowned botanist and physician of the 15thcentury, recommended cannabis as a topical application for the relief of both arthritis and gout.

Cannabis roots contain anti-inflammatory triterpenoids and alkaloids. These triterpenoids provide a wide range of anti-inflammatory, antipyretic and anti-carcinogenic effects with low toxicity. The historic use of cannabis roots aredocumented as far back as the first century where Pliny the Elder used a decoction to cure gout and ease joints. Nicholas Culpepper used the root decoction to ease inflammation of the head and other places.

Throughout the centuries the roots have been used

to treat rheumatism, soothe aches and pains and dissolve tumors and other hard growths as well as treat burns and neuralgic pains.

Cannabis contains more than 500 constituents, of which 100 - the cannabinoids - are unique to this herb. At least 50 of these substances appear to possess medicinal action. Besides the cannabinoids, cannabis also contains amino acids, proteins, steroids, lactones, terpenes, phenols, flavonoids, glycosides, sugars, fatty acids and vitamins, plus essential oil composed of olivetol and resins.

Cannabis was officially listed in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia until 1937. Widely available in America around the turn of the century, cannabis was a popular ingredient in many patent medicines. It was used as a remedy for a wide variety of disorders, most notably as a mild sedative.

Cannabis has an ancient history of use as a relaxing, stress relieving, nervous system tonic and I know people who use it to help manage depression. If the stresses of your daily life are beginning to take a toll on your health, perhaps a bit of cannabis before sleep would be what the doctor would call for - if she could. Taken before bed, cannabis promotes deep, restful sleep. Cannabis is not addictive and has far fewer side effects than tranquilizers, sedatives or alcohol consumption. I like to put a half teaspoon of cannabis butter into a cup of hot milk and honey and drink that before going to bed – I sleep like a baby.

Widespread interest in the potential of some of the cannabinoids as a remedy capable of countering a wide variety of ills is pushing governmental agencies to re-examine what some see as archaic laws against the use of medicinal marijuana.

Cannabis is a powerful ally for relieving morning sickness, headache, nausea and vomiting, making it an extremely desirable adjunct to chemotherapy or radiation treatments. Its considerable antispasmodic properties make it a very beneficial ally for those with muscle and bronchial spasms, including menstrual cramps. I’ve found that a bit of cannabis and a cup of coffee is a reliable remedy for both headaches and menstrual cramps. Midwives say cannabis is an ally at births.

Cannabis relieves asthma. Inhaling the warm smoke dilates air passageways, allowing the lungs to receive more oxygen. Cannabis smoke possesses expectorant properties and helps bring up phlegm. Cannabis is unexcelled for reducing intraocular pressure, making it a superior ally for people with glaucoma.

Cannabis has also been found to possesses antitumor, antibiotic, antibacterial and disinfectant properties. In studies performed by Czechoslovakian scientists, cannabis was more effective treating disease and infection than terramycin. Ayurvedic use of cannabis includes the control of dandruff, cure for venereal disease, as a digestive tonic and to improve the voice.

Use of cannabis helps stimulate the appetite, making it a valuable ally for people with debilitating and wasting diseases. AIDS patients - and their caretakers - are among those currently working to make this herb legally available in every state. Cannabis seed contains all essential proteins necessary for human health. Cannabis seed oil is high in omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, vital nutrients for healthy functioning of the heart, circulatory and hormonal systems. Once ground, the seed goes rancid very quickly; grind only enough for each use.

Cannabis flower oil is a topical analgesic and will help relieve the pain and inflammation of rheumatic and arthritic joints. Used for massage, the oil acts to relax transdermally. Add roots if possible. Cannabis roots contain triterpenoids and alkaloids that provide a wide range of anti- inflammatory, antipyretic and anti-carcinogenic effects with low toxicity.


Flower Essence Cannabis flower essence helps us develop the faculties of divination and prophecy and assists in connecting with plant spirits.


Magical Lore Mahayana Buddhist tradition tells us that during the six steps of asceticism leading to enlightenment, Buddha lived on one hemp seed a day. Cannabis has long been used in love spells, for divination, and added to meditation, scrying and vision incenses, to open the psychic senses. Traditionally it’s been burned with mugworttops before a mirror to enhance vision.


Culture Cannabis is very easy to grow and does well in any ordinary garden soil. The plants are a bright, electric green, and really stand out from other plants because of their unusual color. They grow eight or more feet high, and become quite bushy if pinched back when young. The leaves are seven- lobed, like dainty fingers on a gentle hand, and deeply serrated on the edges. The flowering tops can extend a foot or more.


Add a bit of bone meal to the soil to stimulate flowering, and remove all the male plants as the unpollinated female flowering tops are the most desirable and potent medicine. The male plants have pollen filled sacs that look like little balls.

The large lower leaves of cannabis can be harvested all summer while they are green and vibrant and eaten fresh in salads, lightly steamed in butter or milk, or dried on screens. The female flower heads are gathered as they ripen, usually in late summer or early fall. They are carefully dried, tinctured, or infused in warmed oil or honey. The seeds can be freshly ground and a tablespoon each day sprinkled on food.

Much of the commercially available cannabis seed is about 15% THC and 15% CBD. Some claim higher rates depending on the trending strain or demand. The only way to know for sure what you are getting is to test the seeds, get them from a reliable grower or grow your own cannabis and collect your own seeds.

Cannabis plants can be heavily sprayed with pesticides which is an important consideration when making medicine and/or buying from dispensaries. Know your state laws to avoid unnecessary trouble.


Recent Science

The endocannabinoid system is an extremely complex system active within the entire animal kingdom. While scientists became aware of the eCB system in the 1990s, it is a primitive system that has been active for 500 million years and is responsible for affecting many functions within the body such as: when to eat, sleep, relax and forget. In addition, the eCB system plays important roles in immunomodulation, cyto-protection and neuroprotection as well as cancer control. In general, our eCB systems are responsible for creating homeostasis in our bodies by maintaining a stable environment despite external stressors.

Endogenous cannabinoid receptors are created by our bodies in an on demand situation to adapt to stress. It’s a complicated system simply because of the wide range of activities these receptors can effect. It acts as a circuit breaker for our central nervous system because it self- regulates depending on what an individual is experiencing.

There are many cannabinoid receptors in the human body with a rich source of CB1 receptors in the brain. CB2 receptors are associated with the immune system and play a role in the lymphatic system, heart, lung, liver and spleen. These also circulate throughout the body.

Mother’s breast milk is full of endocannabinoids. It’s a widespread versatile signaling system used throughout the body to create stability. This signaling system works as an auto-protector on a negative feedback system: receptors are created on demand, are lipid soluble and cannot be stored in water - they are stored on demand and then degraded when no longer needed.


If our eCB system becomes dysregulated common disease states can result, such as problems in the gut, liver, central nervous system, skin, circulatory and respiratory systems, eyes, reproductive organs, bones, adipose tissue, pancreas, kidney and skeletal muscle as well as the growth of tumors.


According to an article written by Pal Pacher and George Kunos entitled Modulating the eCB system in Health and Disease: Successes and Failures, Apr 2013, NIH, NIAAA, “modulating endocannabinoid activity may have therapeutic potential in almost all diseases affecting humans, including obesity/metabolic syndrome, diabetes and its complications, neurodegenerative, inflammatory, cardiovascular, liver, gastrointestinal, skin diseases, pain, psychiatric disorders, cachexia, cancer, induced nausea and vomiting and chemotherapy among many others.”


A disordered eCB system is now referred to as human endocannabinoid deficiency syndrome by some practitioners who report several ways to nourish the eCB system in order to improve longevity and enhance quality of life. For example, consuming EFAs boosts endocannabinoids in the brain. Exercise, massage and acupuncture all temporarily upregulate the eCB system.


Scientists now believe the eCBsystem plays a significant role in “runners high.” And, of course, you can directly add endocannabinoids to your life with the use of cannabis.


In the plant THC aids in necrosis of plant cells and functions as an insecticide and anti-fungal agent. The more light a plant has, the more THC is produced. In the human body THC binds with our CB1, CB2 and CB3 receptors. Because THC does not mix well with water, it binds with lipoproteins and albumin to travel via plasma. THC is stored in adipose tissue and has a half-life of 1-3 days.


Other effects of THC in the human body include: analgesic, intoxicant, short-term memory loss, muscle relaxant, anti-inflammatory (20 times greater than aspirin, 2 times greater than hydrocortisone), anti-anorectic, immunomodulator (20% of all cancer deaths are due to cachexia).


THC can help to increase energy and appetite, is antispasmodic, a bone growth stimulant, anticonvulsant, anti-nociceptive and sedative. THC provides protection against cancer with its cytotoxic, anti-angiogenic and anti-proliferative properties.


In the cannabis plant CBD acts as UV protection as well as an animal and insect deterrent. In humans, CBD has multiple effects:

Anti-anxietyAnti-bacterialAnti-inflammatory Anticonvulsant - eCB system regulates seizure threshold

Antiemetic at the brainstem and GI lining

Antioxidant - stronger than tocopherol and ascorbate

Antipsychotic - as effective as pharmaceuticals with no side effects Antispasmodic - helpful in treating MS

Analgesic - relief from migraines

CDB decreases oxygen to the mitochondria of cancer cells which decreases cell survival and leads to apoptosis - prevents chemo-related neuropathy, less chemo meds required

Inhibits cell migration which leads to tumor invasion eCB system modulator, Immunomodulatory Improves quality of sleep without becoming hypnotic Modulates THC - inhibits anxiety and tachycardia Increases the analgesic effects of THC

Neuroprotective - prevents glutamate excitotoxicity and reverses binge Alcohol toxicity - important in Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, bipolar, PTSD Neurogenic - especially in the hippocampus and hypothalamus Neoplastic - cytotoxic and cytostatic especially in gliomas

Possible preventative of the migration in endometriosis


THCV modulates the psychoactive effects of THC - CBG lowers optic pressure and is an ally for glaucoma and certain prostate and breast cancers.


120 terpenes have been identified in various cannabis strains. These terpenes have the most effect on the type of “high” felt and contribute to the fragrance as well as benefits. Terpenes in the plant are increased with light and decreased with soil fertility. The terpenes begin to evaporate at temperatures above 70 degrees F.

In the plant, terpenes act as an insecticide, antifeedant, antibiotic, antifungal, provide the resinous feel of the flower and make up 10% of trichomes (the part of the plant that holds the “active” constituents).


In general, the terpenes: assist cannabis across the blood-brain barrier, dissolve and are stored in fat, interact with cell membranes in muscles and neurons, act as neurotransmitters, modulate THC, increase norepinephrine and dopamine, increase serotonin receptors, promote hepatic detox enzymes for carcinogens, stimulate apoptosis of cells with damaged DNA and may synergistically affect pain and mood.


These effects are all dependent on the specific terpenes present in the strain of cannabis and their individual effects.


The most common monoterpenes present in cannabis are:beta myrcene (earthy, fruity and clove-like fragrance), limonene (lemony scent), pinene (pine scent) and linalool (floral). Caryophyllene is a sesquiterpene also present in black pepper which has anti-inflammatory as well as neuroprotective effects. It is also helpful to break addiction, is gastrically cyto-protective, analgesic, antidepressant and euphoric.


Cannabis contains at least 20 known flavonoids, which contribute to its overall antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits as well as its color. Historically, cannabis is the most researched plant, ever. Pubmed had 81 citations on cannabis in 1993 and more than 15,000 citations in 2016.


However, because Cannabis is still considered a Schedule 1 drug according to federal law, studies are impaired. The reality of the research barriers include lack of federal funding and a limitation on the material studied. For example, most studies are being done on synthetic forms of THC and CBD, not on the entire plant. Marinol, the synthetic THC is highly psychoactive and dysphoric while the THC that exists in cannabis is buffered by naturally occurring CBD. Sativex is the synthetic version of THC and CBD combination.


Research from Israel published in Pharmacology & Pharmacy Journal (FEB 2015) describes the therapeutic difference between a CBD-rich cannabis extract from a whole plant compared to a single-molecule CBD. Studies using isolated cannabis extracts were not as effective by 4- 330 times as the whole plant extracts. As with all herbs, the constituents in cannabis buffer each other and work together synergistically. Scientists call this the Entourage Effect. We herbalists call it whole plant medicine.


A study conducted by scientists at the University of Miami in Florida with 8,500 participants aged 29-59 and published in the American Journal of Medicine (NOV 2015) found “marijuana users are much less likely than non-users to develop metabolic syndrome, which is a significant risk factor for obesity, type II diabetes and heart disease.”


Functional MRIs have shown that the use of THC decreases the symptoms of PTSD by 50%. This may be because the eCB system allows one suffering with PTSD to forget what is anxiety-producing. Be aware that unopposed THC can cause increased anxiety.


USES Traditionally, cannabis is employed as an anti-inflammatory, analgesic, sedative and anti-convulsive. These actions have contributed to its use as an ally when faced with a variety of conditions including:


Pain Opioid addiction*

Mental disorders and schizophrenia**


GI disorders



Pharmaceutical withdrawal Spastic disorders

Autoimmune disorders

Neurodegenerative disorders



Skin issues - psoriasis/eczema






*Cannabis is an ally for the opioid epidemic. Compounds in cannabis are known to be useful for alleviating deep neuropathic chronic pain. As more states are legalizing the use of medical cannabis, the rates of opioid prescriptions and the number of opioid overdose deaths have declined.


Cannabis has been found to enhance opioid effects when used at the same time. If you are trying to eliminate the use of opioids, or help a client do so, you may be able to slowly reduce the dose with the addition of cannabis. THC and CBD both enhance the action of opiates.


**WARNING! If there is a family history of schizophrenia, cannabis can be contraindicated.


However, Dr. Jeff Hergenrather tells of a decade in England where there was an 18 fold increase in pot smoking, with no increase in schizophrenia or mental disorders. He also spoke of schizophrenia patients who find relief and benefit from using cannabis.


Some American football players smoke cannabis after a game as a preventative against brain inflammation. A study on mice showed CBD helped to prevent head injury.


Highly concentrated CBD has been found to shrink certain tumors, and has been used effectively to treat medicine-resistant epilepsy in children and adults. More clinical trials are needed. Cannabis oils have been used topically to successfully treat skin cancers.


Myth Busting There is no evidence smoking cannabis causes cancer of any sort. Using cannabis does not lower immune function. Cannabis is not specifically taxing to your liver, butcan add to overall toxic load.

Smoking cannabis is energetically drying. Cannabis can deplete vital reserves after a time. A break from use has been found to reset endocannabinoid regulation resulting in a return of energy.




Asian Goddess Magu is the traditional caretaker for the cannabis plant.

The Taoists say the name Magu means hemp and divine ambrosia. Magu employs the cannabis plant in many ways to heal and comfort.

The ancient stories tell how she aided the poor and sick with the medicines she prepared with this sacred plant.

Hail Magu!


© 2022, Gail Faith Edwards