A Short History of Hemp
A Short History of Hemp
Prehistory - The Classical Era
Hemp is recorded to have been used for its fibers and for food as far back as 26,900 BC when a hemp rope from that era was discovered in eastern Europe.
In China records from 140AD indicate the plant was also used to help relieve pain, with early uses including crushing it up and mixing it with wine to help relax the body. India also has a long history of using hemp - for religious purposes.
Further west, we have evidence of the plant’s use from a neolithic grave in Gelderland in The Netherlands - dating back to 2459-2203 BC. Hemp pollen found in the grave showed that the plant may have also been used to help relieve the discomfort of a fever - although that particular patient didn’t survive their illness.
Ancient Egyptian scrolls also show evidence of the plant being used to treat hemorrhoids, mentioning it in detail in beautifully preserved papyrus texts as far back as the eighteenth century BCE.
The Medieval Era - The Renaissance
During this era documentation in Europe was pretty scarce, but we do know that in the Islamic world hemp was used extensively for pain relief between the 8th to 18th centuries. Arabic physicians were known to use the plant as a physical anti-inflammatory, virtually the same reason people use it today.
In this era many people in both eastern and western Asia were well versed in the use of hemp -
while in Europe the so-called ‘dark ages’ meant that scientific advances were slow, and often were suppressed by the church as witchcraft or heresy. Though hemp would not have stopped the bubonic plague, the disease’s huge impact on Europe’s population was testament to how far behind the continent was.
The Colonial Era - The Industrial Revolution
During the ‘age of enlightenment’ and the colonial era, Europe became more connected to the rest of the world, partially by trade, but most often by invading other places. The information that was taken back to the continent was often muddied by the attitudes of the colonisers, so use of hemp was still not accepted except by the most open-minded.
However, in the booming “patent medicine” market of the 18th century, where plucky salesmen sold concoctions said to cure a variety of diseases from colds to cramps, hemp once again started making a sort of entrance onto the european consciousness. Queen Victoria even used it during her reign for period pains, and the herb started to be accepted as having at least some good properties.
The Modern Era - Today
Of course, the colonial attitudes were still around in the 19th century - especially with regards to the increased popularity of casual use of hemp in ‘reefer cigarettes’. Bans came about based onfear of ‘reefer madness’ during the 1920’s and the 1930’s saw hemp rapidly move out of the public eye, as arrests for its use would often leave you with a years long prison sentence.
Even though hemp was re-legalised during the second world war to be used to make ropes, the plant was kept illegal, and has stayed mostly illegal, right up until today. Things are looking like they will change though, as many countries are looking to abandon prohibition of hemp, as it is becoming so commonly used that countries spend too much money enforcing the ban.
So what is the way to find a balance between liberal use of hemp, and making sure it’s not abused as a drug?
This is where modern science comes to the rescue - with products such as our CBD-enriched hemp oil. Using extraction techniques and selective breeding of plants, the oil we supply is legal and free from the intoxicating THC compound, but contains other hemp extracts including cannabidiol (CBD).