Get ready to take a journey back in time. It’s only in relatively recent history (over the past 80 to 90 years) that cannabis has had such a bad reputation. Doctors in Western cultures prescribed cannabis medicines into the early 20th century. Today, the herb is still considered a valuable healing aid in Indian Ayurvedic medical practice and is regularly used by many cultures around the globe. Some of the most common consumers? Women. Based on historical evidence, here are 9 reasons why cannabis is excellent for women’s health.
1. Menstrual cramps
Cannabis medicines were once so valuable that they were fit for queens. England’s Queen Victoria was famously prescribed indica tinctures to relieve her menstrual cramps in the late 1800s. Her physician, Sir J. Russel Reynolds, even sang the herb’s praises in the 1890s, writing,
WHEN PURE AND ADMINISTERED CAREFULLY, [CANNABIS] IS ONE OF THE MOST VALUABLE MEDICINES WE POSSESS.
Reynolds’ love of cannabis medicines for women’s health was echoed by practitioners in ancient Chinese cultures. In what would become the Chinese Materia Medica in 1928, researchers highlighted practices using cannabis for menstrual disorders. These practices were based on techniques that were several thousand years old.
2. Wedding night jitters
As Robert Clarke, a cannabis researcher, and Mark Merlin, a professor of Botany at the University of Hawaii at Manoa explain in their comprehensive guide, Cannabis: Evolution and Ethnobotany, cannabis concoctions aided women in what is now Uzbekistan on their wedding night, easing pain and promoting relaxation before the supposed loss of virginity. To help brides cope, hashish was mixed with lambs fat “before defloration.”
3. Labor pains
Many cultures around the globe used cannabis as a women’s aid during labor and pregnancy. Today, cannabis consumption during pregnancy remains one of the most controversial aspects of cannabis research and regulation. However, cannabis was viewed as one of the most powerful women’s medicines to help women throughout the childbirth process.
As Journalist Joe Dolce mentions in Brave New Weed, women ate cannabis flowers to ease pregnancy pains during the neolithic era. Historical and archeological evidence also suggests that cannabis was used to facilitate labor and childbirth in ancient China, Egypt, India, and Arabic nations. Cannabis treatments included inhaled vapors, teas, culinary concoctions, and topical applications.
Women are more likely to suffer migraines than men. In fact, women are three times morelikely to experience these excruciating headaches. Interestingly, cannabis was a “preferred” treatment for migraine and headache disorders in Western cultures until around 1942. Beginning in the 1940s, cannabis medicines were replaced with more modern pain treatments.
According to a historical and scientific review written by neurologist and medical researcher Dr. Ethan Russo, cannabis was referenced as a common treatment for headaches in multiple ancient cultures, including Indian, Chinese, Egyptian, Assyrian, Greek, Roman, and Islamic.
Unfortunately, women are nearly twice as likely to experience major depression than men. While this discrepancy is far from fair, it’s well-known that cannabis can boost mood and promote feelings of positive well-being. Our ancestors knew this as well, which is why cannabis was used to ease symptoms of depression in many ancient cultures.
According to Clarke and Merlin, in Indian Ayurvedic medicine, cannabis was used to promote happiness and encourage talkativeness. Cannabis was later used in Argentina to relieve depression. The herb was also used for this purpose in the British Isles.
In 1899, just a half-century before cannabis became illegal for physicians in many Western countries to prescribe, the British Pharmacologist Walter Ernest Dixon claimed that cannabis was a valuable “food accessory.” He also found that smoked and inhaled cannabis was beneficial during “fits of depression, mental fatigue, nervous headache, and exhaustion.”