Station: [8] Cannabis as Medicine

As we mentioned at the beginning, the earliest written records show that hemp was used for its healing effects. For thousands of years, people have known that it’s calming, provides mild pain relief and stimulates the appetite. Today, we have clear evidence of many of the healing aspects recorded by earlier scholars.

Until the late 20th century, carrying out neutral research was difficult. This was in part because hemp was stigmatized as a dangerous drug, but also because cannabis was (wrongly) listed in international legislation as a 'dangerous drug with no medical benefit’. Of course, that was not sustainable in the long run, and even in Germany, doctors have been able to prescribe hemp as a medicine since 2017.

At present, medical research is focussed on THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, and on CBD, or cannabidiol. These cannabinoids are found in the resin of the hemp plant, which consists of many other molecules of the cannabinoid group, plus binding compounds and fragrances. The resin is secreted by glands that grow particularly densely on the female flowers. It can be extracted and processed into medicines, but the natural flower is also prescribed as a full-spectrum remedy.

Hemp as medicine has very wide-ranging applications. Cannabis is most often prescribed for chronic pain, where it has proved very successful. There’s another major application for cannabis: the treatment of neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, Tourette's syndrome and epilepsy. Cannabis also provides relief from spasticity – muscle tightness.

Let's not forget the anti-inflammatory effects – cannabis can help with everything from rheumatic complaints to Crohn's disease. If you have a condition that could be treated with cannabis, please consult a registered medical practitioner. Staff here at the Hemp Museum are not allowed to give medical advice.

All depictions: © Dagmar Trüpschuch