Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria has an exhaustive review.

I summarize it here.

Before the Christian era

  • First evidence of cannabis use in China, 4.000 BC.
  • 2700 BC, uses of cannabis include rheumatic pain, intestinal constipation, disorders of the female reproductive system, malaria.
  • In India around 1000 BC cannabis used to treat pain, as an anticonvulsant, hypnotic, tranquilizer, anesthetic, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, antiparasite, appetite stimulant, diuretic, aphrodisiac and more.
  • Assyrians used cannabis for its psychoactive effects in the 9th century BC.
  • References to cannabis by the Greeks and the Romans are scarce.

The Christian Era to the 18th century

  • In 1000 AD Muslims use cannabis as a diuretic, digestive, anti-flatulent, ‘to clean the brain’, and soothe pain of the ears.
  • Cannabis known in Africa since the 15th century.
  • In the 16th century, the plant’s seeds reached Brazil; brought by African slaves.

19th and 20th centuries

  • European physicians use the seeds and in homeopathic medications.
  • Second half of the 19th century, over 100 scientific articles published in Europe and the US about the therapeutic value of cannabis.
  • Cannabis extracts and tinctures are marketed.
  • Legal restrictions limit medical use and cannabis research in the US.
  • Second half of the 20th century, there’s an explosion of cannabis use for hedonistic purposes.
  • 2005, a multinational pharmaceutical laboratory receives the approval in Canada, and attempting to get approval in the UK and EU to market a medication neuropathic pain in patients with multiple sclerosis.

2/9/07 20:42 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.