Medical marijuana was not just used in ancient eras gone by, it has been used successfully all the way up to recent history. As science began to establish itself as separate from religion, cultures and civilizations began to understand the actual medicinal properties of cannabis in more detail. This article covers how medical marijuana was viewed and utilized during the eras of Colonial America and Victorian England.
Cannabis was first brought to North America in 1611 AD by Jamestown settlers, it was seen as a very versatile plant that went beyond its medical uses – making it a very commonplace crop. It was during this time that English scholars where looking further into the medical properties of marijuana. In 1621 AD the scholar and clergyman Robert Burton outlined the use of cannabis for the treatment of depression in his book “The Anatomy of Melancholy”. In 1652 the British herbalist, Nicholas Culpeper went on to explain how extracts from hemp could be used in the treatment of inflammation and pain in his book, The English Physitian.
Although during this time period medical marijuana was becoming more recognised by medical community for its abilities to treat illness, it was still mainly a commercial endeavour, used for the wider applications hemp has into clothing and textiles etc. This was especially the case in America. It was not until the 19th century, during the industrial and scientific revolution of the UK that the medical properties of marijuana allowed it to re-enter mainstream western medicine.
As you may have read in our article on the use medical marijuana by ancient civilizations, cannabis become a mainstream Western herbal remedy in the Middle Ages. This unfortunately died out, and it was not till its reintroduction in the 1840's that it became mainstream again. It was done so by a British army surgeon by the name of Dr. William O'Shaughnessy. He had been serving in India where he observed its useful application. He brought it back to the UK where its effectiveness saw it become a commonplace treatment for a variety of ailments including cramps, muscle spasms, pain and the convulsions of tetanus, rabies and epilepsy. It was traditionally administered in the form of a tincture.
It was also around this time that a prominent French doctor by the name of Jacques-Joseph Moreau conducted studies into the medical use of marijuana and found that it suppressed headaches, increased appetite and aided insomniacs getting to sleep.
As a result of the in depth work of scientists such as the above, marijuana became so commonplace and accepted a drug, that it was entered into the US Pharmacopeia in 1850. From here it was successfully used all the way up to the early 1900's as a viable medicine for those in need.