Cannabis has been cultivated and consumed by humans for thousands of years. It is one of the most powerful and versatile medicines in history, and has been used to treat everything from depression and anxiety, to cancer and malaria. And yet, at the time of this writing, it is still classified as a Schedule 1 narcotic by the U.S. government, and prohibited and demonized by most nations on earth.

In this article, I’d like to explore the many uses of cannabis as a medicine, not just for physical ailments, but a holistic medicine for the mind, body and soul. I’d like to help dispel the fear and the lies that have surrounded marijuana for more than a hundred years, and to help spread knowledge, understanding and acceptance of this miraculous plant, and the ways that it can contribute to our health and well-being, as individuals and as a society.

Good For the Body

According to legend, the Chinese emperor Shen-Nung penned what might have been the first encyclopedia of medicine around 2700 B.C. It listed hundreds of plants and minerals, along with their known medicinal uses. Among them was cannabis sativa, which was known as “Ma” in ancient China, and used to treat rheumatism, gout, malaria, constipation, stomach and intestinal problems, nutrient deficiencies, and cold symptoms. It was applied to ulcers and sores.

More than four thousand years later, we area still using marijuana to treat bodily illness, and we continue to discover new medicinal uses. Today, marijuana is prescribed as a treatment for glaucoma, epilepsy, inflammation, insomnia and tremors. It is used to relieve chronic pain and stress. It is the most effective way to suppress nausea and vomiting, and stimulate appetite, and it has saved the lives of patients with anorexia, or unable to eat due to cancer treatments and auto-immune disorders.

There is also a growing body of evidence that cannabis has powerful cancer fighting properties. At least twenty studies have been done which concluded that THC and cannabidiol can slow the growth of tumors, encourage apoptosis, and effectively treat many kinds of cancer, including brain, breast and lung cancer, leukemia and lymphoma. These claims have yet to be acknowledged by the medical mainstream, which is funded and largely controlled by profit-driven corporate interests.

A Joint A Day Keeps the Psychiatrist Away

Marijuana has long been associated with schizophrenia and mental illness, not because of scientific evidence, but mainly due to a propaganda campaign that dates back to “public service announcements” circulated by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in the 1930s, and the hilariously awful film Reefer Madness.

The reality is that no causal link has ever been established between pot and mental illness. Surveys show that mentally ill people tend to use cannabis (and other drugs) more than the general population, but this can largely be explained as an attempt to self-medicate.

What the latest research actually suggests is that marijuana may in fact help treat depression, anxiety, bi-polar, PTSD, OCD, ADD, even addiction to opiates and other drugs, and all that with far less harmful side effects than the commonly prescribed psychiatric drugs. These studies are being proven in practice by people like Dr. Frank Lucido and Dr. Jeremy Spiegel, who are bravely blazing the trail by prescribing cannabis to their own patients.

And then of course you have millions of people around the world, myself included, who have found through our own informal experiments that smoking cannabis relieves boredom, depression and stress, and induces tranquility and happiness. I think I speak for all of us, when I say that we need no research studies, no doctors or scientists, to tell us what we already know firsthand.

Balm For The Soul

As long ago as 2000 B.C., the people of India had discovered the intoxicating properties of cannabis, and were using it as part of their religious worship, to induce visionary states. They would smoke buds or hashish (known as charas) in clay pipes (called chillums) or use it to prepare a bhang, a drink made with milk and spices.

Cannabis was also used as a sacrament by ancient Persians and Egyptians, by the nomadic Scythians and the old Germanic tribes of Europe. The methods and practices differ from culture to culture, but the common theme is this: the marijuana high induces a state of mind in which we are more sensitive to unseen, spiritual forces. It enables the mystic to shift from the ordinary, ego-centric state of consciousness, to a state more in tune with the infinite, and more receptive to inspiration, be it artistic or Divine.

Pot is still used that way today, despite local and international prohibition, most famously by the Rastafari movement in Jamaica, but also by modern fringe churches like the Santo Daime, the Church of the Universe, and the Way of Infinite Harmony. Not to mention millions around the world, myself included, who don’t belong to any of these churches, but who in the privacy of our own homes, or in the timeless temple of the great outdoors, continue to use marijuana as an aid to meditation and finding peace of mind.

Cannabis has played a key role in human culture, religion, medicine and industry from the very beginning. For thousands of years, it was used peacefully to make rope, paper and cloth, to heal the sick, to relax the mind and nourish the soul. Marijuana prohibition is a recent phenomenon, driven by fear and funded by corporate interests, in an effort to enforce the current social and economic order. But not for much longer!

Legalization is at hand. Cannabis is being rediscovered as a cure for many ills, both mental and physical, and being restored to it’s rightful place as a revered sacrament and doorway to the Divine, helping individuals to find and feel a sense of meaning and connection that is so needed in this day and age.

It’s about time.