Age-Old Herb: Five ancient uses of cannabis

Age-Old Herb: Five ancient uses of cannabis

When lots of people think of the history of cannabis, the first thing that comes to mind is the hippy movement. However, this is completely short-sighted – humans have been reaping the benefits of this plant for thousands of years. Here are five ancient uses of cannabis.


Hemp (a species of the cannabis plant) has been used by humans as a clothing material for centuries. Archaeologists recently discovered a piece of hemp clothing at a site in modern-day Iraq that was made 10,000 years ago. It’s no wonder that hemp was used by ancient peoples to create clothing – it’s lightweight, insulating, inexpensive and has three times the tensile strength of cotton.


The immense strength of hemp was also utilised by ancient civilizations from across the globe to create rope. This custom is believed to have started around 600BC in modern-day Russia before making its way across continents, stretching from Greece in 200BC to the Vikings and Italian sailors in the ninth century. We still use hemp to create most of the horticultural rope we use today.

Religious celebrations

The recorded use of cannabis at religious occasions is well-documented. In India, they have been using bhang (a drink made with milk, spices, sugar and crushed cannabis leaves) since 1000BC. Some Hindus believe that bhang is central to religious celebrations, especially Holi – the festival of colour, love, and good over evil.

Funeral rites

Whilst Hindus use cannabis as a way to celebrate, the Scythian tribe of Ancient Siberia, used the plant to mourn. The Greek historian wrote about the part that cannabis played in the funeral rites of the Scythians back in the fifth century BC – stating that cannabis seeds were placed on red-hot stones and their vapour was inhaled. According to his records, they believed the vapours transported the deceased to the afterlife.


It’s hard to believe now, but perhaps one of the most important developments for mankind was the invention of paper, and yes – cannabis plays a huge part. It was just under 2000 years ago when an inventor of the Chinese court discovered that he could make good-quality paper by mixing hemp with mulberry bark. This was much cheaper, more effective and easier to make than the bamboo slips and wooden tablets previously used.

Cannabis played a huge part in ancient civilisations – providing the material to create paper, clothes and rope – featuring as a central part of funerals and religious ceremonies. It is only recently that hemp has become an uncommon material but perhaps it’s time to look at whether that should remain the case for the future. Our CBD oils and CBD concentrates are new way for modern people to experience the remarkable effects of this miracle compound.

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