Humans have been using cannabis as medicine since the dawn of civilization. As such, cannabis was rightfully recognized for how well it helps with healing reproductive issues that may come from pregnancy or menstrual dysfunction. It’s no different than how we consume the plant today. Except, it’s heavily regulated and federally a Schedule One substance, along with heroin and LSD. Can I get uh eye roll? But on a higher note, you can extract and consume your cannabis in ways that suits you best.
“For much of documented history, women have been excluded from medical and science knowledge production, so essentially we’ve ended up with a healthcare system, among other things in society, that has been made by men for men,” Dr. Kate Young, a public health researcher at Monash University in Australia, told Gabrielle Jackson, author of Pain and Prejudice.
That’s a quote worth mentioning before talking about how women have used cannabis in medicine throughout history, more specifically, for reproductive problems. Ironically, that is the area lacking sufficient medical research, and consequently, sufficient treatment.
In Egypt & Jerusalem for Childbirth
In Jerusalem, burned cannabis was found in the abdomen of the skeleton of a teenage girl. It was assumed that it was used to assist in delivering a fetus. Unfortunately, delivery was unsuccessful.
Her remains can be dated back to the 4th-century B.C.E. And the use of cannabis in this way aligns with historical reports of Ancient Egyptians affinity to cannabis in women’s health. It was administered by mouth, rectum, vagina, bandaged to the skin, applied to the eyes, and by fumigation.
It’s also been documented that Egyptian women used cannabis to relieve sorrow, to conjure joy and laughter, to go to sleep, as an anesthetic, and to kill pain. Cannabis was also used as an aid in childbirth – ground in honey, then introduced into the vagina to help with contractions.
In Persia for STDs & Migraines
In ninth-century Persia, the juice from cannabis seeds was mixed with other herbs for pain relief and migraines. In 1942, the editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, recommended cannabis drops for migraines, especially for women due for their period.
And in the nineteenth-century, sex workers used cannabis to help manage urethritis, which was prevalent among sex workers at the time.
In Tantric Rituals as an Aphrodisiac
In Ancient India, like many early civilizations that had access to mind-altering plants and herbs, cannabis was used for both medicinal and spiritual enrichment. It was considered a “sacred grass” for its power to heal illness and hopelessness. Cannabis was even used as a divine aphrodisiac in Tantric rituals by mixing it into a drink called bhang. Bhang can either be a ball of cannabis mixed with milk, or a drink made with a blend of cannabis, milk, sugar, pepper, almonds, cardamom, poppy seeds, ginger, and other herbs.
In China for Menstrual Disorders
In Ancient China, it was traditional to use cannabis flowers for menstrual disorders and the seed kernels for postpartum difficulties. Even the root juice of the cannabis plant was thought to be beneficial in retained placenta and postpartum hemorrhage. This was documented in the Pen Tsao Kang Mu, or Bencao Gang Mu in 1596.
In Europe for Sore Breasts
In Western medicine, the earliest reference of medical cannabis was a cannabis topical applied to the breast. A topical is typically a cannabis-infused product made to be applied on top of the skin where the pain is present. In the eleventh century, hemp was recommended to treat sore breasts. The Old English Herbarium described the process as follows: “Rub [the herb] with fat, lay it to the breast, it will disperse the swelling.”
The Monthly Journal of Medical Science of Edinburgh claimed cannabis had a “remarkable power of increasing the force of uterine contraction during labor.”
Oh, while we’re at it! In the nineteenth-century U.S., women used a cannabis-infused syrup called Dysmenine to help treat menstrual cramps. Cannabis use during childbirth, especially to aid with contractions, was documented in the Dispensatory of the United States.
Have you drawn a connection?
The reproductive issues that plague us today aren’t new. They aren’t more painful. People aren’t weaker than they were a century or seven ago. People are doing what they’ve been doing to survive and thrive pain-free.
Documents show across centuries and cultures that cannabis use was normal to treat reproductive irregularities like painful cramps and bloating, menopausal symptoms, and difficulties after childbirth.
These days, you can ask almost anybody with a uterus who uses cannabis what their top reasons for consuming are. The majority of your answers are bound to be uterus adjacent – whether it’s to put out an endometriosis rage or calm the nerves of a working mom with a toddler at home.
There are more women in medicine today than there was a century, even a decade ago, but the healthcare industry is still proving to be detrimental to women, especially BIWOC. Black women account for less than 3% of U.S. doctors. And BIWOC represents only 5% of senior roles in the cannabis industry. Imagine what the percentage looks like at the intersection of medicine and cannabis.
This imbalance is woven into almost every aspect of society from health to food to politics. Of course, cannabis had a somewhat clear pathway forward to follow suit.
That road is raggedy, anyway. Follow and support these female-owned cannabis brands inspired by health and wellness.