Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a system of health practices that has been practiced in China for thousands of years. Some of the practices of TCM have made their way to America over the years, including the well-known practice of acupuncture.
As the therapeutic benefits of the cannabis plant are coming to light in the US, so are cannabis’s links to traditional medical systems, including TCM. Here, we’ll examine the history of Traditional Chinese Medicine and learn about the standard uses of cannabis, including hemp, in this system of medicine.
What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?
The origins of the intricately intertwined medical practices that are Traditional Chinese Medicine can be traced back to the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Cannon, an ancient text that is the primary doctrinal basis for Chinese medicine even to this day. The text, known in Chinese as the Huangdi Neijing, is dated somewhere around the turn of the Common Era, and lays out the system of TCM.
There are various components of TCM. Those most well known and practiced in the West include:
- Chinese herbal medicine and diet: The herbal medical text, Materia Medica contains the medical uses of thousands of plants, minerals and animal substances.
- Moxibustion: Moxibustion is the application of heat to acupuncture points by burning an herb over the skin.
- Therapeutic massage: TCM specifically practices a form of Chinese massage called tui na.
- Tai Chi and Qi Gong: These are mind-body practices involving slow sequences of movement and use of the breath.
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture, at its core, is stimulating of the skin at key points on the body with thin needles or suction cups.
Cannabis’s Role in TCM
Cannabis plays a role in several parts of TCM. In Chinese herbal medicine, cannabis sativa is considered one of 50 fundamental herbs, with different parts of the cannabis plants utilized for dozens of conditions.
Ma Ye, for example, is hemp fimble leaf, used for dry cough, asthma, toxicity and parasites. It’s taken either in the form of a juice or capsule made from the leaves, or applied externally. Hemp seeds are used as a laxative. Other uses of the cannabis plant in general, called da ma in TCM, include:
- Pain Relief
- Stopping spasms
- Calming nerves
- Soothing ovarian and menstrual pains
In it’s strongest form, the cannabis plant was also used in TCM as an anesthetic. TCM recognizes that in its full THC form, cannabis is a powerful drug that can cause long term “cooling” of the liver, and is considered dangerous.
TCM and Cannabis Today
Perhaps what has most interested those in the Western medical community with interest in the therapeutic benefits of the cannabis plant is that research has linked TCM practices, including acupuncture and massage, to the endocannabinoid system similarly to cannabinoids, including THC and CBC, of the cannabis plant. The endocannabinoid is a group of receptors in the brain that are involved in physiological processes including pain-sensation, immune system function and mood.
At CBD Web, we’re excited to watch as both the medical and the public learn not just about the beneficial therapeutic components of cannabis, including terpenes and CBD, but also the long history of hemp’s use in medicine across the ages.