129 - c. 200
Greek physician writes of pleasures, benefits and drawbacks of cannabis

Galen from Pergamon (129-c.200 CE) was a Greek physician and scientist whose writings contain three references to cannabis. Ancient medicine was founded on the utilization of herbs, and physicians were often developed herbalists. Personal observations, popular superstitions, medical experience, and information from other sources were collected in ancient medical treatises, which concentrated on the description of plants and their uses.

In “De alimentorum facultatibus,” he describes cannabis in some detail and says some people eat it toasted along with other substances to increase the pleasure of drinking during the meal. But, he warns, cannabis has a “hot” characteristic such that, if it is ingested in too much quantity in a short time, it is “painful for the head.”

In another text, he says that the juice from cannabis can be used for ear pain but too much can cause male impotence. And in a third text, he repeats the earlier point: “in the same way the agnocastus’ seed and the cannabis’ seed are not only pharmacological, but painful for the head.”

Source: Arata, L. (2004). Nepenthes and Cannabis in Ancient Greece. Janus Head 7(1), 34-49.

Drugs: Cannabis (marijuana)
Regions: Europe, Greece
Topics: Health and social problems, Medicinal use of drugs