The relationship between cannabis and women's health is a tale as old as civilization itself. This miraculous green herb, often surrounded by controversy in modern times, has been a silent witness and participant in the journey of women's wellness for millennia. They may not want us to know this; but, from the hands of ancient midwives to the modern woman's wellness toolkit, cannabis has played a diverse and evolving role. Let's embark on a quick journey through time to explore this relationship.
Ancient Civilizations and Cannabis
The use of cannabis in female health can be traced back to ancient civilizations. In ancient Egypt, cannabis was used to induce contractions, making it an essential tool for midwives. General Cannabis use is not known to induce contractions or labor in modern times but we will save cannabis in pregnancy for another blog post. The Ebers Papyrus, one of the oldest medical texts, even mentions the use of cannabis to alleviate pain during childbirth. Similarly, in ancient China, it was an active ingredient in concoctions prescribed for menstrual discomfort and other gynecological issues.
Medieval Era: Midwives and Herbal Remedies
During the medieval period, midwives often operated on the fringes of formal medicine as formal medicine was in its infancy. They relied on their rich knowledge of herbs and natural remedies, passed down through generations. Their deep knowledge of these remedies was invaluable. Cannabis was a staple in their herbal toolkit. It was used not only for easing labor pains but also for menstrual cramps and postpartum depression.
As European settlers made their way to the New World, they brought with them a wealth of medical knowledge, including the use of cannabis in midwifery. In colonial America, cannabis tinctures and salves were commonly used to alleviate the pains and stresses of childbirth. It was also during this period that cannabis began to be recognized for its potential anti-inflammatory properties, making it a remedy for various female health concerns.
The 19th Century and the Medical Revolution
The 19th century saw a shift in the perception of cannabis. With the advent of modern medicine, doctors began to prescribe cannabis-based medicines for a range of ailments, including female health issues. Queen Victoria's physician famously prescribed her cannabis to alleviate menstrual cramps. Things were looking good for the herb. However, as the century progressed, the rise of synthetic drugs led to a decline in the use of natural remedies, including cannabis. Enter Big Pharma... boo
20th Century: Prohibition and Rediscovery
The 20th century was a tumultuous time for cannabis. The early part of the century saw widespread prohibition, pushing cannabis use underground. However, by the latter half of the century, a resurgence in interest in natural and holistic remedies led to a rediscovery of cannabis's benefits for women's health, especially in managing menstrual discomfort, endometriosis, and the challenges of menopause.
Today, with the increasing legalization and acceptance of cannabis in many parts of the world, there's a renewed interest in its therapeutic potential. Modern research is uncovering what ancient midwives knew all along – that cannabis can play a pivotal role in women's health. From CBD oils to cannabis-infused wellness products, the ancient herb is making a modern comeback, helping women navigate the unique challenges of their health journeys. We still have a long way to go, but I am excited and grateful to be in a time where we can truly start benefiting from all that this plant has to offer.
It's no wonder I naturally gravitated toward this amazing plant during my studies at NYU. The bond between women, midwives, and cannabis is deep-rooted and has withstood the test of time. While the methods of administration and the societal perceptions of cannabis have evolved, its core benefits for female health have remained consistent. Luckily, modern research is uncovering what ancient midwives knew all along – that cannabis can play a pivotal role in women's health and it is our fundamental right to have access to this plant. As we move forward, it's essential to remember and respect this age-old relationship, ensuring that future generations of women can harness the full potential of this remarkable plant without judgment, punishment, or ridicule.