199 CE: Claudius Galen describes the hedonistic use of marijuana

199 CE: Claudius Galen describes the hedonistic use of marijuana

Hemp History CE

199 CE: Claudius Galen describes the hedonistic use of marijuana.

Aelius Galenus or Claudius Galenus (September CE 129 – 199/217), was a prominent Roman (of Greek ethnicity) physician, surgeon and philosopher.

Arguably the most accomplished of all medical researchers of antiquity, Galen contributed greatly to the understanding of numerous scientific disciplines, including anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology and neurology, as well as philosophy and logic. Galen may have produced more work than any author in antiquity, his output was so profuse that the surviving texts represent nearly half of all the extant literature from ancient Greece.

In his work, ‘On the Properties of Foodstuff’,  Claudius Galen describes the hedonistic use of cannabis. He compared hemp to the chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) the sacred tree of Hera which has a very similar appearance. He wrote that in Italy it was customary to serve small cakes containing marijuana for dessert.  These increased the desire to drink; excessive use, however had a stupefying effect.[1]

Cannabis seeds, insufficiently separated from the dried female flowers were offered during social gatherings. Offering hemp to guests was considered a sign of good manners, for it was consider a “promoter of high spirits” Galen wrote the following about the seeds: “The seeds create a feeling of warmth, and if consumed in large amounts – affect the head by sending to it a warm and toxic vapour”.[2]

1.OWEN, Powell (2003): Galen, on the properties of food stuffs. Cambridge University Press.
2.BRUNNER, Theodore F.(1977): Marijuana in ancient Greece and Rome: the literary evidence. Journal of psychedelic drugs 9(3):221-5.

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