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How has Hemp Been Used in Eastern Medicine?

Hemp has been used in Eastern cultures dating back thousands of years. Hemp, considered to be one of the first crops, was cultivated in China as early as 6000 B.C. to use the seeds and oils in foods. In 2700 B.C., hemp leaf tea was the earliest record of Chinese medicine utilizing the plant. In 500 B.C. Chinese philosopher Confucius referenced the cultivation and use of the hemp plant. The plant was regarded by Emperors for it’s medicinal values, such as Emperor Shen-Nung who taught his people to cultivate. China has a rich history with the hemp plant for a variety of uses. How has hemp evolved into the use of Eastern Medicine in a modern world?

East vs. West

Eastern medicine, or Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), has evolved over thousands of years from its origins in ancient China. The primary focus of Eastern medicine is a natural, holistic approach. Herbal medicine is one of the main components in practice, along with mind and body practices. This varies from the United States, which predominantly practices Western medicine. This is highly based around medical professionals treating patients with drugs or surgical procedures.

With the widely varying view points on treatment, it is no surprise that Eastern medicine embraces the healing benefits of hemp while the West dismissed it. Recently, more Eastern influence have penetrated Western practices. Techniques like acupuncture and massage are popular examples of Eastern methods. People in the west are focusing more on holistic approaches, including herbal medicine.

CBD vs. Whole Plant Hemp in Eastern Medicine

Some believe that CBD isolate does not encompass the philosophies of Eastern medicine. The idea is that CBD alone is an isolated chemical compound, stripping away the interactive dynamic it has with the other compounds in the plant. To keep in line with this tradition, whole plant hemp products would be the optimal choice.

Whole plant means that all of the available compounds naturally occurring in the plant are left intact. The compounds include cannabinoids and terpenes. Cannabinoids examples include CBD, CBN, CBG and THC. In hemp, the THC levels remain very low and allow whole hemp products to remain within legal limits. Terpenes are essential oils, or aromatic compounds, that give the hemp plant its unique taste and scent. Each terpene brings it’s own healing benefits, but creates an “entourage effect” when combined with cannabinoids. This term was coined by Dr. Ethan Russo to capture the synergistic relationship of the compounds boosting and enhancing one another.

Modern Developments

In contrast, CBD is an isolated extraction from the hemp plant. It doesn’t contain THC and will not produce a high in the user. While China still has strict laws banning marijuana, CBD based products have recently been legalized. Hemp is a large revenue source for the country and the government allows farmers to grow the plant without any punishment due to it’s trace THC content.The market for CBD in China is growing rapidly and it is projected to be worth $100 billion in the next 5 years.

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