Hemp or cannabis is a plant of the hemp family. Cannabis is androgynous, which means that there are separate male and female plants.

Hemp is one of the oldest known plants on earth and one of the earliest human crops. The plant is known by many names, which testify to its cultural importance. In Assyrian cuneiform from 685 BC., its name is kunubu, and for the next century, its name will sound like cannabis, from which Greco-Latin cannabis is derived.

Hemp fibers and seeds were found in the oldest layers of Eurasian cultures. Hemp was born in Central Asia and thanks to humans it has spread all over the world. The oldest evidence of this is provided by archaeological excavations on the island of Taiwan, where ceramic vessels with hemp rope prints were found in vessels from 12 000 years ago.

In ancient times, hemp was known as an exotic plant. Homer in The Odyssey describes how the beautiful Helena fell into depression and was cured with the help of medicines from Egypt. The medicine was called Nepenthe (anti-pain), which is where many modern linguists see the slightly modified Egyptian name for cannabis - Nibenji.

Archaeological excavations in Ukok, near the border between Russia, China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan, have uncovered the 2 000-year-old mummified remains of a Scythian queen, elegantly dressed in white silk and a small ceremonial container of cannabis. Archaeologists believe that Scythian hemp was "smoked for pleasure and used in a ritual".

Thracian tribes burned female cannabis flowers like a mystical incense that induced a trance. Special talents of Thracian magicians lie in the "magical heat" created by burning cannabis, and they believed that the plants dissolve in the flames and then reunite in the face of the person who breathed the fumes.

The cultivation of hemp in China began in the XXVIII century BC when the legendary second emperor Shennun taught his servants to knit ropes from the plant. In a treatise of 220, Dr.Huatou wrote about wine as a pain reliever to which cannabis extract has been added.

Hemp has a long history in India – it was mentioned in many legends and religions. The earliest evidence of cannabis use in India is found in the Vedas and sacred Hindu texts. These writings date back to 2000-1400 BC. The Hindu text Atharvaveda even lists cannabis as one of the five sacred plants on earth that relieve anxiety. The Vedas call hemp a source of happiness, a giver of joy and a liberator.

Lord Shiva is often associated with cannabis, also called bhang (bang) in India. Legend has it that Shiva retired to nature after a quarrel with his family. Squeezed by family conflicts and the hot sun, he falls asleep under the leaves of the hemp plants. When he wakes up, his curiosity prompts him to taste the leaves of the plant. Immediately refreshed, Shiva makes cannabis his favorite food. From ancient times to the present day, hemp leaves have been used to make a drink called bhang, which is consumed during religious ceremonies and holidays in India.

Cannabis is closely associated with esoteric practices in both Hinduism and Islam. Hindus use a bhang for religious ceremonies, and ascetics use it to achieve the divine. Its hallucinogenic properties were used in esoteric practices such as yoga and the asceticism of the sadhu hermit. Indian ascetics deny material life and use cannabis to find spiritual freedom, transcend ordinary reality, and attain transcendence.

In 1842, Dr. W. B. O’Shaughnessy through his Bengal Pharmacopeia was the first promoter of Ganja, the powerful Indian cannabis, in England. Cannabis is included in the list of standard drugs and appears on the shelves of every pharmacy.

In the 18th century, the famous biologists Linnaeus and Lamarck debated how many varieties of hemp there are. It was customary to name the European strain Cannabis sativa and the Indian Cannabis indica.

Today, hemp has countless proven uses in almost all areas of industrial production. It is grown to make extremely strong and moisture-resistant fibers that are used to make rope, cloth, paper, etc. Its seeds are rich in oils and proteins and are wonderful food, medicine, and energy source. This makes hemp one of the most valuable resources on earth.

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