Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is an ancient medical system that has developed over thousands of years. It uses treatments like acupuncture and tai chi to encourage harmony to the human body. There are a bunch of herb medicines that used, but what I’m most excited for is that cannabis has been documented to played a role in this system for a long time. In fact, Cannabis is actually regarded as one of the fundamental herbs within this system of medicine, and is utilized in order to treat an array of symptoms and disorders.
TCM is so different from Western allopathic medicine in many ways. First and foremost, it takes a much more philosophical and holistic approach to health, healing and the human body. TCM also views the body itself as a smaller version of the surrounding universe and aims to achieve harmonic balance between the opposing yet balancing forces of yin and yang, rather than the reductionistic view Western medicine adopts, treating illness and injury as specific and non connected. The five elements: fire, earth, wood, metal, and water play a fundamental role within the system of medicine. Qi (pronounced chi) also holds an important place, and is seen as the vital energy that flows throughout the body, with obstructions being at the root of some ailments. Herbs also play a large role in the system. However, cannabis is also used by TCM practitioners for numerous reasons.
First, a little history…..
Cannabis use in TCM is almost as old as the system itself, having been documented for over 1,800 years. It was famously used by the emperor and pharmacologist Shen Nung. Nung wrote about the herb in a book on treatment methods that was penned all the way back in 2737 BCE. Within the book, Nung described an elixir apparently created from the leaves of cannabis flowers. A book written in 1 AD entitled “Pen Ts’ao Ching” also spoke passionately of the cannabis plant. The authors recommend the use of cannabis for over 100 conditions, including gout, rheumatism, and malaria. Today, cannabis is very controversial worldwide, with many governments taking a harsh stance against the herb and placing it into illegal drug categories. Previously, nearly all parts of the cannabis plant were used in the medical system, from the flowers and leaves to the roots and stalks. Nowadays, however, it is the seeds that take the forefront when it comes to treatment in TCM. It has also been noted within older TCM texts that, over time, the seeds started to become more prominent than other parts of the plant.
In Chinese medicine, cannabis seeds are very commonly used and it is considered nourishing and replenishing. It increases yin(the passive female principle of the universe) moistens the intestines and often is used as a laxative. I see this as becoming more tolerant, caring, empathetic ect, however, increasing Yin has effects on things like blood pressure and liver function. Check out my other article about Yin and Yang if you are curious!
In Chinese medicine, there are the Three Treasures that constitute our lives. These are known as Jing, Qi and Shen. The goal of practitioners of the healing arts is to harmonize the Three Treasures to diminish disease and encourage wellness. They are generally translated as essence (Jing), vitality (Qi) and spirit (Shen). Different parts of the plant are used to elicit different responses to make sure these treasures, with Yin and Yang are balanced; with each part having different properties associated with it.
TCM usually uses seeds, roots, stem, leaves and flowers. Each part produces a different response. In addition, Chinese medicine also prescribes Cannbis with 8-16 ingredients at a time. Each of these ingredients working with the other to enhance certain properties and modulate unwanted properties. In TCM, prolonged cannabis use by itself can actually throw off your yin yang balance and can result in a bunch of issues.
Using cannabis takes Jing and rapidly turns it into Qi and Shen, thus you lose a lot of essence over time, since you’re body is releasing Jing faster than the body can assimilate it. Over spending your allotted Jing makes one understand why people who consume a lot of drugs might look like they are aging faster than is normal.
In TCM, the liver represents the General and Force of Direction, our drive. The impact on liver yang is that in the short term, there is a creativity and expanded visionary process, which is great! However, longer term, there is a weakened visionary process and inability to take action. When the liver, an organ that is thought to be emotional organ, gets upset, red eyes, irritability and depression can set in. Women can even develop worsened PMS symptoms (it use to happen to me ALL the time). I honestly think of this as offering an explanation as to why some people suffer insomnia and anxiety while using cannabis.
Cannabis affects the lungs, skin and immunity. The lungs and skin get dry and there will be deep red-hot pimples on the large intestine meridians on the face (around the mouth) and chest/upper back area surrounding the lungs. There is typically a chronic cough with mucus. Long term, there might be asthma/eczema or random staph infections. It also has a cooling effect over time; it stimulates the liver yang in the beginning, but it depletes it in the long run, so the net effect is cooling, which the body counteracts by producing heat. Thus, women who overuse cannabis might find themselves suffering from hot flashes, similar to that of a pre-menopausal woman. A combination of birth control pills and cannabis has created one of the worst female reproductive health issues of all time with a surge of ovarian cysts, fibroids and dysmenorrhea. Additionally, as stated above, the continuous depletion of the Jing, or kidney energy, diminishes sex-drive.
But hold on, I for one, would not like to stop using cannabis. It helps my anxiety, helping me to focus on one thing at a time rather than a million things at once, high functioning depression, insomnia, and pain. I do understand, much like other herbs, using cannabis on its own can be destructive if we are not taking the time to tend to the other needs of our bodies and minds. The good news? There are a bunch of products on the market that are made just for users of Cannabis. Your local health food store will most likely have these products, here are a few I have found:
Have you noticed changes in yourself after using cannabis for some time? Suggestions or ideas? I’d love to hear from you. Sound off in the comments section below.
Until next time,