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Christian Rätsch about his book „Hanf als Heilmittel“ had been published in 1995 for a first time, as a joint venture between the Swiss Nachtschatten Verlag and the German publisher Werner Pieper from the Odenwald.

Three years later the book was re-published in a revised version and as a hardcover at the AT publication house. Now a newly revised and updated version has been published at the Nachtschatten Verlag. Markus Berger spoke with the researcher about his book, hemp as medicine and the characteristics of the cannabis plant – Cannabis als Medizin (cannabis as medicine).

Hemp as medicine

what‘s it like when a book which is quite old is reborn once again?
cannabis als medizin, healing hemp, Hanf als Heilmittel CoverThat‘s really fantastic of course, because it‘s when I realize that the subject still concerns people, and that the work I have put into the book has been worthwhile and has asserted itself obviously.

For how long has hemp been used as a medicine ?
Certainly since man came upon it. Hemp is one of those plants which were cultivated in European history as the very first ones, namely as early as the Neolithic Age. Since then hemp has been a precious plant for medicinal use, utilization and purposes of getting high.

And has remained that until today.
Correct. Though cannabis has found varied use, it is unbelievable what has been found out through research during the last years – especially considering hemp as medicine. It‘s only gets realized gradually today that the plant still has more potential than had been believed up until now. What relation have the intoxicating and the medicative characteristics of hemp to one another? Aren‘t they mutually dependent?

I think that they interact. Though the intoxicating effect is the main characteristic of cannabis. In former times all cultures noticed the enormous healing power in the intoxicating effect of plants and substances, for example those deriving of ecstatic conditions. In fact, that is another approach in contrast to the one advocated by our modern pharmacology. But the high in itself has healing qualities, because it connects us to the meaning of our being. That‘s why I find hemp so fantastic, because it does not only affect the body, but also the soul – if one has to make a distinction here at all anyway. Both are polar parts of the whole which are inextricably linked.

But our modern society views the high as „side effect“.
I cannot comply with the idea that the intoxicating effect of hemp medicine and other psychoactive drugs are viewed as undesirable side effects of a medicine. It is really great when the alleviation of symptoms of diseases is accompanied by agreeable psychological effects like gaiety and happiness. Specifically as the positive spiritual condition and a relaxing effect do accelerate every healing process – and in some cases facilitate it in the first place. With hemp it is similar as with morphine or opium: it removes the pain and makes happy at the same time. And while one is in a pain-free and happy condition, body and soul can become healthy much better of course.

Speaking of morphine: This is an agent extracted from opium poppy. What do you think of the procedure to extract individual cannabinoids from hemp, e.g. cannabidiol (CBD), in order to work with it? Wouldn‘t it make more sense to use the entire complex of the plant‘s agents?
cannabis als medizin, healing hemp, Hanf als Heilmittel Cover, christian rätschI do think the whole recent research of single cannabinoids makes sense and is profitable. But what is made from the results and which conclusions are drawn, is another matter. I do not understand though why one should disassemble and separate the individual molecules in the face of such perfect pharmacological compositions both within the hemp plant and the opium poppy. Hemp and opium cause holistic synergies respectively, that is why the natural composition of the substance is best for humans.

Hemp is also used for shamanic ritual healing?
Yes, for certain! In Nepal, for example, cannabis gets to be used for rituals by shamans up to this day. They make no distinction between the intoxicating and the healing effect, but instead they believe that cannabis wakes up Shiva in the smoker‘s consciousness.
Which naturally is especially salutary and exhilarating.

What brings us back to the subject of the separation between the use for healing purposes and casual use.
Many intoxicating substances work as remedies, but the high simply is the main thing. I believe that the high through hemp would be much more beneficial to our society than the use of individual substances as pharmaceuticals. But our society is really sick. I cannot call this a crisis any loner, we have fallen sick culturally. Amongst other things, because we have robbed the high of its importance, its holiness and its significance. This split-up into intoxicating and healing substance is a manifestation of a cognitive dissonance. Let‘s take tobacco: the Native Americans, for example, said that tobacco is only harmful because we do not worship it as a holy plant.
Because we have put everything to profanatory use and must exploit everything. For example, drugstore cannabis is extremely expensive with up to 25 Euro per gram. Whereas the plant can be grown quite simple by everybody. How do you evaluate that?
Growing and the plant itself must surely be legalised. Cannabis from the drugstore is above the means of the population. Furthermore even dealing with this wonderful plant and the fusion with it, if you nourish and cherish it, are salutary qualities which should not be underestimated.
Any message regarding this subject you would like to add?
(Christian laughs) No – there‘s no message from me, I am not Jesus.
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