Cannabis as medicine: “High is the main thing“


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).

cannabis als medizin, healing hemp, Hanf als Heilmittel Cover

Hemp as medicine – what‘s it like when a book which is quite old is reborn once again?
That‘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.

cannabis als medizin, healing hemp, Hanf als Heilmittel Cover, christian rätsch

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?
I 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.

2 months ago

Claudia Mueller-Ebeling & Christian Rätsch-News Site

A Society Without Marriage: The Na of China

"Love and marriage . . . go together like a horse and carriage.” But perhaps not in all cultures. Among the Na and some other societies of southwest China, the culturally normative institution that joins men and women in sexual and reproductive partnerships is called sese. Except historically, among the elites, the Na do not practice marriage, and do not even have a word for it. In the sese relationship, a man passes a night in a lover’s household and returns to his own family in the morning. All sexual (and potentially reproductive) activity takes place during this concealed visit of a Na male to the house of a woman who has agreed beforehand to lie with him. As lovers, their relationship involves affection, respect, and intimacy, but does not include notions of fidelity, permanence, or paternal responsibility for children. There is no coercion in the sese relationship: Either party may offer, accept, or decline an invitation for a visit. To spare the other’s feelings, one may say: “Tonight is not possible. I already have one for tonight,” and a woman may even turn away an invited lover at the door if she chooses. But although either the woman or the man may initiate the visit, it is always the man who comes secretly to the woman’s household. Concealment is necessary because of a Na taboo forbidding a household’s male members from hearing or seeing any sexual talk or activities involving household females. Males will never answer the door after dark lest they encounter a woman’s lover, and the lover himself makes every effort to avoid detection, often bringing food to prevent the guard dog’s barking, speaking only in whispers during intercourse, and leaving quietly before daybreak.

Both women and men have multiple partners, serially or simultaneously, and no records are kept of visits to ascertain the paternity of children. The Na do not have a word for incest, illegitimate child, infidelity, or promiscuity. The Na are matrilineal, and children by a variety of fathers stay with the mother’s household for their entire lives. When a generation lacks females, a household may adopt a relative’s child or encourage a son to bring his lover into the household. Where males are in short supply in a family, a woman may bring her lover home. The only males in a Na household are relatives of different generations, who are brothers, uncles, and granduncles. There are no husbands or fathers.

The Na visit, which has been part of Na culture for more than a thousand years, is treated as a mutually enjoyable but singular occurrence that entails no future conditions. The Chinese state has periodically tried to change what they call a “barbarous practice,” but without success so far. As the Na adapt to the new conditions of the nation-state and the globalizing economy, however, they are increasingly subjected to state-sponsored public school education and media, which reflect mainstream Han mores and lifestyles and stigmatize Na practices. This, as well as their inability to name a father on official documents, may spell the end of Na visits, eliminating yet one more example of the rich diversity of human adaptive strategies.

All human societies face certain problems for which marriage, the creation of families, and kinship systems off er solutions. Every society must regulate sexual access between males and females, find satisfactory ways to organize labor, assign responsibility for child care, provide a clear framework for organizing an individual’s rights and responsibilities, and provide for the transfer of property and social position between generations. The many human solutions to these challenges are guided by cultural rules, accounting for a wide variety of kinship and family systems. These systems tend to be adaptive to subsistence patterns and other realities: When these change, rules about kinship and family also tend to change.

Written by Serena Nanda and Richard L. Warms
Culture Counts: A Concise Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
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