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Cannabis: A Folk Remedy in Europe

Written by Matthew Clark


The cannabis plant is extraordinarily versatile: it can be used for textiles, oil, food, rope, building materials, medicine and inebriation. During several millennia, particular varieties have been selectively bred by humans for either fibre, seed or psychoactive properties. This has resulted in numerous different kinds of cannabis plant. In this article we will be looking at the discovery of cannabis, its botanical classification, and its historical use as a medicine in Europe.

Since 2004, Dr. Matthew Clark has been a Research Associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS, University of London), where he taught courses on Hinduism between 1999 and 2004. He has spent many years in India, which he first visited in 1977, visiting nearly all important (several hundred) pilgrimage sites and trekking around 2,000 miles in the Himalayas. He first engaged with yoga in the mid-1970s and began regularly practising Ashtanga Yoga in 1990. Since 2006, Matthew has been lecturing world-wide on yoga, philosophy and psychedelics. He is currently the managing editor of the Journal of Yoga Studies and is one of the administrators of the SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies.

His publications include The Daśanāmī-Saṃnyāsīs: The Integration of Ascetic Lineages into an Order (2006), which is a study of a sect of sādhus; The Tawny One: Soma, Haoma and Ayahuasca (2017), which is an exploration of the use of psychedelic plant concoctions in ancient Asia and Greece; and a short book on yoga, The Origins and Practices of Yoga: A Weeny Introduction (revised edition) (2018). In June 2021, he published another short book, Therapeutic Experiences and Psychedelics: Soma/Haoma and Complex Plant Formulas in Asia. Matthew also writes songs, plays guitar and records as Mahabongo.

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