Researchers in Italy examined bones unearthed from a 17th-century cemetery and found evidence of cannabis use by residents of Milan hundreds of years ago. In the research report, the scientists point out that hospital records from the time do not include cannabis in the inventory of medicinal plants used in Milan in the 1600s, indicating that cannabis was used recreationally. It is assumed that there is a high possibility that
Medieval medical records show that cannabis was used in Europe as an anesthetic and to treat gout, urinary tract infections, and other medical conditions. However, in 1484, by decree of Pope Innocent VIII, cannabis was banned in what is now Italy. In it, the Pope called cannabis an “unholy sacrament” and banned its use by all Catholics.
Marco Peruca, a former Italian senator and founder of Science for Democracy, led a referendum to legalize cannabis in Italy in 2021. He told reporters that papal decrees and other prohibitions on cannabis throughout history have led to a stigma against the plant.
“This was a plant that belonged to another culture and tradition that was intertwined with religion,” Perduca said, noting that it came to Italy from the eastern Mediterranean centuries ago.
“Thus, anything that had to do with a set of rules other than pure Christianity was considered to be associated not only with paganism and movements against the church, but also against religion. [Holy Roman] Empire. “
Conclusive evidence of modern cannabis use in Italy had not been found for centuries after papal prohibition. But things changed when researchers studied femur bones from the skeletons of people who lived in Milan in the 1600s. His body was buried in the Cagranda ossuary, located below the church attached to the Maggiore Hospital, the city’s most important hospital for the poor at the time. According to the report From the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
“We know that cannabis was used in the past, but this is the first study to find traces of cannabis in human bones,” said Biologist and PhD student at the Institute of Forensic Anthropology and Dentistry at the University of Milan. said Gaia Giordano, who is also a student. and Toxicological Research Laboratory. “This is an important finding because there are very few laboratories that can examine bones and find traces of drugs.”
Research investigating the historical use of recreational and medicinal plants
The study was published in the December issue of the peer-reviewed journal. archeology journal, sought to discover traces of plants that were used for medicinal or recreational purposes by the inhabitants of Milan in the 17th century. The findings will help fill gaps in the historical record of plants used for medicinal or recreational purposes.
“Toxicological studies on historical and archaeological sites are rare in the literature, but they provide a different and powerful tool for reconstructing the past, especially for gaining a deeper understanding of the treatments and habits of people in the past. Configure.” the researchers wrote Introducing the research. “Archaeotoxicological analysis performed on hair samples taken from pre-Columbian Peruvian mummies revealed the presence of cocaine or nicotine.”
To conduct the study, scientists studied nine femur bones excavated from a cemetery in Milan. Two of the bones, one from a woman in her 50s and the other from a teenage boy, contained trace amounts of the cannabinoids tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). This provided direct evidence that the two had used marijuana.
“The results obtained in the bone samples indicate the presence of two molecules, delta-9-THC and CBD, highlighting the administration of cannabis,” the researchers wrote. “To our knowledge, these results represent the first report on the detection of cannabis from historical and archaeological human osteological remains. In fact, the literature suggests that this plant was found in ancient bones. It has never been detected in any samples.”
The researchers note that the findings suggest that people of all ages and genders were using cannabis at the time. An analysis of medical records at Ospedale Maggiore Hospital did not list cannabis among the healing plants used at the time, leading researchers to conclude that cannabis was used recreationally. Researchers believe that cannabis may have been added to food as a way to escape and relax from the realities of the time.
“Life in Milan in the 17th century was particularly difficult,” Domenico di Candia, an archaeotoxologist who led the study, told Corriere della Sera newspaper. “Hunger, disease, poverty, and almost non-existent sanitation were widespread.”
Italy has been a major producer of hemp, used for rope, textiles and paper, for centuries. Peruca points out that given the popularity of cannabis in Italy throughout history, the plant was likely also used for its psychoactive effects.
“People used to smoke all sorts of leaves and make ‘décotta’ (boiling water), so it’s very difficult to determine what the customs were at the time.” says Peruca. “But because cannabis was used in so many industries, people may have known that these plants could also be used for smoking and drinking.”
This is not the first time researchers have examined human remains to find evidence of historical drug use. In previous research, Giordano found traces of opium in skulls and well-preserved brain tissue.