16th February 2017

"Omvano, Shiva, Shish and Konobo"

It is believed that the history of drug goes back to more than 5000 years ago, when "elephants" ate an African fruit (Omvano) that grows at a specific season in certain forests. Elephants became then very weird: they lost their balance, swayed, lost consciousness and run away from the woods. Moreover, being in an overexcited state, they often became a thread to those who were standing in their way. The "elephants" also ate this fruit after being affected by sickness or old age. They live in seclusion till they die. Scientists explain this behavior by their desire to commit suicide. In general, only 18 kinds of animals and birds consume narcotic plants while tens of thousands of other animals avoid them.

Moreover, narcotic substances can be traced back since the dawn of time in ancient civilizations. Traces include inscriptions on temples’ walls, ancient writings on papyrus or oral myths transmitted from generation to generation. According to Hindus’ beliefs for instance, it is the God (Shiva) who brought the "hemp" from the ocean; then the other gods extracted from the plant what they describe as the divine nectar insinuating to the narcotic "hashish". Moreover, Greeks engraved pictures illustrating this narcotic plant on the walls of tombs and temples. The symbolic connotations of these inscriptions varied according to the gods they believed in; for instance Hera is the goddess of maternity, Demeter the god of the earth’s fertility and Pluto the one of death or eternal sleep.

On the other hand, Indian priests considered that "Cannabis" has divine origins because of its great effect on them. They used it in their rituals and religious festivals. It was also mentioned in their ancient myths and described as the favorite syrup of God "Andhra". This narcotic plant is still used in Hindu and Sikh temples in India and Nepal.

If we track back the history of the name "hemp", we find that it’s a Latin word that means noise. Cannabis was named accordingly as its user made lots of noise once the effect of the active substance T.H.C found in the hemp plant reached its peak.

Some researchers believe that the word "hashish", which means in Arabic "grass" or wild plant, is derived from the Hebrew word "shish" which means joy based on the illusion of ecstasy and joy felt by the user following his cannabis consumption.

Furthermore, ancient people knew the "hemp" plant and used it for many purposes: they manufactured from its fibers ropes and several types of tissues and consumed it for religious and recreational purposes.

Chinese people are among the first who have known and used hemp. The emperor "Ching Ning" called it in 2737 BC "the Donor of happiness", while the Hindus nicknamed it "sadness soother". In the seventh century AD, it was used by the "Assyrians" in their religious festivals and they named it the "Konobo" plant. In 1753 AD, Herbologist “Linaos” finally called it “Cannabis”. Although relevant names did vary throughout history, drugs remain the deadly scourge of our time.

Dr. Ayed Ali Al Humaidan                                                                                

International expert in the field of drugs and psychotropic substances

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