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Ancient Egyptians used cannabis

30th January 2007

Scientists from the University of Manchester are hoping to unearth the medicinal secrets of the ancient Egyptians.

The British team is travelling to Sinai to study ancient Egyptian medicine which would have been in use 5,000 years ago.  They plan to compare modern plant species in the region with those used by tribes, such as the Bedouin, and plant remains found in ancient tombs.  Ancient Egyptian medicine was highly advanced; scientists believe they used willow bark and cannabis for pain relief and knew that honey could stop the spread of bacteria in open wounds.  The main aim of the project will be to establish how these ancient people knew which medicines to use.  Researcher Dr Ryan Metcalf said, "We know that the ancient Egyptians had extensive trade routes and it is entirely possible that both medicinal plants and the knowledge to use them effectively were traded between regions and countries."

The researchers hope to work alongside the Egyptian Medicinal Plant Conservation Project in Sinai, which aims to preserve the biodiversity of the region through co-operation with local Bedouin tribes.

 

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