It turns out that cannabis seeds were a staple part in the diet of the ancient Chinese.
According to a new study, people alive during the Tang dynasty between 618-907 regularly consumed cannabis seeds for its nutrition.
The Tang dynasty is widely regarded as a high point in Chinese civilisation and culture, and a time when the cannabis plant was widely used for clothing, medicine and even its psychoactive effects.
There are many Chinese historical texts that suggest cannabis was an important source of food, but this recent study describes the first archaeological evidence of cannabis seeds being used as food.
In 2019, a discovery was made by construction workers at a primary school in Taiyuan, Shanxi province. When digging up the playground, a remarkably well preserved ancient tomb was unearthed.
The tomb had been there undisturbed for 1,320 years, yet the wall paintings and artefacts found within were almost perfectly preserved in the “unusually dry chamber.”
Included among the artefacts were a number of jars, one of which contained staple foods. In this jar, researchers found some unusually large cannabis seeds, some still showing their original colour.
The ancient seeds were nearly twice as big as modern cannabis seeds.
More important than rice
“The cannabis was stored in a pot on the coffin bed amid other staple grains such as millet. Obviously, the descendants of Guo Xing buried cannabis as an important food crop,” said Jin Guiyun, author of the study.
Guiyun says that, for people living under the powerful Tang empire, cannabis seeds may have been a more important food staple than rice as no rice was found in the food jars.
It was also noted that the seeds still had their hard husks on. This may be because, while the husk does not taste good, it can contain trace amounts of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC.
This suggests the seeds may also have been used for religious and medical purposes, according to the researchers.
Cannabis remnants have been found in tombs dating back as far as 6,600 years in China, but this latest find is the first to suggest cannabis seeds as an important food source.
Cannabis seed nutrition
Hemp seeds are one of the best sources of nutrition around.
Hemp seeds also contain a good amount of omega 3 fatty acids, which are essential to good health and can improve mood, eye health, brain development, heart health, inflammation, and much more.
Along with protein, fibre, and iron, hemp seeds are also a great source of a host of other vital nutrients, including thiamin, phosphorus, copper, manganese and vitamin E.