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A Literature Analysis on Medicinal Use and Research of Cannabis in the Meiji Era of Japan

  • Ahn, Byung-Soo
  • Kang, Seokhyun
  • Lee, Kyung Hoon
  • Kim, Seoyoon
  • Park, Jin Sung
  • Seo, Hyung-Sik
Published Article
Journal of Pharmacopuncture
The Korean Pharmacopuncture Institute (KPI)
Publication Date
Sep 30, 2020
DOI: 10.3831/KPI.2020.23.3.142
PMID: 33072412
PMCID: PMC7540234
PubMed Central


Cannabis is a historical plant which has been used as a medicine in East Asia. These days, there are active debates about using cannabis in clinical field. Collecting and comparing cannabis research articles which had been published in the Opening of Japan to spot the interactions between the traditional medicine of Japan, Rangaku which was established in Edo Period and the European medicine which is transferred after Perry Expedition is academically meaningful. This study searched publications, which were listed on Open-Access databases by Dec. 11th, 2019. We collected research articles which had been published from January 3rd, 1867 to July 30th, 1912 also known as Meiji era and uploaded on Open-Access databases. Our searching databases were J-stage, CiNii (Scholarly and Academic Information Navigator), Tokyo Metropolitan Library, The National Diet Library, IRDB (Institutional Repositories DataBase) and KAKEN (Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research Database). Searching keywords were cannabis, hemp and all their Japanese synonyms and available combinations. We selected final 15 studies which met every selection criteria in the 346,393 collected studies. Cannabis was prescribed in Meiji era of Japan to alleviate pain and cure the digestive, respiratory, urinary, and nervous system diseases such as indigestion, asthma, tuberculosis, gonorrhea and its complications, insomnia, and nervous prostration. Cannabis was medically used in Meiji era of Japan and the reporting and sharing of its clinical effect was published on the medical journals like present days. There were already Cannabis regulations in that era, but its medicinal use was more liberated than nowadays. It may be a chance to reconsider the current legal system, which strictly controls the use of Cannabis.

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