Cannabis ruderalis grows to a height of only 60 cm. It has few branches and small leaves. The inflorescences are small and form on the end of the stalk. C. ruderalis grows wild in the Caucasus Mountains in to China. It prefers rocky locations. It likely originated in Southeastern Russia and was introduced by the Scythians in to Mongolia, where it became wild (Ratsch 1998, 142).
TRADITIONAL USES: C. ruderalis has been used for shamanic purposes since prehistoric times in central Asia. About 500 B.C. the Greek writer Herodotus described a marvelous bath of the Scythians, aggressive horsemen who swept out of the Transcaucasus eastward and westward. He reported that they “made a booth by fixing in the ground three sticks inclined toward one another, and stretching around them woolen pelts which they arrange so as to fit as close as possible. Inside the booth a dish is placed upon the ground into which they put a number of red hot stones and then add some hemp seed…immediately it smokes and gives out such a vapor as no Grecian vapor bath can exceed; the Scythes, delighted, shout for joy…” (Ratsch 1998, 142-143).
Just recently, archaeologists have excavated frozen Scythian tombs in central Asia, dated between 500 and 300 B.C., and have found tripods and pelts, braziers and charcoal with remains of cannabis leaves and fruit. It has generally been accepted that cannabis originated in central Asia and that it was the Scythians who spread it westward to Europe (Rocker 1995 cited in Ratsch 1998, 142) .
In Mongolia, this cannabis plant is still used for shamanic and medicinal purposes. Similar ritual use probably occurred amongst the Assyrians, and various ancient tribes such as the Thracians. A nomadic tribe of central Asia known as the Massagets participate in rituals in which certain ‘fruits’ are thrown in to a fire and the resulting smoke is inhaled. This inhalation causes the participants to spring up in elation (Ratsch 1998, 143).
TRADITIONAL PREPARATION: The female inflorescences of Cannabis ruderalis, dried and then smoked or inhaled, are frequently used as a fumigant in sweat lodge ceremonies. A shamanic incense with psychoactive effects has been known to be concocted using equal parts hemp flowers, the tips of juniper branches, thyme, and wild rosemary. Wormwood, mugwort or other species of Artemesia may also be used (Ratsch 1998, 142).
In Russia, C. ruderalis is prepared to create sedative, aphrodisiac foods. It is mixed with saffron, nutmeg, cardamom, honey, and other potentially psychoactive ingredients. C. ruderalis plants are also sometimes grown as hemp plants and used to produce rope and other materials (Ratsch 1998, 142).
MEDICINAL USES: In the Altai region one finds a Mongolian folk medicine called bagaschun which is considered to be a panacea and which is made from hemp, juniper, and bat guano. This mixture is also used in Russia and is highly esteemed as a tonic in folk medicine. C. ruderalis is also used in Russia and Mongolia to treat depression. Mongolian folk medicine uses C. ruderalis and C. sativa for different medicinal purposes. C. sativa is used to make oil, where C. ruderalis is prized for its psychoactive effects (Ratsch 1998, 144).
TRADITIONAL EFFECTS: C. ruderalis contains approximately the same cannabinoids as C. indica and C. sativa. The amount of THC is considerably lower; 40% or less of the cannabinoids identified in C. ruderalis can be identified as THC, whereas 70% of the alkaloids in C. sativa can be identified as THC (Beutler & Marderosian 1978).
Cannabis is euphoric, hypnotic, sedating, psychedelic, antidepressant, antispasmodic, antibiotic and an appetite stimulant. It is also known to relieve nausea and to reduce saliva production. Cancer patients find it very valuable in reducing the nausea, vomiting, and appetite loss that come along with chemotherapy. It may also be used to treat asthma.
Beutler, J.A., and A.H. Der Marderosian. “Chemotaxonomy of Cannabis I. Crossbreeding Between Cannabis Sativa and C. Ruderalis, with Analysis of Cannabinoid Content.” Economic Botany 32, no. 4 (1978): 387–394.
Ratsch, Christian., The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and its Applications. Rochester: Park Street Press, 1998.
Voogelbreinder, Snu, Garden of Eden: The Shamanic Use of Psychoactive Flora and Fauna, and the Study of Consciousness. Snu Voogelbreinder, 2009.