Jesus and his apostles may have used cannabis oil to perform healing ‘miracles’, according to a controversial historian.
Author David Bienenstock claims cannabis was widely available across the Middle East 2,000 years ago and people of the time used it to treat the sick and infirm.
Holy anointing oils used in the early days of the Christian church contained kaneh-bosem, an ingredient Bienenstock suggests was a cannabis extract.
This extract, which was absorbed into the skin, could have helped cure people with physical and mental illnesses long before the first mass-produced medicines.
Many historians dispute the contentious claims, arguing that evidence kaneh-bosem was a cannabis extract is so weak it is not worth pursuing.
Bienenstock, author of a number of books encouraging the use of marijuana, says healing practices based around cannabis oil were common 2,000 years ago.
Speaking to the Daily Star, he said: ‘Historical records show that cannabis was widely available at the time – they would’ve known how to grow it and exploit its medicinal properties.
‘There is nothing different in the efficacious cannabis oil used today that wouldn’t have been available to people in Jesus’ time – it’s simply a matter of concentrating the cannabis into the oil and absorbing it through the skin.’
Anointing oils were regularly used by the Christian church of the time to treat the sick and elderly by rubbing them directly onto the skin.
A number of people believe an ingredient used in some of these oils may have had psychoactive properties and could have featured a cannabis extract.
The Hebrew version of the holy oil recipe in Exodus contained almost 3 kilos (6lb) of an as-yet unidentified herb referred to as keneh-bosum.
Most historians think the herb refers to calamus – a root extrac also known as ‘Sweet Flag’ that has been used for its medicinal properties for thousands of years.
Some argue that keneh-bosum, which was extracted into about six quarts of olive oil along with a variety of other fragrant herbs, was cannabis or a cannabis extract.
Cannabis researcher Chris Bennett wrote in an article in the US drugs magazine High Times: ‘The ancient anointed ones were literally drenched in this potent mixture.
‘The medical use of cannabis during that time is supported by archaeological records.’
Bienenstock added that anyone healed by cannabis-lined oils would have see the practice as a ‘miracle’.
‘Someone of the religious mindset from that time, not understanding the scientific underpinning of how or why it works, would be likely to view that as a miracle.’
Bienenstock even claimed Jesus himself would have taken cannabis.
‘Jesus himself was anointed, and if that anointing involved using cannabis oil, then he certainly did use it,’ he claimed.
‘When you examine the account of Jesus’ anointing it is described in terms of psychoactivity – it is described in terms of when Jesus has this profound experience that transforms him.
‘This is a big indication of the centrality of anointing was to Jesus and his flock – that he would take the name “Christ the anointed”.’
Historians and other experts strongly dispute the claims Jesus and his apostles used marijuana.
Lytton John Musselman, a Professor of Botany at Old Dominion University, said evidence claiming marijuana was part of the holy anointing oil is ‘so weak I would not pursue it.’
He told Vice that keneh-bosum more likely refers to calamus than any psychoactive substances.
‘Calamus is a very important component of Ayurvedic medicine and has been shown to have efficacy,’ he said.