Medicinal cannabis use apparently isn't as recent a phenomenon as one might think. Tests performed on an iconic Siberian princess' 2,500-year-old mummy shows not only that she suffered from breast cancer but that she apparently used marijuana to deal with her illness.
Inquisitr has already reported on the 2,500-year-old Siberian mummy whose tattoos are the most complex ever found on a mummified human. That same preserved corpse, though, revealed even more details about the Siberian princess' life and death once scientists took a closer look at her.
For one, they were able to see that the Ukok princess once suffered injuries consistent with a fall from a horse. They also saw that she suffered from osteomyelitis, an infection of the bone or bone marrow, according to the Siberian Times. It's believed that the princess suffered from that disease at least from her childhood or adolescence.
Most striking, though, was that the woman appeared to have developed breast cancer in her early 20s. Over the course of perhaps five years the disease destroyed her, likely in a painful manner.
"During the imaging of mammary glands, we paid attention to their asymmetric structure and the varying asymmetry of the MR signal," said one one the researchers who analyzed the mummy. "I am quite sure of the diagnosis – she had cancer."
The researchers believe that the now mummified corpse was already emaciated by the time it was interred. Only cancer, they say, could have such an impact.
While the mummy is referred to as a Siberian princess, it is also possible that she was in fact a female shaman. As such, she would have had access to ancient healing techniques and analgesics to help her deal with her condition -- among them medicinal cannabis, which was found in her burial chamber.
"Probably for this sick woman, sniffing cannabis was a forced necessity," said one scientist.
Nowadays, medical marijuana is a topic of much contention in the United States, as some states have moved to decriminalize the plant for medicinal and recreational uses, while others have only cracked down even more.
The discovery of this Siberian princess' – or shaman's – own holdings of what appear to be medical marijuana, though, may lend more credence to those arguing that the age-old treatment should be dealt with as medicine, not as an illegal drug. Still, even the researchers that have examined her concluded that her use likely had a mind-altering effect.
The princess likely derived some of her "shamanic" air from the "altered state of mind" the substances gave her, according to the researchers.
While it is an amazing discovery, the princess' body will likely be placed back into its resting place. The people of the Altai Republic, where the body was discovered, have often complained that the Siberian princess' body and burial mount should not have been disturbed. They claim that the region has suffered floods and earthquakes in the 19 years since the princess was disinterred.