What Drugs Were Used in Ancient Times?

Throughout history, humans have been utilizing various substances for medicinal and recreational purposes. Ancient civilizations were no exception.

While some of these drugs have been deemed illegal or harmful in modern times, they were often revered and celebrated in ancient cultures. Here’s a look at some of the drugs that were used in ancient times.


Opium has been used for thousands of years, dating back to ancient Mesopotamia. It was used to relieve pain, induce sleep, and treat diarrhea.

The Greeks and Romans also used opium for medicinal purposes. It wasn’t until the 19th century that the negative effects of opium addiction became widely recognized.


Marijuana is another drug that has been used for centuries. Ancient Chinese texts from around 2700 BCE mention marijuana as a medication to treat various ailments such as rheumatism and malaria. In India, marijuana was used recreationally by some members of society, particularly during religious ceremonies.

Coca Leaves

Coca leaves were commonly chewed by the indigenous people of South America for their stimulating effects. They were believed to increase energy, reduce hunger, and alleviate altitude sickness. The active ingredient in coca leaves is cocaine, which was isolated and synthesized in the late 19th century.


Psychedelic mushrooms have been used for thousands of years by indigenous tribes in Central and South America. They were often consumed during religious ceremonies to induce spiritual experiences.


Henbane is a poisonous plant that was once used as an anesthetic during surgery in ancient Greece and Rome. It was also believed to have hallucinogenic properties and was sometimes used recreationally.


While many of these drugs are illegal or considered dangerous today, they played important roles in ancient cultures for medicinal and spiritual purposes. It’s fascinating to look back at the ways in which humans have utilized substances throughout history.