The Indian hemp is a plant that has been cultivated since ancient times for its fibre, oil, and narcotic effect. It has been a part of Indian medicine for centuries, and as such, has been included in the Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of Indiaas an indigenous, medicinal herb. Stone-age researchers found evidence that pointed to the use of this herb in their attempts at alchemy. Fossils dating back to 12,000 years ago have been found in England, showing that the herb was retted to make use of its fibre. It is believed to have spread to Europe from Asia. It later spread to the new world in the era after Christopher Columbus.
Quick Facts about Indian hemp or Cannabis sativa:
- Common name: Bhang, Ganja
- Sanskrit name: Bhanga, Madani
- English name: Indian hemp, Marijuana
- Scientific name: Cannibus sativa
- Rasa: Tikta
- Guna: Laghu, Tikshna
- Virya: Ushna
- Vipaka: Katu
- Karma: Dipana, Grahi, Kaphahara, Nidrajanana, Pachana, Vajikara, Vakvrdhana, Vyavayi
The Indian hemp is a tall robust herb that has characteristic hand-shaped divided leaves and greenish flowers. The herb grows up to a height of 5 metres, and yields flowers and seeds annually, but the plant is found wild almost throughout the year. It is quite common as a weed inIndia, especially in wastelands extending eastwards from Punjab all the way to Bengal, and in the south, but as a result of its narcotic nature, the plant has been controlled in cultivation only in Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Travancore (Trivandrum) and areas bordering Nepal.
Indian hemp consists of five major cannabinoids- cannabidiol, cannabichromene, cannabigerol, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, and cannabinol. The main narcotic element of the plant, (i.e. and resins like cannabinol, especially tetrahydrocannabinol) is found in the leaves and flowers of the plant, while cannabidiol, another compound from its leaves have an anti-psychotic effect. The other chief constituents of the plant include pseudocannabinol, cannabinin, and a crystalline resin compound — cannin.
Indian hemp has been found through research to prevent and cure following health disorders:
- Chemotherapy induced vomiting: Cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, when given the extracts of Indian hemp, were relieved of their nausea and vomiting as a result of the activity of cannabinoids present in the herb.
- Alzheimer’s: Cannabidiol, a major non-psychoactive component, was observed by research to have neuro-protective, anti-oxidative and anti-apoptotic properties as well as prolonging cell protection and survival of neurons.
- Digestive disorders: The leaves of the herb are useful in the treatment of diarrhea and dysentery when they are taken with sugar and black pepper. But in other cases of dyspepsia and other bowel complaints, it acts as an appetizer and soother.
- Insomnia: The leaves of Indian hemp help in the treatment of insomnia since they induce sleep.
- Nervous disorders: Migraine, convulsions, neuralgia, insanity and delirium, and nervous exhaustion are all effectively treated by ingesting small amounts of Indian hemp.
- Gonorrhea: The seeds of the drug are not narcotic, and can be effectively used to treat gonorrhea.
- The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia Of India, Part- 1, Volume- 1, Government Of India, Ministry Of Health And Family Welfare Department Of Ayush. pp 166 – 167.
- H.K. Bakru, (Bakhru, H. K. (2012). HERBS THAT Heal: Natural remedies for Good Health. (25 ed., pp. 110-112). New Delhi: Orient Paperbacks (A Division of Vision Books Pvt. Ltd.).
- Rudgley, R., Essential substances: a cultural history of intoxicants in society, 1994 pp. ix + 195 pp.
- R. H. W. Bradshaw1, P. Coxon, J. R. A. Greig, A. R. Hall, New Fossil Evidence for the Past Cultivation and Processing of Hemp (Cannabis Sativa L.) in Eastern England, New Phytologist, Volume 89, Issue 3, pages 503–510, November 1981, Article first published online: 2 MAY 2006, DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.1981.tb02331.