Indian hemp is an erect, annual, robust herb, 1 to 5 meters high, with angular stems bearing palmately or hand shaped divided leaves with greenish flowers. The hemp plant provides three products, namely, fiber from the stems, oil from the seeds and narcotic from the leaves and flowers. The leaves are used as a drug to reduce excitement, irritation and pain as well as to induce deep sleep.
The chief constituents of Indian hemp are cannabinol, pseudocannabinol and cannabinin. It also contains cannin, a resin. The biological activity of cannabis is due to alcoholic and phenolic compounds. The resin contains a crystalline compound, cannin.
Indian hemp has roughly equal numbers of male and female plants. Three types of narcotics are produced from the hemp plant, namely bhang or hashish which constitutes the dried leaves and flowering shoots of male and female plants - has low resin content. Ganja which is the dried unfertilized female inflorescences of special varieties grown in India and charas, which is the crude resin collected by rubbing the tops of the plant with the hands or beating them with a cloth. In all these drugs, the active principle is a resin from the glandular hair on its leaves, stems and inflorescences.
Botanical Name: Cannabis sativa
Indian Name: Bhang or Ganja
Below are some of the medicinal properties of Indian hemp:
- The hemp leaves help in insomnia. They can be administered to induce sleep where opium cannot be used. Charas which is the active principle of hemp, as well as ganja, are effective drugs in induce deep sleep.
- Bhang or hashish is considered beneficial in digestive disorders like dyspepsia and other bowel complaints. It also acts as an appetizer when taken in small doses.
- The leaves are useful in the treatment of diarrhea and dysentery. Two grams of dried leaves can be taken with sugar and black pepper.
- Charas is highly beneficial in periodical headaches, acute mania, migraine, insanity and delirium, nervous vomiting, nervous exhaustion, convulsions and neuralgia. It should be taken in 1.5 to 6 centigram doses.
- A paste of the fresh leaves serves as a useful in resolving tumors. The powder of the leaves serves a useful dressing for wounds and sores. Ganja is externally applied to relieve pain in itchy skin diseases.
- The seeds of the plant are not narcotic. Their infusion is beneficial in gonorrhea. Bhang or hashish can also be taken in this disorder.
- The juice of Indian hemp removes dandruff and head lice.
As a narcotic, hemp is consumed by itself or as a beverage. It is more often used for smoking for euphorbic purposes. Excessive smoking is harmful and may cause insanity. Hemp seed is used for the production of a drying oil and the fiber is used in making ropes.
Excessive consumption of hemp is physically and mentally harmful. If consumed for long time, it causes loss of appetite and gastric derangement. Hemp drugs act chiefly on the cerebrum wherein they resemble the action of alcohol or opium.