Cannabis from the perspective of Indian Traditional Medicine, Ayurveda
”The Latin name ‘Cannabis indica’, later ‘Cannabis sativa’ already suggests that cannabis grows, and is traditionally used in India.”
Biljana Dušić, M.D.
Counsellor of Ayurvedic medicine, ADITI Ayurvedic counseling studio
Cannabis grows wild in the Himalayas, in India from Kashmir in the east to beyond Assam in the west, but also in Iran and all throughout Central and West Asia. (The Latin name ‘Cannabis indica’, later ‘Cannabis sativa’ already suggests that cannabis grows, and is traditionally used in India.) Cannabis is nowadays cultivated mostly in the tropical and subtropical parts of India.
In traditional Indian medical texts, cannabis has first been mentioned a couple of thousand years ago in the Atharva veda, whereas ayurvedic traditional texts do not mention this plant until the Middle Ages. The ayurvedic names of cannabis are “vijaya” – ‘the one who conquers’ and “siddhi” – ‘subtle power’, ‘achievement’. Ayurveda differentiates between three therapeutic parts of the plant. They have somewhat different actions on the body, and are given separate names. Bhang is a name for the leaves of male and female plants, and in certain regions of India the name is also used for flowers of the male plant. The name ganja is given to the flowering tops of the female plant, and charas is the name for the plant resin, which naturally exudes from leaves, stems and fruits of plants that grow in the mountains between 2000 and 3000 m of altitude. Nevertheless, some confusion exists regarding the names in India – in South and West India the difference in meaning between the names bhang and ganja has almost disappeared: the name ganja is used to denote the cannabis plant in general, including the leaves; and the name bhang is in some regions given to a drink made from ganja.
In Indian pharmacopeia, all parts of the plant are denoted as somewhat narcotic (the most powerful narcotic is in the plant’s resin, charas). But different parts of the plant can also stimulate digestion, act as analgesics, nervous system stimulants, can have sedative, spasmolytic, diuretic, and aphrodisiac actions. The plant is, according to ayurvedic basic energy (virya) differentiation, warming, and its long-term use dries up the body. With moderate use, it works first as a nervous system stimulant and powerful aphrodisiac, later its action is sedating. Habitual, prolonged use of Cannabis leads towards disbalance of all three basic physiological forces in the body (as Ayurveda recognizes them) – vata, pitta, and kapha – and as the result of this disbalance chronically poor digestion, melancholy, sexual impotence, and body wasting.
In Ayurveda, bhang is used to treat high blood pressure (this therapy is usually of limited duration, until high blood pressure is corrected with other ayurvedic measures), the juice is used for lowering intraocular pressure (glaucoma), and for short-term stimulation of the nervous system. Some martial artists in northern India, mainly wrestlers, take bhang with a paste made of almonds, pistachios, black pepper, saffron, rose petals etc., mixed with fresh cow’s milk – to ensure long term concentration during exhausting all-day practice, and to help the body (as their art demands the body to be as heavy as possible) to ingest enormous quantities of food, without losing its digestive power. Fresh leaf juice (bhang) is also used to treat dandruff, as a preventive measure against parasites in hair; also in cases of earache, and against bacterial inflammations and infestations of the ear. The juice is also diuretic, and therefore is used in treating inflammations of the bladder and kidney stones. Dried leaf powder is applied on fresh wounds to promote healing (new granulation tissue development). A poultice of crushed fresh leaves is used on the skin in cases of different skin infections, rashes, neuralgias – for example erysipelas, Herpes zoster, Chickenpox, eczema, etc. – to diminish pain and itching. Combined with other herbs, bhang can be used against diarrhoea – for this purpose, it is most usually combined with nutmeg (ganja may also be used for the same purpose – mainly with nutmeg and honey). With digestive herbs (like cumin, fennel, anise, . ) bhang can be excellent for stimulating appetite and digestion; with aphrodisiac herbs and foods (almonds, walnuts, sesame seeds, saffron. ) it becomes an excellent aphrodisiac. When the leaves (bhang) on the other hand are mixed with tobacco, the plant diminishes appetite, and acts as an anti-aphrodisiac. In these cases, the actions of the cannabis plant are modified by other herbs in the mixture.
The most powerful narcotic, as mentioned above, is in the plant’s resin, charas, and it is used in Ayurveda in aroused psychiatric states, in manic states, sometimes also (short term use) for chronic insomnia, but also for chronic pain in terminal phases of tuberculosis and malignant tumours. It is also administered in cases of chronic debilitating dry cough, like in pertussis, and in patients with lung cancer – ayurvedic doctors prefer cannabis over opium in these cases, as cannabis (compared to opium) does not produce nausea, loss of appetite, constipation or headache.
1. Indian Materia Medica
2. Robert Svoboda: “Ayurveda, Life, Health, and Longevity”
I.CANNA.BLOG Cannabis from the perspective of Indian Traditional Medicine, Ayurveda ”The Latin name ‘Cannabis indica’, later ‘Cannabis sativa’ already suggests that cannabis grows, and is
VATA DOSHA AND CBD
Vijaya, Sanskrit for Cannabis also known as Bhanga in Hindi, used by Ayurvedic physicians for hundreds probably thousands of years and definitely holds a place in the Ayurvedic pharmacology…but with all the attention cannabinoids have been receiving lately, (about time) I was curious… why it’s not more common in the modern Ayurvedic vernacular…?
Since ANXIETY is considered a VATA IMBALANCE in Ayurvedic medicine (as is insomnia, the racing mind, looping thoughts, changeable or unsteady thinking, fear or nervousness and ALL imbalances of the nervous system) and since we are living in the ERA of the aggravated Vata dosha…more than ever before in human history are we collectively suffering from the psychological imbalances of Vata dosha, (think multi-level multi-tasking, chronic overstimulation, digital dementia and social scrolling addictions). We’re all pretty much now on the CBD chill train, and thank god for that. Youtubeable Ethan Russo, a neurologist and psychopharmacology researcher and expert on cannabis has said there are more cannabinoid receptors in the brain than there are for all of the neurotransmitters put together. Hello! That’s got to count for something.
Cannabis Sativa is indigenous to India, so what is the Ayurvedic perspective on Cannabis as medicine? Turns out. It’s pretty complicated, or at least what I’ve found so far…
According to Ayurveda, marijuana is mainly clumped into the same area as all mind-altering substances including alcohol and is said to have a dulling effect on the mind (in a bad way). Nervine herbs such as Brahmi and Amla were actually used to remedy the toxins accumulated from Vijaya as well as repair the damaged nervous system. But obviously, there were no isolates 3000 years ago and certainly not the awareness that we had Cannabinoid receptors located throughout the body, not to mention an endocannabinoid system, which is a fairly new discovery. Ayurveda also says though, that everything that exists can be medicine, which I love.
I’m fascinated by the marriage of new science with indigenous medicine. Hemp is such a revered plant and the CBD component of cannabis is indisputably helping so many people with literally dozens of health issues. One of the main areas of study with cannabis is in treating nervous system issues as well as psychological issues that can also be seen as Vata Imbalances. I say Vijaya as a modern Ayurvedic remedy for these common issues will continue to grow and that Vijaya for Vata disturbances of the mind will not be going anywhere for now.
Meanwhile, on www.holifestival.org I found a recipe for a ‘flavoured bhang drink’ which I have adapted slightly to make a more healthy version. Obviously, the amount of marijuana used must be appropriate for you and it is best to start very light. You can make this drink using CBD instead (much easier) which is non-psychoactive but still extremely pleasant.
1 cups of water
Generous pinch of marijuana (fresh leaves and flowers of a female plant preferred)
1 cup almond milk
2 tablespoons soaked almonds
½ teaspoon garam masala (a mixture of cloves, cinnamon, and cardamon)
1 teaspoon ghee or coconut oil
1 teaspoon rosewater
1 tablespoon of honey
Bring the water to a rapid boil, then turn the heat down to a low simmer, add the marijuana and low simmer for 1-2 minutes then remove from heat, cover and let steep for at least 10 minutes undisturbed.
Now strain the water and marijuana through a piece of muslin cloth, collect the water and save the brewed marijuana pulp.
Place the brewed marijuana pulp into a mortar, add the almonds and the garam masala and with a pestle grind all together, adding some liquid if necessary to get a juicy aromatic paste. This is a nice time to set your intention for the plant medicine while grinding consciously.
Once a nice paste is formed, add a little more liquid and strain the paste through a piece of muslin cloth or sieve, squeezing everything out and adding the liquid to the marijuana brew.
Now melt the ghee or coconut oil in a small saucepan, add any additional
garam masala if desired, add the almond milk and rose essence.
Add the marijuana brew, you might want to use a milk frother to incorperate the ghee or coconut oil.
Once warmed, stir in the honey and drink.
AYURVEDA ON VIJAYA Vijaya, Sanskrit for Cannabis also known as Bhanga in Hindi, used by Ayurvedic physicians for hundreds probably thousands of years and