Hemp, Indian

Medical Herbs Catalogue


Hemp, Indian

Botanical Name: Cannabis sativa (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Urticaceae

Synonyms: Cannabis Indica. Cannabis Chinense. Ganeb. Ganja. Kif. Hanf. Tekrouri. Chanvre.
Part Used: The dried, flowering tops of the female, or pistillate plants.
Habitat: India.

(Cannabis indica Lam.)
Click on graphic for larger image Habitat. In Britain, and formerly elsewhere, only Hemp grown in India was recognized as official, but the heavy tax has resulted in the admission by the United States of any active Cannabis sativa, whether grown in the States or in Africa, Turkey, Turkestan, Asia Minor, Italy, or Spain.

Description: The plant is an annual, the erect stems growing from 3 to 10 feet or more high, very slightly branched, having greyish-green hairs. The leaves are palmate, with five to seven leaflets (three on the upper leaves), numerous, on long thin petioles with acute stipules at the base, linear-lanceolate, tapering at both ends, the margins sharply serrate, smooth and dark green on the upper surface, lighter and downy on the under one. The small flowers are unisexual, the male having five almost separate, downy, pale yellowish segments, and the female a single, hairy, glandular, five-veined leaf enclosing the ovary in a sheath. The ovary is smooth, one-celled, with one hanging ovule and two long, hairy thread-like stigmas extending beyond the flower for more than its own length. The fruit is small, smooth, light brownish-grey in colour, and completely filled by the seed.

Hemp grows naturally in Persia, Northern India and Southern Siberia, and probably in China. It is largely cultivated in Central and Southern Russia. It is sometimes found as a weed in England, probably due to seeds from birdcages, as they are much used in feeding tame birds. The drug that is official in Europe comes from Bogra and Rajshabi, north of Calcutta, or sometimes from Guzerat and Madras. It is called Guaza by London merchants.

It is imported in parcels of small masses, with flowers, smaller leaves and a few ripe fruits pressed together by sticky, resinous matter. It is rough, brittle, dull-green in colour and almost tasteless, with a peculiar, slightly narcotic odour. It should be freed from resin by macerating in spirit and then soaking in water. The leaves are said to be picked off to form bhang, and the little shoots which follow these are used as above, and called ganja. It is exported from Bombay in wooden cases. Two-year-old ganja is almost inert, and the law requires it to be burnt in the presence of excise officers. In the Calcutta areas the short tops are rolled under foot instead of being trodden, the weight of the workers being supported by a horizontal bamboo pole. This variety is very active, and is usually re-exported from England to the West Indies.

Hemp is prepared in various forms. Ganja is smoked like tobacco. Bhang, sidhee, or subjee is the dried, larger leaves, broken or mixed with a few fruits. It is pounded with water to make a drink, and is the chief ingredient of the sweetmeat majun. Churrus or charas is the resin which exudes spontaneously from the leaves, tops and stems. A usual way of collecting it is for men in leathern garments to rush through the bushes, the resin being afterwards scraped off the clothes. In Nepal the plant is squeezed between the palms of the hands, and in Baluchistan the resin is separated by rubbing the dried plant carefully between carpets. This is the hashish, haschisch, or hashash of the Arabians, the word 'assassin' being said to be derived from it, owing to the wild, fanatical courage given by its use. In Persia the woollen carpets, after scraping, are washed with water, and the evaporated extract is sold cheaply. Another way is to collect the dust after stirring dry bhang, this impure form of resin being only used for smoking.

Flat cakes called hashish by the Russians are a preparation made from Hemp in Central Asia, and also called nasha.

In Thibet momea or mimea is said to be made with Hemp and human fat.

Many electuaries and pastes are made with butter or other oily foundation, such as majun of Calcutta, mapouchari of Cairo, and the dawames of the Arabs.

The madjound of the Algerians is a mixture of honey and hashish powder.

Hemp Fibre is best produced by the plants in cooler latitudes, the best being obtained from Italy, but much from Russia. About one and a half million hundredweight are imported annually for cordage, sacking, and sail-cloths.

A varnish is made from the pressed seeds.

Two or three green twigs collected in spring and placed in beds will drive bedbugs from the room.

Constituents: Cannabinone or Hemp resin is soluble in alcohol and ether. Cannabinol is separated from it. It is fawn-coloured, in thin layers, and burns with a clear, white flame, leaving no ash. This is the active principle. There is a small amount of ambercoloured volatile oil, one of the linseed-oil group. It has been resolved into a colourless liquid called cannabene, and a solid hydride of this.

It is said that a volatile alkaloid has been found in the tops, resembling nicotine. It also contains alcoholic extract, ash, and the alkaloid Choline.

Medicinal Action and Uses: The principal use of Hemp in medicine is for easing pain and inducing sleep, and for a soothing influence in nervous disorders. It does not cause constipation nor affect the appetite like opium. It is useful in neuralgia, gout, rheumatism, delirium tremens, insanity, infantile convulsions, insomnia, etc.

The tincture helps parturition, and is used in senile catarrh, gonorrhoea, menorrhagia, chronic cystitis and all painful urinary affections. An infusion of the seed is useful in after pains and prolapsus uteri. The resin may be combined with ointments, oils or chloroform in inflammatory and neuralgic complaints.

The drug deteriorates rapidly and hence is very variable, so that it is best given in ascending quantities to produce its effect. The deterioration is due to the oxidation of cannabinol and it should be kept in hermetically-sealed containers.

The action is almost entirely on the higher nerve centres. It can produce an exhilarating intoxication, with hallucinations, and is widely used in Eastern countries as an intoxicant, hence its names 'leaf of delusion,' 'increaser of pleasure,' 'cementer of friendship,' etc. The nature of its effect depends much on the nationality and temperament of the individual. It is regarded as dangerous to sleep in a field of hemp owing to the aroma of the plants.

Dosage: Tincture, B.P. and U.S.P., 5 to 15 drops. Solid extract, B.P., 1/4 to 1 grain. Fluid extract, 1 to 3 drops. Of cannabis, 1 to 3 grains. Of best hashish, for smoking, 1/4 to 1 grain. Of tincture, 10 to 30 minims. Of tincture for menorrhagia, 5 to 10 minims. three to four times a day (i.e. 24 grains of resinous extract in a fluid ounce of rectified spirit).

Of extract, from 1 to 20 grains, according to quality.

The following is stated to be a certain cure for gonorrhcea. Take equal parts of tops of male and female hemp in blossom. Bruise in a mortar, express the juice, and add an equal portion of alcohol. Take 1 to 3 drops every two to three hours.

Devil Drug, Weed of Madness, Cannabis, Assassin of Youth, Mexican Ditch Weed, Hashish, Hay, Chronic, Blunts, Pot, Brick Weed, Ganja, joint, Acapulco Gold, dime Bag, Rope, Grass, Weed, "L", Jive Stick, Nickel Bag, MaryJane, Loco, Boom, Bhang, Ganja, Indo, Hydro, Stick

Also see:
Hemp, Enc. Britannica, 1856 .
US Goverment's "Street Terms" for Marijuana, 2003
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