Vijaya (Bhanga) or Cannabis sativa L. is a reputed plant ascribed in traditional system of medicine since centuries. Ayurveda enumerates the therapeutic use of Vijaya in the management of Shool (pain), Grahani rog (Irritable bowel syndrome), Nidra-naash (Insomnia), Jwara (Fever), Agnimandya (loss of appetite), Prameha (Diabeties) etc. Due to certain illegalities and drug abuse, the same has never received any recognition in the past decades despite hundreds of benefits. Recent studies suggest that the appropriate and ethical use of cannabis can help in treating number of diseases i.e. IBS, Epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, insomnia, anxiety and degenerative diseases. It has been found that various phytochemicals mainly cannabinoids are responsible for the therapeutic activity of Bhanga. Thus the salient observations of Bhanga are gathered from classical Ayurvedic and contemporary researches to highlight the therapeutic potential of the novel drug, Cannabis sativa in management of few important ailments, i.e. IBS, epilepsy and cancer and associated symptoms of ailments i.e. pain, insomnia etc.
BHANGA IN AYURVEDA LIERATURE:
Bhanga is one of the plant origin drug which has found its place in Ayurveda classics from medieval period due to its exceptional properties and actions. Since then, the detailed aspects of Bhanga has been explored including purification methods, therapeutic uses and contra-indications. Around 40 synonyms of Vijaya has been mentioned owing to its morphological characteristics i.e, Samvidmanjari (the drug having potent inflorescence), pharmacological properties i.e. Bahuvadini (it causes verbosity), Madini, Mohini, Ganja, Matulani (excessive use may cause delirium), Ananda (having soothing effect) and many more. Bhanga, Charas and ganja are three forms of its usage being Bhanga (dried leaves of plant) the most common (Acharya R. et al., 2015). It has tikta rasa, ushna virya, laghu tikshna gunas and katu vipaka. It alleviates kapha and vata doshas, increases pitta having dipana, pachana, ruchya, grahi, madkari and vyavayi properties. Rasshastra texts describes Vijaya as Upavisha vargaas the excessive use of the herb manifests toxic effects on the CNS. Sharangdhar also mentions this drug under madkaari dravyas which affects the buddhi (CNS) due to virtue of its tikshna, ushna properties and prabhav. It also increases agni (digestive fire) and pitta because of tikta rasa and ushna virya. It has been described for the treatment of various diseases which includes Nidranasha(insomnia), Atisara (diarrhea), Grahani rog (IBS), Mandagni(loss of appetite) (B.P.Ci.1.325), Kushtah(skin disorders) (VM.51.56-57 also SB.4.832), Prameh(Diabeties mellitus), Unmada( anxiety neurosis), Ardavabhedak(hemicrania), Nadi daurbalya (neurological weakness), Shosh (emaciation) and Dhanusthambha (stiffness of back). Besides its wide range of therapeutic utility, highest number of formulations is advised in Grahani (30), followed by Jwara (17), Atisara (9), Agnimandya (7) and Prameh (6) (Acharya R. et al., 2015).
CONTEMPORARY VIEW ON BHANGA:
Cannabis sativa is a dioecious and occasionally monoecious plant which belongs to cannabinaceae family and is found in regions ranging from sea level to the temperate and alpine foothills of the Himalayas. In the last few years, use of cannabis or medical marijuana is gaining momentum due to its wide range of therapeutic potential. According to WHO, it is the most commonly cultivated, trafficked and abused drug globally. Cannabis has bad reputation as it is the common psychotic and recreational drug. However, it has been used in folklore practices since ages as medicine, fuel source, source of paper, building materials and textiles (Small and marcus,2002). Marijuana is prepared from the dried flowering tops and leaves; hashish consists of dried cannabis resin and compressed flowers (Ashton, 2001) which are consumed by humans. Wide range of complex phytochemicals namely cannabinoids, terpenes and phenolic compounds have been found in cannabis which are responsible of its multipurpose therapeutic applications as well as psychotropic effects. Carbohydrates, fatty acids and their esters, simple amides, amino acids, phytosterols, phenolic compounds are also identified. Antibacterial (G. appendino, 2008), antimicrobial (Esra M. M. ali et al. 2011), analgesic and anti-inflammatory activities (formukong EA et al 1988) have also been reported. It is also used in the management of pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting among cancer patients (Machado Rocha et al., 2008), post-traumatic stress disorder, epilepsy, cachexia, degenerative neurological conditions (CDPHE,2016; OHA-2016). and for relief of spasticity in multiple sclerosis patients (Sastre-Garriga et al., 2011) Pre-clinical and clinical studies conducted in recent era suggest its efficacy and medicinal importance, which is mainly due to the presence of cannabinoids. The Endocannabinoid system (eCBD) which consists of endogenously produced cannabinoids, receptors and metabolizing enzymes have been found in the various part of the human body including central nervous system, gastrointestinal system, connective tissues and immune cells. (M.B. Bridgeman,2017) plays an important role in the physiological and pathological processes. It acts as protective system against the pathology of certain diseases like IBS, migraine, anorexia, multiple sclerosis and schizophrenia. Lack or abnormalities in eCBD system ramificates these diseases. Hence, exogenous cannabinoids derived from cannabis sativa can act as potent medicine.
Delta 9 tetrahydracannabinol is the primary active cannabinoid present in cannabis sativa which is responsible for its pyschotic effects. It is a potent analgesic, antiemetic, anxioltic, appetite stimulant, hypnotic, antipyretic and anti-spastic agent (Jeffrey K Aronson 2014). The other important cannabinoid constituent of current interest is cannabidiol (CBD)The extract of Cannabis sativa contains more than 60 terpeno-phenolic compounds namely phytocannabinoids, cannabidiol and cannabinolic acid. Non-cannabinoid compounds are also found which are 30 times more efficacious than aspirin in pain. Proteins, amino acids, glycoproteins, sugars, ketones, aldehydes, fatty acids, steroids, flavonoids and vitamins are also identified. (Asati A. et al, 2017)
FUTURE PROSPETCS OF BHANGA FOR MEDICAL SCIENCE:
Pain is a crucial aspect of the body’s defence mechanism and it is a part of a rapid warning relay instruction the motor neurons of the central nervous system to minimize physical harm. (Emanuel LL et al, 1999; 1-37). In pathophysiology of neuropathic and inflammatory pain, receptors CB1 and CB2 along with prostaglandins, serotonin, bradykinin and epinephrine get involved in the mediation of inflammatory response. Cannabinoids present in cannabis are CB1 and CB2 agonist whereas Non cannabinoid compounds inhibit the release of prostaglandins and is 30 times more potent than aspirin. Preclinical and clinical studies have also been conducted which proves cannabis to be a promising analgesic. Thus, for quick and effective pain management, Bhanga may be used. The references for use of Bhanga in pain management can be retrieved from medieval Ayurvedic classics. Its rational use as a single or adjuvant drug candidate may be done in present scenario to relieve agony in a wide spectrum of diseases.
Irritable bowel syndrome or disease is characterized by abdominal pain, diarrhoea, constipation or a combination of both diarrhoea and constipation, mucus discharge along with stools and changes in the form (appearance) of stools. (Azpiroz F, Dapoigny M,2000). It is one of the most prevalent gastrointestinal problem affecting globally. Inflammation and hypersensitivity of the colon in response to stress, food, physical stimulant and idiopathic factors are of primary concern in the pathogenesis of IBS. Receptors CB1 and CB2 are found in all the layers of intestinal sections, including the mesenteric and sub mucosal plexus and the epithelium responsible for inflammatory response mediation. Cannabinoids by their agonist effects on CB1 and CB2 have proinflammatory effects and helps in the reduction of inflammation of intestinal mucosa which helps relieve the disease (Waseem Ahmed ,2016). In Ayurveda, Bhanga is the key plant for effective management of troublesome disease IBS.
Epilepsy affects about 50 million people throughout the world and is especially common in childhood and in elderly people. “Epilepsy” is the condition of recurrent, unprovoked seizures which has numerous causes, each reflecting underlying brain dysfunction (Shorvon et al. 2011). Root cause of epilepsy may either be at circuit level primarily abnormal synaptic transmission or at the receptor level. It has been found that cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 are present in the central nervous system and are termed as endogenous cannabinoids. Control in Synaptic transmission and regulation of the rate of neuronal firing are vital role of CB1 and CB2 receptor respectively. Activation of these receptors with cannabinoids results in the inhibition of synaptic transmission along with glutamate release (Zou S. et al,2018). Various studies suggest that the therapeutic use of cannabinoids targets the signalling pathway which results in epileptic seizures.
WHO defines cancer as the uncontrolled growth and spread of cells which can affect almost any part of the body. The growths often invade surrounding tissue and can metastasize to distant sites. The global cancer burden is estimated to have risen to 18.1 million new cases and 9.6 million deaths in 2018. Inflammatory conditions and carcinogenesis share same common pathways such as proliferation, increased survival of cells and migration where cytokines and growth factors play an important role. In the formation of tumour, inflammatory mediators regulate a number of proinflammatory responses through inhibition of protective immune response. (F. pellati et al ,2018). The presence of CB1 and CB2 receptors on immune cells suggests their important role in the regulation of the immune system. By targeting the ECS, cannabinoids affect many essential cellular processes and signalling pathways which are crucial for tumour development. Experimental studies using cancer cell lines and genetically engineered mouse models reveals that the activation of CB receptors by cannabinoids is antitumorigenic in most cases mainly breast, prostate and glioma cancer cell lines. it inhibits tumour cell proliferation, induces apoptosis in vitro, blocks angiogenesis and tumour invasion/metastasis in vivo (Darris et al, 2019). Derivatives from Bhanga, cannabinoids and cannabis-based pharmaceutical drugs have been the subject of intensive research for their potential antitumor activity.
Bhanga or Cannabis sativa L. has tremendous potential in the field of medicine which was described hundreds of years ago in Ayurvedic scriptures. The use of Vijaya is described in the management of Shool (pain), Grahani (IBS) and Apasmar (Epilepsy) in different Ayurvedic texts. The pharmacodynamics of the drugs may be explained on the basis of pharmacodynamics attributes i.e. Rasa, Guna, Veerya, Vipaka and Prabhava of the plant. The dosha dominance in Shool (pain) is Vata which get alleviated by Ushna virya of Bhanga. One of the important properties of the drug is Grahi, deepana and pachana due to its tikta rasa and ushna virya. Due to this activity, it is very beneficial in the management of Grahani and Sangrahani (vata-kaphaj). Ushna, tikshna and vyavayi gunas helps it to get absorbed efficiently in the body specially Srotas. As Apasmar is a disease of Manovaha-srotas, these Gunas help pacifies the doshas infiltrated in these srotas. The contemporary researches reveal that the various phytochemicals or cannabinoids mainly delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol and CBD (cannabinol) are the most promising compound present in Cannabis sativa which are responsible for its therapeutic potential. Cannabinoids derived from cannabis acts as CB1 and CB2 agonists and activate these endocannabinoid receptors where the pathology exists whether in the Gastrointestinal system, CNS or Immune system. Anti-inflammatory, Anti-oxidant, Anti-bacterial and anti-microbial activities have also been identified. Bhanga (Cannabis sativa) can be a promising drug in future however few issues regarding its legalization, availability, quality and safety should be in consideration. Moreover, further extensive research should be done in order to enlighten about the use and implication of cannabis in diseases described in Ayurveda along with its pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies.
Acharya R. et al. (2015) ‘Vijaya (Cannabis sativa Linn.) and its therapeutic importance in Ayurveda; a review’ J.D.R.A.S. Vol.1 No.1 pp 1-12.
Ahmed W. et al. (2016) ‘Therapeutic use of cannabis in Inflammatory Bowel Disease.’ Gastroenterology & hepatology volume 12, issue 11
Ashton, (2001) ‘Pharmacological and effects of cannabis: A brief review’ British Journal of Psychiatry 178,101-106
Appendino G., (2008) ‘Antibacterial cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa:A structure-activity study’ J. Nat. Prod. 71,1427-1430
Asati A. et al, (2017) ‘Pharmacological and phytochemical profile of Cannabis sativa L.’ Int. J. Ind. herbs drugs, Vol-2, Issue 2
Azpiroz F, Dapoigny M (2000) ‘Nongastrointestinal Disorders in the Irritable Bowel Syndrome’ S. Karger AG, Basel Vol.62, No.1
Bhavprakash Samhita 1.325
Darris et al, (2019) ‘Cannabinoids in cancer treatment: Therapeutic potential and legislation’ Bosnian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences
Esra M. M. ali et al. (2011) ‘Antimicrobial Activity of Cannabis sativa L.’ Chinese Medicine, 2012, 3, 61-64
Formukong EA et al (1988) ‘Analgesic and Anti-inflammatory activity of constituents of Cannabis sativa L.’ SpringerLink pages361–371(1988)
F. Pellati et al (2018) ‘Cannabis sativa L. and Non-psychoactive Cannabinoids: Their Chemistry and Role against Oxidative Stress, Inflammation, and Cancer’ Hindawi BioMed Research International Journal
Jeffrey K Aronson (2014) ‘Plant Poisons and Traditional medicines’ Elsevier manson’s tropical infectious diseases (23rd edition)
M.B. Bridgeman (2017) ‘Medicinal Cannabis: History, Pharmacology,And Implications for the Acute Care Setting’ P & T Vol. 42 No. 3
Sastre-Garriga et al. (2011) ‘THC and CBD oromucosal spray (Sativex®) in the management of spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis’ Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics Volume 11, 2011
Shorvon et al. (2011) ‘The etiologic classification of epilepsy’ Epilepsia journal
Small and marcus (2002) ‘Hemp: A new crop with new uses for North America’ p. 284–326. In: J. Janick and A. Whipkey (eds.)
Zou S. et al (2018) ‘Cannabinoid Receptors and the Endocannabinoid System: Signalling and Function in the Central Nervous System’ Int. J. Molecular Science
Hemp in India
Hemp, also known as industrial cannabis, has a long standing relationship with India and it’s culture. From it’s mention in the ancient religious texts, the Vedas as one of the five sacred plants to it being the front runner in the legalisation movement till date, hemp has been a part of India’s history. One of the two primary species of cannabis- cannabis indica, traces the origin of it’s name to India. Hemp as a raw material can contribute in the production of 25,000 products, ranging from products in industries such as gas and oil, to textiles and bodycare.
With Himalayas and the state of Uttarakhand being a treasure trove of hemp and all other states in India betting on the quality of their respective hemp production, India is home to some of the best quality of hemp in the world. However, hemp in India is still not officially legal due to the stigmatization attached to the crop. The controversies revolving around it linking it to the controversial amount of THC and marijuana, have hindered its business growth, more than one can imagine.
Hemp in Indian states
Uttarakhand being the first Indian state to have secured the rights for industrial hemp cultivation in 2018, it was a marked victory in this long drawn battle of hemp legalisation. The state government of Uttarakhand also granted license to Indian Industrial Hemp Assosciation(IIHA) to establish and operate their non-profit organisation. Apart from the products that can be made using hemp, cultivation of industrial hemp is extremely eco friendly. It requires very little to no use of pesticides. Since India lies in the tropical region, temperature and environmental conditions of India are also suitable for hemp cultivation.
While the direct benefits of hemp cultivation will be extended towards poor famers, who otherwise had to spend a huge amount of money for the timely cultivation of the crop, the GDP share of agriculture sector will also see a rise. Hemp, being a stronger and more absorbent fibre than cotton, sustainable agriculture of hemp will take India a long way, who in fact is looking to diversify from its conventional methods of farming.
Followed by Uttarakhand, are states like Madhya Pradesh and Manipur, where ministers have come out stating the need for legalisation of cultivation of hemp. While Madhya Pradesh’s law minister had already made an announcement about allowing the cultivation of hemp for medical and industrial purposes, there has been no progress made following it. Chief Minister of Manipur on the other hand has taken a firm decision regarding this issue and mentioned that it is very important for the state to utilise it’s natural resources efficiently and use the revenue generated for the development of the state.
Growth map of hemp market
With the first cannabis clinic of India, Vedi Herbals, opening in Bangalore in February, 2020, established by an Odisha based startup HempCann Solutions, it is a win for the cannabis legalisation movement. With Vedi Herbals having been granted a pan India license, it remains to be seen how this would pave way for expansion of hemp market in India.
Apart from the newbie HempCann solutions, there are other companies such as Bombay Hemp Company(BoHeCo), Indian Hemp and Co., B.E.Hemp, that have somehow managed to sustain the idea of medicinal and industrial hemp thriving in India.
HempStreet, established in 2019, is another newbie in the hemp market and is India’s first research to retail venture in the ayurvedic cannabis sector. Having received a funding of 1 million dollars from US based pharmatech, Pharmacon Holdings and Romain Barberis, HempStreet primarily focuses on medicinal hemp and aims to source hemp based painkillers in the hemp market. These facts paint a picture of that of how hemp in India, as a market would experience a notable shift in the coming years.
Despite of being illegal, a study conducted by All India Institute of Medical Sciences(AIIMS) in 2019 reported that there are 7.2 million consumers of industrial hemp within that year. This implies that hemp in India, already has an established consumer base. The need of the hour, is to lend wings to this miraculously healing and industrial crop, such that it’s benefits reach the less privileged and provide relief to those who need it.
Does CBD help or hinder sleep
Who doesn’t like a good night sleep? It is quite difficult for one to function without sleep in today’s stressful, fast- paced world. However, these are the very factors that often lead to people not getting enough sleep. For conditions like sleep apnea, insomnia, narcolepsy, etc. people are often prescribed over the counter medicines for instant relief. These medications; however, may have serious side effects on the patients. Due to this, many consumers try to explore medical cannabis as a potential sleep aid. Through this article, we would discuss whether Cannabis helps or hinders sleep.
CBD has become popular in the medical field, wherein, individuals are consuming it to treat a number of ailments, including insomnia. Due to this sudden increase in its popularity, a number of ongoing clinical and preclinical studies are trying to find whether CBD can help with various disorders. However, there are limited studies are centered on CBD and sleep.
A recent Consumer Reports survey that was conducted on CBD reported that 10% of its respondents were consuming CBD as a sleep aid. Most of them assured that it worked, however, the evidence is anecdotal. It is important for controlled studies to be conducted in order to gain some conclusive evidence about whether CBD really induces sleep.
High CBD strains often contain a terpene called myrcene. This terpene is said to have sedating effects. Therefore, myrcene has been used as a sleep aid since centuries. However, myrcene is found in several other plants apart from cannabis, such as hops. Therefore, researchers are unsure whether it is the myrcene in the CBD rich strains that helps people sleep or whether it is CBD itself. However, it can be noted that CBD is not generally consumed in a vaporized form, and therefore, does not contain much myrcene.
Another research conducted in 2017 extensive literature review titled: Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: a Review of the Literature, studies the effects of CBD in conjunction with THC on sleep. It concluded that both can be used as sleep aids.
Consuming multiple cannabinoids at the same time might have mixed effects. THC has certain sedative-like effects on individuals. It has multiple properties that help individuals sleep, for instance, it helps people feel comfortable while being able to remain still. This is called catalepsy. CBD, on the other hand, does not alter the consciousness of individuals like THC. As a result, it is difficult to ascertain whether CBD alone can act as a sleep aid.
A Preliminary study showed that CBD doses ranging from 75 to 300 mg helped patients sleep. In one particular case, high dose CBD also helped a PTSD patient. Since CBD does not have any psychedelic properties, it is safe to consume higher doses of it for optimum effects. A study held in 2018 administered doses of 1500, 3000, and 6000 mg to healthy subjects for six days. It concluded that CBD was safe to be consumed at higher dosages.
Through the aforementioned argument, it can be assessed whether CBD helps or hinders sleep. It should be noted that CBD’s effect on sleep requires a great deal of further research. Despite the fact that CBD seems to help patients sleep, its effects are subjective and differ from person to person. It is a great alternative for those who wish to use a product with no side-effects. Additionally, CBD is worth exploring for those who want to avail the benefit of marijuana without the psychedelic effects of THC. If you have trouble sleeping, you can consult your medical practitioner before using CBD for your condition. We strongly advise against self-medication.
Hemp seed: An Ayurvedic medication
With most of the chaos around hemp being caluminous, have you ever tried to look beyond it? Well, if you haven’t, it’s your time now. Hemp, as a whole plant, is a gift of nature, that has been evaded for way too long now. First discovered in the foothills of Himalayas in India, hemp, also finds its mention in the vedas as one of the five sacred plants ‘bhang’. Since then, the only issue that has thwarted the reach of hemp in each household in the country, is the stigma that has latched onto it.
Weeding out this stigma would not be very hard, once its potential users are made aware of its benefits- be it on the health front or on the industrial front. Each part of hemp plant– seeds, stalk, fibre, flower- have incontestable benefits, which when unveiled would place it as a frontrunner for raw material, in almost every sector.
This article however, would primarily talk about hemp seeds, which lie at the heart of the plant. Hemp seeds in India have been a part of Ayurvedic medication for the good.
Let us explore how their role are interwoven and shed light upon Hemp seed: An Ayurvedic medication.
Hemp seeds and nutrition
Hemp seeds, having been a part of India’s history, is a legacy of its own, handed down over to the humankind by the Himalayas. Since then, from being used in the ropes to tie cattle to being used to cure ailments, hemp seeds have done it all.
Hemp is essentially a part of one of the eight clinical domains of Ayurveda, i.e, the Rasayana Tantra( the knowledge of rejuvenation). A great source of protein, the nutritional properties of hemp seeds have made this possible and thus, it is highly valued by the human society. The nutritional properties are as follows:
- Improve immunity
- Smoothens muscle functions
- Boosts hormonal balance
- Aids cardiovascular health
- Helps in weight loss
In addition to the above properties, hemp oil obtained from hemp seeds, also called hemp seeds oil, is rich in Vitamin E, Vitamin D, Vitamine B1 and Vitamine B2, essential fatty acids as well as minerals. Apart from being very effective as a medicinal aid, hemp seeds oil also works wonders for skin and hair.
In the circle of Ayurvedic medication, hemp seeds and hemp seeds oil are particularly beneficial for Vata(meaning, space and air) dosha and also helps in balancing the Pita(meaning, fire and water) dosha. These doshas, according to Ayurvedic teaching, are the different types of energies that lay the foundation of life. Hemp seeds, as Ayurveda believes, despite having no THC content, has tamasic(sedative) qualities, which make you feel rejuvenated, by releasing serotonin and inducing deep sleep. Hemp seeds are also nutritionally more efficient than flax and chia seeds. Hemp seeds, an ayurvedic medication, has more to it than nutritional properties.
Hemp seeds in industry
Industrial hemp, has contributed in an conducive way to diverse sectors such as- fabric or clothing, construction, bodycare products, biofuel, paper, amongst many others. Since agriculture of hemp plants requires
- Negligible amount of pesticides
- Is capable of returning the essential nutrients to the soil
- Can be harvested within 3 months
- Consumes minimal amount of water,
It is extremely environment friendly. As the top producer of biomass in the world and competent of producing the strongest fibre, hemp seeds is extremely popular in the industrial world.
Ways of intake of hemp seeds
Few common ways being:
- Blend to make hemp seed milk
- Eat raw as snack
- Powder it to consume as condiment
- Sprinkle on top of dishes
- Make a smoothie by adding few more ingredients
You can also innovate different ways of inculcating it into your diet and adding flavor. You can also choose from different type of hemp seeds available depending on the flavor, although the natural flavour is mostly nutty in taste.
Hemp seeds: an Ayurvedic medication, could also cause mild diarrhoea or inhibit platelet formation. Like everything in this world, these are amongst the very few side effects of hemp seeds. Hence, it is advisable to consult your doctor before beginning to consume it on a regular basis or including it in your medication. Although when it comes products constituting hemp seeds oil for hair and skin available in the market, those are scientifically proven. Thus, do not give a second thought before purchasing those products because what’s better than nature’s gifts for well being of humankind.
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