What is the one thing that has the capacity to turn heads of doctors, scientists, law makers and researchers together? It’s medical cannabis. However, the word ‘cannabis’ in our country has always been associated with negative connotations. Our parents and teachers have been warning us about the ills of ‘cannabis’ since we were able to comprehend the word. Then why have the cannabis legalization policies been evolving for the past five decades in various countries? Is the trend for decriminalization around the world related to the economic benefits, or does cannabis actually have medicinal benefits?
Before we look for answers to our questions, it is important to understand that cannabis actually is and bust some myths around it.
What is Cannabis
The word cannabis is derived from the group of plants, cannabis sativa, cannabis indica and cannabis ruderalis. This plant grows wildly in many tropical and temperate regions of the world and can be artificially grown in almost any climate. Increasingly, the cannabis plant is being cultivated by means of indoor hydroponic technology which involves cultivation without the use of soil.
Components of Cannabis
The cannabis plant contains more than 100 components which are called cannabinoids. Scientists are still researching each of these cannabinoids, but two have been successfully identified and understood. The main psychoactive compound in cannabis is delta-9 tetrahydro-cannabinol or THC. This compound is the reason for frowns on faces when the term cannabis is heard. The other compound, which is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid is Cannabidiol or CBD. After THC, it is the second most prevalent active ingredient in the cannabis plant. Research has shown that CBD can be used to help in reducing inflammation, seizures, anxiety and pain. Thus, cannabis does not only contain psychoactive compounds, which is the common myth. For years, humans have been selectively breeding cannabis plants, and today it is possible to control the levels of THC or CBD in plants.
The previous section cleared some very common myths about cannabis and introduced the CBD, which has the capacity to do wonders in the medical industry. Although the research on CBD’s effect is still going on, strongest evidence has been provided in treating epilepsy syndromes among children. Syndromes such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome do not respond to typical, anti-seizure medications. However, CBD is known to reduce and even stop seizures among many children. The FDA agency in the United States has recently approved a Cannabis medicine called Epidiolex (contains CBD) for treating epilepsy seizures. Videos of the effects of CBD on children suffering from epilepsy are widely available on streaming platforms.
Other effects of medical cannabis include relief of chronic pain. A study done on rats concluded that CBD Injection was able to reduce pain that was caused by surgical incision. A spray by the name of Sativex (contains a combination of THC and CBD) is legal in many countries and is known to relieve pain from sclerosis. There is also evidence where medical cannabis has been used to reduce pain among people with Parkinson’s disease and pain linked with arthritis.
Medical Cannabis can also help reduce anxiety and depression both of which have become prevalent in today’s world. These diseases are usually treated with medicines containing benzodiazepines, which if used regularly may lead to addiction. Medical cannabis in form of oral CBD has been found to reduce anxiety in a number of experiments conducted among children.
Several studies are still going on related health benefits of CBD. One such study is the antipsychotic effects of CBD. Research has shown that CBD might be able to help people with schizophrenia and other mental diseases. Studies related to effects of CBD on Diabetes also look promising.
Today more and more countries are taking steps towards legalizing cannabis. Developed countries like Spain, Canada, US, Czech Republic, Uruguay, Netherlands and Iraq have emerged as pioneers in cannabis research and are using science to defeat the stigma against cannabis. These countries have shown that by using restrictive policies, it is possible to delve into the untapped potential of medical cannabis while curbing the ill effects of the plant at the same time. It is high time that India starts devoting some of its resources into this sector. For a country that has reached Mars, we cannot afford to miss the cannabis bus.
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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