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How Ancient Medicine Is Merging With Legalization

This article originally appeared on and has been republished with permission.

Ayurveda is a old medical system originally from India, dating back over 3,000 years ago. At the very heart of Ayurveda, recommended treatments and lifestyle aim to promote good health while preventing disease. Some of the recommended practices in Ayurveda include using herbal remedies, massage, yoga, meditation and following the specified diet.

Moreover, Ayurveda sees the five elements of nature – water, fire, air, space and earth – combine in the human body as doshas or components. These doshas are the pitta, vatta or kapha, all of which relate to the elements of nature. Ayurveda states that for optimal mental and physical health, all doshas must be well balanced.

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In India, Ayurveda is the most widely accepted type of medical care, just like we accept western medicine here. Professional Ayurvedic practitioners must undergo institutionalized training in order to practice.

Many Westerners turn to Ayurveda to fight disease and even as a substitute for Western medicine as a whole. Much like naturopathy, homeopathy and other more Eastern types of medical systems, Ayurveda has many benefits for those who want to get away from conventional pharmaceuticals and the Western medical system – which has failed many.

The uses of cannabis in antiquity Indian medical texts has been traced back thousands of years ago as written in the Atharva veda, the traditional sacred literature which is part of the Vedas, stating that it is one of the five sacred plants of the earth with the soma, sugar, darhbha grass and barley. There are also some Ayurvedic names that refer to cannabis which are Vijaya for one, meaning one who conquers; the other is siddhi, which means accomplishment and subtle power.

It was not until the Middle Ages that cannabis was mentioned in Ayurvedic texts where it was called Bhang (leaves of female and male marijuana plants, and name of hemp), charas (vegetable resin) and ganja (flowering tops of the female plant), among others.

Ganja is more widely used to refer to the parts of marijuana plants and in some parts of India they use Bhang to refer to a cannabis drink.

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How Ayurveda Recommends Cannabis Consumption

Since all of Ayurveda’s philosophies and treatments aim to balance the body while promoting well-being, it’s no surprise that they don’t encourage the long-term use of cannabis. They believe it will dry out the body; ironically, they also believe that long-term use will cause anxiety, depression, reduced testosterone, and infertility in men.

However, they encourage moderate use which they claim will warm the body, stimulate the nervous system, calm and act as an aphrodisiac. According to Ayurveda, the properties of the plant are heat-producing, penetrating (spread quickly around the body), pungent, pungent and mild.

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When making medicine from cannabis, they use the flowers, resin, seeds and leaves. Bhang made from leaf powder is usually given in a dose of 125-250mg, for ganja 50-125mg and resin 30mg. They believe that the resin and flowers are a powerful narcotic that has many spiritual and physical benefits.

The benefits of cannabis in their medical text are covered in several ways:

  • Bhang is recommended for the temporary treatment of high blood pressure. It is intended for short term use only as high blood pressure is also treated using other types of Ayurvedic practices.
  • Bhang is also recommended for treating glaucoma.
  • It stimulates the nervous system and relieves nervous exhaustion, convulsions, neuralgia, delirium and headaches.
  • North Indian Sikhs occasionally take a mixture of bhang with pistachios and almonds as well as rose petals, saffron and black pepper among others with cow’s milk to help them concentrate, especially after tiring practices all day. It is also used to help them digest food efficiently.
  • Oral cannabis was recommended during tibbi and Ayurvedic rituals for the treatment of rheumatism and malaria
  • Bang was consumed by newlyweds to help increase their libido
  • Marijuana has been mentioned by the Bhav Prakash Nighantu to treat nasal congestion, diarrhea, pain relief, and respiratory disorders, among others.
  • During Holi, or India’s Spring Color Festival, they make a drink called Thandai which has a few variations, including one made from Bhang. Since the Kapha dosha tends to be out of balance in spring, they believe drinking Bhang will help restore balance and treat seasonal congestions, including coughs and colds.

These are just a few of the many recommended uses of cannabis in Ayurveda.

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It is also worth noting that the preparation of marijuana first requires purification. In many cases, they first boil it in Acacia arabica, a decoction known as Babbula. Other detox methods involve mixing cannabis into milk.

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Ayurveda philosophies include the right and wrong ways to consume cannabis, but when used correctly it is effective in treating the conditions listed above. Primarily, it is widely known to be effective in treating digestive and respiratory disorders and other disorders that require the use of a tonic.

It also has spiritual properties as some scriptures indicate that it was cultivated and prepared for spiritual use. It was also a precious plant for Lord Shiva, the god of transformation. There is no mention in Ayurvedic scriptures where it is used for recreational purposes or for intoxication, although many people in northern India as well as Nepal use it regularly these days for recreation and as part of religious rituals.

This article originally appeared on and has been republished with permission.

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