According to The [Non-Governmental] Indian Materia Medica, in 1941 Cannabis was recommended for treating the following ailments:


The following is taken directly from the 1941 Non-Governmental] Indian Materia Medica.   However, note the reliance (almost exclusively) on R.N. Chopra’s own book, “Indigenous Drugs of India” (1933) for most of his modern-day (year 1941) information.   [See Chopra and Reefer Madness Era Myths].   Which makes for some obvious inaccuracies, most of which have long ago, been acknowledged as such (even by the narc’s).

However, be that as it may, the given description gives a pretty good description of the Cannabis and its medical uses in India.   Additionally, it also helps to answer one of the great mysterious questions that always seems to bamboozle almost all first time Antique Cannabis Collectors.   Why do the Indians seem to have so many different names for (essentially) the same thing?

With the answer is twofold:

(a) First, unlike England, India (still to this day) has various language groups, some of them very distinct form each other, and thus (from an outsiders perspective) various different words for the same thing.   Thus note that the description is full of statements such as: --- “Ganja, which is called 'Hanja-yela' in Tamil.   'Bangiaku' in Telegu and as ' Ganja' in Hindustani, Bengali, Marathi and Punjabi," are found throughout. etc.

(b) Next, there is the fact, that there really are differences between various (Cannabis Based) preparations.

    [Page 236]

    [NOTE: Some transcribing errors have probably been made, but in general the misspell words are as originally found.]

    442. CANNABIS SATIVA, Linn. or, C. Indica.
    (N. O.---Urticaceac)

    [Language --- Name(s)]
    Sans.---Vijaya; Siddhapatri ; Ganjika; Bhanga; Hursini
    Eng.---Indian Hemp.
    Hind.---Ganja ; Charas.
    Ben.---Bhang ; Sidhi ; Ganja.
    Bom. & Gui.---Ganja.
    Tel.---Ganjayi; Jadaganja.
    Tam. ---Pangi; Kanja or Ganja; Madamattagam.
    Can. & Kon.---Bhangi.

    Habitat. ---This pistillate plant is a native of Persia, Western and Central Asia, now largely cultivated all over India and is found wild on the Western Himalayas and from Kashmir to east of Assam; and is acclimatised to the plains of India generally.   When grown in the hot regions of the tropics, the plants (especially the female plants) yield a quantity of resin possessing remarkable intoxicating properties, and on this account hemp is largely grown in India and the East.

    Collection and Storage. ---The plant attains, its highest therapeutic power when grown in tropical or sub-tropical climates, inasmuch as it develops there a larger content of resin than elsewhere.

    The plant is required to be harvested before becoming quite ripe, owing to liability to seedling.   The seed loses its germinating power very quickly, hence the stock should be of one season old only.   Indian seed is smaller and darker coloured than that of Europe. It should be used- fresh. (Dr. K. C. Bose).

    The usual time for gathering leaves for preparation of bhang varies with the locality in which it is grown, but it is usually in the months of May and June in lower altitudes and June and July in higher places.   The bhang obtained from some localities is regarded as superior to that obtained from others.   There is no evidence to show that the cultivated plant yields a superior quality of the drug.” [1]

    Parts Used. ---Dried flowering or (growing). fruiting tops, of the pistillate plant. Leaves, seeds and reasinous exudation of the 3 varieties of Ganja---flat, round and powdered (Chur) ; the last is the best for medical use.   The fibre is hemp ; oil seeds are hemp seeds.

    Constituents. --- A volatile oil (prepared from, the fruits or seeds,) composed of Cannabene, Cannabene hydride, several. alkaloids (Cannabinine. tatano-cannabinine, etc.), Canabinon and Cannabin ; a resin which consists of Cannabinol, pseudo-cannabinol, cannabinin.and several terpenes.   Hempseeds yield from 25 to 30 p.c. of a greenish yellow oil becoming brownish yellow on keeping. Essential oil Purified b distillation in a current of steam and extraction with ether is a mobile liquid boiling at 248 to 268 degrees.   Charas the cannabis resin extracted from the leaves contains no chlorophyl. On analysis it was found to contain 33 p.c. of an oil. The ethereal extract from Charas has yielded---" (1) a terpene C10 H16 B.P. boiling at 160 to 180 degrees, yield about 1.5 per cent.     (2) a sesqui-terpene C15H24 B.P. boiling, at 258-259 degrees, yield about 1.75% to 2%   (3) a small amount of paraffin hydrocarbon C20H60 melting point 64 degrees, yield 0.15 per cent.   (4) a toxic red oil or resin, C18H24O2, termed Cannabinol, B.P., boiling at 265 degrees, 20 mm., yield about 33 per Cent” [2] of the charas taken.

    "The red oil set to a semi-solid mass, insoluble in water but dissolving easily in alcohol, ether, benzene, glacial acetic acid and organic solvents generally.   It gave a monoacetyl and, a monobenzoyl derivative, proving the presence of a hydroxyl group, and was therefore termed Cannabinol and which is considered to be the active principle of the drug, and Marshall (1897) showed by physiological experiments on himself and on others that it was so.   Later (1899) that the cannabinol thus isolated was shown to be a mixture of at least two compounds having similar physical characters.   Older chemists have retained the name Cannabinol for the pure Compound C21H26O2 (obtained by hydrolysing the crystalline acetyl derivative of melting point 75°) whilst the original crude cannabinol is probably a mixture of this and one or more compounds of lower molecular weight.   Older chemists also described a series of derivatives and decomposition products of pure cannabinol which throw some, light on the probable constitution of the compound.   Bauer (1927) concluded that cannabinol is not an ester, acid, aldehyde, kefone or phenol but is probably of the nature of a polyterpin, Cahn (1930) suggested the coast formula for cannabinofactorie, a decomposition product of cannibihol isolated by Wood, Spivey and Easterfield.   Other investigators have obtained apparently constant boiling resins and although these yielded only oily derivatives, they have claimed homogeneity for each products appropriated the name cannabinol, and variously assigned to it the formula C20H30O2 (Frankel 1903 ; Czerkis 1907).   The most recent work of Calin (1931) was carried out with several different samples of ‘hashish’ of uncertain origin, all of which gave similar results and these were confirmed with a Cannabis sativa resin of known Indian origin. His work and that of Wood, Spivey and Easterfield have shown that the apparent constancy of boiling point cannabot be held to prove the homogeneity of these resins, and that the resins of Frankel, Czekis Caspens and Bergel were all mixtures. The name ‘Cannabiol C21H26O27 should be applied only to the substance obtained from the acetyl derivative of melting point 75° and the apparently constant boiling resin should be termed ‘Crude cannabinol’ (Lt. Col. Chopra) [3] Ganja contains about 26%, Bhang 10%, and Charas 40% of resin.

    Action. --- All parts of the plant are intoxicating (narcotic), stomachic, antispasmodic, analgesic, (anodyne) stimulant, aphrodisiac, and sedative. In moderate doses the plant is at first exhilarant and powerful aphrodisiac ; after a while it is sedative.   Its habit leads to indigestion, body-waste, melancholia and impotence.   In large doses it first produces mental exaltation, intoxication, a sense of double consciousness and finally loss of memory, gloommess etc.

    Cannabinine is a powerful sedative. Dose :--- I to 4 grains.   Cannabinon is also sedative. in action, dose :---I/2 to 1 grain.   Tanato-Cannabinine is a brownish powder, anodyne and hypnotic in action. Dose :---4 to 8 grains.   Charas the resin is narcotic anodyne and also, aphrodisiac.   Dose :---I/4 to 2 grains. On the whole lndian hemp is, feebly anodyne, strong exhilarant, deliriant and hypnotic ; antispasmodic on muscles, aphrodisiac on genital organs and diuretic on kidneys Leaf juice is diuretic.

    Cannabinol is a toxic red oil, a constituent of Cannabinon, charas, ganja and hashish.   Leaves of Cannabis sativa are regarded as heating, digestive, astringent and narcotic.   Male flowers are not more narcotic in their action than the leaves, unlike the female flower heads. Indian hemp is primarily stimulant, secondarily anodyne, antispasmodic and anesthetic.   Charas, the Cannabis resin is narcotic, does no cause nausea, constipation or headache as opium does.

    “Action and Uses in Ayuveda and Siddha; ---Tikta rasam, ushna veeryam, lagu, tikshnam, grahi, pachianam, moharn, madam, produces pittam, sukra sthambanarh, aphrodisiac, grahani, athisaram.

    Action and Uses in Urani. --- Murakab-ul-khua, musakin, retentive, anaesthetic, astringent.   Externally sedative.” [4]

    Preparations. ---Sabjee, Marjoom (Confection), charas (resin of C. sativa manufactured in Central Asia), Paste, Powder, Tincture, Poultice and oil (freshly prepared oil is greenish yellow, with a peculiar taste and smell). Hemp plant is cultivated in India for the various forms of narcotics which it yields and which have been used so largely by Indians from very ancient times.   Three principal forms in which Cannabis sativa is used in India are:--- (1) Ganja consisting of the unfertilized resinous brownish-green or rusty-green colured flowering heads or branches or shoots of the female plant, trodden and pressed by the feet into compact masses (known in the English drug markets as “guaza”), grown on the plains ; the narcotic principle which is only developed in the Ganja in the unfertilized flowers entirely disappears after fertilization has taken place.   Ganja has a characteristic ordour.   On the other hand, the plant grown on the lower hills of the Punjab and which yields (2) Bhang which is of deep green colour, does not develop the narcotic property until the fruits are mature, the dried broken flower heads with chaff, leaves and fruiting shoots constituting the Bhang or Siddhi so largely used by Indians in making into a paste with milk or water and taken as an intoxicating liquor Hashish (a preparation made from C. Sativa is at present time smoked by Egyptians), or the narcotic conserve or confection called Majoom.   (3) The Charas possesses little taste, but has a powerful odour and is of the dark-green or brown colour ; it is the cannabis resin which exudes naturally on the leaves, stems and fruits, but only on plants growing on the mountain tracts at an altitude of 6000 to 8000 feet.   it is powerfully narcotic, chiefly used for its soothing properties in cases of mania and hysteria, and is smoked with tobacco.   The female plant (cultivated for fibre in Kumaon and other places) yields considerable quantities of charas, which is sometimes smoked as Ganja.   "Various methods of preparing charas in India have been described :---(a) Sometimes men dressed in leather-suits or jackets pass through the fields of C. Sativa rubbing and crushing roughly against the plants early in the morning just after sunrise and when a fall of dew has taken place.   The resinous matter, which sticks on, is then scraped off and forms the Ganja, resin of commerce.   (b) In Kulu and the Hill States, the flower heads are said to be rubbed between the hands and the accumulated resin is scraped off   (c) The operation is also said to be done by treading, the plant with the feet.   (d) Sometimes the flowering twigs are simply beaten over a piece of cloth and the, greyish(sic) white powder, which falls. is collcted(sic)." [5]

    A Syrup (Sherbat) prepared from C. indica, given in very small dose during convalescence after diarrhoea, is soothing.

    “Bhang, Siddbi, Suhji and Patti are synonymous with each other ; they are the dried leaves of C. sativa, whether male or female, whether cultivated or uncultivated, and are. purified by being boiled in milk before use.   The term has also been sometimes made to include the female flower heads as well as the leaves of the plant, and the green leaves as well as dry leaves.   It is also probable, that male flower heads must also enter into it as the methods of preparing bbang are very crude, the plant being simply dried and the leaves being separated by beating it against a block of wood or hard ground.   ‘Bhang' is commonly the name given to the drink, made out of subji ; ganja pounded up and made into a drink, as is done in case of Garhjat ganja in Puri, also is called bhang. For this reason, in many parts of India, especially in the South and West the distinction between gania and bhang is lost.   Bhang here is the name given to the most simple style of consumption, viz : pounding and drinking, which in the evolution of its narcotic use must have preceded smoking.   Although bbang is a more comprehensive term and often includes ganja in the North, in South India ganja is a more general term and in some places is made to include even bhang, the latter term being quite unknown there.   Bhang is prepared from both the uncultivated plant and a small, quantity from cultivated plant.   The plant is cut and is alternately exposed to, sun and dew.   When the leaves are dried they are pressed and stored in earthernware vessels.   Bhang is also the name given to the refuse of the treading floor when ganja is prepared. [6]

    Bhang, Siddhi, Subji and Pall; are used with water as a drink which is thus prepared :---About three tolas(sic) weight are well washed with cold water, then rubbed to powder, mixed with equal parts of black pepper, dried rose-petals, poppyseeds, almonds, cardamoms, cucumber and melon seeds to which sugar, half a pint of milk and equal quantity of water are added.   This is considered sufficient to intoxicate an habituated person.   Quarter to half the quantity is enough for a novice.   The intoxication caused by this beverage, i.e., bhang, causes the person to sing, and dance, to talk much, to eat food with great relish and to seek aphrodisiac enjoyments.   The intoxication lasts about 3 hours when sleep supervenes.   No nausea or sickness of stomach follows, nor are the bowels at all affected ; next day there is slight giddiness and vascularity of the eyes, but no other symptoms worth recording.

    “Ganja consists of the dried flowering tops of the cultivated hemp plants which have become covered with the exuded resin in consequence of having been unable to set -seeds freely.   It is also said to be prepared from a particular variety of the wild plant known as ‘ganja plant '. Ganja, which is called 'Hanja-yela' in Tamil.   'Bangiaku' in Telegu and as ' Ganja' in Hindustani, Bengali, Marathi and Punjabi", [7] is used like tobacco for smoking alone : One rupee weight or 1 to 2 grams of ganja and a little dried tobacco with a little water are rubbed together in the palm of the left hand with the right thumb for a short time till the stuff becomes sticky.   A little tobacco is placed in the pipe (chillam); then a layer of the prepared ganja, then more tobacco and above all the fire.   Four or five persons usually join in the use of this. The hookab is passed round and each person takes a single draught.   Intoxication ensures almost instantly and within half an hour to the novice and after four or five inspirations to those that are accustomed to it.   The effects differ from, those occasioned by siddbi.   Heaviness, laziness and agreeable reveries ensue, but the person can be readily roused and made to discharge his routine duties.   "The intoxicating quality of the drug is said to increase with the length of the time spent on rubbing it, but this is doubtful.” [8] Though ganja is mainly used for smoking, a small quantity is used for taking internally in certain parts of india, e.g., Puri of Madras Presidency.”*   A sweet made by mixing ganja with seeds of black dhatura and sugar is used by criminals to drug people” [9]

    “Bhang” prepared from the dried larger leaves which are collected separately, is pounded in water to a pulp and used in the preparation of a drink.   The resin itself, to which the intoxicating properties of the drug are due, is known as “churras” or “charas” and is obtained by kneading ganja with the hands, or by causing men, clothed in leather garments to brush through the living plants as violently as possible, with the result that the resin escapes from the wounded surfaces of the plants and adheres to the leather, from which it is afterwards scraped and rolled into balls.

    The Majoom or hemp confection made in ghee and with the addition of water contains bhang, ganja, charas, opium, poppy-seeds, dbatura leaves and seeds, cloves, mastich, aniseeds, cumin, sugar, butter, flour, milk, cardamoms and tabashir.   Dose: ---1/2 to 1 drachm.   One drachm by weight will intoxicate a beginner ; three drachms will be required to one that is accustomed to its use.   The taste is sweet and odour very agreeable. Sometimes, if the customers require, stramonium seeds are introduced, but never unx vomica.   It is most fascinating in its effects, producing ecstatic happiness a feeling of high rank, a sensation of flying, voracious appetite and intense aphrodisiac desire.

    Paste consists of equal parts of Bhang, Ganja and pepper made into a paste with water.

    Uses. --- are prescribed by Hakims and Vaidyas in bowel complaints and recommended as apetisers, as nervous stimulants and as a source of great staying-power under severe exertion or fatigue.   Leaves make a good snuff for deterging the brain ; their juice applied to the head removes dandruff and vermin ; dropped into the ear it allays pain and destroys worms ; it checks the discharge in diarrhea and gonorrhea.   Powder of the leaves applied to fresh wounds promotes granulation ; a poultice of the plant is applied to local inflammations, erysipelas, neuralgia, hemorrhoids, etc., as an anodyne or sedative.   The dose of the leaves is 40 grains internally.   Externally, a poultice of the fresh bruised leaves is useful in affections of the eye with photophobia ; also applied to relieve pain and swelling in orchitis.   The concentrated resin exudate (resinous matter) extracted from the leaves and flowering tops or agglutinated spikes of C. sativa, and known as nasha or charas which form the active principle when collected separately, is used to produce sleep in cases of sleeplessness, in which opium is contraindicated ; it is valuable in preventing and curing sick-headaches, neuralgias, migraine (malarial and periodical), valuable in acute mania, whooping cough, asthma, dysuria and in relieving pain in dysmenorrheal and menorrhagia and pain of the last stages of phthisis ; it increases appetite.   It does not produce loss of appetite or constipation like opium. For asthma and tetanus the dose of the extract is from 1/4 to 2 grains ; the leaves powdered, mixed with sugar and well fried in ghee and with black pepper added are administered in chronic diarrhea ; with poppy seeds the extract is given in dysentery ; with asafoetida it is given in hysteria.   In cases of chronic colic wonderful effect is produced by the administration of 1 grain of the extract in combination with 1/4 grain of ipecacuanha.   In dysentery about half a drachm of dried tender leaves mixed with a little sugar and black pepper powder is a well-known and successful remedy ; the tincture of the British Pharmacopoeia is also used in 15 to 20 minim doses three time a day especially in acute dysentery ; combined with belladonna it is given in whooping cough, infantile convulsions, hepatic and renal colic, tetanus and hydrophobia.   Oil extracted from the seeds is used for rubbing in rheumatism. Paste applied to the head relieves dandruff and vermin.

    Numerous confections of bhang are described in books.   They are as their names imply, considered aphrodisiac and are used in chronic bowel complaints and nervous debility.   Most of them are prepared with equal parts of a number of supposed tonic and aphrodisiac substances in small quantities and bhang equal in weight to all the other ingredients together with sugar, honey and the usual aromatics.   Majoom would be a neater substitute for these complicated preparations.

[1]- Chopra’s “I. D. of I.” pp.79-76
[2]- ibid
[3]- Chopta's "I.D. of I." PP. 76.
[4]- Therapeutic Notes.
[5]- Chopra's " I.D. of I." PP. 78-79.
[6]- Chopra's "I.D. of I." PP. 77-79.
[7]- ibid
[8]- ibid
[*]- ibid


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