Following is an excerp from a research paper which traces briefly the history of Cannabis use in the Orient and South America and indicates how valuable research by the medical community in the West, regarding the immense potential for the treatment of various physical and mental ailments of Cannabis was stifled by Western government on flimsy basis.
There is an old saying in India: ‘There is nothing wrong in having sex as long as you do it with the right person, at the right time, in the right place and with the right attitude’ !! The same applies to the consumption of Cannabis, however in this case the right person can be replaced with the right dosage ! This plant, as the following paper notes, was used in all ancient civilizations for various purposes ranging from treatment of minor physical ailments to communication with spirits and contact with the higher spheres of reality. Among the Sufis, the adept had to have reached a certain level of spiritual maturity and subjected himself to fasting and meditation before he was considered ready to consume Cannabis. Elaborate rituals were performed among various cultures by the head priest or shaman to create the right atmosphere and frame of mind during the consumption of this plant.
The Western consumers in their hurry for instant gratification did not heed this warning or were ignorant of it. This led it a widespread abuse and overuse of Cannabis in the West, with expected consequences. The old wisdom of the Orient is long dead. The respect that this divine plant enjoyed in the oriental cultures is almost lost now.
Marihuana: The Forbidden Medicine Chapter one – The History
Lester Grinspoon, and James B. Bakalar Yale University Press, Copyright 1993
The marihuana, cannabis, or hemp plant is one of the oldest psychoactive plants known to humanity. It is botanically classified as a member of the family Cannabaceae and the genus Cannabis. Most botanists agree that there are three species: Cannabis sativa, the most widespread of the three, is tall, gangly, and loosely branched, growing as high as twenty feet; Cannabis indica is shorter, about three or four feet in height, pyramidal in shape and densely branched; Cannabis ruderalis is about two feet high with few or no branches. There are also differences among these species in the leaves, stems, and resin. According to an alternative classification, the genus has only one highly variable species, Cannabis sativa, with two subspecies, sativa and indica. The first is more northerly and produces more fiber and oil; the second is more southerly and produces more of the intoxicating resin.
Cannabis has become one of the most widespread and diversified of plants. It grows as weed and cultivated plant all over the world in a variety of climates and soils. The fiber has been used for cloth and paper for centuries and was the most important source of rope until the development of synthetic fibers. The seeds (or, strictly speaking, akenes – small hard fruits) have been used as bird feed and sometimes as human food. The oil contained in the seeds was once used for lighting and soap and is now sometimes employed in the manufacture of varnish, linoleum, and artists’ paints.
The chemical compounds responsible for the intoxicating and medicinal effects are found mainly in a sticky golden resin exuded from the flowers on the female plants. The function of the resin is thought to be protection from heat and preservation of moisture during reproduction. The plants highest in resin therefore grow in hot regions like Mexico, the Middle East, and India. When the reproductive process is over and the fruits are fully ripe, no more resin is secreted.
The cannabis preparations used in India often serve as a folk standard of potency. The three varieties are known as bhang, ganja, and charas. The least potent and cheapest preparation, bhang, is produced from the dried and crushed leaves, seeds, and stems. Ganja, prepared from the flowering tops of cultivated female plants, is two or three times as strong as bhang; the difference is somewhat akin to the difference between beer and fine Scotch. Charas is the pure resin, also known as hashish in the Middle East. Any of these preparations can be smoked, eaten, or mixed in drinks. The marihuana used in the United States is equivalent to bhang or, increasingly in recent years, to ganja.
The marihuana plant contains more than 460 known compounds, of which more than 60 have the 21-carbon structure typical of cannabinoids. The only cannabinoid that is both highly psychoactive and present in large amounts, usually 1-5 percent by weight, is (-)3,4-trans-delta-l- tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as delta-1-THC, delta-9-THC, or simply THC. A few other tetrahydrocannabinols are about as potent as delta-9-THC but present in only a few varieties of cannabis and in much smaller quantities. A number of synthetic congeners (chemical relatives) of THC have been developed under such names as synhexyl, nabilone, and levonatradol. The other two major types of cannabinoid are the cannabidiols and the cannabinols. It appears that the plant first produces the mildly active cannabidiols, which are converted to tetrahydrocannabinols and then broken down to relatively inactive cannabinols as the plant matures.
The recent discovery of nerve receptors in the brain stimulated by THC (and the cloning of the gene that gives rise to these receptors) suggests that the body produces its own version of the substance. The receptors are found mainly in the cerebral cortex, which governs higher thinking and in the hippocampus, which is a locus of memory (1).
A native of central Asia, cannabis may have been cultivated as long as ten thousand years ago. It was certainly cultivated in China by 4000 B.C. and in Turkestan by 3000 B.C. It has long been used as a medicine in India, China, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, South Africa, and South America. The first evidence for medicinal use of cannabis is an herbal published during the reign of the Chinese emperor Chen Nung five thousand years ago. Cannabis was recommended for malaria, constipation, rheumatic pains, “absentmindedness,” and female disorders. Another Chinese herbal recommended a mixture of hemp, resin, and wine as an analgesic during surgery. In India cannabis has been recommended to quicken the mind, lower fevers, induce sleep, cure dysentery, stimulate appetite, improve digestion, relieve headaches, and cure venereal disease. In Africa it was used for dysentery, malaria, and other fevers. Today certain tribes treat snake bites with hemp or smoke it before childbirth. Hemp was also noted as a remedy by Galen and other physicians of the classical and Hellenistic eras, and it was highly valued in medieval Europe. The English clergyman Robert Burton, in his famous work The Anatomy of Melancholy, published in 1621, suggested the use of cannabis in the treatment of depression. The New English Dispensatory of 1764 recommended applying hemp roots to the skin for inflammation, a remedy that was already popular in eastern Europe. The Edinburgh New Dispensary of 1794 included a long description of the effects of hemp and stated that the oil was useful in the treatment of coughs, venereal disease, and urinary incontinence. A few years later Nicholas Culpeper summarized all the conditions for which cannabis was supposed to be medically useful.
But cannabis did not come into its own in the West as a medicine until the middle of the nineteenth century. During its heyday, from 1840 to 1900, more than one hundred papers were published in the Western medical literature recommending it for various illnesses and discomforts (2). It could almost be said that physicians of a century ago knew more about cannabis than contemporary physicians do; certainly they were more interested in exploring its therapeutic potential………
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