Historical Cannabis Use in India, Pt. 1

Cannabis has been used in Ayurvedic and Indian medicine for at least three thousand years to treat a variety of health conditions, including nausea and wasting syndromes. It is also prescribed for general health and longevity. To this day body builders in India use cannabis as a part of their training regiment to gain muscle mass, promote digestion, and build strength.

The spiritual aspects of cannabis are considered so profound in South Asia that many religious groups including Buddhists, Naths, Shaivites and Goddess Worshippers have incorporated it into meditation practices, as a means to stop the mind and enter into a state of profound stillness, also called Samadhi.

Cannabis holds a prominent place among Tantrics in India, Nepal, Sikkim, and Tibet to this day. In the Mahayana tradition of Buddhism, it is said that Buddha subsisted for six years on nothing but hemp seeds. Various spiritual texts, including the Buddhist Tara Tantra, list cannabis as an important aide to meditation and spiritual practice. In the Tantric Buddhism of the Himalayas and Northern India, cannabis still plays a significant role in meditative rituals to facilitate deep meditation and heighten awareness.

Cannabis is even mentioned in the Indian creation myth, where it is named as one of the five nectars of the gods and designated a “Reliever of Suffering.” In the original myth, the gods churn the Ocean of Milk in search of Amrita, the elixir of eternal life. One of the resulting nectars was cannabis. In the Vedas cannabis is referred to as a “source of happiness.”

In India today, cannabis is often made into a drink consumed by local people and is said to be the favorite drink of Indra, the king of the Indian gods.

Cannabis is most closely associated with the worship of Shiva, one of the three principal deities of India. Cannabis is considered Shiva’s favorite herb due to its spiritual properties. It is commonly consumed by Shaivite yogis, ascetics and worshippers of Shiva, as an aid to their sadhana (spiritual practice). Wandering ascetics, known as sadhus, are often seen smoking cannabis out of a clay chillum as a part of their spiritual practice.

An Introduction to Cannabis Edibles Pt. 1

With all the options available to medical marijuana patients today, many are choosing to explore methods of medicating beyond the traditional pipe or paper.

Marijuana infused products, commonly referred to as ‘edibles’, provide another option to patients who cannot, or choose not to smoke their cannabis. Edibles come in many different varieties, including tinctures (alcohol and glycerin based extractions), cooking oils, premade dessertsdrinkssnack foodscandiesand even chewing gum. There are even some companies that offer a medicated meals-on-wheels service for patients that physically cannot leave the house!

Edibles Provide A Safe Alternative To Smoking

Many patients believe that ingesting their cannabis is a healthier alternative to inhaling it because there is no exposure to carbon-rich smoke. Some patients, such as those on supplemental oxygen, turn to edibles when smoking is no longer an option. For patients with eating and digestive disorders, edibles are not only a great source of nausea-reducing CBD, but also a vital source of nutrients and calories. The same is true for cancer patients suffering from nausea caused by their treatments, and expecting mothers dealing with hyperemesis (morning sickness). A few patients choose edibles because they are a more discreet way to medicate, while others simply prefer the effects of ingesting cannabis to the effects of smoking.

What conditions are edibles most recommended for?

Because most edibles (with the exception of alcohol tincture) are exposed to some kind of heat during the cooking process, many of the inactive cannabinoids such as THC-a and CBD-a, are converted to THCCBD and CBN. The cooking process, as well as the high levels of THC found in edibles, work together to create the perfect treatment for many disorders, including chronic pain, muscle inflammation and spasms, autoimmune disorders, nervous system disorders, insomnia, and nausea (provided the patient is well enough to ingest the medication).

While anyone can enjoy the benefits of edibles, patients suffering from crohn’s disease, anautoimmune disorder of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract that affects as many as 700,000 Americans, find this method of medicating extremely beneficial. Because Crohn’s Disease occurs in the GI tract, edibles distribute useful active and inactive cannabinoids at the root of the problem, instead of having to rely on the bloodstream to carry them from the lungs.

Will ingesting cannabis affect me differently than smoking it?

Yes, without a doubt. However, exactly what effect edibles will have on you depends on several factors: the type and potency of the edibles you are using, your tolerance, your body chemistry, and even how much you’ve had to eat. Because the effects of eating an edible differ greatly from the effects of smoking, many first time users are caught off guard by the stronger potency and long-lasting effects.

Despite CBD’s anxiety relieving properties, many people experience a heightened sense of anxiety and paranoia when they initially ingest an edible. This is caused by various factors, but tends to mostly deal with fact that most people are not used to ingesting cannabis yet and have feelings of uncertainty, which leads to anxiety and paranoia. This seems to fade away the more you eat them, and get used to the effects.

You see, when you smoke marijuana you only receive a small amount of the cannabinoids in each hit, although it will be felt instantly. Where as, edibles tend to hit you much more slowly. This allows the cannabinoids to be released in waves, as they are processed by the stomach and digested.

Terpenes and Terpenoids

What are Terpenes?

Terpenes (TUR-peen) are a large class of organic hydrocarbons produced by a wide variety of plants, and are referred to as terpenoids when denatured by oxidation (drying and curing the flowers). They are the main building block of any plant resin or “essential oils” and contribute to the scent, flavor, and colors. Some are even known to have medicinal value.

Terpenes are the main class of aromatic compounds found in cannabis and have even been proven to interact synergistically with cannabinoids to provide for a range of different effects. While many people believe that it is the sticky glands of THC (delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol) that provide cannabis with its peculiar aroma, it is in fact the more unstable monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes that are responsible. In fact, it is the smell of the specific sesquiterpene, Caryophyllene oxide that drug dogs are able to detect when probing for cannabis.

Terpenes have been found to be essential building blocks of complex plant hormones and molecules, pigments, sterols and even cannabinoids in cannabis. Terpenes also play an incredibly important role by providing the plant with natural protection from bacteria and fungus, insects, and other environmental stresses.

More noticeably, terpenes are responsible for the pleasant, or not so pleasant, aromas and flavors of cannabis. Although, over 200 terpenes have been reported in the plant, only a small minority has actually been studied for their pharmacological effects.

A study conducted in 1997 by the Swiss Federal Research Station for Agroecology and Agriculture entitled “Essential oil of Cannabis sativa L. strains” characterized 16 terpenoid compounds in the essential oil of different cannabis strains. The most abundant of which was myrcene. Other terpenes that were present in higher concentrations included alpha-pinene, limonene, trans-Caryophyllene and caryophyllene oxide.

Understanding the importance of terpenes allows for a true “cannasseur” to broaden their approach to searching for new strains based on smells and tastes, rather than purely effects.


Smells and Theraputic Effects

Here you will find some of the more common scents manifested in the cannabis plant, along with their notable theraputic effects.

α-PINENE – (Pine Needles) – Anti-bacterial, Anti-fungal, Anti-inflammatory, Bronchodilator
β-CARYOPHYLLENE – (Black Pepper, Cloves) – Anti-bacterial, Anti-cancer, Anti-fungal, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-septic
BORNEOL – (Camphor) – Analgesic, Anti-insomnia, Anti-septic, Bronchodilator
CARYOPHYLLENE OXIDE – (Eucalyptus) – Anti-fungal, Anti-ischemic
CINEOL – (Tea Tree) – Anti-bacterial, Anti-depressant, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-ischemic, Bronchodilator
CITRONELLOL – (Roses) – Anti-cancer, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-insomnia, Anti-spasmodic
HUMULENE – (Hops) – Anorectic, Anti-cancer, Anti-bacterial, Anti-inflammatory
LIMONENE – (Citrus) – Anti-anxiety, Anti-bacterial, Anti-cancer, Anti-depressant, Anti-fungal, Bronchodilator
LINALOOL – (Lavender) – Anti-anxiety, Anti-bacterial, Anti-convulsive, Anti-depressant, Anti-insomnia
MYRCENE – (Lemongrass, Mango) – Analgesic, Anti-cancer, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-insomnia, Anti-spasmodic
NEROLIDOL  – (Wood, Citrus Rind) – Anti-fungal, Anti-insomnia
PHYTOL – (Green Tea) – Anti-insomnia
TERPINOLENE – (Lilac, Apples) – Anti-bacterial, Anti-fungal, Anti-insomnia, Anti-septic

Terpenes Work Synergistically With Cannabis

A 1974 study entitled, “Effects of marihuana in laboratory animals and in man” suggested that there may be potentiation of the effects of Delta(9)-THC by other substances present in marijuana. The double-blind study found that marijuana with equal or higher levels of CBD and CBN than THC, induced effects two to four times greater than expected from their THC content. The effects of smoking twice as much of a THC-only strain were no different than that of the placebo.

This suggestion was reinforced by a study done in 2003 by J Pharm Pharmacol called “Medicinal cannabis: is delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol necessary for all its effects?” The scientists compared the effects of a standardized cannabis extract with that of a pure THC (with matched concentrations of THC) and a THC-free extract. They tested the three extracts on a mouse with multiple sclerosis (MS), and a rat brain with epilepsy.

Scientists found that the standardized extract inhibited spasticity in the mouse and caused more of a rapid onset of full muscle relaxation compared to THC alone. The THC-free extract caused no inhibition of spasticity in the mouse, although it did exhibit anticonvulsant activity in the rat brain. However, the standardized extract outperformed the pure THC in all circumstances. Therefore, the effects of THC were modified by the presence of other components, and thus, THC is not necessary for all the possible medicinal effects of cannabis.

Ethan B. Russo further supported this theory with scientific evidence in his 2011 study, “Taming THC”, in which he proved that non-cannabinoid plant components such as terpenoids serve as inhibitors to THC’s intoxicating effects, thereby increasing THC’s therapeutic index. This “phytocannabinoid-terpenoid synergy,” as Russo calls it, increases the potential of cannabis-based medicinal extracts to treat pain, inflammation, fungal and bacterial infections, depression, anxiety, addiction, epilepsy and even cancer.