Cannabis Information, Warnings, Effect and Medicinal Uses

Cannabis is one of the important herb in Ayurvedic medicine system. Learn what are it's health benefits and how you can use this to treat different diseases. Know about it's botanical description, medicinal properties and side-effects. Cannabis is used as medicine in traditional medicine in low dosage. In high dosage, cannabis is highly injurious to health.

Cannabis is used for medicinal purpose not only in India but also in Middle East and other countries of Asia since time immemorial. This plant was also introduced in Europe in 19th century for the treatment of neuralgia, insomnia, migraine, epilepsy, tetanus, rheumatism, and asthma. Hemp derivatives are suggested for treating glaucoma and as an antiemetic in cancer chemotherapy. In Ayurveda, the dried leaf of hemp is used in very low dosage. The powder of leaf is given in the treatment of digestive weakness, insomnia, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome.

cannabis information

Cannabis is native to temperate regions of Asia and found in many countries across the world. It is an annual herb that is found almost throughout the year in waste lands of temperate regions. It is one of the oldest non-food crop that is grown in the world.

Warning: Hemp is notorious for its narcotic use. It is classified as a narcotic, belonging to psychotropic disrupters due to its properties to change perceptions, emotions and brain functions. The possession and use of cannabis is illegal in most of the countries but some country do allow medical uses of this plant.

In India, production, manufacture, possession, sale, purchase, transport, import interstate, export inter-state or use is illegal and can draw fine or imprisonment. Its cultivation without license can result in rigorous imprisonment (up to 10 years) and fine. But for personal use in small quantity, it is permissible and tolerated in most of Indian states.

The drugs produced from cannabis have narcotic and sedative effect. Use of such medicine gives relief in pain, fatigue, inflammation and also induces sleep. In low therapeutic dose, cannabis improves appetite, digestion and may cause constipation. But prolonged abuse of this herb causes loss of appetite, gastric derangement, loss of self-control, and intoxication.

Cannabis/Hemp plant

This plant can be identified by its leaves which are palmately compound with linear leaflets and serrated margins. The length of leaf is about 5-20 cm and it is pointed, narrow at base. Its upper surface is dark green and rough and lower is pale. The leaves of female plant is longer than the male plant. The odor of leaves is strong and characteristic and they taste slightly acrid.


Annual plant;erect stems growing from 3 to 10 feet or more high, very slightly branched, having greyish-green hairs;leaves palmate, with five to seven leaflets (three on the upper leaves), numerous, on long thin petioles with acute stipules at the base, linear-lanceolate, tapering at both ends, the margins sharply serrate, smooth and dark green on the upper surface, lighter and downy on the under one;flowers small, unisexual, male having five almost separate, downy, pale yellowish segments, female single, hairy, glandular, five-veined leaf enclosing the ovary in a sheath;ovary smooth, one-celled, with one hanging ovule and two long, hairy thread-like stigmas extending beyond the flower for more than its own length;fruit small, smooth, light brownish-grey in color, and completely filled by the seed.

Part used: Dried flowering top, growing top, leaves, seeds, resin

Vernacular names

  • Sanskrit: Vijaya, Bhang, Madani, Indrasana, Trailokya-vijaya, Tribhuvan vijaya, Shukranaashana, Ganja
  • Assamese: Bhan, Bhang
  • Bengali: Bhang, Sidhi
  • English: Cannabis, Hemp
  • Gujrati: Bhang
  • Hindi: Bhaang, Bhanga
  • Kannada: Bhangigida, Ganjagida
  • Kashmiri: Pang, Bangi
  • Malayalam: Kanchavu
  • Marathi: Bhang, Ganja
  • Oriya: Bhanga, Ganjei
  • Punjabi: Bhang
  • Tamil: Ganja
  • Telugu: Ganjayi
  • Urdu: Qinaab, Bhang
  • Unani: Bhang, Charas, Qinnab
  • Siddha: Ganja

Most common Indian name: Bhang

Other common names: Cannabis, hemp, marijuana, hashish

Bhang: Bhang is preparation from the dried leaves of the plant. The term also include fresh leaves, female flower heads, stems and seeds mix. It is deep green in color. This is made into paste with milk or water and drink as intoxicating liquor.

This is smoked, chewed, eaten, or infused and drunk to obtain mild euphoria.

Ganja: Ganja is seedless unfertilised resinous brownish-green flowering top or fruiting top of female plant which and pressed to get compact masses. It is bitter, highly potent form of hemp and usually used for smoking.

Charas (more commonly known as hashish in Arabic): Charas is resin obtained from plant. The resin exudates from the leaves, stem and fruits. It is low in taste but high on intoxication.

Bhang is consumed orally but Ganja and charas are usually smoked.

Ayurvedic Properties and Action on body

In Ayurveda, the dried leaves of the plant are administered orally in dosage of 125-250 mg to treat many diseases.

The dried leaf powder of the plant possess following properties.

  • Rasa (Taste): Tikta/Bitter
  • Guna (Characteristics): Laghu/Light, Tikshna/Sharp
  • Virya (Potency): Ushna/Hot
  • Vipaka (Post Digestive Effect): Katu/Pungent

Action on body:

  • Dipana/ deepana (Digestive stimulant)
  • Grahi (Anti-diarrhea, binds stool)
  • Pachana (digest ama/toxins)
  • Vajikarana (Reproductive tonic/ aphrodisiac)
  • Vyavayi (Spread throughout the body without first getting digested)

The dried leaves are given in all diseases that require stimulant, exhilarant, aphrodisiac and anodyne effect.

Medicinal Action of the plant

Hemp products are used in the treatment of dyspepsia, cancers, tumors and several other diseases. Use of Cannabis affects the whole body. Below is given scientifically proven medicinal properties of action. Cannabis is used as a medicine in traditional medicine in low dosage. In high dosage, cannabis is highly injurious to health.

  1. Hallucinogenic: induces hallucinations
  2. Hypnotic: producing hypnosis/ sleep-inducing
  3. Sedative: promoting calm
  4. Analgesic: Pain relieving
  5. Stimulant: raises levels of physiological or nervous activity in the body
  6. Exhilarant: person feel very happy, animated, or elated
  7. Anti-inflammatory: reduce inflammation
  8. Abortifacient: Causes abortion
  9. Antibacterial: works against bacteria
  10. Anticonvulsant: prevent or reduce the severity of epileptic fits or other convulsions
  11. Antiemetic: preventing vomiting
  12. Intoxicant: narcotic

In India, Hemp plant naturally found distributed in waste grounds, along road side, and other similar undisturbed areas.

Chemical Constituents

More than 460 chemicals of various classes (cannabinoids, cannabispirans and alkaloids) are isolated from cannabis. Also more than sixty cannabinoids have been isolated, in which, the most important one is delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC has Antiemetic properties) and it is the predominant psychoactive cannabinoid.

Cannabinoids are present in leaves, flowering tops of female plants, bracts and resin of the plant (absent in fruits and stems) are responsible for many medicinal properties of the plant.

Medicinal Uses

  1. The paste of leaves is used applied topically on cuts, skin ulcer and insect bite
  2. The dried leaf powder is applied topically on wounds for faster healing.
  3. Poultice prepared from whole plant is applied in inflammation, erysipelas (disease caused by a bacterial infection, characterized by large raised red patches on the skin), nerve pain and hemorrhoids.
  4. Pounded leaves poultice is applied topically on eyes in case of extreme sensitivity to light.
  5. All parts of Hemp plant have narcotic effect. In recommended doses for therapeutic use, the plant does not show any ill-effects. But beyond that it becomes injurious to health. Its high dose causes hallucination, loss of memory and thinking power, gloominess, intoxication, etc. Its long term use causes indigestion, impotence, and health loss.


  1. High doses of cannabis in animals have damaged developing embryos and resulted in birth defects
  2. Smoking cannabis is injurious to health. It affects memory, alterations in space and time perception, hallucinations, etc. These effects can last for hours.
  3. Cannabis is toxic for fetus.
  4. Intake of cannabis may trigger acute psychotic reactions in schizophrenia.
  5. Long term use of cannabis may lead to respiratory ailments, Schizophrenia, psychosis impotence, laryngitis, psychic decline and dependence.
  6. Cannabis smoking causes chronic bronchitis and histopathological changes in bronchi.
  7. Dependence on cannabis causes withdrawal, physical complications, impaired memory, poor work performance, social disapproval and criminal involvement.
  8. Cannabis causes vasodilation and bronchodilation. It affects the brain and causes cognitive and psychomotor impairment in a high dose.

Differences between Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Sativa

Cannabis is known by many common names such as Hemp, Marijuana, Grass, hash, Bhang, etc. It is a plant belonging to family Cannabaceae, the hemp family. Cannabis is native to Central and South Asia. It is cultivated from ancient time for its fiber, oil, medicinal use and as a recreational drug. There are the main two varieties of cannabis plants available viz. sativa and indica. These two varieties are different in appearance and also in properties.

The scientific name Cannabis sativa is general name for both varieties and used as synonym.

Biological Classifications of Marijuana per the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Feb. 15, 2007

CategoryLatin NameCommon Name
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants
SuperdivisionSpermatophytaSeed plants
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants
FamilyCannabaceaeHemp family
GenusCannabis L.hemp
SpeciesCannabis sativa L.marijuana
SubspeciesCannabis sativa L. ssp. sativamarijuana/sativa
SubspeciesCannabis sativa L. ssp. indicamarijuana/indica
VarietyCannabis sativa L. ssp. sativa var. spontaneamarijuana

Difference between sativa and indica

Here are given few differences in two varieties of cannabis.

Cannabis SativaCannabis Indica
Plant appearanceTaller (can reach height up to 20 feet) and thinner with higher yield (3 ounces to 1 pound per plant);long internodesSmaller (2 to 4 feet tall) stout plant with smaller yields (1.5 to 2.5 ounces per plant);Shorter internodes.
GrowthSlower rateFaster rate
LeavesLighter green;narrow leaves;

Leaves are long, thin, pointed

Darker green in color;shorter, fatter leaves.
Pattern on leafSolid green, no markingMarbled pattern
OdorFloral, fruity, sweet aromaOdor
Prefers warm environmentsPrefers cooler environments
THC (delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, active ingredient of cannabis) to Cannabidiol (CBD) Ratio,

CBD is considered to have a wider scope of medical applications than THC.

higher level of THC compared to CBDhigher level of CBD compared to THC
Effect onMore effect on mind;produce uplifting and cerebral effect;energizing, focusing, inspirational stimulatingMore effect on body;Relaxing, anti-epileptic, anti-nauseant, anti-inflammatory, pain relieving and sleep inducing
Main actionStimulant, gives alertness, optimismMore Sedative, relaxant effect on body, gives a feeling of sleepiness and heaviness
Indicated in the treatment ofDepression, appetite stimulation, migraineBetter for anxiety, chronic pain, muscle spasms, anxiety, nausea, appetite stimulation, sleep deprivation. insomnia sleep apnea, multiple sclerosis,

fibromyalgia, lupus, tremors

Suitable time for useBest for day timeBest for night time

There are also hybrid varieties of cannabis plant available which are produced by crossing the pure sativa and pure indica plants. Such hybrid plants have some characteristics of both parents.

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