Cannabis reduces pain, promotes sleep and reduces fits

cana.jpg (15761 bytes)by Namini Wijedasa
Mere mention of the word ‘cannabis’ is generally enough to make one glance around furtively, as if expecting to see a cop around the corner. But according to Dr. Lakshmi Senaratne, chief scientist (ayurveda) at the Bandaranaike Memorial Ayurveda Research Institute, its medicinal properties are many. The right dosage of Cannabis sativa can cure and lend relief in the case of many ailments.

Commercial production of cannabis is banned in Sri Lanka but it can be produced in very limited quantities for medicinal purposes. The normal dosage is 125 to 250 milligrams. It should not be taken in more than the recommended dose and strictly not for extended periods of time, Senaratne warned, explaining also that the article on cannabis was being timed with the Anti-Narcotics Week from June 24 to 30. She cautioned that in every instance that cannabis is used by medics, careful attention is paid to dosage. The seeds, leaf powder as well as seed oil is used ayurveda. There was no reference to smoking cannabis.

Also known as Indian hemp, cannabis reduces vatha and kapha but increases pitta. Externally, a paste made of cannabis seed is applied as poultice on sores and slow-healing wounds. It reduces pain. The leaf juice is known to kill small insects when applied externally. Hemp seeds are used for constipation associated with dryness.

Externally, the paste is also applied to haemorrhoids along with other medicines. The fumes are also used for treatment of the same ailment. External application relieves headaches and migraine.

Internally, cannabis has the dangerous ability to intoxicate a person. Initially, it brings about a sense of happiness but leads to senseless jabbering. It also causes numbness and reduces immunity to illness (taken for extended periods of time and more than the prescribed quantity).

In the right dosage, cannabis reduces pain, promotes sleep and reduces fits. It increases appetite and digestion. However, it also has the tendency to cause constipation. It treats intestinal peristalsis and reduces abdominal pain. It stops internal bleeding and is given for diarrhoea and diarrhoeal diseases (such a malabsorption).

Cannabis treats some liver diseases as it helps bile secretion.

In the cardio-vascular system it first increases pulse rate but later reduces it. It has the same effect on breathing, initially making it faster but gradually slowing the process. Senaratne said that cannabis, administered internally as medicine, reduces bronchiole spasms and is good for asthma. It treats fever, reducing the body temperature.

For men suffering premature ejaculation and sperm defects, ayurveda physicians use medicines which include cannabis. In women, it contracts the uterus and this helps those suffering from painful menstruation (as it dislodges blood clots and clears the passages, allowing free flow of blood).

For patients suffering from cancer who have undergone chemotherapy and cannot eat or is suffering from abdominal distension, cannabis is administered as a drug. "We use a powder called jathi paladi churna, which is very effective in these cases," Senaratne explained.

However, cannabis reduces urine output, thereby drying up al the body tissues. "Those affected in this manner may feel pain in the kidney region," warned Senaratne.

People who smoke cannabis as an addiction first feel giddy, start jabbering, experiences numbness and finally deep sleep. In extreme cases, they experience respiratory failure and, finally death.

"Even a small dose of cannabis for a long time is bad," Senaratne said, pointing out that its beneficial effects become negative. Thus, the user loses his appetite, suffers insomnia, becomes emaciated, loses sex power, experiences tremors and mental as well as physical deterioration.

There is considerable information on the Internet about cannabis. The web site <www.herbsforhealth.about.com> says that medicinal uses for hemp plant seed extend as far back as the Ming Dynasty. It’s Chinese name is Ma zi.

It is often used for degenerative conditions and inflammatory disorders of the intestine. Hemp oil contains a high level of polyunsaturated essential fatty acids while ranging in the lowest levels of saturated fats. The oil also contains the natural anti-oxidant vitamin E and sterols which blocks cholesterol absorption. Unrefined hemp oil can be used for cooking. "It has unique nutty flavour and adds essential fatty acids as well as other nutrients to your diet," the web site says.

Refined oil, meanwhile, is more clear and lighter and is beneficial for use in making soaps, body and aromatherapy products.