The bhang plant was discovered in Himalayas and finds mention in the vedas as one of the five sacred plants.
The first thing that comes to mind after hearing the word cannabis is drug abuse or smuggling of the contraband narcotic. Its long-term use and high dose are known to interfere with the nervous system and stimulate a psychedelic experience. However, few are aware of its medicinal properties.
Ayurveda expert Dr Zeel Gandhi values the plant for its miraculous curative properties. “From digestive issues, headaches, pains and anxiety, to nerve pain, arthritis, insomnia and piles,” cannabis, if used under supervision and purely as a medicinal drug, helps with recovery. Also called hemp, it increases intestine absorption capacity and is used for IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), diarrhoea, dysentery and for alleviating anxiety. Its grahi action helps retain nutrients in the body,” Dr Gandhi explained.
There are many other forgotten benefits of hemp or bhang for managing autoimmune conditions like arthritis, pains, seasonal infections and even insomnia.
As a sedative: “In Ayurveda, bhang is mixed with poppy seeds as a sedative to induce sound rest, especially for people who are tired, anxious or fearful for some reason and therefore unable to sleep properly,” shared the Ayurveda expert.
To manage painful piles: Bhang is an effective antidote in piles management. It can be applied externally as well as consumed internally for relief. “Piles is a complicated issue in Ayurveda. The sama pitta increases and impacts the gut function. It is also applied externally because it is a pain reliever. People who have very painful piles, benefit from the application of a bhang paste,” he notes. Bhang or hemp is also an effective bronchospasm reliever. It helps clear the airways to make breathing easy,Dr Gandhi tells us.
Helps with Arthritis: Both the oil and the leaves are pain relievers. They are used extensively for rheumatoid arthritis. It is also applied externally and internally applied to sedate the system or calm it. Basically, bhnag helps with all the inflammatory reactions at the joints.
How to consume bhang as per Ayurveda?
Be it leaves, flowers, seeds, stalk or fibre, each part of hemp plant is said to have innumerable benefits. Bhang is crushed leaf, ganja is derived from the flower, charas and hashish are more purified resins which contain very high amounts of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) which are mainly psychoactive that trigger euphoria.
“We don’t recommend high purified forms like charas, hash oil or hashish. Ayurveda believes that boiling bhang with milk makes it less psychoactive. We recommend purifying it with ghee and milk and then using it for medicinal use – for pain relief or digestive aid,” concludes Dr Gandhi.