Marijuana - part 3

According to the Chinese language, marijuana is known as 'Ma'. It is an enduring aromatic plant that grows once a year and perhaps known to be the 'mother' of all civilizations depending on agriculture. For the ancient man, 'Ma' was not only a never ending source of food, but the herb also provided sturdy fiber for producing long-lasting ropes and cloth. In fact, while the pre-historic man in most other civilizations continued to hunt and collect food for survival, these two virtues of 'Ma' put China at the forefront by establishing an advanced agriculture-based industry. In addition to its medicinal, textile and other uses, marijuana seeds offer high quantities of protein, B vitamins and essential amino acids. Thus, it is little surprising that these marijuana seeds have served as the second or third most essential resource of foodstuff in China for thousands of years.

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Parts used

Flowers, leaves, seeds.

Uses

As far as medicinal treatment is concerned, marijuana has an incredibly long history dating back to thousands of years and hence it should not be amazing to know that at some point or the other marijuana has been recommended for curing almost all the prevalent diseases. It is beneficial as an analgesic as it provides relief from pain with minimum or insignificant side affects. In fact, marijuana is especially beneficial for cancer and AIDS patients who are enduring chemotherapy. Significantly enough, marijuana can also diminish neurological over activity as well as muscle contraction and hence it is very useful for people suffering from multiple sclerosis (hardening and thickening of body tissue as a result of unwarranted growth or degeneration of nerve fibers), cerebral palsy and other muscular disorders.

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By lowering the blood pressure, marijuana provides effectual cure for glaucoma. Normally, glaucoma is a condition where the pressure inside the eyeball is unusually high and is also hypertensive affecting the eye disc. Marijuana is also an effectual remedy in curing asthma, menstrual pains, pain associated with childbirth and arthritis as well as rheumatism. It may also be effective in treating depressions as the herb has anti-depressant properties. At the same time, marijuana encourages as well as stimulates sleep helping patients suffering from insomnia. Even the seeds of the marijuana plant are medicinally useful and according to the Chinese medicine, they have strong and effective laxative qualities and are used to provide relief to the elderly people from constipation.

If one takes a close look at the conventional Indian medicine, he or she will find that numerous preparations of cannabis have been used to cure dissimilar disorders such as fever, dysentery, sunstroke as well as leprosy. According to traditional Indian medicine, cannabis is effectively used to absolve phlegm (thick mucus secreted by the walls of the respiratory tract, especially during a cold), speed up the digestion process, hone up the intellect, enhance the body's preparedness as well as function as elixir vitae (a vital magic potion or a quick cure). Unlike the Western medical science, the Hindu medical practice also deals with the spiritual consciousness of a person while healing his ailments. According to the Hindu mythology, whenever any devotee offers 'ganja' to Lord Shiva, the 'king of Gods', it pleases Him. Interestingly, this relation between Lord Shiva and 'ganja' is believed to be precious while upholding an individual's physical health and emotional or psychological balance. A Hindu text titled 'Rajvallabha' written in the 17th century states that this wish-gratifying drug was believed to have been acquired by men on earth for the welfare of all people. It further says that those who use it regularly are full of joy and without any distress.

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In the early days when the Europeans were setting up colonies in America, cultivation of hemp for industrial use had become essential for world trade. Significantly, though the government's authorization was required to cultivate hemp, both the Old and the New World were still ignorant of the various medicinal benefits of the marijuana plant. It was only after the Europeans explored India and discovered the advantages of Cannabis indica that the Western physicians sat up and took note of it. When they learnt about the benefits of the cannabis remedies that were found in the conventional Indian medicine, medical practitioners in Europe as well as in America acted swiftly. Even the influence of the traditional medicinal values of Cannabis indica, as found in the conventional Indian herbal medicine, was too strong on them to ignore the herb anymore.

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Medical science developed in the Western civilization as the Dark Ages gave into the Renaissance period. It was then that the scientists and physicians of the Western civilization discovered several crucial facts regarding the herbal medicines, including the various noteworthy therapeutic values of the marijuana. In his book titled 'The Anatomy of Melancholy' published in 1621, Robert Burton recommended that cannabis may be useful in curing depression. Several years later, in 1682, The New London Dispensatory wrote in a few words the usefulness of cannabis seeds in healing coughs and jaundice and much later, in 1764, The New English Dispensatory suggested that poultices prepared by boiling hemp roots was helpful in healing irritations and swellings. Yet again in 1794, the Edinburgh New Dispensary wrote about the growing perception of the therapeutic advantages of the cannabis herb. The report suggested that cannabis was effectual in curing coughs, venereal or sexually transmitted diseases and urinary incontinence. In his book titled 'Complete Herbal' published by Nicholas Culpepper in 1814, the writer took care to list all the known curative uses of the cannabis plant and incorporated all the earlier published applications of the herb to heal different disorders. In addition, Culpepper also published a few new remedial applications of the plant like alleviating colic (sudden attack of pain in the abdomen over and over again, which causes spasm, inflammation or impediment), assuaging problems associated with bowels, stopping worrying bleeding, and lessening swelling of the head as well as easing pains of the hips and joints. He also suggested the use of cannabis as a preservative for ointments and creams for the healing of burns. Incidentally, till the discovery as well as exploration of the Indian sub-continent expanded the perceptions of the Europeans, they had no idea of any psychoactive consequences related with the use of cannabis.

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Other medical uses

Habitat and cultivation

Marijuana is indigenous to China, India, especially the northern region, Caucasus and Iran and is now cultivated commercially across the globe. Marijuana cultivation is carried out both legally for its fiber as well as its seeds, and also illegally as a recreational drug.

Research

Recent researches carried out on marijuana have revealed multifaceted medicinal advantages of this important plant. It has been found to be an effectual analgesic (a pain killer), sedative (a tranquilizer) as well as a substance that helps in combating inflammation. Presently, researchers are focusing their attention on the properties and remedial uses of THC - a constituent of marijuana. However, it has been found that the various ingredients found in marijuana have noteworthy and wider assortment of medical applications.

Presently, researchers and scientists are examining the usefulness of marijuana in curing ailments like asthma and specific types of glaucoma (an eye disorder marked by unusually high pressure within the eyeball that leads to damage of the optic disk). Researches are also being conducted to find if marijuana can control and cure epileptic seizures and the nausea or vomiting tendency caused by the radiation therapy as well as cancer chemotherapy. On the other hand, despite the fact that the use of marijuana as an intoxicant or for recreation is socially widely accepted in many parts of Asia and Africa, such usage of the plant has serious side-effects or downsides. While experts are still debating on the issue of the degree to which marijuana can be physically as well as psychologically detrimental, there is no argument on the fact that such usage of marijuana is harmful beyond doubt. According to experts and scientists, the real danger is not that much on the physical aspect, but more on the psychological dependence on the drug. In most countries, possessing marijuana plant is considered to be illegal and is punishable by the law.

Constituents

Marijuana contains over 60 different types of cannabinoids, including THC (delta 9 -tetrahydrocannabinol). Marijuana also contains flavonoids, volatile oil, and alkaloids. It is the only plant to contain THC, one of the main psychoactive constituents.

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