Medical Cannabis in India

Medical Cannabis in India

Cannabis came to India from China thousands of years ago, and Hindu texts consider it a sacred plant. Some suggest the Hindu god Shiva created cannabis, or bhang, from his body to purify the elixir of life, while other texts call Shiva the Lord of Bhang and treat the cannabis bhang beverage as a sacrament. Studies also suggest that medicinal uses date back millennia with 9th- and 10th-century references. According to ancient texts, doctors used bhang to treat a variety of conditions, including insomnia, headaches, gastrointestinal disorders and pain, especially during childbirth. Bhang was also believed to have been used in treating dysentery, sunstroke and clearing phlegm.

A British doctor named William O’Shaughnessy working in India conducted the first comprehensive clinical trials of the plant’s medicinal benefits. The doctor published his findings in 1839, and he is credited with introducing indica strains to western medicine. Back in England, Dr. O’Shaughnessy became a fellow of the Royal Society, an honor bestowed for making a “substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge.”

Unlike many western countries, medicinal cannabis has always remained legal in India. Even now it remains an integral part of what’s known as Ayurvedic medicine, and today in India, pharmaceutical students are educated about the properties of cannabis.

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