Hemp - traditional medicine

In Ayurvedic medicine hemp was used to treat many ailments and is known as vijaya or, most commonly, bhanga. Hemp was used traditionally in small doses to treat chronic headaches, asthma, whooping coughs and in the treatment of pain, especially when opiates from poppies could not be used. It was used to treat snake bites because it decreased the pain and had some antiseptic properties.

Hemp in healing

In the majority of cases bhanga was prescribed as a palliative treatment, in other words treating the symptoms rather than healing the patient. The doses used to treat these conditions are less than those used to produce hallucinations. Frequent use can lead to a total breakdown of memory and health, especially if used habitually as a drug. Healers took great care not to overuse hemp as a medicine.

Photograph of a local Guru, with holy basil and hemp plants.
Image: A local Guru, with holy basil and hemp plants. Rajasthan, India.

When the resin is added to incense, fragrant compounds are released. These compounds have a calming effect and could explain why incense is burnt in the rooms of patients with fevers, such as those caused by malaria.

This information is provided for general interest only. It is not intended as guidance for medicinal use. Further information on using herbal medicines is available.