By herbalist, Brigitte Mars

Marijuana (Cannabis sativa , C. indica, C. ruderalis) is a member of the Cannabaceae Family. The genus name, sativa means "with a long history of cultivation." It also is known as Ganja, Dagga, Bhang, Indian Dreamer, Grass, Pot, Reefer and Tea. Hemp is the name used when discussing the industrial and nonpsychoactive uses of the plant. The name marijuana is a term from Mexican Spanish meaning "intoxicant."

Marijuana has been cultivated for at least 10,000 years and is considered one of the world's oldest cultivated crops. It is native to northern India and Iran and is sacred to Shiva, "Lord of Bhang" and Indra in the Hindu culture.

In 1400 BC, Indian herbals recommended cannabis for anxiety. It is still considered one of the five sacred plants of India. Ayurvedic medicine today recommends cannabis to "increase the joys of married life".

In Chinese medicine, The Shen-Nung recommended marijuana seed for beri-beri, constipation and absent mindedness, female weakness, gout, malaria, rheumatism. In ancient Germany, hemp sprigs were laid on the body to treat convulsions and aid difficult births.

In Africa people would throw cannabis into a fire and inhale. It was also north Africans that developed the water pipe which cooled and purified its smoke. A bit more than 100 years ago, marijuana was recommended for menstrual problems. The seeds are still considered a demulcent laxative, mucilaginous much like flax seed and psyllium are used in America. Marijuana is considered very yin. In magic, marijuana is governed by Saturn.

During Biblical times hemp was used in twelve ways: celebration, ceremony, clothing, cord, fishnet, food, lamp and cooking oil, medicine, paper, relaxation and sails. The Bible was once printed on hemp paper after the invention of the Gutenburg movable type. In the Shinto religion to this day, hemp is a symbol of fertility and purity and symbolic objects such as purification wands, bell robes and priests' robes are made of hemp.

Cannabis grew in North America during prehistoric times perhaps brought here by early explorers and migrating birds. The Ancient Mound Builders' archeological finds yielded evidence of clay pipes containing hemp wrapped in hemp cloth dating from about 400 B.C.

Marijuana seeds were brought to America from England in 1632 by the Pilgrims. By 1762, Virginia farmers were penalized for not growing this plant, as it was such an important useful and economic crop. George Washington grew it at Mount Vernon in 1765. He also pulled up the male plants which increases the potency of psychoactive female plants. Thomas Jefferson advised its cultivation. In 1850, marijuana was America's third largest crop. Between 1840 and 1900 over a hundred published papers recommended Marijuana as medicine. The resin is most concentrated on the flowering tops of the female plants. Marijuana buds and leaves are smoked. Marijuana is not soluble in water as a tea, though is sometimes eaten in foods, though must be cooked in some type of oil for 15 minutes. Tincture of cannabis is used medicinally, though less psychoactive. Hashish is marijuana resin mixed with fat and honey and compressed into cakes.

Seeds are used raw as a food and cooked. Also hemp seed oil is a valuable medicine in addiction recovery and is not psychoactive at all. It can be substituted for flax seed oil. Energetically the leaves are ? seeds are considered sweet and neutral. Marijuana leaves have served humanity as a medicine due to its properties of being analgesic, anesthetic, anticonvulsant, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, bronchiodilator, cataleptic, cerebral sedative, cerebral stimulant, demulcent (seeds), euphoric, hallucinogenic, hypnotic, laxative (seeds), nutritive (seeds), sedative and yin tonic (seeds).

It has been used medicinally to treat anorexia (buds, seeds), arthritis pain (buds, seeds), asthma, cerebral palsy , chemotherapy nausea, childbirth pain, spasmodic coughs, depression, glaucoma, insomnia, menstrual cramps, migraines, nausea , nervousness in the elderly, nightmares, pain, paraplegia, piritis (chronic itching), wasting diseases ( buds, seeds) and relief for the terminally ill. Given in tincture form, marijuana has been used for opiate and alcohol addiction.

Marijuana smoke is medicinal for spastic paralysis, has benefited paralysis from brain injuries and relaxes stiff muscles. As for epilepsy, 75 % of patients are helped by allopathic medicines, but 25% cannot handle the side effects and find marijuana helpful as it helps reduce seizure occurrence. It can help MS by relieving painful muscle spasms. It allows people to be relieved of pain and still be able to write, improves bladder control and relaxes tremors . It can help AIDS patients to gain weight. It relaxes the smooth muscles of the bronchioles and increases heart rate. When taken in advance of chemotherapy, it helps counteract nausea by 78%. It reduces the nausea and vomiting during the treatments.

It helps glaucoma, by reducing interocular pressure and preventing the optic nerve from being destroyed. I would have a difficult time thinking of a plant that more medicinal uses.

Important constituents of marijuana leaves are: cannabinoids (tetrahydrocannbinol), flavonoids, volatile oils, alkaloids (cannabisativine, muscarine, trigonelline) and calcium. Seeds contain protein, lipids, choline, inositol and enzymes.

Marijuana's intrinsic value is slight in comparison to other substances. Marijuana affects some people adversely and induces paranoia and personality deviations as well as short term memory loss and perceptual distortions. People can have widely differing effects from marijuana - some becoming introverted while others become extroverted. Some get the giggles, others become serious. Some claim it is an aphrodisiac while others find they become disinterested in sex. Some people feel energized from smoking marijuana, others become lethargic. Some can use it for meditation, while others become confused. Some users enjoy it for sleep, others for helping them clean or do tasks or creative work. Many people claim that they have less dreaming activity when using marijuana and war vets have long used it to deter nightmares. It can also give access to buried memories. Many report enhanced senses of sight, smell and taste. It does not appear to produce a tolerance effect where more is needed.

Marijuana can decrease testosterone levels in men and reduce sperm count. Polyuria also known as frequent urination occurs in some marijuana smokers. According to Chinese medicine, marijuana use depletes the essence of the kidneys and can be weakening to the liver.

In general smoking anything can be hard on the lungs and though cannabis has been used to help asthma and bronchitis, smoking it can also aggravate those conditions. Irritated throat is a common response. Marijuana is a bronchial dilator.

It can overstimulate the appetite, causing a person to put on weight. The "stoned munchies" occur with low blood sugar which occurs several hours after smoking causing intense food cravings, especially for sweets. In some circumstances white blood cell production can be inhibited causing a lowered immune response. Marijuana can also cause red eyes (even if eaten), lazy eyes, where the eyelids droop slightly for a short period of time after use.

Overdose of marijuana can impair coordination, cause paranoia, fatigue or hyperactivity and in rare cases psychosis.

Most of the high is due to THC, tetrahydrocannabinol which was synthesized in 1966. THC is activated by heat. In 1980's receptor sites for THC were identified in the body and have been named anandamide, meaning "bliss." THC induces euphoria and exhilaration. THC accumulates and is stored in fatty tissue. When rats are given THC they learn how to run mazes faster than untreated rats. Marinol was legalized in 1986 and is synthetic THC. It is very expensive. The drug Marinol puts you to sleep and if you have nausea you can't keep down a pill anyways. There is no known lethal dose from marijuana.

An old Sufi saying is "Smoking it occasionally makes you wise. Smoking it too much turns you into a donkey."

Cooking marijuana makes it less a stress on the lungs, but is more expensive and it takes a while for it to "come on." One can be surprised when the effects come on later and one realizes they could have eaten half as much. Also not all of the medicinal components are passed on through the intestines. As smoking lets you know within a few minutes how high you are.

If being drug tested, be aware that being in close proximity such as in a small room or car with burning substances can cause you to test positive.

Set and setting are most important. Sitting in a circle on a rug or ground with a group of friends that you have prayed, smoked and shared with can be very enhancing. Since you have to be close enough to pass a joint or a pipe it encourages closeness and camaraderie. Some guidelines for safe use include:

Use only in moderation. Smoke no more than once a week. Don't combine drugs. Avoid using recreational substances before or when at school at work. Use only on special occasions or weekends. Consider having a right use by using it as a sacrament on a full moon, Easter Sunday, Halloween and when in a beautiful or meaningful place. Not recommended in unsafe settings or with driving or machinery operation.

Offer a prayer of thanksgiving before lighting up. Sit while smoking. Waterpipes, though illegal in many states, actually make cannabis less irritating to smoke.

Marijuana is neither a stimulant or sedative. Many people are able to use it on occasion for social, celebrations or to enjoy the arts. But many get pulled into "the wake and bake" habit. Those that smoke it constantly do not get any profound experiences from it. Daily use tends to produce lethargy. Use can impair judgment of time and space and lower ability to respond so be extra cautious. The combination of alcohol and marijuana is even more impairing than either substance alone.

Withdrawal from marijuana can cause cravings, anxiety, anorexia, depression, hyperactivity, irritability and sleep disturbances.

Nutritional Therapy

Be sure to get adequate protein and avoid bingeing on sweets which will only destabilize blood sugar levels. Choose whole grains such as oatmeal, barley and brown rice and avoid refined flour products. Drink unsweetened cranberry juice diluted 50% with water when giving up marijuana.

Herbal Therapy to Use Less Marijuana

  • Anise
  • Ashwagandha
  • Basil
  • Burdock
  • Calamus
  • Catnip
  • Dandelion
  • Fennel
  • Ginkgo
  • Ginseng
  • Gotu kola
  • Hops
  • Kava kava
  • Oatstraw
  • Passion flower
  • Reishi
  • Rosemary
  • Saint John'swort
  • Schizandra
  • Siberian ginseng
  • Wild lettuce
  • Supplement Therapy
  • B complex 100 mg. daily
  • Vitamin C 300 mg. daily
  • Vitamin A 10,000-25,000 daily
  • 200 mcg. GTF chromium 4 times daily
  • L-glutamine 500 mg. 2 times daily

People with addictive tendencies are more likely to continue their addictions if they continue smoking marijuana. When detoxing from marijuana take 1000 mg. vitamin c every two to four waking hours.

In case of marijuana overdose, drink basil tea, hold on to an amethyst crystal and breathe to feel more grounded, drink lemonade, eat some protein rich food, drink coffee or take a cold shower.

Aromatherapy

For marijuana addiction smell essential oils of basil, cardamom, clary sage and nutmeg.

Hemp is a very renewable crop that can be easily grown without chemicals and as it can be used to make paper, fiber and fuel, it can solve many of the planet's environmental problems. Legalizing hemp would result in less trees being cut for paper, about 1/7 the amount of carbon dioxide residue should we use this for fuel and less dioxin residue from paper made from trees. It also provides lots of oxygen for the planet when growing and can reduce air pollution. Hemp is a plant that can liberate people from their addictions to petrochemicals, cutting down the forests as well as to many prescription and more dangerous recreational drugs. Perhaps because this plant is used in its whole form and is an herb and really not a refined drug its dangers are less. It certainly can be abused, but has much less potential for this than other substances.

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