This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Cannabis C. B. Cannabis sativa Linn. Hemp: a tall annual herb, with digitated leaves, cultivated in fields on account of the mechanic uses of its tough rind. Some of the plants, called male, produce flowers; composed of yel-lowish stamina set in five-leaved cups. Others, called female, produce seeds; moderately large, covered with a shining dark grey-coloured shell; under which is lodged a white kernel.
This plant has a rank smell, of the narcotic kind, and is supposed to be prejudicial to health. It is said that the effluvia of the fresh. herb weaken the eyes, and affect the head (a): and that the water, in which the herb has been steeped for facilitating the separation of the tough rind, is a violent and sudden poison (b). The deleterious power of this liquor may depend, however, not solely on the specific virtues of the hemp, but in great part on the strong putrid taint which the soluble matter of the herb contracts during the process: for flax, a plant not suspected of any hurtful qualities, is reckoned to give a like poisonous impregnation to the water in which it is long macerated; insomuch that the steeping of one, as well as of the other, in spring or running waters, or ponds in which cattle drink, is prohibited by law (b). The leaves of an oriental hemp, called bangue or bang, and by the Egyptians assis, are said to be used, in the eastern countries, as a narcotic, and aphrodisiac (c).
The seeds of hemp, when fresh, have a faint smell of the herb, which is dissipated in keeping: their taste is unctuous and somewhat sweetish, accompanied with a flight warmth. They yield upon expression a considerable quantity of insipid oil; and unite with water, by trituration, into an emulsion. Decoctions of them in milk, and the emulsions, have been recommended against coughs, heat of urine, etc. in which cases they may be of service, as emollients and obtunders of acrimony: but the virtues attributed to them against incontinence of urine, and for restraining venereal appetites, appear to have less, if any foundation. They are said to be used in some places as food; and, when taken freely, to affect the head (a).
(a) Lindeftolpe, De veneris, edit. Stentzel. cap. x. thes. xiii. p. 541.
(b) Ray, Hist. plant. i. 159.
(c) Kaempfer, Amanitates exit, p. 645. Alpinus, De med. aegypt. lib. iv. cap. 2.