This section is from the book "Materia Medica: Pharmacology: Therapeutics Prescription Writing For Students and Practitioners", by Walter A. Bastedo. Also available from Amazon: Materia Medica: Pharmacology: Therapeutics: Prescription Writing for Students and Practitioners.
Cannabis is "the dried flowering tops of the pistillate plants of Cannabis sativa (Fam. Moracece), grown in the East Indies, and gathered while the fruits are yet undeveloped and are carrying the whole of their natural resin.,, The biologic assay requires that it shall produce incoordination when administered to dogs in dose of not more than 0.03 gm. per kilogram of body weight.
The plant is grown extensively in various countries for hemp fiber and seed, the seed formation being accompanied by diminished resin production; but in the East Indies all staminate plants and flowers are removed so as to prevent setting of seed, and this results in a greater product of resin. Under the names of bhang, charas, ganja, guaza, hashish, etc., various preparations of the drug are used in the East as habit-drugs.
Ten to 20 per cent of resin, volatile oil, a bitter principle, and traces of the alkaloid cannabinine and other alkaloids. The activity resides in the resin, the active principle of which has not been isolated. Cannabinol is a mixture, chiefly oil and resin. The drug as marketed is very variable in strength and tends to deteriorate.
In eastern peoples, among whom the "hasheesh" habit is common, it produces depression of the highest centers, setting free the imagination, and resulting in an agreeable, dreamy "dolce far niente" state resembling that from morphine. The sensations of pain and touch are lessened, the extremities feel numb, a state of indifference to outside influence comes on, and sleep may follow. The director of the Insane Asylum at Ab-bassieh, India, states that of 2564 patients, the insanity in 689 was attributed to the excessive use of hashish. There are similar reports from other asylums in India and Egypt.
In America there is generally no intoxication from therapeutic doses, but a mild general depression of the intellectual and sensory centers of the cerebrum and quieting of nervous excitability. Dixon recommends the inhalation of the vapor as most soothing. Like morphine, it may promote sleep in the presence of pain. From poisonous doses, however, there is delirious intoxication, and the patient may lose self-control, laugh, and talk at random. His sense of time and distance may be lost, and he may fear impending death. Subsequently there is general cerebral depression, resulting in sleep or stupor, with diminished perception of pain and muscular relaxation. The heart becomes slow and weak, and the pupil is dilated. Very large doses have been recovered from. An interesting description of the effects of a large dose upon himself is given by H. C. Wood, Sr., in his "Therapeutics, its Principles and Practice."
Owing to its great variability, its tendency to deteriorate, and great differences in individual susceptibility to its action, cannabis is very little employed. A good preparation of it may allay nervous excitability, as after sexual or alcoholic excesses, may lessen the pain of neuralgia or migraine, and may promote sleep (in the presence of pain). As obtainable, it often fails to have any therapeutic effect.
Humulus (hops) is the strobile of Humulus lupulus (Fam. Moracece), bearing the glandular powder which is known as "lu-pulin." Lupulin contains resin, volatile oil, bitter lupamaric acid, and valeric acid. The unofficial fluidextract of lupulin, dose, 3 minims (0.2 c.c.), is used as a bitter, and as a mild sedative and antispasmodic in the treatment of nervousness, restlessness, and hysteria. A hop pillow or a poultice made of steamed hops is a convenient method of applying heat to the face, back, or shoulder, as in toothache and neuralgia; but its specific sedative virtues exist only in the minds of the laity. The hops used in the manufacture of beer contribute to its hypnotic powers.
Lactucarium, the concrete milk juice of Lactuca virosa (Fam. Compositae), is said to be narcotic, like opium, but its action is a very feeble one. The syrup (5 per cent.) made from the tincture (50 per cent.) is employed for cough and as a sedative for children; dose, 2 drams (8 c.c.). Lactucarium lozenges are to be had for cough. One of the most famous of the proprietary lactucarium lozenges was found to contain opium.