Indian Hemp. The dried flowering tops of the female plant, from which the resin has not been removed. Nat. Ord. Urticaceae. Linn. Syst. Dicia Pentandria. Hab. Cultivated in India and Persia. The Hemp grown in India and the Tropics differs from that grown in England, by containing a resinous secretion, of which the Indian name is Churrus. The name of the dried plant which has flowered, and from which the resin has not been removed, is Gunjah.
Med. Prop. and Action. The intoxicating properties of Indian Hemp appear to have been known for a long period in the East; but its medicinal qualities were first investigated by Dr. O'shaughnessy, in 1838. The first effect of a large dose, he observes, is decidedly stimulant, producing increased arterial action, and a great exhilaration of spirits; the patient is very talkative, singing songs, asking for food, and declaring himself in perfect health. This state gradually passing off, is followed by a complete state of catalepsy, which lasts for some hours, and then subsides, leaving the patient without headache, pain, or any other ill consequence. In all the cases in which it was tried, the effects were closely analogous; alleviation of pain in most, remarkable increase of appetite, unequivocal aphrodisia, and great mental cheerfulness. The pupils were freely contractible on the approach of light. In those who habituate themselves greatly to its use, or in those who try it for the first time, there occasionally occurs a species of insanity closely resembling delirium tremens This state is at once recognised by the strange balancing gait of the patient, a constant rubbing of the hands, perpetual giggling, and a propensity to caress the bystanders. The eye wears an expression of cunning and merriment; there is no increase of heat or frequency of the circulation; the skin and functions remain natural. In a few instances the patients are violent, in many highly aphrodisiac, and all were voraciously hungry. A blister to the nape of the neck, antimonials, and salines are sufficient to remove this state. After extensive trials with Indian Hemp, Dr. Clendenning* characterises it as "a soporific or hypnotic, in conciliating sleep; as an anodyne, in lulling irritation; as an anti-spasmodic, in checking cough and cramp; and as a nervine stimulant, in removing languor and anxiety." Dr. Christison found it effectual in inducing uterine contractions in labour. Drs. Ballard and Garrod observed that it communicates a paculiar odour to the urine, when taken internally. Dr. Garrod, however, has never found any direct soporific effects from Indian Hemp, although, he observes, "in some cases of wakefulness arising from an over-irritable state of the nervous system, it has allowed sleep to ensue " He believes it to be an anodyne and anti-spasmodic, exerting au influence both on the brain and spinal cord. It differs from opium in not causing constipation and loss of appetite. He thinks that a thorough investigation of its physiological and therapeutical action is still a desideratum. Dr. Bryan§ found it possessed of diuretic qualities if given in doses of gutt. xx. of the Tincture every four hours. Thuse were more marked where the diuretic action had been first established by other remedies: it seemed then to maintain the action already begun. The dose required in temperate climates is mich larger than that required in India. Dr. O'shaugh-nessy, when in England, had to give gr. x. - xij. of an Alcoholic Extract to produce the same effect as would be produced in India by gr. j. - iss. Its activity appears to depend upon Cannabin, or Resin of Hemp; it also contains a small portion of volatile oil. It should be remembered that when the Extract or Tincture is mixed with water, the resin is precipitated and becomes slowly deposited on the sides of the bottle. A little Spirits of Ammonia causes it to be held in solution. (Garrod )
* Medical Times and Gazette, July 11, 1863.
Offic. Prep. 1. Extractum Cannabis IndicAe (Indian Hemp lb. j.; Rectified Spirit Oiv. Prepared by maceration for seven days, pressing out the tincture and evaporating it to a proper consistence). Dose, from gr. 1/4 - gr. ij., or more.