Cannabis

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Chapter: Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry : Drugs Containing Resins

Cannabis consists of dried flowering tops of the pistillate plants of Cannabis sativa Linn., belonging to family Cannabinaceae.


CANNABIS

 

 

Synonyms

 

Indian hemp, Indian cannabis, hashish, bhang, ganja, charas, Cannabis indica, marihuana.

 

Biological Source

 

Cannabis consists of dried flowering tops of the pistillate plants of Cannabis sativa Linn., belonging to family Cannabinaceae.

 

Geographical Source

 

Cannabis occurs in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Iran, Central America, United States, East Africa, South Africa, and Asia Minor.

 

Cultivation and Collection

 

Cannabis is an annual dioecious herb, which is cultivated by seed sowing method. The seeds are sown on seedbeds in the month of August and after a month the seedlings are transplanted into the open field. The male plants, which have attained the maturity, are taken and shaken over the female plants so as to facilitate pollination. The flowering tops of female plants are collected in February or March. They are made into bundles and treated under the foot to form flat masses. The flat masses are dried under the shade to obtain ‘ganja’. In India the tops are treated to form rounded masses called as ‘ganja’.

 

Cannabis Products

 

The following products are prepared from Cannabis. Ganja: It contains up to 10% of its fruits, large foliage

 

leaves and stems over 3 cm. It is known as Flat or Bombay ganja when 30 cm long pieces of the herb are made into bundles and pressed. Round or Bengal ganja is prepared by rolling the wilted tops between the hands. Ganja is legally produced only by a few licensed growers in Bengal and southern India. The seeds are sown in rows about 1.3 m apart and male plants are discarded. The resinous tops of the unfertilized plants are cut about 5 months after sowing and pressed into cakes. The yield is nearly 120 kg per acre.

 

Bhang or Hashish: It consists of the larger leaves and twigs of both male and female plants. It is smoked with or without tobacco. It is unfit for medicinal use owing to deficiency of resin. It is also taken in the form of an electuary made by digestion with melted butter.

 

Charas: It is the crude resin obtained by rubbing the tops between the hands and beating them on a piece of cloth. This is an inferior product. It may be collected by beating the flowering tops in coarse cotton cloths spread on the ground. A greenish-brown soft mass adheres, and may be purified by pressing it through the cloths. The resin is scraped off. It is mixed with many smoking mixtures.

 


                  Cannabis sativa


Morphology

 

Cannabis occurs in flattened, rough, dull dusky green masses. The dried resin is hard, brittle, and does not stick. The flat-ganja is flattened mass of a dull green colour. The odour is very marked in the fresh drug and becomes faint afterwards; taste is slightly bitter.

 

The flat- or Bombay ganja occurs in agglutinated flattened masses of a dull green or greenish-brown colour. The resin is not sticky but hard and brittle; the odour, which is very marked in the fresh drug, is faint. The drug has a slightly bitter taste. The lower digitate leaves of the plant are not found in the drug. The thin, longitudinally furrowed stems bear simple or lobed; stipulate bracts which subtend the bracteoles, enclosing the pistil late flowers. The bracts are stipulate and the lamina may be simple or three-lobed. The bracteole enclosing each flower is simple.

 

Microscopy

 

The resin is secreted by numerous glandular hairs. The head is usually eight-celled and the pedicel multiseriate or unicellular. Corrigan and Lynch, a reagent consisting of vanillin in ethanolic sulphuric acid, stains the cannabis glands a deep reddish-purple. Abundant conical, curved, unicellular hairs are also found, many having cystoliths of calcium carbonate in their enlarged bases. These cystolith hairs are not confined solely to the genus Cannabis. Cluster crystals of calcium oxalate are abundant, particularly in the bracteoles.

 

Chemical Constituents

 

Cannabis consist of 15 to 20% resin, the resins are amorphous, semisolid, brown coloured, soluble in ether, alcohol, and carbon disulphide. The most important active constituents present in cannabis are: cannabidiol, cannabidolic acid, cannabinol, cannabichromene, and trans-tetrahydrocannbinol. Cannabis also contains Cannabidiolic acid, cannabidiol A 9, tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabinol A9, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), volatile oil, trigonelline, and cholene.

 


 

Uses

 

Cannabis resin is tonic, sedative, analgesic, intoxicant, stomachic, antispasmodic, antianxiety, anticonvulsant, antitussive, and narcotic. Cannabis causes only pshycic dependence and act upon the nervous system.

Marketed Products

 

It is one of the ingredients of the preparation known as Bilwadi churna (Baidyanath).

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