Bhang has been an integral part of the Indian culture since ages. With Holi: the festival of colors, being around the corner, there is an increased availability and consumption of bhang. Bhang is also freely consumed on festivals such as Maha-Shivratri because of its association with Lord Shiva. It is enjoyed by the public in various forms such as thandais, pakoras, and vadas. However, since the consumption of bhang majorly falls under the category of recreational marijuana use, its exceptional medicinal values are not known by many.
What is Bhang?
Bhang is extracted from the buds, leaves, and flowers of the cannabis plant. It is made into a paste by drying, granulating, and thereafter soaking the leaves and buds of the Cannabis Sativa or Cannabis Indica plant. This edible mixture called bhang, is then added to foods and drinks during festivals in northern India.
Health Benefits of Bhang
Since bhang is an edible preparation from marijuana strains, there are certain health benefits it can be associated with.
Helps Reduce Nausea and Vomiting
Bhang helps in reducing vomiting and nausea. Research has proved that THC (tetrahydracannabinol), which is one of the main cannabinoids in bhang, is helpful in treating nausea. Researchers have observed its positive effects in curbing nausea and vomiting- mainly in the patients undergoing chemotherapy.
A review of 23 randomized controlled trials (RCTs), contained a research where the patients undergoing chemotherapy for cancer were divided into three groups. One group was given cannabis-based products, the second was given the traditional anti-nausea drugs, and the third group was given placebo. It was found that those who were given the placebo were three times more likely to experience nausea and vomiting than the patients who were given cannabis-based products. Additionally, the cannabis edibles proved to be as effective as the conventional medicines for treating nausea. It should not be consumed without consulting a professional since heavy use can cause abdominal pain and worsen nausea.
Helps with Pain Management
One of the most well-known medicinal uses of cannabis products such as bhang is pain reduction. Various studies have been conducted on the same. A recent review of 28 RCTs showed that certain cannabinoids, especially CBD (Cannabidiol), are quite effective in treating chronic pain. A review of 18 RCTs further concluded that cannabinoids can help in reducing chronic pain caused due to fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. Cannabis may help with menstrual cramps too.
The hemp plant contains a large number of compounds which are, by extension, present in bhang as well. These compounds activate the receptors CB1 and CB2 in our body. The CB2 receptors play a crucial part in controlling inflammation. When the receptor is activated by the cannabis compounds, the cells release lesser pro-inflammatory signals called cytokines. Research has shown that CBD greatly helps in reducing inflammation. This compound is present in bhang, along with THC and other compounds.
Other health benefits of bhang include: improved sleep, increased appetite, reduction in muscle spasms and seizures, etc.
As depicted above, bhang has various health benefits associated with it. Due to it being associated with recreational use, a majority of those consuming it are not aware of its medicinal properties. Despite its benefits, one should not self-medicate using bhang. A medical practitioner should be consulted before consuming bhang as a medicine, wherein the dosage to be administered would be specified.