As an Indian, we all know that bhang is a traditional beverage which is consumed throughout the year but specifically people consume it during Lord Shiva’s Birthday or during the holi festival. Bhang is prepared by drying, grinding and soaking the leaves of a Cannabis Sativa plant which usually grows between mid September to early October.
Cannabis plants have Cannabinoids like THC and CBD, which has the potential to give a psychoactive effect that could hit the brain or nervous system of the human body and that is why after consumption of bhang people feel high.
Other than that, THC helps in relaxation, reducing pain and many other health benefits and hence the consumption of bhang is legal in certain states of India, while some still has prohibited consumption of bhang. Not just in beverage form but you can consume this herb made substance in sweets and snacks form too, which could help you in prevention from seizure, nausea, vomiting and muscle pain.
How does bhang work?
Let’s understand the human functional and hormonal system behind that psychoactive sensation after consumption of bhang.
Every human body has an endocannabinoid system which is a regulatory system and is responsible for many physiological processes in the body, after consuming bhang, the psychoactive element THC directly interacts with the endocannabinoid system which is the lead cause for dizzy sensation.
Endocannabinoid system has majorly two types of receptors known as cannabinoid receptors:
CB1 Receptor - These receptors are found in the center of the nervous system and in the brain, they are responsible for creating a psychoactive feeling and interacting with components like THC. They also have the potential to lift up the mood, affect memory and overall body coordination.
CB2 Receptor - They are placed in the peripheral nervous system and immune cells. They do not create the psychoactive feeling but they are responsible for all the immune functions and inflammation.
Although, the human body has the ability to naturally produce their own cannabinoids known as endocannabinoids. There are 2 popular endocannabinoids, anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). Whereas THC and some other external cannabinoids can perform the same functions.
Now when these elements enter the body and connect with the nervous system, the hormonal side could react in the following ways:
Dopamine elevation - CB1 receptors activate after interacting with THC which result in the elevation of dopamine in certain sections of the brain which relates to the euphoric effects of consumption of bhang.
Memory Impairment - Hippocampus is a part of the brain which is responsible for the memory formation process. THC could affect the functioning of the hippocampus which usually results in short term memory issues after consuming bhang.
Pain Relieving - Bhang is made from cannabis which has CBD cannabinoid which helps in reducing pain of joints and muscle as well as arthritis pain.
The side effects of bhang vary from person to person, completely depending on aspects like tolerance, dosage, genetics, overall physical and mental health.
Bhang related health benefits:
- Eases Nausea and Vomiting - Bhang has THC in a good amount and THC has some antiemetic properties which has the potential to ease the nausea and vomiting. THC interacts with CB1 receptors present in the brain and modulates the vomiting and nausea feeling in the human body. Cancer patients undergoing Chemotherapy found that bhang or any cannabis based product gives relief from vomiting and nausea. Pregnant women also feel nausea, which in that case is also known as morning sickness, with doctors advice and instructions a limited amount of consumption of bhang could help in getting rid from that feeling.
- Pain Relief - The preclinical and clinical studies have shown that THC and CBD has analgesic properties which help in reducing pain:
- Neuropathic Pain - This kind of pain is caused by some damage in the nerves and could be extremely painful, THC has the ability to bring ease in neuropathic pain.
- Chronic Pain - Intense chronic pain like back pain could be a concerning situation, any product made of cannabis including bhang could help in reducing pain.
- Cancer pain - Cancer, as a disease comes with lots of body and mental pain, THC and CBD both elements present in bhang has the potential to help a cancer patient in reducing pain.
- Inflammatory pain - both THC and CBD has certain inflammatory properties which could help in relief from pain caused by inflammatory tissues in the body.
- Muscle Spasms - Muscle Spasm is the painful sensation from contracting or tightening of your muscles. Bhang has elements like THC and CBD which helps in reducing muscle spasms. It also gives an ease from pain due to analgesic properties of THC and helps you relax.
- Seizures - it refers to an uncontrollable burst of electrical activity in the human brain due to the malfunction of neurons. THC and CBD have properties that subsequently reduce pain. It also has some neuropathic properties which contributes to reducing the recurrent seizures.
Other Benefits of Consuming Bhang
- Improves sleep cycle - Due to the presence of THC which is popular for its sedative and psychoactive effects. CBD has the ability to rejuvenate your body and calm your mind at the same time. Therefore, after consuming bhang people sleep peacefully and see changes in their irregular sleep patterns.
- Increased appetite - Any product made from Cannabis, including bhang could increase your appetite due to the presence of THC component. It is known to enhance the craving for food, a phenomenon known as “munchies”. Due to some medical treatments like chemotherapy, patients usually go through loss of appetite, THC plays a crucial role for those patients also by making the food taste better and help them crave for it.
- Helps in fighting cancer - THC has many properties which could help a cancer patient both mentally and physically. It helps in pain management which could physically cause a lot of damage to a human body while undergoing any treatment. THC also helps in reduction of nausea and vomiting. Chemotherapy, a well known treatment for cancer patients also could cause severe nausea and vomiting, CBD alleviates CINV (Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting) which makes the treatment tolerable for patients.
- Reduces Inflammation - Pain related inflammation, such as arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease could be positively affected with consumption of bhang. Both CBD & THC helps in reducing the discomfort caused by inflammatory tissue damage.
Risks or Side effects associated with Bhang consumption
- Bhang has several benefits but it also comes with certain health risks that should not be taken lightly, no one should consume bhang in a massive amount without a proper medical prescription from a doctor.
- Bhang causes euphoria and short term memory loss, which at certain times is okay, but it should not be considered as a habit. Teens and kids should not consume bhang unless there is a medical emergency as it could slow down the ability of their brain to process situations.
- In certain cases bhang or excessive usage of cannabis could lead to depression and anxiety or panic attacks.
- Pregnant women should avoid regular or even weekly consumption of bhang as it holds the chances of premature birth and low birth weight of the infant, which is not a desirable situation.
- If bhang is smoked in the form of “Joint” or “Blunt”, it could severely affect your respiratory system leading to chronic bronchitis and lung irritation.
Consumption of bhang has its own benefits and disadvantages like every other substance, its positive or negative effects completely depend on the dosage and rational consumption. Every human body has different tolerance to different components, it is important to not force your body in any peer pressure to consume more than your ability.
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