Did Ancient Hindus Know About the Endocannabinoid System in Ayurveda Medicine?

By Hash C. Borgir | May 16, 2017

Bhang

Marijuana, Endocannabinoid System, and Ancient Hindu Wisdom

Marijuana has been prevalent since Man’s creation and has been enshrined in all cultures of humanity all over the world. Marijuana has been used since the prehistoric days of man.

Cannahuasca/Bhang (Marijuana) has been a critical part of Hindu culture for thousands of years. It has been a part of the Ayurvedic (Hindu tradition of life and knowledge) and medicine, from the Sanskrit Atharvaveda of 1500-2500 BCE. It has since been adopted by the Western medicine of the 19th century and its modern ethnobotanical usage in the world.

In reviewing the use of cannabis in India, the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission conducted a government study on the matter and made the following conclusions in their report:

“…It is inevitable that temperaments would be found to whom the quickening spirit of Bhang is the spirit of freedom and knowledge. In the ecstasy of Bhang the spark of the Eternal in man turns into the light the murkiness of matter.”

And …

“…Cannahuasca/Bhang is the Joy-giver, the Sky-filler, the Heavenly-Guide, the Poor Man’s Heaven, the Soother of Grief…No god or man is as good as the religious drinker of Bhang…The supporting power of Bhang has brought many a Hindu family safe through the miseries of famine. To forbid or even seriously restrict the use of so gracious an herb as the hemp would cause widespread suffering and annoyance and to large bands of worshiped ascetics, deep-seated anger. It would rob the people of a solace on discomfort, of a cure in sickness, of a guardian whose gracious protection saves them from the attacks of evil influences…”

Marijuana is often mentioned in the Hindu creation myth, where it is named as one of the five holy drinks of the gods and designated a

“Reliever of Suffering.”

In Hindu mythology, the gods churn the Ocean of Milk in search of Amrit, the elixir of eternal life. One of the resulting holy drinks was cannabis. In the Vedas, cannabis is referred to as a

“source of happiness.” - Rig Veda

The Gift of Cannahuasca/Bhang from Shiva to Mankind

Marijuana is most closely associated with Shiva, one of the three primary Gods of the Hindus. Shiva, the Sanskrit word “Śiva”, शिव, means “auspicious, propitious, gracious, benign, kind, benevolent, friendly”. The foundations of Śiva in Hindu mythology, language and proper Sanksrit is “śī” which means “in one everything exists, pervasive, unity” and va which means “personification of grace”.

Shiva, throughout the ages and through many sub-cultures, has been known by many names, such as Viswanathan (lord of the universe), Mahesha, Maheshvara, Shankara, Neelakanta, Subhankara, Trilokinatha, Mahadeva, Shambhu, Rudra, Hara, Trilochana, Devendra (chief of the gods), (lord of the three realms), and Ghrneshwar (lord of compassion).

Marijuana is considered Shiva’s favorite plant. In one legend in the vedas, it is told that Shiva, after a heated argument with his family, went to rest in the garden, but found it very hot. Shiva rested under a Marijuana tree. The shade of the tree was cooling and when we awoke from his sleep, he was so delighted and rejuvenated from eatings Marijuana flowers that he gifted the flower and leaf to human kind.

Another legend has it that all the Gods and Demon, the Devas and Rakhshas came together to churn the eternal ocean of life to obtain the elixir of immortality, the Amrit. The churning of this ocean produced a great cloud of the poison Halhal, the most venomous substance in the Universe whose fumes could kill man, god, and demon alike. Shiva drank the poison and inhaled the poison cloud to protect everyone. This turned him blue forever. This raised his internal temperature and thus he drank Bhang to cool down the body. In India, Bhang is often consumed in the summer in lassi form to cool the body down during a hot day.

D. Adhikari gives a beautiful explanation:

“Just as the sun is so powerful it can extract water from urine without being polluted, Lord Shiva is so powerful that he can swallow an ocean of poison without being harmed. Similarly, he can smoke marijuana without losing his stature”

However it is important to not think of Shiva as a human-god or human-like. Shiva is not a person. He is the Nirgun Bhrahman. The Shwetashwatara Upanishadh tells us that Shiva is

  • Nirgun (Amorphic state, in which the totality of creation lay in the pervasiveness of Shiva)

  • Sagun (Shiva is the entire universe and his “ansh” predominates all life; the water, the tree, the bird, the insect, the plant, the soil, the animal, the male, the female and the whole of creation. The state of total and complete unity is Shiva Sagun)

  • Nirgun-Sagun (A state of Univeral intellect, manifestation of the infinite gnosis of the body, senses, feelings, everything that we are made of.)

In Nirgun-Sagun, the Shiva is the Shivalingum of Man. The eternal symbol of the shiva inside the very core of man, the atma, which is the brahma. Shivalingam is the mark of the Buddhimaan within his creation. “His” creation sounds rather odd as he is all creation. Everything in the Universe is comprised of, and arises out of a circular nature. From the quantum to the cosmic, all bodies are round, the minutest of cells are round and our very earth is round. Every thing being round is a mark of the Lord/Shiva. Cannahuasca/Bhang visions always have a certain roundness to them. Since Shiva cant be comprehended, we worship his symbol within man, or we worship the whole Brahmm. Atma = Brahma. Shiva is everything.

The Ayurvedic Outlook

Sadhu

The meditative and spiritual aspects of cannabis are considered so profound in South Asia that many religious groups including Buddhists, Naths, Shaivites and Goddess-Worshipers, Tantrics in India, Nepal, Sikkim, and Tibet to this day hold it in holy reverence. Various spiritual texts, including the Buddhist Tara Tantra, list cannabis as an important aid to meditation and spiritual practice. In the Tantric Buddhism of the Himalayas and Northern India, cannabis plays a huge role in meditative rituals to facilitate deep meditation and heighten awareness.

“Early man experimented with all plant materials that he could chew and could not have avoided discovering the properties of cannabis, for in his quest for seeds and oil, he certainly ate the sticky tops of the plant. Upon eating hemp the euphoric, ecstatic and hallucinatory aspects may have introduced man to an other-worldly plane from which emerged religious beliefs, perhaps even the concept of deity. The plant became accepted as a special gift of the gods, a sacred medium for communion with the spiritual world and as such, it has remained in some cultures to the present.” - Richard E. Schulte’s Man and Marijuana.

Marijuana has been used in Ayurvedic and Indian medicine for at least five thousand years to treat a variety of health conditions, including nausea and stomach ailments, lower body heat, gain focus, attentiveness, clear and sharp mind, creativity and overall homeostasis. The sanctity of marijuana can be traced to the Atharva Veda where marijuana is described as one of 5 very sacred plants along with barley, darbha grass, sugar, and Soma.

It is also prescribed for general health and longevity. Gym trainers and wrestlers, sportsmen and body builders in India use cannabis as a part of their training to gain muscle mass, promote digestion, have clarity of mind, focus, attention, and build strength.

Ayurvedic and Indian doctors still prescribe cannabis to treat a range of conditions. Slowly the west is finally beginning to recognize the true values of this remarkable plant. The spiritual use of marijuana, like the medical use of marijuana, requires elaborate preparation to help neutralize toxins.

In addition to physical means of purification, various mantras and complex spiritual practices are employed for the spiritual purification of the plant before use. The scriptures have not encouraged recreational use, intoxication from, or abuse of the substance. Cannahuasca/Bhang is used as the psychoactive hallucinogenic spiritual cleansing and healing drink, which is different from non-psyhcoactive Bhang, and is slightly different from the ayurvedic tradition.

One of the fathers of Ayurvedic Medicinal System, Dhanavantari, developed a medical jargon of the qualitative and quantitative effects of medicinal herbs, including Cannahuasca/Bhang (Marijuana). In his description, he speaks of cannabis as sharp, heating and light in its quality. Being sharp and “heating”, it increases humeral bile and removes humeral phlegm. It also stimulates visions and hallucinations, slows speech due to cerebral thinking, and raises the heat of the digestive fire. Note that these ancient symptoms are all so common to the cannabis user of today: hallucinations, distortion of speech and cognition, and the “munchies.”

In Ayurveda system of medicine and wellness, Bhang has been used for thousands of years as a component in various preparations, but not as an isolated herb. In Ayurveda, this herb can have some good effects, depending on what you are using it to do. When properly prepared in a synergistic formula and used in minute quantities under the care and direction of an expert, it can aid the mind and body. The use of cannabis is always in a synergy with other herbs and spices and never by itself. (No such products are sold in the United States.) This is where the true power of Cannahuasca/Bhang becomes evident.

Cannahuasca In Relation to Ayahuasca

Cannahuasca

Cannahuasca/Bhang is the psychoactive hallucinogenic shamanic drink of the Vedic Sadhus of ancient India. The Holy Cannabis flower is said to have its own individual spirit, the spirit of the Lord of Cannabis, the God Shiva.

  • Cannahuasca puts you in touch with yourself at the deepest levels where all structures of self-judgment vanish and your entire creativity is unleashed in its full glory!

  • Cannahusca dissovles boundaries and promotes compassion, togetherness, a sense of community and unconditional love towards our fellow human beings.

  • Journey deeply inwardly into the spirit realms as the experienced Cannahuasca/Bhang Sadhus (Cannahusca Shamans) from the Indian-Subcontinent.

Did you know that Aya/Ayu and Huasca/Vasaka/ are intimately related to each other? That the roots of the South American traditions and the roots of Hindu traditions are exactly the same? Ayarvedic, Ayurvaad, Ayuvashaka, Ayahuasca… One of the ingredient herb of ‘Ayavasaka’ is Justicia Pectoralis. Surprisingly, in Sanskrit the Justicia shrub is known as ‘vasaka’ (वासक) or ‘vashaka’ (वाशक). ‘Ayu’ (आयु) has many meanings including ‘life’, ‘living being’, ‘divine personification presiding over life’. The word also takes the form ‘ayur’ in ‘Ayurveda’ - where ‘ayur’ stands for ‘life’. The ‘aya’ of ‘ayawaska’ seems to be related to the Sanskrit ‘Ayu’ and ‘ayur’- both in sound and in meaning.

People often wonder why it would be that an herb that has proper medicinal use cases can cause negative side effects in other cases. According to the Ayurvedic wisdom tradition, the Cannahuasca/Bhang (cannabis) medicine when properly used becomes nectar and when improperly used becomes poison. When marijuana is used in ways not prescribed or intended (for example, in doses and for periods of time, or time of day not prescribed), it can cause a host of imbalances and side effects, including stimulating delusions and slowing speech, as well as worsening anxiety and depression.

This has recently been scientifically showcased, that an overdose of cannabis does, in fact, induce paranoia, severe anxiety, panic attacks, and chronic over-indulgence may lead to cannabis-induced depression. Marijuana Use and Panic Psychopathology Among a Representative Sample of Adults

Abstract: This study examined the relations between marijuana use and panic attacks and panic disorder using a large representative survey of adults. After adjusting for sociodemographic variables (age, marital status, income, education, race, and sex) and the presence of a lifetime substance use disorder, lifetime marijuana use was significantly associated with increased odds of a lifetime panic attack history. Lifetime marijuana use also was significantly associated with an increased risk of current (past-year) panic attacks.

And as noted by Psychology Today:

  • The natural endocannabinoid system regulates anxiety and the response to stress by dampening excitatory signals that involve the neurotransmitter glutamate.

  • Chronic stress or acute, severe emotional trauma can cause a reduction in both the production of endocannabinoids and the responsiveness of the receptors. Without their “buffering” effect, anxiety goes up.

  • While marijuana’s “exogenous” cannabinoids also can reduce anxiety, chronic use of the drug down-regulates the receptors, paradoxically increasing anxiety. This can trigger “a vicious cycle” of increasing marijuana use that in some cases leads to addiction.

There is a mind/body harmony which is the foundation of Ayurveda, the Life Science, and this harmony is found with proper study of one’s own body and it’s responses.

It seems that the Ancient Hindus knew as much and more about Cananbis as modern science is coming to discover. It can indeed be a nectar or a poison.

Combusted Marijuana Carcinogens and Dangers

THC and your Lungs

Marijuana smoke contains 400 compounds including merely 60-80 cannabinoids. The smoke also contains 50% more carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, including naphthalene, benzanthracene, and benzopyrene, than tobacco smoke. A recent Canadian study Marijuana Smoke Causes Up-Regulation of Akt and Bax Protein in Subfertile Patient’s Sperm Cells found that marijuana smoke caused significantly more damage to cells and DNA than tobacco smoke. There is now convincing evidence that, due to this toxicity of cannabis, regular usage damages DNA, leaving the possibility of the initiation of cancer development.

Much more convincing evidence was analyzed recently by the International Lung Cancer Consortium, asserted Hal Morgenstern, a University of Michigan epidemiologist and part of that group.

Though marijuana smoke does contain cancer-causing chemicals, the majority of people simply don’t consume enough of it to get ill, said Mr. Morgenstern.

When you think about people smoking 20-40 cigarettes a day for 40 years, they’re smoking hundreds of thousands of cigarettes,” he said. “The exposure [to harmful smoke] that marijuana users get … is more than a magnitude of difference less.

There are reasons to fear that smoking pot might lead to cancer, including the fact it contains some of the same carcinogens as tobacco, tends to be inhaled more deeply and generally is smoked without a filter.

The Hindus have never combusted the Cannabis flowers, mostly out of respect and tradition. The collected resin of the flowers is called hashish, which is smoked in a chillum or hooka in addition to Bhang. This contains and is a lot less harsher than burned cannabis flowers.

Ancient Hindu Bhang/Cannahuasca Medicine

Bhang

Why is Cannahuasca/Bhang consumed orally instead of being smoked? What did the ancient Hindus know that we do not? Cannahuasca/Bhang is the ancient hindu psychedelic drink that teaches one about the unity of the mind, body and spirit, as well as a staple of ayurvedic, Buddhist, and Shivaism/Naath medicine. It is a nectar of the Gods, containing the Vine of the Souls (Ayahuasca), the divine life vine presiding over all Earth.

THC-9 is psychoactive in the 10mg range. THCa (unheated Marijuana, with the Carboxylic Acid group still attached to the tail end of the molecule) is psychoactive in the 10,000+ mg range.

We are all going to get old and when we do, we’ll come down with some ailment as the body begins to wither. It is believed that this is due to an irregularity of the ECS. The endocannabinoid system benefits from being fully functional, as it is responsible for nutrient uptake, mood stability, and in short, most of the Central, Peripheral, and Sympathetic nervous system functions. As we get older, our ECS become irregular.

What do you do when you have a vitamin deficiency? You take the vitamin supplement or eat fruits rich in that certain vitamin. Cannabinoids function in exactly the same manner. As we get older, our ECS tends to lose regularity, and thus is required on our part to supplement the body with Phytocannabinoids in order to replenish the body’s ECS and return itself to normal functionality.

The reason why Cannahuasca/Bhang is consumed in massive quantities is because it is unheated and non-psychoactive. When cannabis is not decarboxylated, the psychoactivity threshold is extremely high, and as such the body and mind can intake large amounts of Phytocannabinoids. If the Bhang is decarboxylated, it becomes psychoactive and the mind and body can only take 10-20mg before becoming intoxicated.

When Bhang is consumed in massive quantities, such as 10grams of unheated Marijuana flowers, the body is enjoying a fully regulated endocannabinoid system, healthy and happy. With unheated Marijuana, you can input much more Phytocannabinoids in your body than if the cannabis was decarbed and made psychoactive.

Unheated and non-psychoactive cannabis is by far the most medicinally beneficial. Dr. William Courtney, MD. of Marijuana International has seen over 7,000 patients whose diverse medical conditions have provided him with an education that has driven him to understand how a raw diet interacts with every cell of the body. If you are not his patient he cannot give specific medical advice but can speak in general about the experience he has had with others with similar conditions.

His research also seems to agree with Ancient Hindu wisdom traditions (he has not made any such statements, this is purely my extrapolation of his research), that Marijuana should be consumed orally, unheated, in a non-psyhcoactive form so that the body can intake large amounts of beneficial Phytocannabinoids in the form of raw medicine.

According to the good doctor and according to Ayurvedic system of thought, raw high dose non-psychoactive dietary uses of cannabis are the most beneficial and that the medicinal benefits of Cannahuasca/Bhang are drastically reduced as soon as it is heated.

For this very reason, I consume large amounts of unheated and non-psychoactive Bhang coupled with other synergistic shamanic and ayurvedic herbs.

This has now been confirmed by science and Dr. William Courtney, MD. of Marijuana International has been writing and speaking regarding this very consumption method.

Cannabis is Vital to Humanity’s Physical & Spiritual Health

By drinking Bhang in the unheated, non-psychoactive form of Cannabis, which only becomes psychoactive when consumed in large amounts or if decarboxylated beforehand is the most beneficial, most medicinal, and the best aid to our endocannabinoid system.

When Cannahuasca/Bhang is combined with Hashish (smoked form of Cannabis resin), the medicinal effects are profound. The mind, body and spirit come together in total harmony.

By drinking Cannahuasca/Bhang, we offer our souls to Shiva in symbolically saying that “Auspicious Mahadev! I offer the poison of intoxication within me to you in the form of Bhang. I offer you my intoxication related to maya, the ultimate illusion, that of worldly goods, of pleasures of the flesh, fame and glory, greed and desire, and all detrimental habits of the mind. Just as you drank the rivers and inhaled the halahal during samudramanthan, graciously accept my intoxications and bless me with your purity, your infinite knowledge and your unending love for humanity”.

Considering ayurvedic medicine, non-psychoactive/unheated Cannabis, and non-solitary preparation of the Cannahuasca/Bhang psychoactive hallucinogenic drink of the God Shiva, by ingesting large amounts of Phytocannabinoids, THCa and THC-9, the Ancient Hindus were happy and healthy, physically and psychologically. They may not have known about the scientific aspects, the neurochemicals and molecules per se, but it is rather evident that they knew about the healing power of Phytocannabinoids in large amounts on some level.

Author: Hash C. Borgir

Hash is a Software Developer, tech geek, and psychedelic explorer with a passion for writing about plant medicines, psychology, consciousness, linux, web development, hacking and sciene related topics.