Popular culture in India has for long put in the spotlight the use and effects of Bhang. From stories of drinking bhang during Mahashivratri to the romanticizing of Bhang in Bollywood through scenes in movies like Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Bhang has had its share of the limelight. So, what exactly is Bhang?
Bhang is an edible form of cannabis. It is a mixture made up of the buds, leaves and flowers of the marijuana plant. It has been added to food and drinks during religious celebrations since millennia. Like other forms of Marijuana, Bhang also plays a medicinal role in our culture.
How is bhang made?
The leaves, buds and flowers of female cannabis are grinded into a paste in a mortar to which spices are added. This paste is then used for making lassi, kulfi, laddoos and pakoras. Bhang has been consumed in India for centuries but is still portrayed as an illegal substance in most parts of our country. However, due to certain religious and cultural liberties, the sale of bhang is tolerated and controlled by government-approved shops.
What are the effects of Bhang?
Cannabis contains chemicals that work by binding to specific sites in the brain and on the nerves. It is shown to reduce anxiety and bring about a sense of euphoria in people. It also reduces pain by numbing down the pain receptors of the brain. Due to these effects of Bhang, it is used both medicinally and as a recreational drug.
- Who should avoid Bhang?
Common reactions to consuming bhang include an accelerated heart rate and an increase in appetite. Due to these effects, Bhang is best avoided by individuals with asthma, cardiac problems and nerve related diseases.
- Is bhang addictive?
Like all substances that produce an effect on your body, bhang too is addictive in nature. The THC compound present in cannabis-based products is what makes bhang addictive. Addiction is also dependent on many factors, including genetic factors, familial contexts, as well as the mental health of the individual.
- What are the symptoms of Bhang addiction?
Bhang addiction has several symptoms and can lead to numerous problems. These can be listed as follows:
- Bloodshot or red eyes
- Rapid heartbeat
- A constant and mucus-filled cough
- Dry mouth
- Poor memory
- Anxiety and paranoia
- Loss of control in oneself
- Poor coordination
- Is it safe to mix bhang and alcohol?
Mixing Bhang with alcohol is generally not advisable. This is because consumption of any form of Marijuana can make it harder to judge the effect alcohol has on you leading to alcohol poisoning.
Consuming Bhang? Here are some things you should and shouldn’t do:
- Do not drive after consuming Bhang. It impairs your judgement, senses, muscle coordination and slows down your reaction time. This can be fatal while driving.
- Do not consume Bhang on an empty stomach.
- Drink a lot of water when having bhang.
- Keep Bhang away from pregnant women and children.
Bhang: Medicinal Properties
Marijuana grows in abundance in regions of higher altitude. The climate around the foothills of Himalayas is perfect for Marijuana to thrive. The Himalayas are also a very popular destination for people looking to receive Ayurvedic treatments. Marijuana, in the form of Bhang, is used as a medicinal preparation in the ancient Indian system of medicine. The use of Bhang in Ayurveda is centred around treating the symptoms of depression and related disorders.
Recent research has found other benefits to it as well.
- Prevents nausea and vomiting
Bhang has well documented anti-nausea and anti-vomiting properties. This becomes especially useful during chemotherapy treatments for cancer patients. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a major chemical compound found in Marijuana which is responsible for Bhang’s anti-vomiting and nausea properties.
- Reduces pain
Bhang also numbs down the pain receptors in the nervous system. This explains the mellow feeling associated with Bhang intoxication. This also makes bhang an effective pain reliever for people suffering from disorders that cause chronic pain.
- Increases appetite
Bhang also increases a person’s appetite. THC , present in Bhang, influences the hypothalamus to increase your appetite. This is what brings about the curious case of munchies that is famous amongst marijuana consumers. So, for people suffering from a lack of appetite, bhang essentially renders the body to regain its appetite, even after the food is consumed.
How does Bhang Work?
Bhang contains the chemical THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) which is identified by our body as a neurotransmitter, which allows it to alter normal body functioning. It has profound effects on the hippocampus and the orbitofrontal cortex. These are the centres that control memory formation and attention shifting. This is why consumption of Bhang leads to impaired thinking and interferes with our ability to learn.
As it is with most substances, Bhang also stimulates neurons in our body’s reward system to release dopamine at levels higher than normal in response to natural stimuli. This influx of dopamine leads to what is described as the “high” amongst marijuana consumers.
So, how much is too much? This varies from person to person, but consuming too much bhang usually leads to a bad reaction. How can you identify a bad reaction?
Having too much Bhang results in confusion, dry-mouth, fatigue, anxiety, changes in mood, increased heart-rate, dizziness and headaches. However, in rare cases this can also develop into hallucinations, paranoia, panic attacks, nausea and vomiting. As it is with everything, moderation is the key to avoid a bad reaction with Bhang.
Despite its numerous benefits, Bhang is still a drug. Like other drugs, consumption needs to be in a controlled and supervised manner. Uncontrolled and unsupervised use of it can lead to addiction and in many cases overdose. In case overdose and addiction does occur, there are a number of treatment procedures that can help.
- Medication for drug addiction treatment can play a significant role in recovery. Drug addiction treatment medication can help make treatment more successful when combined with the right type of counselling. Individual counselling is crucial for success, and this should be provided several times a week.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an effective drug addiction treatment method that helps individuals manage their thinking patterns. It helps in controlling negative thoughts and behaviours that may lead to drug abuse.
- Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) is often employed in drug addiction treatment. Usually, a therapist helps the person tap and enhance their motivation to resist the use of drugs.
- Family therapy: Recovering individuals benefit from family therapy. Since family members often serve as a core support system for persons once they exit a rehabilitation center, it is important for family members to understand the recovery process. This can help them provide support and encouragement along with the medical and therapeutic assistance they receive.
- Group Therapy helps people with addiction learn and share their emotions with other peers who have similar problems.
- Individual Therapy is a solution-oriented approach that focuses on helping the individual maintain abstinence from drug abuse.
- Relapse Prevention- To prevent the individual from relapse after recovery, a set of relapse prevention tools and techniques are provided that can help them fight and prevent them from relapsing after a recovery process.
Apart from these, spiritual counselling, physical activity, nutritional support, and other factors also provide the needed tools for a permanent recovery.
If someone near and dear to you is showing signs of bhang addiction, do not hesitate to contact a specialist at Cadabam’s Hospital. We provide a host of drug addiction treatments and rehabilitation programs for substance abuse.
Holi, for any spirited Indian means rang aur bhang. Bhang is a preparation of cannabis, traditionally used in food and drinks in India. The products range from thandai to pakoras, laddoos, kulfis and even sharbats. Cannabis has always been a part of Indian culture, thanks to the powerful god, Shiva. People often chant his name when they take cannabis products and say, “Jai Bhole Nath” and “Boom Shankar” instead of cheers!
Bhang helps release anxiety and gives a sound, peaceful sleep but since it’s ingested, its hallucinogenic effects take longer to come. But just like any other sasta nasha, bhanghas some do’s and don’ts.