Cannabis Indica.

Botanical name: 

(Read at the Illinois State Eclectic Medical Society.)


The part used in preparation of the medicine cannabis indica is the large flowering top of the female plant. The plant is a native of Persia and Northern India, though naturalized in North America. It is commonly known as "Indian Hemp."

Cannabis indica is an annual herb. It grows from eight to ten feet high; as found in the market it consists of dried tops cut off after flowering. It is brittle, of a narcotic odor, bitter acrid taste, and yields its properties to alcohol. The strength of the preparation varies, and some may be inert. If the precipitate formed when the drug is added to water is olive-green, it is active; otherwise, not.

The physiological action of this remedy is varied. Hale says, "It stands alone as a remedy that seems to possess the power of acting on the soul. It seems to give the idea of vast capabilities for happiness, emotion, and comprehension, but which lie latent while the body encloses it." Its action is primarily upon the intellectual centers. In poisonous doses, it acts chiefly on the mind by producing forgetfulness. Time and distance are immensely exaggerated, a few seconds, years; an object near at hand, miles away. Imagines he hears music, shuts his eyes, and is lost in delicious thought. His speech will be incoherent, he will have uncontrollable laughter until his face becomes purple, and his back aches. There is an intense headache with a feeling as if the head opened and shut. Also there is a sensation as if of a ball in the rectum and urethra, also a feeling of stitching in the urethra, during and after urination, with copious, colorless urine.

The therapeutic uses of cannabis indica are varied, possessing sedative, narcotic, anodyne, and antispasmodic properties. Its narcotic and antispasmodic properties are limited, and they are best exhibited when administered with other remedies of the same class. I have found it to be a splendid addition to cough mixtures, when arising either from a tickling, or irritation in the throat, or when of nervous origin. Therefore, it is of value in whooping cough and in bronchial, or laryngeal cough. There is a cough that is met with in pregnancy that is of reflex or nervous origin in which it seems a specific.

As an anodyne, it is a splendid remedy in migraine, when combined with gelsemium; in gonorrhoea, it allays the burning pain; in painful conditions of the bladder, such as spasms due to cystitis, and other affections of the genitourinary organs, I find it a specific remedy.

As an antispasmodic, it is of value in delirium tremens, paralysis agitans, chorea, tetanus and epilepsy. When combined with the bromides, it increases their efficacy, delays the appearance of bromism, and permits of a longer continuance of their administration. It is also recommended in uterine subinvolution, dysmenorrhoea, and menorrhagia, but in these conditions, I have no personal knowledge of its therapeutic value. The specific indications of cannabis indica are: irritation of the urinary organs, with frequent desire to urinate, and a burning sensation in the urethra, marked nervous depression with irritability, spasm, or pain, accompanied with neurotic excitement.

Dose: Specific cannabis, one to ten minims (m).

Antidote: Emetic of mustard followed by large draughts of warm water; then, strong tea, or coffee. Arouse the patient and keep him in motion.

In the discussion Dr. McCann said:

"The special indication for cannabis indica is for crying babies; peevish, fretful babies. I use it in small doses, and I also use it for irritation of the bladder and of the urethra. At one time I gave a patient an overdose. It was for that patient at least, and I never treated the patient afterward. They forgot all the good things I had done in ten years for them, and as a dose of cannabis produced an effect something like that spoken of by the essayist, they thought I did not know what I was giving, and perhaps they were right."

Ellingwood's Therapeutist, Vol. 2, 1908, was edited by Finley Ellingwood M.D.