Cannabis sativa. Hemp.

Botanical name: 

Nat. Ord. — Urticaceae or Cannabinaceae. Sex. Syst. — Dioecia Pentandria.

The Dried Tops and Resin.

Description. — Cannabis Sativa is an annual plant, growing about three feet high, covered with a very fine, rough pubescence, scarcely visible to the naked eye. The stem is erect, branched, bright-green, angular. The leaves are alternate or opposite, on long, lax petioles, digitate, scabrous, with linear-lanceolate, sharply-serrated leaflets, tapering into a long, smooth, entire point; stipules subulate. Flowers in axillary clusters, with subulate bracts ; the males lax and drooping, branched and leafless at the base; females erect, simple, and leafy at the base. Calyx of male, downy ; of female, covered with short brownish glands. Achenium ovate, one-seeded; seeds roundish-ovate, somewhat compressed, about the eighth of an inch long, of a shining gray color, inodorous, and of a disagreeable, oily, sweetish taste.

History. — Hemp is a native of Persia and the northern parts of India, whence it has been introduced into many other countries. The hemp of this country is identical with the eastern plant in its botanical characters, but differs somewhat from it in its physical qualities, the India plant being more powerful in its action on the system, and which is probably owing to the influence of climate, cultivation, etc. In the eastern countries an infusion of hemp is much employed as an intoxicating drink; and it is smoked the same as tobacco, with which it is frequently mixed. An alcoholic extract of the dried tops is the form employed in medicine, which is made by passing the vapor of boiling alcohol from the boiler of a still into the dried plant contained in a convenient receptacle, and evaporating the condensed liquor at a temperature not exceeding 150° F. The concrete resinous exudation of the plant is known in India by the name of Churrus.

Properties and Uses. — Narcotic, and may be used in place of opium in all cases where that drug disagrees with the patient. The churrus is said to alleviate pain, exhilarate the spirits, increase the appetite, produce decided aphrodisia, and cause sleep ; and in large doses, to occasion intoxication, a peculiar kind of delirium and catalepsy. The preparation most used is the alcoholic extract ; if of good quality, half a grain or a o-rain will affect the system, while that of the shops will require from ten grains to half an ounce. Alarming effects have been produced by over-doses. Very favorable reports have been made of its effects in cholera, neuralgia, rheumatism, tetanus, and insanity. A tincture of the extract, made by dissolving three grains in a fluidrachm of proof spirit has likewise been used with advantage — the dose to correspond with that of the extract. Ten drops of it every half hour have been administered in cholera; and have been successfully employed in menorrhagia, which had resisted all ordinary means for months ; it has also proved serviceable in uterine hemorrhage. The following is said to be a certain cure for gonorrhea: take, while in blossom, equal parts of tops of the male and female hemp, Cannabis Sativa, bruise them in a mortar, and express the juice, to this add an equal portion of alcohol. Dose, from one to three drops every two or three hours. The green plant collected in the spring, and two or three twigs placed in or between beds, will, it is asserted, certainly and effectually cause bedbugs to remove from the room in which they are used.

The American Eclectic Dispensatory, 1854, was written by John King, M. D.