Ayurveda and Medical Cannabis (Vijaya) – Research And Efficacy in India

Ayurveda is an age-old practice of medical treatment meaning “The Science of Life”. The history of Ayurveda goes deep in the Indian roots. It was developed more than 3,000 years ago in India. Ayurvedic medicine is one of the world’s oldest holistic (whole-body) healing systems.

Ayurvedic treatment is holistic, meaning it takes care of your body, mind, and soul.

With growing research and technology people are turning towards the old texts of Ayurveda. It is an alternative source of treatment. 

What is the Meaning of Alternative Therapy?

Though there is no particular definition for alternative therapy it is any health treatment that has not been classified as a standard Western medical practice. Alternative therapy encompasses a variety of disciplines. It includes your diet and exercise to your mental conditioning and lifestyle.

According to alternative therapy, a problem in any part of the body is a sign that the balance of the body is disturbed. The sign could also be a symptom of a chronic condition. A headache can be a symptom of a disease, lack of nutrients, hunger, change in blood pressure, increase in body heat, anxiety, depression, etc.

In simple words, a small disturbance in the human body is a sign that the balance of body, mind, and soul are affected and it requires a holistic approach when treating.

Ayurveda is a contemporary and alternate form of medicine. More prominently known as Vijaya in Ayurveda, medical cannabis has been one of the hottest topics of discussion. Margaret Heffernen once said that “For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate.”

Vijaya is used in different Ayurvedic classical formulations. The formulations are classical as they are mentioned in the Ayurvedic texts thousands of years ago. Any other new formulations are patented and are known as Proprietary products.

Some classical formulations are for the treatment of chronic pain or neuropathy pain, menstrual cramps, insomnia, anxiety, controlling seizure, aphrodisiac, erectile dysfunction, stamina building, premature ejaculation, diarrhea, defecation issues, and many such issues. 

To share their knowledge and make the goodness of Ayurveda available to the world, Ayurvedic medical practitioners are spreading awareness for the treatments involved with medical cannabis. One such pioneer in the industry is Dr. Piyush Juneja who founded IndianVaidyas connecting Ayurvedic Doctors known as “Vaidyas” across the globe.

Recently, he organized a virtual event along with Mr. Sumit Sinha from Happie Hemp discussing the Research and Efficacy of Medical Cannabis.  The insights in this article are derived from the virtual discussion held between Dr. Juneja and Mr. Shah.

Happie Hemp, a biotechnology company is developing Ayurvedic products derived from Cannabis Leaf and Hemp leaves. Entrepreneurs today are focusing on maximizing the efficacies of Ayurveda. Enthusiasts are coming forward to expand the tremendous potential of medical cannabis.

The increased penetration of medical products in the market is due to technology-based solutions. The goal is to build a technology that reaches the right people with the correct medication.

In the virtual discussion, Dr. Piyush made us aware that medical formulations including cannabis leaves can be prepared under Ayurveda. The preparation of ayurvedic formulations has to be as per the rules and regulations of the legislation.

Cannabis contains different types of compounds i.e. cannabinoids, terpenoids, flavonoids, etc. There are more than 113 types of cannabinoids present in cannabis out of which CBD and THC have therapeutic effects.

He stated, “Amongst 190-191 classified medicinal formulations more than 100 have cannabis leaf as an active ingredient.” That the flower and buds of the plant also have medicinal properties but is banned in India due to addictiveness”.

Ayurveda and Medical Cannabis India
Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich from Pexels

Talking about hemp seeds Dr. Piyush mentioned that hemp seeds improve the quality and duration of life and should be included in one’s diet.

Hemp seeds are referred to as “Super Food” for vegans.

Hemp seed oil is the only food other than fish oil which has a golden ratio of omega in it. The products derived from the seeds i.e. hemp seed oil, hemp powder, etc. are under the purview of the FSSAI (Food Safety And Standards Authority of India).

Talking about the medical developments Mr. Sumit mentioned two studies on migraine and chemotherapy. Effects of Medical Marijuana on Migraine Headache Frequency in an Adult Population was a study conducted on migraine with a concluding theory that the frequency of migraine headache was decreased with medical marijuana use.

The next study he spoke about was the Effect of Medical Cannabis on the Side-effects of Chemotherapy, the study was the Effect of cannabis on oxaliplatin-induced peripheral neuropathy among oncology patients: a retrospective analysis.

The study concluded with a finding that the rate of neuropathy was reduced among patients treated with cannabis and oxaliplatin. This reduction was more significant in patients who received cannabis before treatment with oxaliplatin, suggesting a protective effect.

Where is India Standing With Research in Medical Cannabis?

The Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 recognizes Ayurvedic medicine in India. The inclusion of Ayurvedic and Unani Drugs in the legislature introduced medical cannabis. The first question which comes when discussing Cannabis, Hemp, or Medical Cannabis in India, is the legality of the plant.

The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS, Act and the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 defines the scope of medicinal cannabis. Under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, the medicinal use of cannabis has been recognized and falls under the “List of poisonous substances under the Ayurvedic (including Siddha) and Unani Systems of Medicine” in Schedule E1 of Drugs and Cosmetics Rule, 1945.

Cannabis is defined as the Ayurvedic Drug – Bhang (except seeds), Siddha Drug – Ganja (except seeds), and Unani Drug – Bhang and Charas. Various studies are being conducted on medical cannabis in India. Mr. Sinha mentions two of them -“Sativax : Clinical Trial Phase 3 by GW Pharmaceutical” and another pilot study using cannabis leaves by “Ministry of AYUSH on side-effects of Chemotherapy.”

He further talks about CBD being the most talked-about medicinal cannabis. It has been claimed internationally to be treating various physical as well as psychological conditions. Such treatments are already written in the Ayurvedic texts.

CBD products along with other products are being developed and sold in India on the approval of the Ministry of AYUSH

The old texts of Ayurveda clearly define the use of medical cannabis making it a wonder plant. Research on medical cannabis is still in progress. Many countries including most of the Western countries are now aware of the healing effects of cannabis when treated medically.

The cannabis industry is picking up the pace all over the world. India is also expanding its scope looking at the medicinal and economical potential of the plant. We hope the conversation will take a broader perspective in the coming future; we will talk about how cannabis has been truly a wonder plant in the medical world; entrepreneurs would make new ways in the industry; the needy would have easy access to the required medication.

Pallavi S. Maheshwari
Pallavi S. Maheshwari
Advocate working towards social upliftment and sustainable development.

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