Cannabis – Comparing Ayurvedic and Allopathic understandings

Ojasvi Mishra.

Author Note: There are many Ayurvedic exemplaries whose knowledge helped me compile this article like Dr. Anil Kumar Dixit, Col. (Dr) Shivavatar Sharma and my special gratitude to India’s first Cannabis Activist – Hempvati (Ms. Priya Mishra), she has a massive contribution towards Indic Civilisation Revivalism.

Medical Cannabis is procured from the hemp plant and is used for treatment and prevention of many diseases. HIV AIDS, Cancer, Leprosy, Tuberculosis, Epilepsy, Psychiatric Issues like Anxiety, Depression, Arthritis, Gynecological Issues, Libido, Erectile Dysfunction etc. Cannabis has about 400 elements of use according to Ayurveda and 13 of them have been acknowledged by Allopathy.

History , Origin and Background of Cannabis

In Ayurveda:

The earliest written reference of cannabis in India occurs in Atharvaveda, dating back to 1500 BCE: “We tell of the herbs headed by Soma; may it, and Kusa Grass, and Bhanga and Barley, and the herb Saha, release us from anxiety.”

“पञ्च राज्यानि वीरूधां सोमश्रेष्ठानि ब्रूमः| दर्भो भङ्गो यवः सह ते नो मुञ्चन्तव् अहंसः||”(Book 11, Hymn 6, Verse 15 of Atharvaveda-Samhita)

  1. In Sushruta-Samhita, dated 3 BCE cannabis was recommended for phlegm,catarrh and diarrhoea 
  2. Dwarkanath maintains that fumes of Indian Hemp were used as anasthetics.
  3. University of Vermont found that the oldest fossil footprint of hemp is Tibet (earlier India)
  4. According to Sharangdhara Samhita, fresh bhang (cannabis) was mixed with honey and jatiphaladi churna helps in kasa (cough), swasa (dyspnoea), aruchi (anorexia) ,due to vatta-kapha imbalance pratishayaya (nasal congestion) 
  5. The Scientists of Ancient India called cannabis the drop of amruta (nectar) that fell from heavens after Gods took the nectar from earth after Amrutha-Manthana (churning of the seas).
  6. There are several names given to Cannabis that exhibit its attributes like: Vijaya (victor of all herbs), Ajay (unconquered), Divyaka (pleasureful), Shivapriya (Lord Shiva’s Favourite), Indrasana (Indra’s food), Harshini (joy-giver) and other 69 names.
  7. It is believed in India that the best hemp plant is grown at the burial site of a killed Indian King Cobra.
  • There are traces of cannabis use in Persia and are integral to Unani Sciences, In African Civilisation and Central Asia as well.
  • Religion: Has recognition in Hinduism, Taoism, Judaism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Islam and Taoism.
  •  Ancient Industrial Uses:  Construction (Ellora and Ajanta Caves are coated with CBD Oil), Paper (CBG is used to make clothes especially undergarments to avoid cancers), Textile, Oil, Food and more.
  • The Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report made by the British East India Company in 1893-94 criminalized Cannabis as it was an obstacle to the economic success and entry of alcohol as well as ethanol-based medicines .
  • Modern-Day Research: The cannabinoids account in India have increased the scope and research in biochemistry. It has increased resaerch in the endo-cannabinoid system in our bodies. The discovery of ‘Ananda’ chemical from Ayurveda now called Anandamide. The ester linkage between arachidonic acid and ethanolamine is called virodhamine after ‘Virodha’.

The Scientific Basis of Cannabis’s Claims : The 2011 study by Israeli Scientist O’Shaughnessy on rodents had the following findings:

  1. CBC, CBG, CBD and THC killed pneumonia, MRSA and tuberculosis bacteria by slowing the progression and growth of bacteria.
  2.  The role of cannabis in asthma is significant. This is because THC is a bronchodilator, as is terpenoid component, α-pinene, and smooth muscle contraction in the lungs is mediated by endocannabinoids.
  3. Given the combination of secretory diarrhea, cholera, constipation in digestive ailments. They can be mediated by THC, TNF-α and antagonism of CBD.
  4.  Hemp seed used to treat  tuberculosis in pre-War Czechoslovakia: In pre-World War II Czechoslovakia, hemp seed was routinely used as treatment for children’s TB. Prior to 1948 a product called Edezyme was available and was expensive.
  5. Successful clinical trials suggest usefulness of cannabis extracts in Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis.
  6. Rural Kentucky shows Hemorrhoids plagues can be solved and relaxed by myriad of anti-inflammatory and anti-pruritic mechanism that underlie the basic treatment.
  7. A major myth regarding cannabis is that it is a drug, well it is not. The very action of cannabis is different from a quintessential drug. A drug is foreign and mostly is a suppressant however, cannabis has THC and AEA components which are synthesized in our body by ourselves.

Comparison of Ayurveda and Allopathy in treating Tuberculosis : A Case Study

  1. What is tuberculosis?

Allopathy Says: Tuberculosis is a bacterial disease primarily affecting the lungs of people who become ill with it. It has airborne properties and typically spreads when people who have active tuberculosis infections cough, sneeze or spit, and another person inhales the expelled germs.

 Ayurveda Says: PTB is aptly compared with Rajayakshma (Kshayaroga) in Ayurveda. Rajayakshma is primarily attributable to Dhatukshaya (tissue emaciation or loss). This process universally initiates the process of pathogenesis in Rajayakshma patients. In addition, there is inevitable metabolic dysfunction (Dhatwagninasana), in which rasa (tissue fluid), rakta (blood), mamsa (muscle), meda (adipose tissue), and sukra (generative tissue) are lost. This leads to ultimate deterioration of immunity or ojokshaya. As per Ayurvedic concepts, an unusual metabolic change occur leading to loss of various dhatus (tissue) such as Ojokshaya, sukra, meda dhatus to rasa dhatu preceding each other, which is known as Pratilomakshaya.

  1. Types of Tuberculosis:

Allopathy Says:

  1. Active TB: This type describes the active stage of TB in which tuberculosis bacteria are quickly multiplying and invading various organs of the body. This is the symptomatic and contagious stage of the disease. Everyone you have contact with will need to take a TB test.
  2. Latent TB: This type alludes to the latent stage of TB, when the bacteria are present in your system without causing symptoms. You are not contagious during this phase, but it can progress into active TB — especially among people who take immunosuppressant medications or have illnesses, like HIV.

However, there are exceptions to traditional types of TB: extrapulmonary TB and military TB.

  1. Extrapulmonary TB: This type refers to tuberculosis affecting organs other than the lungs.
  2. Military TB: This type is a rare form of tuberculosis in which the bacteria work their way into the bloodstream. Military TB allows the disease to progress quickly, affecting multiple organs at once and often leading to a rapid death for the patient.

Ayurveda Says: According to Ayurveda, there cannot be a limited classification of Tuberculosis. The body’s well-being is ensured by the VKP balance (Vatta-Kapha-Pitta). There may be tuberculosis due the disbalance of doshas unique to each patient.

  1. Symptoms:
  1. Genesis of Tuberculosis in a patient:

Allopathy says: The causative agent for Tuberculosis is Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Allopathy believes that this is the primary and the immediate cause of Active TB.
Ayurveda says: The causative agent of Tuberculosis or any disease is due to VPK disbalance and an all-round unhealthy life style which helps create a hospitable environment for the bacteria, thereby causing weakening of Ojokshaya (immunity).

The mucus within our bodies is necessary even more so to have regulated circulation of this mucus. When there is a psychological fear against the disease, the nervous system makes us activate defense mechanisms such as cough and vomiting way more often than required causing the environment to breed the concerned bacteria.

  1. Medications and Duration of Treatments:

Allopathy says: Some doctors prefer to prescribe multiple TB medications, including:

  • Ethambutol
  • Isoniazid
  • Pyrazinamide
  • Rifampin
 RegimenInitial phaseContinuation Phase
Daily2 months of isoniazid, rifampicin, and pyrazinamide, with or without ethambutol4 months of isoniazid and rifampicin
Intermittent2 weeks of daily isoniazid, rifampicin, pyrazinamide and streptomycin or Ethambutol8 weeks of thrice weekly isoniazid, rifampicin, pyrazinamide and streptomycin or ethambutol24 weeks of twice weekly isoniazid and rifampicin
18 weeks of thrice weekly isoniazid and rifampicin

Duration: 9-12 months, might be followed up with surgery and loss of voice as well. The medicines have many side effects.

Ayurveda Says: Freshly harvested hemp plant needs to be procured and de-seeded, about 50-80 g of seeds are to be immersed in hot milk of the temperature 60-80 °C for 30 minutes. If had alone can lead to increased nausea and might not help third stage TB throat bleeding etc. So additional herbs are to be added like:

  1. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera): It is a major ingredient in Chyawanprashvaleha. It boosts the immunity required to fight back and restore physiological balance.
  2. Vidari Kand (Pueraria tuberosa): It majorly helps in restoring ability of the body absorb and assimilate nutrients, it is quite nutritive itself. It is also anti-inflammatory which helps in giving a cooling effect to the throat and chest.
  3. Rasonam (Allium sativum): It is also called Garlic. It has anti-bacterial qualities and also treats Vatta fever (Air –based dosha).
  4. Yashtimadhu (Glycyrrhiza glabra) : It stops bleeding of throat and the relaxes the inflamed region. It is also a reliever from pulmonary issues like asthma and bronchitis.

Duration: 4 months of duration. No surgery. Medicines have additional benefits and no side-effects. (except cannabis, which if taken in isolation and excessively may lead to sleepiness and nausea but nothing fatal).

  1. Side-effects of drugs:
Medicine Side-effects 
IsoniazidHepatitis, peripheral neuritis, drug induced lupus, seizures, and hypersensitivity with rash and fever. Drug interactions with dilantin and disulfiram
RifampicinOrange body secretions, flu-like syndrome, hepatitis, thrombocytopenia, nausea, anorexia, diarrhoea, renal failure, and multiple drug interactions
PyrazinamideHyperuricemia, hepatitis, rash, nausea, and anorexia
EthambutolOptic neuritis and gastrointestinal discomfort
StreptomycinOtotoxicity, vestibular dysfunction, nephrotoxicity, rash, and hypersensitivity 


TB can be helped with Protein ingestion as per latest research. The edestin protein in hemp seed makes the seed more protein rich than flax seeds by 10 times. Ayurveda believes in the concept of an ‘inner pharmacist’ and medication under the science is to strengthen this self-healing and self-medicine-producing mechanism within us. It doesn’t dissociate the medical sciences with spirituality. Allopathy believes in surgical intervention which is alien to Ayurveda. Ancient medical papers suggest surgery for cosmetic reason and transplant to alleviate useless or defunct parts of the body by birth.

The most significant difference between Allopathy and Ayurveda is the approach to a disease and the medicines.

The Allopathy medicines are dead medicines whereas the Ayurvedic herbs are live medicines which have their own affinities, defense, metabolism and sustenance mechanisms.


Components of the Plant

ComponentCharacteristics and Use
THC∆9(tetrahrdrocannabiol)Treats: ADD/ADHD, cachexia, fatigue, glaucoma, reduces vomiting and nausea, pain relief, stimulate appetite and suppresses muscle spasms
THC∆8It is an analogue of THC ∆9It is anti-emetic, anxiolytic,appetite-stimulating, neuroprotective.Binds to cannabinoid G-protein coupled CB1 receptor
THCA∆9(THC Acid)Acidic precursor of THC ∆9, exists in most abundant quantities 
After harvest THCA converts to THC  Treats: aids sleep, inhibits cancer cells growth, and suppresses muscle spasms.
THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin)Present in some strains of plant originating from southeast Asia and south Africa.Helps in bone stimulation, diabetes, mitigates seizure, reduces appetite.Not psychoactive at all.
CBCA(cannabichrome carboxylic acid)Inflammation reduction and fungal infections. Harvested plant exposed to heat loses a CO2 molecule and becomes CBC
CBC (cannabischrome)It is antiviral and analgesicStructurally similar to CBCAPromotes bone growth
CBN(cannabinol)Decomposed THC due to exposure of sunlight and heat gives cannabinol.Causes drowsiness, anti-glaucoma
AEA(Anandamide)Unlike most components that are phytocannabinoids AEA is endocannabinoids I.E it is found in our body.
Anandamide regulates function of our nervous system and our immune system. Regulates memory, sensations, appetite, and immunity and sleep patterns and inhibits breast cancer.
CBD(cannabidiol)Cannabidiol is anti-depressant, improves blood circulation, anti-cancer          
CBG(cannabigerol)Cannabigerol is useful for making fabrics. Anti-tumor qualities, lowers hypertension
CBGA(cannabigerolic acid)Slows down bacterial growth and anti-inflammations
Cannabigerolic acid has rich medical potential
CBDA(Cannabidiol Acid)Cannabidiolic acid is anti-proliferative and anti-bacterial.
CBDV( Cannabidivarin)Cannabidivarin are richly found in hashish grown in Nepal and northwest India.It is majorly an anti-convulsant

Ojasvi Mishra
Ojasvi Mishra

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