“I’ve recently completely changed my mind about vaporizing technology. It is a marvelous experience to inhale the essence of pure vaporized Cannabis flower, and vaporizing is so far superior to smoking that I feel like an idiot I was so blindly opinionated for so long without simply trying it.”
Both my parents smoked cigarettes, and I loved the smell of tobacco and the rituals surrounding it. The click of my Dad’s Zippo lighter as he flipped it open, the aroma of lighter fluid, then the scratch of the wheel and the muted whoosh of flame, followed by Dad’s first eager puff and long, slow, savory exhale. Cigarettes were actually real tobacco in those days, and their aroma was literally intoxicating to me. So naturally I began smoking too when I was pretty young.
I first discovered Marijuana when I was seventeen, and fell in love with the tastes and smells of those first strains to hit the streets of California – Acapulco Gold and Oaxacan Purple, and the mysterious Panama Red that occasionally drifted up from Florida. Of course, most of what we got was Mexican Smash – leaves, stems and the occasional beetle glued together with Coca Cola – but it was still great smoke as long as you were young and stupid and had no taste. The Marijuana we took huge risks and paid big money for in 1960 you couldn’t give away today, and rightfully so.
However, beginning in my 50’s it was clear that smoking was damaging my health, as was drinking, so I gradually phased both (mostly) out of my life. I did enjoy the occasional bud that floated my way out of the inherent kindness of the universe, and when I would find myself near a promising bar I wouldn’t deny myself the pleasure of a good margarita. But by & large I tried to become much more moderate, and even in moderation I was finding the experience of drinking and smoking was losing its appeal.
Moderation is a great thing – in moderation – and now that I find myself newly settled back in Oregon I am delighted to be able to walk into great little gourmet Cannabis shops and select a gram of bud from a strain I’ve never tried before. For a small party we had a few weeks back and I bought a Cannabis Tasting Flight, a gram each of the budtenders six favorite top shelf Sativa/Indica selections, the same way I would have for a Wine or Tequila Flight. How pleasant to be able to enjoy Cannabis as a normal part of life without the tinge of paranoia that was always (quite rationally) present.
But what adds so much to my pleasure in trying out all these new strains is that I don’t have to smoke any more. I’ve found that I can vaporize a pinch of dried flower in an efficient little device and enjoy this particular strain’s unique flavors and aromas along with whatever body and mind effects I’m looking for in a particular strain.
Nobody has to be old to enjoy the benefits of vaporizing whole Cannabis flowers, but if you are getting on in years like I am and want to be able to enjoy the medicinal and recreational benefits of Cannabis without the toxic side-effects of smoke, as I do, then you’re going to really appreciate the new whole flower vaporizing technology that’s out there. For me, it’s so superior to smoking the divine weed in any kind of pipe that I am never going back.
Don’t get me wrong – I love smoke. All kinds. Always have. I miss the days of walking out to the airplane across the tarmac, inhaling the jet fuel and diesel equipment fumes that smelled like freedom. Around campfires I would always take the downwind spot and enjoy inhaling the clouds of burning wood and charring meat. I couldn’t get enough of trains and train stations, and once underway I always spent as much time as possible between the cars enjoying the motion, the sounds, and the smells of the smoke trailing back from the diesel engines far ahead. Pulling out of Tokyo harbor in 1949 on an old Navy troopship carrying hundreds of military women & children back to America, the air full of salt, fish, garbage, oil and diesel, the whole ship vibrating beneath my feet and great clouds of bunker fuel fumes coming from the smokestacks and from the hard-revving tugs alongside – I was in little kid heaven.
I have to admit that for years I held a lot of ill-informed opinions about vaping, and I still don’t like the idea of inhaling the vapors of chemically-processed anything, even supposedly “natural” Cannabis products like Wax & Shatter. In retrospect it looks to me like vaporizing technology, or at least vaporizer marketing, skipped right past whole dried Cannabis flowers and went straight to more easily manufactured and standardized but potentially lethal products, and huge numbers of people went along without thinking.
Unfortunately too much of the Cannabis industry seems to have fallen into this trap. Although hundreds of growers are producing thousands of beautiful, flavorful, exotic strains of Cannabis, most shops price and sell these flowers based on their THC levels without regard for taste and smell, mind/body effects like creativity or couchlock, or therapeutic effects like sleep initiation or appetite stimulation. It is as if fine wines were being sold primarily for their alcohol content, on the premise that nobody cared about enjoying them any other way.
Out of an enormous worldwide market for cheap addictive chemicals in sleek little devices has come the shadow world of unregulated vaping compounds packaged in colorful, toy-like electronic inhalers. I’m afraid that a lot of people are being conned into inhaling vapors of cheap industrial chemicals from China and India in totally unregulated compounds disguised with clever names and fruity flavors. I’m concerned that many of these folks are going to have deep regrets sooner rather than later. I would not be surprised at all to see epidemiologists soon begin announcing the discovery of a mysterious multi-symptom epidemic of irreversible neurological damage among young people that will ultimately be traced to vaping these clever little toys filled with whatever industrial chemicals the device manufacturer thinks will kick ass.
In whatever terrible ways that onrushing tragedy may evolve, I’ve recently completely changed my mind about vaporizing pure Cannabis flower. It is not only a marvelous experience in itself, but it is so far superior to smoking that I feel like an idiot I was so blindly opinionated for so long without simply trying it. I’m writing this post because I’ve come to believe that vaporizing dry Cannabis flower may be the best medical and recreational option for many people my age – let’s just say someone who’s well into those golden years.
Older people who want to enjoy Cannabis as part of a lifestyle or who find that Cannabis is a helpful medication need to discover that vaporizing Cannabis flowers is a smoke-free option with real advantages. For one thing, your body isn’t being subjected to Cannabis smoke, which in addition to the good stuff like THC also contains concentrated particles of carcinogenic soot as well as carcinogenic combustion gasses. Smoke itself, any smoke, is full of substances and chemicals created by combustion that are known to lead directly to horrible diseases. That’s true of any smoke coming from any combusted organic matter – Cannabis, cigarettes, backyard grills, fireplaces or campfires.
I’ve found vaporizers easy to use – at least my device is simplicity itself and if it lasts over a couple of years I’ll consider it a worthwhile buy. All I have to do is to pinch off a bit of Cannabis flower and put it into the small ceramic chamber, tamp it down and then put the mouthpiece back on, tap in the code and wait a few seconds for the digital readout to show me that the chamber is at 400 degrees, and then draw in a stream of almost invisible vapor.
My first hit of fresh Cannabis flower vapor is exactly like the first long sip of a cold beer on a hot day – I know there won’t be a better sip in the whole bottle. All of the volatile, delicate flavors and aromas of the flower come across fresh and intact in that first sip of vapor. Everything that follows, while enjoyable and pleasant, can never equal that first rush of magical molecules.
I find that if I stop after the first hit of vapor (I wish I were inclined to do so more often), I am already close to where I want to be, and I find that I need only a few tokes on the vaporizer to enjoy the same results that would otherwise take a whole bowl or joint. I like that I am not subjecting my increasingly aging body to the toxic stress of smoke just so that I can enjoy being high and receiving the health benefits of Cannabis.
Whether you are medicating with Cannabis, or simply relaxing with a bud after a long day, by using a vaporizer you will be able to do so discreetly, cleanly, and without the toxic side effects of smoke. Vaporizing is an especially nice way to use Cannabis as a sleep aid because your body doesn’t have to deal with the toxic effects of smoke in order to get the beneficial effects of the vaporized THC and CBD. Just fire up the vaporizer, take a clean, sweet hit, lie back, relax and drift off to sleep. It’s especially nice not to have to worry about choking your partner with a bedroom full of smoke at 2 AM just because you’ve woken up and need a hit to get back to sleep.
Another real advantage of using a vaporizer is that your environment isn’t permeated by stale smoke. As delightful as those first hits of fresh bud are, a Cannabis smoker’s living space quickly gets as nasty as any cigarette smoker’s cave. Stale smoke is just stale smoke, no matter how delightful its origins. But with a vaporizer, especially if you only take the first few puffs when the vapor is so pure that it is practically invisible, there is almost no lingering odor to disturb others or to betray you to the smoke Nazis that seem to be on patrol everywhere these days.
Bottom line – if you’re getting on in years and haven’t tried vaporizing Cannabis flowers as an alternative to smoking then you owe it to yourself to have the experience. It may open up new possibilities in areas of fun and pleasure that you thought were fading away, and it will certainly make using Cannabis for your health, vitality and medical needs a lot cleaner and more private.
But perhaps the best reason of all to vaporize is that smoking is now a relic of the past, just like living in caves – people have loved the essence of Cannabis since the dawn of time, and for thousands of years we had to inhale smoke to enjoy that essence (except for bhang, of course), and so we all went ahead, fired it up, lay back and watched the shadows dancing on the walls of the cave. Now that vaporizing technology has arrived we don’t have to smoke to enjoy and benefit from Cannabis, and I for one am happy to leave those delightful but poisonous clouds far behind in the cave where they belong.
The Cannabis Cure For Headaches
You may already know that Cannabis has been recognized throughout human history as a safe & effective treatment for headaches. But even if you already know that Cannabis is a remarkable treatment for many kinds of headaches, I’ve been reading a research paper on this topic that is worth a bit of study no matter how familiar you are with medical Cannabis.
This research study, published in a peer-reviewed medical journal and authored by prominent Southern California physicians and psychiatrists, gets around the US government’s deliberate failure to fund studies that might show Cannabis is an effective natural medicine by examining the ancient & past historical record in detail, as well as by looking at credible contemporary reports and analyses.
It is written in easily understood, layman’s language and cites historical sources like Assyrian manuscripts dating around 2000 BC, the ancient Greek physician Dioscorides, the 9th Century Arabic medical encyclopedia “Al-Aq-rabadhin Al-Saghir”, and Persian medical texts from the 10th through the 17th Centuries. Most relevant to today’s environment, the researchers also cite clinical literature showing wide-spread medical use of Cannabis for headaches in the 1800’s in Europe and America.
This research study focuses on the four main types of headache: migraines, tension-type headaches, cluster headaches, and medication-overuse headaches. The authors find that headache is a major public health concern, with enormous individual and social costs estimated at $14.4 billion annually, due mainly to decreased quality of life, decreased productivity and crippling disability. Each year, nearly 50% of the US population experiences major headaches, including migraine (10%), tension-type headache (38%), and chronic daily headache (3%).
Women are 200-300% more likely than men to experience migraine and 125% more likely to experience tension-type headache, which may explain to some degree why the government could care less about headache research. As most people know, any disease that affects mainly women and minorities typically gets the shaft from our government unless strong advocacy forces the issue.
Some of the most powerful evidence for the effectiveness of Cannabis in treating and curing headaches of all kinds comes from clinical publications in 19th Century America and Europe. According to the authors “Clinical publications between 1839 and 1937 provide valuable insights into the most effective practices, challenges, and benefits during an era when cannabis was commonly used to treat headache.”
They continue, “Historical sources indicate that cannabis was used as an effective prophylactic and abortive treatment for headache disorders. Although dosing varied among physicians, most prescribed alcohol extractions of the drug in the range of ¼ to ½ grain (16–32 mg). This dose was likely chosen to minimize the effects of intoxication while also providing effective therapeutic relief. Other providers suggested that doses should be progressively increased until modest effects of intoxication were felt. For prophylactic treatment, these doses were usually administered two to three times daily for weeks or even months. Acute treatment often involved higher doses taken as needed and, in some cases, smoked cannabis was recommended.”
As so often happens, non-medical people suffering from a disease are way ahead of the doctors in seeking out treatments and cures, and the millions of Americans and Europeans who suffer from headaches today are no exception. Even though the usefulness of Cannabis for treating headaches has been well-established for centuries, and even though the US government makes it a crime to treat yourself with Cannabis, millions of people have been risking jail (before the growing success of the Cannabis legalization movement) to use Cannabis as a medicine, and they already know that it works even in the absence of official “proof”.
The authors discuss how both doctors and patients are already “proving” that Cannabis works in states where it is now legal. For example, in a passage on the current state of Cannabis treatment in California, the authors note that:
“Many individuals are currently using cannabis for the treatment of migraine and headache with positive results. In a survey of nine California clinics … 40.7% patients self-reported that cannabis had therapeutic benefits for headaches and migraines. In another California survey of 7525 patients, 8.43% of patients reported that they were using medical cannabis to treat migraines. Another survey of 1430 patients found that 9% of patients were using medical cannabis to treat migraines.”
The authors further report that “One retrospective study described 121 patients who received cannabis for migraine treatment, among whom 85.1% of these patients reported a reduction in migraine frequency. The mean number of migraines at the initial visit was 10.4, falling to 4.6 at follow-up visits after cannabis treatment. Moreover, 11.6% of the patients found that, when smoked, cannabis could effectively arrest the generation of a migraine.”
In today’s environment there are plenty of choices of strains of Cannabis that are well-known to be specifically helpful for relief of headache, regardless of the absence of clinical research. In Cannabis-legal states you can depend on the team comprised of a trusted medical professional and your local medical Cannabis dispensary to provide you with good information on your treatment options.
In states where Cannabis is not yet legal, patients who have to resort to the “black market” can inform themselves on what to look for through on-line resources like https://leafly.com, a trustworthy provider of both medical and recreational strain information. Then it’s a matter of buying from someone who can be trusted to sell you exactly what they claim they are selling you, to ensure that you are getting a headache-specific Cannabis strain.
Fortunately, many of the most common “black market” strains are known to be therapeutic for headache, although online Cannabis advice-givers seem to focus almost exclusively on Migraines and ignore making recommendations for tension headaches, cluster headaches, and medication-overuse headaches.
Among the commonly available strains that are also widely recommended for Migraines are Northern Lights, OG Kush, Blue Dream, Lemon Kush, and several low-THC, high-CBD strains that are not as universally available including Charlotte’s Web, CBD, Harlequin and Remedy. Always seek the most reliable source for your medical Cannabis, and stay aware of the fact that growers of the same strain vary widely in their attention to healthful growing practices. The OG Kush that one Dispensary offers will not be the same that others offer, and one Dispensary’s bud may be responsibly grown while the grower for another Dispensary may be a chem-head. Especially if you’re vaporizing flower to deal with headache – the best way, I’ve found – it pays to avoid Cannabis that may have pesticide residues and stick with dependable sources.
What if there were a natural medicine that could control Huntington’s Chorea, as well as chorea stemming from other non-genetic diseases and conditions, and perhaps arrest the progression?
What if instead of having to take a medicine that may force you to think about suicide, as so many chorea victims do, you could take the extract of a simple flower and re-discover how good life is without chorea?
What if the medical profession published numerous medical journal articles about this natural medicine 150 or so years ago, when it was a standard successful treatment for chorea?
And finally, what if for the last 80 years or so the combined power of the US government and Pig Pharma corporations had made possession of this natural medicine grounds for slamming you in prison for a long, long time? That would be – let’s see, what’s the opposite of “Awesome”?
Huntington’s disease is a neuro-degenerative disease and most common inherited cause of chorea. Other non-inherited causes of chorea are show in the graphic above.
Chorea is characterized by brief, semi-directed, irregular movements that are not repetitive or rhythmic, but appear to flow from one muscle to the next. When chorea is serious, slight movements will become thrashing motions.
The characteristic movements of chorea often include twisting and writhing. Walking may become difficult because of uncontrollable body postures and leg movements.
Unlike ataxia, which affects the quality of voluntary movements, or Parkinsonism, which is a inhibition of voluntary movements, the movements of chorea occur involuntarily, without any conscious effort to move a limb, an extremity (hands or feet), the head or neck, or any other part of the body. Because all movements associated with chorea are involuntary, it is classified as a hyperkinetic movement disorder.
The only answers that Pig Pharma has for Chorea are treatments, not cures. One of the most commonly prescribed “medicines” is tetrabenazine. Among the risks associated with tetrabenazine’s use are: sedation, fatigue, insomnia, akathisia, anxiety and nausea. Oh, and also tetrabenazine increases the risk of depression and suicidal thoughts and behavior in people afflicted with Huntington’s disease. So it doesn’t cure you, but it may make you decide to kill yourself. Nice drug. All the other Pig Pharma answers to Huntington’s Disease pose similar risks and do not cure Chorea.
In fairness, it is important to point out that one of the following reported cases of someone with chorea who was healed by Cannabis, was a young girl who had suffered from a bout of rheumatic fever a month prior to the onset of Chorea. It is well-established (in 2018) that one type of Chorea, Sydenham’s chorea, occurs as a complication of streptococcal infection, and that twenty percent of children and adolescents with rheumatic fever who are left untreated with antibiotics develop Sydenham’s chorea as a complication. So it is possible, even likely, that what Dr. Douglas is describing is a strep infection leading to Chorea – in other words, a sub-set of Chorea. However, since Cannabis is not an antibiotic, it seems unlikely that in this case being described its beneficial use in the treatment of Chorea would be confined to this single sub-set of the disease. Plus the instance of this young girl is only one of many Cannabis chorea cures that are described in this medical journal article from 1869.
Fortunately for people suffering from Huntington’s today, in most places Cannabis is available for self-treatment, and in the more advanced states there are even physicians who have bothered to learn and build on what their colleagues discovered 150 years ago, ignoring the poisons being pushed by Pig Pharma.
Here is one example of what has been known and withheld from those who suffer for eight generations. The research isn’t perfect, and the doctor is very much trapped in many of the false assumptions of his day, but he is clear on one thing – Cannabis is a powerful natural medicine that is safe and effective for treating neurological diseases like Chorea.
By Dr. Douglas F.R.G.P.E.
Vice-President of the Medico-Chirurgical Society of Edinburgh
February 4th, 1869
THE USE OF INDIAN HEMP IN CHOREA
The value of Indian hemp as a therapeutic agent is well established, but a singular difficulty has been experienced in securing for it the confidence to which it is evidently entitled. Without attempting to explain or to excuse this difficulty, I propose to illustrate what appears to me one of its most useful applications.
The negative virtues of the drug are amongst its chief merits. Dr. Russell Reynolds, who writes one of the most recent, and one of the best expositions of the value of this remedy, tells us, as the result of a manifestly practical and thoughtful experience, that it is a soporific, anodyne and antispasmodic; and that it relieves pain and spasm: that it does not leave behind it headache nor vertigo; nor does it impair the appetite nor confine the bowels. These important virtues accord with anything I have seen of its action; nor have I met with any annoyance in practice from its peculiar action on the emotional or intellectual state of the sick. We are apt to be deterred from the use of a remedy by such pictures of its more peculiar actions, as are given of the abuse of the drug in countries where it is resorted to as a means of intoxication, and of its action in the cases of patients who under its use became tortured by ocular illusions and spectres of horrible form.
I do not doubt that such effects result from the use of the drug; but, in prescribing it, I have not met with them, and I am disposed to think that they are to be avoided even more certainly than we can guard against the unpleasant effects of opium.
As in the case of other useful drugs, the contradictory and extreme views of the efficacy and certainty of its therapeutic action, urged by writers of high authority, have retarded confidence in cannabis Indica; and indeed its applications to disease seem scarcely to have been investigated with the reliance which its demonstrated energy would justify. It is now many years since Dr. Dominic Corrigan published a series of cases which underwent cure in the course of four or five weeks, mainly by the use of the cannabis Indica, in doses of five minims of the tincture, increased to twenty-five: one of the cases, being of ten years standing, was cured in a month. (Archives of Medicine. Edited by Lionel S. Beale, M.B. Vol. ii. London Medical Times, 1845.)
One cannot resist the impression that other elements in the treatment, besides the administration of the cannabis, had need to be taken into account in the explanation of such cures; and moreover, before the actual value of the drug in such cases can be determined, a minute statement of the clinical and pathological relations of each case would be required i.e., how far the case might be one of chorea arising in connexion with rheumatism, struma, cerebral or spinal disease, or in connexion with some more temporary source of irritation in the system, as from derangement of the digestive or of the generative or other functions.
Again, we find Dr. Wilks of Guy’s Hospital arguing that, because fifty remedies have been found to cure such a disease as chorea, it may be safely left to itself. Accordingly, Dr. Wilks, admitting the usefulness of Dr. Hughes favourite and useful remedy, rhubarb steeped in port wine, prescribes to his patients the syrup of orange, that students may witness the spontaneous cure of the disease; and his patients, like Dr Corrigan’s, left the hospital cured in about a month.
Nevertheless, whatever preference we may have for a medicine expectant, that permits the sick to recover, over the heroic measures, whose advocates claim to have cured the patients who escape out of their hands, thoughtful practitioners will not be prevented from inquiring into the nature and the extent of special therapeutic actions by the scepticism of doubters nor by the rash generalizations of hasty observers.
Jane Williamson, aged 13, was admitted into the Chalmers Hospital under my care on the 15th of October last. She had the look of previously good health, and she was well nourished, but not robust. At the date of her admission, she presented the awkward gesture and the grimace of established chorea, though not severe in its degree. Temperature was natural; pulse 90, rather small; there was slight rheumatic pain of the knees and elbows, and an excited state of the heart’s action. The urine was loaded with lithates, it was normal in density, about 30 oz. in twenty-four hours. The bowels were easily regulated.
The treatment, in the first instance, consisted in the administration of a solution of the acetate of potash, with infusion of digitalis, and four minims of Fowler’s solution thrice a day.
The history of her previous illness given by herself and her friends was that, about a month previously, she was taken with a not intense attack of rheumatic fever. She suffered a good deal from the state of the larger joints; no symptom of cardiac inflammation appeared to have existed, but, for about a fortnight preceding her admission, she presented choreal action, gradually increasing indegree and affecting the extremities and face. . .
During the days immediately succeeding her admission, a rapid change occurred in the degree of the choreal movements, and in the state of the heart’s action. The latter became so disturbed, feeble, and excited, with feeble arterial pulse, as to cause serious anxiety for the safety of the patient, and at the same time the choreic agitation increased with such violent restlessness and 1 oiling in bed that excoriation occurred over the sacrum and both nates, while contortion of the features and tossing of the extremities, especially when their movement was attempted, continued excessive, the articular effects of rheumatism decreased, temperature became more natural, and urine healthy, but the bowels became torpid. The arsenic was persevered with, and a few 30-grain doses of bromide of potassium were given. Each dose was followed by a short period of quiescence, but, on the 20th, the excitement of the heart’s action became so alarming that 25-minim doses of tincture of Indian hemp were administered, followed by apparently marked, but only transient abatement of the spasmodic movement, which, as Dr. Hogg, the resident physician, reported, seemed to recur subsequently with increased and distressing severity.
On the following day, that is, the sixth of her residence in the Hospital, her condition seemed desperate, chiefly on account of the protracted and uncontrollable hurry of the heart’s action. She was ordered to have six minims of the tincture of cannabis every hour, the arsenic and other remedies being intermitted. The bowels were now well regulated, the excoriations of the back and nates had increased so as to form superficial sloughs of considerable extent, the pulse was small and so rapid as not to be counted, and the heart’s action was still feeble, rapid, and disturbed. She had four ounces of brandy per day. On the following day, having had twenty doses of the tincture, there was marked and increasing improvement. The violence of the tossing and rolling had diminished materially, though still it was necessary to have her secured in bed to prevent her falling or rolling over. From this time till the 15th day of her residence in the hospital, the tincture was administered from hour to hour, and she continued to make daily and progressive improvement. At that date (the 28th) she had been free of all the more violent spasmodic movements for two days and the heart’s action was quiet, pulse about 80, appetite good, bowels regular. She still presented a degree of the peculiar grimace, with awkwardness in protruding the tongue and in movement of the arms and hands. There was great mental lethargy, with languor and exhaustion, which made it impossible for her to be out of bed.
The tincture of hemp was now discontinued, and arsenical solution in four-minim doses resumed.
The subsequent progress of the case, though tedious, and so far disappointing, may be told in a few sentences. On the 1st of November, and on several occasions during the rest of that month, there occurred a renewal of the choreal state, which had not indeed absolutely disappeared, though it was often so trivial and even absent as to encourage the hope of an early recovery. Arsenic was perseveringly employed, with a carefully-regulated diet and general management, but on each occasion, of which three were noted, when an exacerbation of the choreic condition arose, a marked abatement of the muscular action resulted from the administration of small and hourly-repeated doses of tincture of hemp, relief sometimes arising so speedily as within six or eight hours. On one occasion the improvement was not decided for three or four days.
In the beginning of December, rheumatic symptoms recurred with slight febrile action and articular pains and renewal of choreic agitation. At the same time, marked excitement of the heart’s action was renewed, and now, for the first time, a faint soft diastolic murmur, indicative of aortic regurgitation, was with difficulty perceived. A weak solution of acetate and nitrate of potash was administered, and grain doses of opium four or five times in twenty-four hours. Pain arid fever abated, but not the spasmodic movement, and on the third day afterwards six-minim doses of tincture of hemp were given every two hours, followed by an immediate decrease of the chorea, which at once declined to its slightest degree in two or three days.
The patient now presented more marked indications of returning health. The state of mental lethargy into which she had early lapsed was now passing off; her appetite was revived, and on the 20th December she was able to be out of bed and to walk with assistance. Small doses of the iodide of potassium with the infusion of quassia were given, and improvement went on uninterruptedly; she did not, however, cast off the choreic jerk and awkwardness till the second week of January 1869. She has since had a very comfortable convalescence, but the diastolic murmur noted above continues strongly developed.
In the remarks I have to offer on this case, I confine myself to the points which illustrate the value and application of cannabis Indica in the treatment of choreal spasm. It is well said by Dr. Hughes, that each case of chorea, like each case of every other disease, should be separately studied; and though it may be regarded as one of a class, should still be viewed as a distinct individual of the class. In the case of my patient, the general characteristics of the attack point it out as an example of a large class of cases in which acute rheumatism constitutes the primary and originating source of chorea, while its special features simply declare the degree of chorea, with its repeated recurrences, and the unusual violence of agitation, to have been more than ordinarily severe, without any such personal or inherited constitutional peculiarity as exists in certain forms of this and of other nervous diseases.
Connected with the severity of the chorea, an inquiry of some difficulty arises out of the condition of the heart, particularly its disturbed action in the early stage, and the endocarditic lesion which occurred later, and which declared its presence only with the renewed rheumatic attack in the beginning of December. At the time of her admission and subsequently, notwithstanding the extra-ordinary hurry of the heart’s action, I persuaded myself that there was no organic nor inflammatory lesion, and I came to the conclusion that the severity of the choreic state had extended to the heart. The evidences of endocarditis subsequently developed cast doubt on my view of the previously choreic state of the heart; and there does not appear to be any means of solving the question beyond the opinion of those who saw the patient.
It certainly seems unlikely that endocarditis capable of causing such extreme disturbance of the heart’s action should have existed, unaccompanied from the outset by other indications of its presence.
This point possesses some interest in connexion with the view advanced by Dr. Russell Reynolds, that Indian hemp has been of no service in those affections of mind, sensation, or motility, which are simply functional in their character, or, at all events, have no established morbid anatomy. On the other hand, that it has afforded notable relief in cases where organic disease existed.
I do not agree with this view, but it would be beside my object to discuss it here. On the supposition, however, that the view is a sound one, it suggests that, in my patient, the organic lesion had originated in the heart at an early stage of the attack, and, consequently, the beneficial effects of the cannabis were so readily exerted. On the whole, the conclusion is a fair one, that endocarditis was present earlier than appeared; though still, I cling to the view that the disturbed action was, in the first instance, functional and choreic.
The practical interest of my case, however, consists in the illustration it affords of the special use and application of cannabis in the treatment of choreal spasm, and of the mode in which the remedy may be administered in many cases, if not in all. I have already remarked on the mistake, as it seems to me, of looking for general curative results in this or in any disease from the mere general application of special therapeutic observation or experience.
I think the cases and cures of chorea by tincture of hemp reported, to whlch I have referred, illustrate the fallacy of such reasonings; but, on the other hand, the case of my patient suggests that there is a special, and perhaps a frequently useful, application of the drug in such circumstances. The impression which the case leaves on my mind is, that cannabis has a peculiar value and power in controlling the irregular movements of chorea, which ever and again are terribly distressing, and possibly even dangerous, to the patient; and it would be of no small moment to determine the extent and limit of its influence, and to ascertain whether or not choreic action, even in slighter cases, might not be moderated by this remedy.
The result of repeated trial in my patient seems to show, on the one hand, that the violence of choreal action was speedily moderated; and the protracted duration of the case, on the other hand, makes it sufficiently evident that the virtue of the remedy did not reach farther in the direction of removal and radical cure of the disease. This points to an important question in the treatment of chorea, which has been mooted by many writers on the subject, viz., how far the chorea is to be dealt with as an independent condition, and how far its treatment and removal will be best achieved by the treatment of the diseased state out of which it has sprung?
I think that systematic writers and clinical lecturers have dealt with the subject of chorea too much as an independent disease, and that the late Dr. Babington, of London, in his justly-admired paper on chorea, indicated a sound and philosophic principle, when he advised that when the disease has arisen by metastasis of rheumatism, it should be treated in the same way as pericarditis is treated.
Recognising, then, the principle that our chief aim in the treatment is to combat the constitutional state, or the local disease in connexion with which the chorea has arisen, I conclude farther, from the case I have read, that an important aim must sometimes, if not at all times, be to allay the severity of the choreal state by the use of cannabis, or by other means. On this point, I cannot resist quoting from M. Trousseau his earnest utterances in the behalf of tartar emetic as a means of subduing the violence of choreal agitation: “Unfortunately,”says that learned physician, “there are cases in which the convulsive agitation is of such violence that all known means are without avail, and the physician too often sees poor young girls perish miserably, the skin rubbed and deeply ulcerated by incessant friction, that no appliance can obviate.
But surely, in such circumstances, cannabis Indica is a far more appropriate remedy than tartar emetic, affording, as M. Trousseau adds, “if though only in exceptional cases, a chance of success where we appeared impotent.”
The limit of the therapeutic action of cannabis Indica in these cases is incidentally indicated, with a thoroughly practical wisdom, by Dr Williams and by Dr Walshe. So long ago as in 1843, Dr Williams is reported to have said, in the course of a discussion, that he had found it “ relieves chorea during its exhibition, but without radical effect on the disease.”
In 1849, Dr Walshe, in a clinical lecture, says: “Not only was its sedative effect marked in degree, but it was almost immediate in point of time, leaving no doubt on my mind as to the reality of its influence.”
The recurrent attacks of chorea in the case of my patient afforded the means of direct illustration of the efficacy of the drug in subduing the choreal state. for repeatedly the same result was witnessed in the speedy and more or less complete subsidence of the agitation under the use of the remedy, and the decided effect produced on the heart’s action tends to confirm me in the impression that the disturbed state of that organ was largely choreal.
As to the mode of administering the remedy, small and frequent doses proved both safe and effective, and great advantage appeared to arise from increasing the frequency of the dose rather than its amount. Believing, as I do, that cannabis Indica is a remedial agent of value in many and various maladies, I am prepared to recommend this mode of seeking its effects by frequent rather than by larger doses at longer intervals. Such a mode of prescribing it has not been usual; but I find, quoted from an American source, the account of a case of hiccup treated in this way by eight-drop doses of a fluid extract, administered hour by hour, in which recovery from an attack that had defied treatment for five days took place in a few hours.
I have brought this case under the notice of the Medico-Chirurgical Society, not on account of any novelty in its history, nor on account of any conclusions it very positively points to, but simply to bring anew to the light of day an important therapeutic fact, which seemed like to be buried in the pages of undisturbed magazines, and which, probably, has an important application, not only to distressing and dangerous cases of chorea, but even to slight and ordinary cases, as well as to cases of other spasmodic diseases, such as hiccup, irritable heart, asthma, tetanus, and the like.
If you would like to have a copy of this 1869 article by Dr. Douglas as a PDF file please email me with your request.
Back in 1981 my wife Lisle and I began experimenting with alcohol extracts of Cannabis for medical needs, and created a number of simple recipes using using Cannabis buds and good quality brands of liquor. These recipes later became part of “Marijuana Foods”, published by Simon & Schuster in the early 1980’s. The book is still being published in its original form by Ronin Press in 2017 under a new title. While the language of this old book is outdated, the extract recipes are still valid, and are still a pretty cool way to enjoy Cannabis.
Herbal Marijuana Liqueurs (from Marijuana Foods by Bill Drake 1981)
The delightful taste of sweet sinsemilla can be captured deliciously in any liqueur, but there are several combinations that work like a charm. These delightful little potions are probably among the nicest ways of using Marijuana either medicinally or for sheer pleasure. Preparing a good marijuana liqueur is a two-stage process.
First you must prepare the alcohol extract of marijuana. Vodka makes an excellent base, Scotch is sophisticated, grain alcohol is effective but harsh, blue Agave tequila is a treat, and heavy, dark rum is excellent, particularly 181 proof. Any 60 proof and above alcohol beverage can serve as an extract base, but the more sugary varieties low on alcohol (40-60 proof) do not do as good a job as the higher proof whiskies, rums, tequilas, vodkas and the like.
Decide how potent you want your liqueur to be. A ratio of 1/4 – 1/2 ounce of good buds to 1 quart of alcohol base results in a super effective liqueur. For weaker marijuana, you may have to use an ounce or more of marijuana to a quart of base. If you don’t have homegrown sinsemilla, any other good-tasting, good-smelling marijuana will do. The taste of the marijuana you use in making liqueurs is important, so stay away from musty-smelling marijuana and from wild weed.
To Prepare The Base
Heat the alcohol in a double boiler on an electric burner. Remember, you can’t heat alcohol directly on an electric burner and you can never use a gas burner.
When the alcohol comes to a slow simmer, turn off the heat. If you have a candy thermometer, use it to determine when the alcohol has reached 180 F, and then remove from the heat.
Now add the Buds and let them steep for 30 minutes, then pour the mixture into either a large-capacity Thermos if you have one, or a couple of big canning jars with sealing lids if you don’t.
Add a pinch of powdered Vitamin C ester. Don’t use a crushed Vitamin C pill, but instead use pure crystalline Vitamin C ester available in most health food stores or pharmacies. The Vitamin C helps keep your extract base clear; without it you often get a muddy brown liquid.
Put the cap on loosely until the bottle is fully cooled, then close it tightly and set the jug aside. Let the liqueur mellow for a 24 hours with the marijuana steeping, and then decant the liquid into a fresh, clean jar or bottle, setting the marijuana aside. This will be your Marijuana alcohol extract base, or perhaps your final product.
The marijuana you’ve set aside should not be thrown away. For reasons we haven’t been able to determine, the tincture extraction process just described sometimes absorbs all the potency of the marijuana, while other times it absorbs most but not all of it, and the buds remain potent enough to make quite respectable marijuana butter.
Flavoring The Alcohol Base
After producing the tincture, you can decide whether to make it sweet, to add other flavors, or to leave it as it is. To make an easy, classic sweet liqueur base, take equal parts of honey and water. Heat the water to a boil, remove it from the heat, and stir in the honey. Be discriminating about the honey you use. Many supermarket honeys have little taste and sweetness. That’s because the bees have been fed on sugar and water only – no flowers. Many other honeys may have a taste that works well on toast but is a disaster in blend with the flavors of the food it’s sweetening. Good organic clover, sage, tupelo, or orange blossom honeys are wonderful. By the way, when measuring honey, if you first lightly coat the spoon or cup lightly with a bland oil like grape seed oil the honey will all pour right out.
Extracting Herbal Flavors
Now to think about which herbs to add to the liqueur . . . If you’ve had the pleasure of growing your own herbs, you need no prompting to use fresh herbs in every endeavor. If you don’t have any fresh herbs on hand and want to try a few good marijuana herbal liqueurs right away, there are many flavorings that you can use instead of fresh herbs.
Prepare the herbs for flavoring in the appropriate way. Generally, fresh aromatic leaves are lightly crushed in the fingers, seeds are ground till cracked but not reduced to a powder with a mortar and pestle, peels are lightly bruised with a wooden mallet on a cutting board. Place the herb in a heatproof glass jar and add a pinch of vitamin C.
Then, heat the alcohol as described for the marijuana base, using the same precautions – NO OPEN FLAMES – and pour over the prepared herb till it’s just covered with hot alcohol. Close the jar lightly and let the mixture set for 24 hours in the dark.
After the 24 hour blending period, uncap the alcohol marijuana tincture and add the herbal alcohol tincture, and the sweet syrup if you intend to do so, then re-close the container tightly and let it stand for 10 to 14 days.
Orange, lemon, and grapefruit peels are such wonderful flavoring ingredients. It’s always important to use skins from fruit grown without toxic sprays, and packaged without toxic dyes, because the liqueur-making process will concentrate these chemicals right along with the essential oils and essence of the citrus peel.
Fennel grows wild in many parts of the country, but nowhere so prolifically as in northern California. Marijuana Marin is an appropriate name for this mellow liqueur.
Take 2 tablespoons of sun-dried fennel seed, and crush lightly with a mortar and pestle to release the aroma.
Take the peel of 1/2 orange, preferably a ripe, sweet organically grown Valencia, and slice into 1/4 inch strips.
Bruise with a mallet, but don’t crush.
Put the fennel and orange peel into a jar or Thermos bottle, and sprinkle in a pinch of vitamin C. Cover the contents with warm alcohol, close the jar or Thermos tight, and set aside for 24 hours.
After 24 hours, pour the mixture into the prepared marijuana base (vodka is best), along with honey/water syrup to taste – approximately 1 cup will do for 1 quart of fresh alcohol – and steep for two weeks.
After two weeks, strain off the liquid and store it in a dark bottle in a cool but not cold place. This is a nice dessert liqueur with custards and pies.
Cannabis Creme de Menthe
It’s so easy to grow a little mint, particularly in the spring and summer in a cool, moist place around the house, that it’s hard to imagine anyone who can’t get some nice fresh mint to use in making this fine cordial.
Use 3 tablespoons fresh crushed peppermint or orange mint leaves, 1 tablespoon lightly crushed caraway seeds, and the lightly bruised peel of 1/2 organic orange, cut into 1/4 inch strips. Sprinkle all with a pinch of vitamin C.
Steep in hot alcohol for 24 hours in a closed heatproof jar or thermos, using just enough alcohol to cover the herbs.
After 24 hours, strain off the liquid and discard the fennel seed, the mint, and the peels. Add the liquid to the appropriate amount of marijuana alcohol base (vodka is best), depending on your own taste for the right proportion.
Then add 1 tablespoon fresh crushed mint to the marijuana base mix. Add honey/water syrup to taste, in the ratio of about 1 cup syrup to 1 quart alcohol, then set the whole thing aside to steep for two weeks. Finally, filter out all the flavoring herbs, and store the liqueur in a dark bottle in a cool dark place.
When the Scots gave us Scotch, it’s unlikely that they were thinking about whether or not it makes a good base for marijuana liqueur, but with the right luck in mating marijuana to whiskey blend or, better yet, to the proper taste of malt Scotch whiskey, you can produce a fine liqueur reminiscent of Drambuie, the drink devised by the Bonnie Prince Charlie.
Smell your buds to get an idea of whether you want a light Scotch blend like J&B or a heavy malt whiskey like Glenfiddich. Then make of marijuana base using 1/4 ounce sinsemilla buds and a whole bottle of Scotch whiskey.
Also prepare 2 tablespoons crushed aniseed, sprinkle with a pinch of vitamin C, and cover with warm Scotch, and allow to steep in a closed heatproof jar overnight.
Next day, add 1/2 cup honey syrup, the steeped aniseed and its liqueur to the pint of marijuana base. Steep closed for two weeks, then decant, carefully straining out the tiny aniseed using several layers of cheesecloth.
Store the liqueur in a dark bottle in a cool dark place.
Many people prefer tequila to any other alcohol base for marijuana. Its woody aroma with a suggestion of lemon makes an excellent background for marijuana liqueur.
Take 1/2 ounce of fine buds and pack them into a 1.5 (or so) quart Thermos bottle. Heat 1 quart of good tequila not the cheap stuff, in a double boiler as described earlier, on an electric burner only, and using the same precautions.
Sprinkle a pinch or two of vitamin C over the buds, then pour the hot tequila over them, and close the Thermos. Allow to stand and blend for two weeks.
After two weeks, drain off the emerald aromatic tequila, and store it in a dark bottle in a cool dark place.
Don’t forget – don’t throw away the marijuana. Test a little of it to see if you can make marijuana butter with it.
Lemon Ganja Brandy Liqueur
Brandy also makes a good base for marijuana liqueurs, but it will do a better job of picking up the potency if it is blended half and half with a good vodka.
Make 1 quart marijuana brandy extract using 1/4 ounce sinsemilla buds, 1 pint brandy, and 3 pints vodka. Sprinkle with a pinch of powdered vitamin C. Heat to a low simmer in a double boiler – no open flames.
Add 3/4 cup fresh lemongrass or lemon verbena, lightly crushed. You may substitute the fresh peel of an organic lemon if you want, but the two lemon herbs have a nice subtlety.
Lemon Grass is available at many Asian markets, whereas Verbena can be easily raised indoors or out. Decant into a large Mason jar and allow to cool. Steep for 24 hours, then filter.
Add 3/4 cup honey syrup to the marijuana brandy base. Allow to stand closed for two weeks. Re-filter the liquid and store in a dark place.
Glasnost Chili Liqueur
Pour a quart of Stoly pepper vodka into the top of a double boiler. Add several buds or approximately 1/4 ounce Marijuana, plus a few twists of lemon peel.
Barely simmer over low heat for half an hour (no open flames), then transfer to a thermos and allow to steep for 24 hours.
Decant into a nice bottle, straining out & reserving the Marijuana for butter, and store away from the light. Label the bottle clearly – this is potent stuff!
Everyone expects Meth labs to explode regularly because the process of making Meth, while simple, is inherently vulnerable to explosion because of the chemicals involved or if, as often is the case, the operator is inexperienced, careless, inattentive or stoned or, as also often happens, the equipment is poorly made or the work location is poorly vented.
But for some reason, makers of Hash Oil appear to think that they are working with a less dangerous process, or that they have more leeway to be careless or stupid, which isn’t the case – a fact testified to by dozens of hash oil facility explosions every month, especially in states where Cannabis is now legal and so there is a surplus of waste material that practically begs to be used. Squeezing the last drop of goodness out of waste Cannabis leaf is an almost irresistible temptation, and that is completely understandable.
While making hash oil safely on a large scale is absolutely possible, given the right knowledge, equipment and procedures, in this short blog I want to address the small-scale grower/maker who is equally vulnerable to deadly explosion and fire unless they are informed and careful, but who are much more often working in a basement or garage where other people, often their own children are present.
There are safe and effective ways to extract the delightful properties of Cannabis from waste leaf left over from trimming, and the internet if full of kitchen chemists and their advice. I’m writing this blog to encourage these small-scale alchemists to think twice before just googling “How To Make Hash Oil” and then following the first advice that pops up on their screen.
Like the old coach says – there’s a right way, and a wrong way to do things. Here then is a short set of illustrations of what to watch for, illustrating the range of good-to-bad advice available on the internet.
This Recipe is Safe
This excellent article offers safe method for small-batch home extraction. It is detailed and the steps are all well-illustrated, and the results should please anyone who is willing to follow the directions.
Safe, But Confusing
Lengthy article that reviews a lot of different methods and is full of cautionary notes that should be read and clearly understood, but given the length and complexity of the piece not everybody will come away knowing exactly how to make hash oil safely.
Safe – If You Take Precautions
This is a decent description of how to use alcohol instead of butane to make small batches of hash oil. The writer doesn’t seem to care much about the quality of the Cannabis being used, but the steps to take are well-illustrated with photos and if you follow the directions the method is safe. The key is evaporating the alcohol without an open flame and the writer’s suggestion of a rice cooker is a good one.
Here is an example of a well-meaning writer giving advice that can cause serious injury or death. Although the article has a lot of positives – it talks about using high quality organic Cannabis and being selective about the strains you choose – your first clue to the fact that the writer may not be totally safety conscious is the first photo.
He is illustrating the point that you need to work in a well-organized, clean space and the shot is of a very nice kitchen – with a four-burner gas stove! Later on, he goes into great detail about how to use a double boiler over high heat (on the stove!) to evaporate the alcohol.
There’s only one thing to say about this – alcohol fumes ignite, and they are ignited by open flames, and they can ignite explosively. This article is an excellent example of why you have to be careful where you get your advice!but
I hope that the following suggestion isn’t too self-serving, if you want dozens of safe, effective, and diverse Cannabis extraction methods explained in clear, step-by-step fashion, I believe that my 1981 book “Marijuana Foods” is probably still one of the best around. I covered dozens of natural, non-explosive extraction methods for producing Cannabis extracts for cooking medibles, and they are all safe and effective. In fact, even with all the recipes floating around today, almost 40 years later, there’s not much that wasn’t covered pretty thoroughly in this original book – the first of its kind, incidentally.
Here’s the Amazon link if you want to take a look. Note: while the cover is different from the original, the contents have not been altered. Enjoy!
Dear Reader: I wrote the following words as the introduction to my book “Marijuana Foods” in 1982. For several years my life companion Lisle and I had been experimenting with Marijuana as a medicine and saw clearly that many sick people simply couldn’t stand the physical stress of inhaling smoke, even through a water pipe, which was the only smoking alternative back then. Not only that, but older people and non-smokers were almost completely cut off from the health benefits of Cannabis. Vaporizing technology was still decades away, and there was no such thing as the Internet for people to use to inform themselves.
So we did a lot of experimenting with extraction methods and food & beverage recipes – my wife is one of the world’s best cooks, especially when it comes to subtle things like balancing flavors and aromas – and I am gratified to see many of the ideas from this book showing up in the market today. I thought that I would share this “Marijuana Foods” introduction with you to show that the benefits of non-smoking alternative uses of Medical Marijuana have been a topic of conversation for a long time.
When I see all the great new ideas and new Cannabis products created to address every kind of health, happiness and quality of life issue in ways that Pig Pharma can’t touch, I love it that new generations of young people are finally making the Cannabis revolution so strong that it cannot be stopped. Rock On!
(from “Marijuana Foods”, Simon & Schuster, 1982: Chapter One)
Cannabis has been used for centuries as a medicine, and has held a central place as a natural healer and reliever in the pharmacy of societies around the world. America has yet to come to an appreciation of the medical usefulness of Marijuana large because of the successful maneuvers of the cigarette and alcohol industries to get a grip on both the political and the moral institutions of the country. It has been a classic maneuver, well executed and enormously successful, and it has taken over fifty years.
Frustrated in their attempt to impose a prohibition of alcohol on all of society, the forces of morality were quick to spot the far more productive target presented by Marijuana, used almost exclusively by the African-American people in the cities.
The powerful cigarette and alcohol industries saw this situation as an opportunity not to be missed. Knowing that it would be a mortal threat to their industries if Marijuana ever escaped into regular White society, because it would quickly supplant alcohol & cigarettes and couldn’t even become a profitable legal monopoly because it could be grown by anyone, they crafted a long-range strategy which after decades of work and the investment of billions of dollars has almost succeeded.
Moral outrage and self-righteous indignation at the distantly observed and perversely fantasized habits, behaviors and presumed moral degradation of poor people, especially minorities, has long been the habit of a certain breed of White people with withered souls. These people have historically tended to congregate in church-based prohibitionist movements. Recruiting and building this barely latent racism into a religiously sanctioned nationwide crusade against drugs was the strategy chosen by Marijuana’s adversaries.
In executing this simple strategy, the legal drug industries quietly aligned themselves with the forces of morality, feeding them with propaganda and funding, employing layers of sophisticated “foundations” to spare the moralists the pain of taking blood money, and together these evil sisters set out to rid America of (competitive) drugs.
Out of this strategy came the federal bureaucracy designed to “fight drugs” and deal criminally with the “drug problem” which the newspapers of the time defined in large headlines, displaying photographs of either Black people or Whites who were clearly low-life types, and stressing that even a moment’s lapse, a single puff, would lead to such as this.
That was scary stuff to the folks who had just suffered a decade of depression and now faced a worldwide threat of really dangerous aggressors… and it worked. The anti-drug laws of the late 1930’s marked the success of this tactic.
The cigarette and alcohol industries boomed during the War in every community of the world. It was cool to drink, cool to smoke, and everyone who wasn’t dead was alive so what the hell. After WWII there was no room for consciousness-expansion except via martinis in the U.S. because everybody was too busy pursuing the materialist dream of industrial expansion designed to keep the converted war production machinery humming.
The industrial empires left over from the last century, decimated by the crash and the depression, had recovered too well and made too much money producing machinery and other war materials for them to allow the factories to simply close down and people return to their peaceful way of life in the towns, villages and small cities.
Besides, farming and small town living was no longer very attractive to the millions of young men and women who had seen the world, survived a war, and come home as saviors and heroes.
In the late 40’s and throughout the 50’s, going to college and then out to work in rapidly growing companies making consumer goods for the exploding population of babies and families, these organization men and women never got high, couldn’t understand why anyone else would, and using the logic and “information” so carefully fed them by the prohibitionists through the increasingly pervasive media environment, judged those who used any drugs but alcohol and cigarettes as weak in character or racially inferior – probably both.
This is the environment we inherit today. Those at the top of our institutions, agencies and organizations are those who survived WWII, stayed straight, and either bought the anti-drug propaganda or cynically helped promote it, as part of a bargain with the devil in their rise to power.
They have inherited the mantles of power and influence created by the robber barons of the last century, along with the ethics and morality of those brutal humans, and are absolutely dedicated to reducing the people of this country to shackles. These people intuitively understand that the unrestricted use of psychoactive drugs would change society in ways which would make their feudal style of social and economic prerogatives and control too vulnerable to more desirable alternatives.
Marijuana And The Health Care System
All health care systems have a “delivery” component, a set of ways in which the benefits of the system are delivered to the people in need. When we look to the healing rituals of so-called primitive societies around the world we see that a consistent major difference from our own delivery system is the participation of family, friends and community in the “primitive” healing processes and their virtual exclusion from our own.
Scientists studying the effects of group participation on individual human physiology have long noted that whether through church, through kin-centered social activities, or just plain having fun with friends, the health benefits of socializing are indisputable. Such activity is known to speed healing, lower stress, and maintain good health.
Medical technical specialists have developed tremendous analytical and therapeutic tools, but until the institutions they have created for those tools allow the participation of those with whom the person is emotionally and spiritually bonded, the healing potential of much of this wonderful technology will continue to be limited and subverted by the physiological, psychological and spiritual effects of the stressors like isolation, confusion, fear, dread, pain, and despair which so many people feel while “being cared for”.
The Technodoc attitude generally downgrade this as a minor problem, to be dealt with by further medication, and indeed they do have medications which “de-stress” you – for as long as you take them. These substances interfere with the biochemical media in the brain which carry stress messages from mind to brain, and chemically sever the nerves which carry the stress messages from your brain to the rest of your body. They render your nervous system incapable of transmitting the signals which the major stressors produce; they do not change the conditions which generate the fear, the sense of isolation.
You’re still alone, still afraid, in a world full of things you never bargained for, but now you can’t feel the stress, or even register its existence on your conscious mind, so your problems are considered managed.
A New Marijuana-based Therapy
With the ever-present exposure we all get to the “modern health care system” it’s easy to forget that all this is relatively new. Until a few years ago almost all Americans dealt with disease, illness, injury, impairment and old age in the context of a family and a community of friends and neighbors.
This isn’t a good old days fantasy. Sure there were lots of people without friends or family who suffered and died alone – that’s one of the origins of the centralized health care delivery system, the urgent social need to care for the millions of people, many of them immigrants, who lay sick and dying alone in the city streets of the last century. Centralized health care institutions grew out of this core failure of the industrializing American system, when the very closeness of family and community which enfolded those in need was not available to outsiders and strangers, and when there was no alternative but the brutal poorhouse.
But there were also tens of thousands of smaller cities, towns, villages and rural communities where few lay alone, whether sick or injured, where aging people were passed from family member to family member if need be, but were kept, and where the medical profession was an enormously useful adjunct to the family-based health care delivery system but was not the primary caregiver. These days are recalled as quaint by some modern docs who chuckle about the days of house calls, though many wish that they could make a decent living doing just that. Marijuana therapies offer that option.
We live now in an age when care has become interpreted as skilled technical intervention alone. When a person becomes seriously sick or gets badly injured they are removed from their family in a manner that brooks no interference. Medical emergencies convey license upon lifesavers who rush you to the central facility where you are handed over to technical specialists, who then take charge as you are transformed into a “case” or “patient”.
Your family or friends, if you have any, are reduced to huddling in a waiting room where they are visited from time to time and provided reassurance that you are in good hands and everything possible is being done.
If and when the emergency subsides you are then passed on to other specialists who apply whatever medical technologies they are familiar with and choose to use in the name of standard medical practice. Their choice of technology and strategy is determined by many considerations, and their motives are usually the highest, but their methods are not to be questioned, and there is literally no room for family or friends to function in the role of caregivers. They can come visiting hours, and that’s it, because the institution is in total charge of care-taking, and their version of care-taking is how its going to be.
If the institution and the specialists can’t fix the problem you will be designated incurable and sent somewhere called a home, but probably not a home with your family in it, for “long-term care”. You generally won’t go with your family because they “aren’t able to take care of you”, meaning that there is no system to provide the resources which would enable them to “take care of you” at home. The systems that exist to provide and allocate society’s health care resources choose to allocate those resources to “taking care of you” in institutions which they administer and from which they profit, not to home-based alternatives which, while better and more cost effective for you, do not benefit them. They’re not evil, just doing what comes naturally which is surviving at all cost.
If you recover you are “released” which means you are free to go, after dealing with the bill of course. You walk out to rejoin your family, and maybe on the ride home in the car someone will ask you – ” So, how do you feel?” Well of course you feel “fine”, and that’s about it. Everybody goes home and goes on with their lives until the next time they crash or drop or break or pass out and then it all begins all over again.
But are you “healed” by all this? Your disease certainly seems to have passed, your bones mended, your new organ functions perfectly, your heart beats. But what about how vulnerable, how violated, how isolated you feel even behind the pills?
Given the institutional cultures of the current health care system, the isolation and emotional and spiritual deprivation of the severely ill or merely very old person becomes almost inevitable.
Family-Centered Marijuana Therapy
Family centered Marijuana therapy can be a powerful way for the family to re-assert its legitimate role in the process of caring for and healing the sick or hurt family member. Through the therapeutic use of the Marijuana experience families can draw closer, open up to the feelings and words so necessary for healing, reach out to each other and resolve issues, build upon the loving relationships which may have lain fallow for many years while all were healthy.
Those medical and therapeutic professionals who personally understand and value being high have an invaluable contribution to make to the healing of their own profession by working to bring back the quality of caring and life which is the hallmark of successful family-centered health care and which can never be provided institutionally. What is needed is a bridge between the institutions and the extended family in the process of caring for and healing those who are ill, injured, or aged.
The therapeutic use of Marijuana, guided and facilitated by medical and therapeutic professionals, can contribute to the building of this bridge, but not without a small revolution in which enlightened professionals and fed-up families and individuals come to some sort of simultaneous realization of how badly we are all suffering from an outmoded, crumbling and illogical system of health care delivery. Compassionate, creative, therapeutic use of Marijuana in a psychological and spiritual healing process opens new professional opportunities for many health care professionals who are personally experienced with the Marijuana high.
Why should personally enlightened professionals continue to submit to the whips of the cynics and moralists, those evil sisters, thus depriving their patients, clients, loved ones, friends and colleagues of the benefits of a holistic approach to Marijuana therapy which uses the powerful healing high, with themselves acting as compassionate Companion-Guides as well as medical professionals.
Considered, directed use of Marijuana is one of the most effective paths to healing for many people, and there is no question that it one of the gentlest, most illuminating natural agents put on this earth by the creator. To knowingly deny such a whole healing experience to the sick and dying is both sacrilegious and professionally corrupt.
Imagine the impact on the quality of the relationship and the healing potential if all parties to the process- physician, caretaker, family, spouse, and patient could use the Marijuana high to get past the kinds of barriers that typically isolate those in need from those giving care.
Wholistic therapies involving Marijuana would not seek to separate a biochemical “effect” useful in treating the disease or symptom involved. In place of trying and failing to control the psychoactive and CNS “side effects” pharmacologically or biologically in order to extract an elusive magic bullet, why not include the Marijuana high in a psychotherapeutically designed “happiness therapy”. Why not stop trying to manipulate people bio-chemically at these deeply invasive micro-levels and deal with the simple fact that whole Marijuana flowers whether smoked or eaten would, if freely available, be very useful for many of the medical needs of most people in a lot of serious situations.
There simply is no real need to make Marijuana into a pharmacological nightmare and charge people huge fees for institutionally controlled inferior variations of molecules found in every marijuana flower on earth. And even if scientists were to succeed in this absurd search for “the molecule” and “the pathway” which is the Marijuana high, the biochemical industry and the government would then be able to synthesize the chemicals and find the neurological pathways to biochemically manipulate other mysteries like love, happiness, patriotism and consumer behavior, and the arrival of 1984 will have been only slightly delayed.
I don’t expect this to be a problem , because the Marijuana high is not an effect produced by a chemical as much as it is an experience released by a chemical. The experience occurs within, with the impetus given by the chemical but moderated by the mind/body interaction, which is why it is so difficult for technicians to isolate individual Marijuana chemicals from the high and achieve clinically measurable “effectiveness”.
The experience which is partially mirrored in measurable effects like brainwaves and behaviors is embodied in the mind, not the brain, and the chemical acting on the body/brain does not produce the experience, it opens the doors of perception to the experience which occurs on a plane where complex activity leaves only slight physical or electrical tracings on even sophisticated detection machines.
As far as the machines are concerned the Marijuana experience has as much measurable substance as a ghost, and only those who have actually seen ghosts in the other realms would know when one showed up on their screens in this reality.
Archaeological evidence shows that non-western societies have known about the healing and therapeutic properties of Marijuana for thousands of years. Village and tribal societies throughout Asia and the Middle East have used preparations from the Marijuana flower for health, for relaxation, for stimulation, for worship, and for magic since ancient times.
Ritually potent high energy social interaction is a key to healing in these societies, contrasted with routine isolation and treatment exclusively by technical specialists in ours. Marijuana plays an important role in stimulating both interaction and receptivity in ritual participants, and therefore in the healing outcome. In addition, it is clear that these societies have long since discovered the pure medical properties of Marijuana in treating and curing both routine and serious diseases.
Through the use of the Marijuana plant in both ritual and medicinal context these more natural societies have found ways to put the sufferer in touch with those healing forces of the universe which are everywhere around us but which must be summoned and focussed before physical body problems can be relieved. This natural wisdom formed over thousands of years has a place in our approach to the severe health issues confronted today by millions of Americans.
The consciousness that Cannabis is a powerful natural medicine was well-developed in Europe of the 1800s. Knowledge of the medical uses of Cannabis, Coca Leaf and Opium came to Europe from the Andes and Asia first through explorers and traders of the 1600s and 1700s, then increasingly through travelers, writers, adventurers, scholars and missionaries in the 1800s.
Of course Cannabis also came to Europe as Hashish at the same time as it arrived as dried, pressed flowers, so Europeans had a Cannabis concentrate to work with from the earliest days. In the beginning there was some confusion over whether Cannabis flowers and Hashish were the same thing – a confusion soon to be mirrored with Coca Leaf transmuted into Cocaine, and Opium Sap transmuted into Morphine and Heroin.
Americans who find the history of Cannabis fascinating will enjoy browsing the following essay, which I discovered in a public domain EU document. The entire document is mostly about drug control in Europe, but this essay which is intended as background for discussions of control happens to be the best concise history of early medical use of Cannabis in Europe that I have read, and so I’m happy to share it with you here on Panacea Chronicles.
Cannabis as medicine in Europe in the 19th century
As in the previous centuries, hemp was predominantly used in the 19th century as a fibre material. Herbal cannabis played a marginal role as a medicinal plant, although its seeds were used medicinally, mostly in the form of pressed oils or hemp milk as medicine against gonorrhoea or cystitis. In tandem with prevailing interest in plants, products and culture from the Orient, medicinal use of cannabis arrived in Europe from the East during the 18th century.
Much has been written on the historical knowledge in Europe of the psychoactive properties of hemp prior to the 18th century: among readers of Herodotus’ description of Scythian cannabis-incensed burial rites; by alchemists, in particular the herb Pantagruelion lauded by author François Rabelais; via knowledge of Islamic medicine via al-Andalus, and elsewhere (Bennett et al., 1995; Booth, 2003; Mercuri et al., 2002).
However, widespread scientific writings on its psychoactive properties came later. For example, Gmelin wrote in 1777 of the Eastern use of bhang for stupefying (‘etwas Betaeubendes’), mind-clouding (‘Benebelung des Verstandes’) and intoxicating effects (Fankhauser, 2002); and in 1786 the Comte d’Angiviller thanked a certain Boulogne for his sending of Indian hemp plants with the prophetic words ‘Cette plante sera peut- être un présent intéressant pour l’Europe’.
At the end of the 18th century, the French naturalist Sonnerat informed Lamarck’s 1873 Encyclopédique de botanique of Cannabis indica (Emboden, 1974) and brought Indian hemp home to France after a journey to the Orient. Napoleonic campaigns in Egypt and the Near East introduced colonial troops — notably the scientists Silvestre de Sacy, Rouyer and Desgenettes — to hashish (Abel, 1980; Booth, 2003).
European interest in this ‘new’, or rather rediscovered, plant grew only hesitantly. The first comprehensive description of the medical usefulness of Indian hemp in Europe was written in 1830 by the German pharmacist and botanist Friedrich Ludwig Nees von Esenbeck. Until that point in time, use of hemp for medical purposes had remained at a low level.
This situation changed significantly prior to the middle of the 19th century. William B. O’Shaughnessy (1809–1889/90), an Irish medical doctor stationed in Calcutta, India, published in 1839 a comprehensive study on Indian hemp. Thanks mainly to his On the Preparations of the Indian Hemp or Gunjah, Cannabis indica now also became recognised within European-school medicine. O’Shaugnessy used various hemp compounds in his investigations, partly with great success, against the following indications: rheumatism, rabies, cholera, tetanus, convulsions and delirium tremens.
With hashish he had found a well-suited medicine to give his patients relief, and in the case of cramps, even total disappearance of symptoms. For concluding remarks, he wrote: ‘The presented cases are a summary of my experience with cannabis indica, and I believe that this medicine is an anticonvulsivum of great value’ (O’Shaughnessy, 1839).
Europe reacted promptly to this new knowledge from India. This is not surprising as until then no adequate treatment existed against recognised diseases such as rabies, cholera or tetanus. Great hopes were based on O’Shaughnessy’s results. The French were the first to engage themselves intensively with the plant. As early as 1840, the French medical doctor Louis Aubert-Roche (1809–1874), who resided in Egypt, used hashish seemingly successfully against pestilence (Hirsch, 1884–1886). Nearly simultaneously, his compatriot and friend, the psychiatrist Jaques Joseph Moreau de Tours (1804–1884), began to experiment with hashish. He started out with experimenting upon doves and hares, giving them large doses of hashish extracts with their fodder. Then he tested hashish on friends, colleagues, patients and himself. He was convinced that hashish was the supreme medicament for use in psychiatry. His book, Du Hachich et de l’aliénation mentale (1845), caused a great sensation at the time, and is still understood as the origin of experimental psychiatry and psychopharmacology (Weber, 1971).
The works of Moreau de Tours had an impact not only in medical circles, but also among writers and artists. The poet Théophile Gauthier (1811–1872), for instance, received hashish samples from Moreau de Tours. In 1843 he described extensively a self-experienced hashish intoxication in the Paris newspaper La Presse under the title ‘Le Club des Hachichins’. The club of hashish eaters, of which Gauthier was one of the founders, had regular meetings in Hôtel Pimodan on the Seine island of St Louis.
He and Charles Baudelaire (1821–1867) shared a penthouse in the hotel for several years. Other prominent club members were Alexandre Dumas (1802–1870) and Honoré Daumier (1808–1879) (Moreau, 1904). Further well-known contemporaries such as Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850), Gustave Flaubert (1821–1880) and Victor Hugo (1802–1885) participated occasionally (Behr, 1982).
Inspired by Moreau de Tours and later by pharmacy professor Eugène Soubeiran (1797–1859), the pharmacist Edmond de Courtive published in 1848 his widely noted dissertation, Haschish. In addition to chemical analysis, he carried out self-experiments with miscellaneous hashish compounds and gave exact descriptions of their physical and psychic effects (De Courtive, 1848).
Many medical doctors took advantage of the promising results of the pioneers O’Shaughnessy, Aubert-Roche and Moreau de Tours and used these new drugs for therapeutic purposes. Initially, primarily doctors from the colonial powers of England and France showed interest in the use of compounds made of Indian hemp. The necessary commodities or compounds were imported in great quantities to Europe from the colonies, especially from India (Smith and Smith, 1847). Hemp was in this period sold to Europe primarily in three commercial variations:
Ganjah: consists solely of the blooming tips of the female, carefully cultivated plant. Mostly 24 blooming tips are bundled in a length of approximately 1 m, and 11 cm thickness.
Charras: consists of the resin, which is extracted foremost from the blossom, but also from leaves and stalks of the female plant. Today, the extracted resin is called hashish.
Bhang: extracted from the leafless stalks of the female hemp plant. Bhang was predominantly exported to Europe in powder form.
In Europe ganjah was the first to be pharmaceutically exploited. Initially, the fields of application known to O’Shaughnessy were adopted. Later on, the therapeutic application of hashish was considerably extended. In particular, the English and French medics applied this new wonder drug against tetanus (Martius, 1844). Encouraged by many positive reports, especially from England, the Bulgarian medic Basilus Beron intensively engaged in this problem in a dissertation. His work concludes:
I was so contented that, after having used almost all known antitetanic drugs without result, the sick person that had been assigned to me was totally cured after use of the Indian hemp (…) wherefore the Indian hemp is strongly recommended against tetanus. (Beron, 1852)
Homeopathy, founded by Samuel Hahnemann (1755–1843) and rapidly advancing in this period, was also quick to include Indian hemp in its medical catalogue. Towards the middle of the 19th century, in addition to the illnesses already mentioned, Indian hemp was mainly used against neuralgia and other pains, chorea, hysteria, insanity, haemorrhage and insomnia. Since prepared products did not yet exist, cannabis extracts and tinctures were mostly used.
The real success story of cannabis as a medicine began in the second half of the 19th century after the publication of Beron’s dissertation in 1852. In the same year, Franz von Kobylanski published a dissertation on the effect of cannabis as an oxytocic (1852). Four years later, the German Georg Martius wrote his comprehensive work Pharmakognostisch-chemische Studien über den Hanf, which attracted much attention.
Interest was also aroused by the experiments of the Viennese Carl Damian Ritter von Schroff (1802–1887). Martius was among the few who did not deem cannabis compounds as harmless. He wrote that:
the Indian hemp and all its compounds show great diversity concerning the degree and type of effect according to individual differences in healthy as well as in pathological conditions. It therefore belongs to the unsafe agents, and the medic should under all circumstances use it with great care.
(Von Schorff, 1858)
At the same time, Ernst Freiherr von Bibra (1806–1878) published his standard work, Die narkotischen Genussmittel und der Mensch. Here, he discussed hashish for over 30 pages. In addition to experiences of others, he describes a self-experiment with hashish. His concluding judgement was as follows: ‘Recent experiments and experiences made on the medical effect of the hemp plant and its compounds very much point to their advantage’ (von Bibra, 1855).
In this period, most European countries, as well as the USA, included Indian hemp in their national pharmacopoeia. The monographs Herba Cannabis indicae, Tinctura Cannabis indicae and Extractum Cannabis indicae enjoyed increased prominence,
whereas Semen/Fructus Cannabis and Oleum Cannabis became more and more rare. It was first of all France and England, and to a lesser extent the USA, that significantly contributed to the definitive breakthrough of the drug into Western medicine.
The study of Indian hemp was even pursued in Germany. A comprehensive work of Bernhard Fronmüller, written in 1869, is frequently cited. He had studied the qualities of the hemp plant for a long time, and carried out cannabis experiments within the framework of ‘clinical studies on the euthanising effect of the narcotic drugs’ with exactly 1 000 test patients. These test patients suffered from heavy insomnia due to various illnesses. The results of his investigation were positive. Thus, he concluded in his work: ‘The Indian hemp is, among the known anaesthetic drugs, the narcosis which most perfectly achieves a replacement of natural sleep, without particular repression of expulsions, without bad repercussions, without paralyses’ (Fronmüller, 1869).
Well-known medical experts or pharmacologists of the time wrote more-or-less comprehensive essays on Cannabis indica. Some of these articles criticise the unreliability of hemp compounds. Indeed, the standardisation problem continued to be an issue for cannabis compounds until they disappeared. Kobert is one of very few who discussed the dangers of long-term consumption: ‘The habitual consumption of any effective hemp compound deprives the human being and brings him to a mental institution’ (Kobert, 1897).
The period 1880 to 1900 can be considered a peak in the medical use of cannabis. The use of hashish compounds had become commonplace in almost all European countries and in the USA. Nonetheless, it was still scientists from England, France, Germany and the USA who persistently continued cannabis research. It is, therefore, not a coincidence that most of the products on the market (‘specialities’) originated in these
countries. It is first of all through the contribution of the company E. Merck of Darmstadt, Germany, that cannabis compounds became more widely used in Europe towards the end of the 19th century. One of the preferred source materials in the production of cannabis compounds in this period was Cannabinum tannicum Merck. In addition, the company Burroughs, Wellcome & Co. in England produced cannabis compounds. In the USA, cannabis compounds were manufactured by Squibb and sons in New York (‘Chlorodyne and Corn Collodium’), and, later, Parke-Davis & Co. in Detroit (‘Utroval’ and ‘Casadein’) and Eli Lilly (‘Dr Brown’s Sedative Tablets’, ‘Neurosine’ and ‘The One Day Cough Cure’). These companies delivered sufficient quantities of high-quality raw materials and produced compounds for the market.
Probably the most-used hemp compound was the sleeping pill Bromidia, of the American company Battle & Co. This was a combined drug, that is, in addition to cannabis extract it contained bromine potassium, chloral hydrate and henbane. While single compounds dominated during the 19th century, combination compounds were preferred in the 20th century. Most cannabis drugs were for internal use, but there existed topical compounds, for instance, creams or the common clavus tinctures.
In the meantime, France continued its 50-year tradition and honoured medical doctors and pharmacists with doctoral degrees based upon works on hashish. In 1891 Georges Meurisse (born 1864) published his work Le Haschich, and five years later Le chanvre indien by Hastings Burroughs (born 1853) appeared. The latter is strongly based on Villard’s work, but also upon his own therapeutic experiments. He summarises: ‘In therapeutic doses, the Indian hemp is safe and would deserve to be more frequently used’ (Burroughs, 1896).
In Germany, the PhD students H. Zeitler (‘On Cannabis indica’, 1885) and M. Starck (‘How to apply the new cannabis compounds’, 1887) first wrote their graduation dissertations, before the pharmacist Leib Lapin in 1894 published his dissertation, ‘A contribution to the knowledge of Cannabis indica’, under the guidance of the leading figures Johan Georg Dragendorff (1836–1898) and Rudolf Kobert (1854–1918). In the first part of his work, he gives an overview of ‘common, manufactured and officinal hemp compounds’ in use at the time. In the second part he describes the pharmacology of ‘cannabindon’, a cannabis derivate first studied by him. In the preamble of his investigation, he makes a remark which shows the uncertainty that existed regarding the medical safety of Indian hemp:
Had it been so simple to solve the hashish question, it would certainly have been solved by one of the numerous previous investigators. I believe that I have contributed to the definitive resolution, and this belief gives me the courage to publish the following as a dissertation.
A scientific contribution of extraordinary importance within the cannabis research of the 19th century was the so-called Indian Hemp Report of 1894. This census, carried out by Great Britain in its colony India, primarily studied the extraction of drugs from cannabis, the trade in these drugs and the implications for the total population. Additionally, the study set out to clarify whether prohibition of the compounds might be justified, and an expert commission was established for this purpose. Its report impressively shows the significance of the stimulant and drug cannabis in India towards the end of the 19th century. The main conclusion of the commission was: ‘Based upon the effects of the hemp drugs, the commission does not find it necessary to forbid the growing of hemp, nor the production of hemp drugs and their distribution’ (Leonhardt, 1970).
Towards the 20th century, Indian hemp enjoyed an important position in the materia medica of Western medicine. Evidence of misuse of cannabis compounds was practically non-existent until then. Kunkel writes:
The chronical misuse of cannabis compounds — cannabism — is believed to be widespread in Asia and Africa. It results in chronic, heavy disruption of the entire organism, especially mental disorder — attacks of raving madness and a subsequent condition of weakness. It is not observed in Europe, Indian doctors report however daily frequent cases of this disease.
To sum up, hashish played a significant role as a medicine in Europe and in the USA towards the end of the 19th century. The most important applications were against pain, especially migraine and dysmenorrhoea, pertussis, asthma and insomnia. Additionally, hashish was relatively frequently used as an additive in clavus supplements. Rare applications were stomach ache, depressions, diarrhoea, diminished appetite, pruritus, haemorrhage, Basedow syndrome and malaria. Cannabis compounds were also used in numerous single cases, partly with good results. These were, however, of smaller significance.
Typically, doctors who worked intensively with cannabis drugs for years would classify them as valuable medicines. Others criticised them, and frequently looked upon them as worthless or even dangerous. However, both groups agreed on the unpredictable effect of cannabis compounds.
After keen use of cannabis compounds around the turn of the century, they disappeared completely in the middle of the 20th century. The main reasons for the disappearance of hashish medicaments are medical developments. Even before the 20th century, new, specific medicines were introduced for all main applications of cannabis compounds.
Vaccines were developed for the treatment of infectious diseases (cholera, tetanus, etc.), which not only fought the symptoms as cannabis did, but also gave protection against infections. Other bacterial illnesses, such as gonorrhoea, that were frequently treated with cannabis could somewhat later be treated successfully with chemotherapeutica.
Cannabis indica received competition as a sleeping and tranquillising drug in the form of chemical substances such as chloral hydrate or barbiturate. Contrary to the numerous opium drugs, cannabis compounds were also replaced as analgesics by chemical substances. In this area, aspirin achieved great importance shortly after its introduction in 1899.
Another reason for the decline of cannabis as medicine was pharmaceutical instability. The varying effectiveness of the hashish compounds has often been noted. Very different factors, such as origin, age, storage and galenic preparation, affected effectiveness of the medicine. Unlike, for instance, alkaloid drugs such as opium, the isolation of active ingredients was not successful until the middle of the 20th century. This resulted in standardisation problems. There were also legal constraints. The use of cannabis compounds became more and more restricted in international and national law.
Hashish compounds were defined as anaesthetics sometime in the 20th century. This complicated their use enormously, until finally a general ban made it impossible to apply them.
Finally, economic aspects contributed to the decline in use of medical cannabis. Import into Europe of high-quality Indian hemp became more and more difficult due to constraints in the producing countries (mainly India) and the influences of the two world wars. Laws of supply and demand also applied to cannabis, resulting in a massive price increase for raw materials (e.g. herba Cannabis indicae) as well as for compounds (e.g. extractum Cannabis indicae).
Editor’s Note: A few weeks ago I was browsing a Medical Marijuana forum and noticed that one of the contributors cited the recipe for “Cannabis Caramel” from the 1981 book my wife Lisle and I co-authored “Marijuana Foods” and called it “The best Cannabis candy recipe ever”. I was pretty happy about receiving such a nice compliment, especially considering how diverse the field of Cannabis cooking has become since Lisle and I did the original recipe research in our New Mexico kitchen all those years ago.
So while my original intent in writing this post was just to offer just that recipe, then I thought – why not post the whole chapter, one section at a time starting with Cannabis Sweets. In subsequent posts I’ll cover some of the other kinds of recipes that we originally developed for friends in New Mexico and Colorado who wanted to use Cannabis for several different health issues but, each for their own reasons, couldn’t or didn’t want to smoke.
Just one further note. If you have a food allergy to cow dairy then you can substitute goat butter for cow butter in any Cannabis butter extract without changing anything else about the extraction technique you’re using. And you’ll find that goat butter actually makes a number of these recipes tastier, so even if you don’t have a cow dairy allergy go ahead and experiment with goat butter. You’ll be glad you did.
(From) Chapter Four – Marijuana Foods by Bill Drake (1981)
Cannabis Sweet Treats
Marijuana Chocolate Chip Cookies
YIELD: 48 cookies
POTENCY: 1/2 teaspoon per cookie
This variation on the classic cookie recipe which can be found on every bag of chocolate chips in the world is guaranteed to please.
1/2 cup marijuana butter
6 tablespoons brown sugar
6 tablespoons turbinado (unrefined) sugar
1 large fertile egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached white flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Cream the butter with the brown and white sugars until fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Sift the flour, sea salt, and baking soda together, and stir into the creamed mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts.
Chill the cookie dough for at least two hours. This is a precaution against the dreaded flat cookie: Chilled dough bakes vertically, not horizontally. But, if you like flat cookies, don’t chill the dough.
Drop the dough onto the prepared cookie sheets by the teaspoon-size lump about 2 inches apart. Bake in a preheated 375° F oven for eight minutes, or until as brown as you like them. DO NOT eat more than one. If you must, bake another batch with regular butter, keeping careful tract of which batch is which.
Jam-Filled Ganja Crumbles
YIELD: 35 to 45 cookies
POTENCY: +/- 1/2 teaspoon per cookie
2/3 cup marijuana butter
3/4 cup Turbinado sugar
1 1/2 cups good-quality rolled oats
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder (aluminum free)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup fruit jam or preserves
Combine the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add the egg, oats, and salt. Mix well. Combine and sift together the flour and baking powder, then add to the bowl. Stir in the pecans. Chill the dough 2 hours.
Drop by the teaspoon on a lightly buttered cookie sheet. Make a slight depression in each center with your thumb, and spoon in a good portion of jam. 5. Bake 8-10 minutes in a preheated 350° F oven. Allow to cool before removing from the cookie sheet.
Sinsemilla Orange Drops
YIELD: 36 cookies
POTENCY: 2/3 teaspoon per cookie
2 large, fresh organic eggs
1/2 cup light, potent marijuana butter (Use some of your most aromatic for these light cookies.)
1/2 cup raw clover honey
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
11/4 cups whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder (aluminum free)
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, or equal parts ground cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 cup grated orange rind (from a ripe organic orange)
1 cup flaked oats
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
In a large bowl beat together the eggs, butter, honey, and salt. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and pumpkin pie spice, and stir into the egg mixture. Stir in the orange juice, orange rind, oats, and hazelnuts. Taste the batter and adjust the flavoring, if desired, by adding more salt, orange juice or rind.
Chill the dough 2 hours. 4. Drop by teaspoonful onto a lightly buttered cookie sheet. Bake in a preheated 350° F oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until crisp around the edges.
Jalapeno Gold Muffins
YIELD: 24 muffins
POTENCY: 1 teaspoon per muffin
1/2 cup marijuana butter
1/3 cup Turbinado (unrefined) sugar
2 large fresh eggs
8 ounces creamed corn
1 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 cup all-purpose, unbleached flour
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated lemon peel
1/2 cup seeded, finely chopped Jalapeño peppers
1 1/2 cups yellow corn meal
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, eggs, creamed corn, and sour cream. Sift the salt, baking powder, and flour together and combine with the creamed mixture.
Stir in the grated cheese, grated lemon, peppers, and corn meal. If necessary, adjust the taste with just a bit more sugar at a time.
Grease muffin tins with marijuana butter or any other shortening, and fill the cups two-thirds full. Bake in a preheated 450° F oven for 18 to 20 minutes.
High Lime Pie
YIELD: 12 slices
POTENCY: 1 to 2 teaspoons per slice, depending on the ratio chosen for the pastry crust (See Below).
1/4 cup water
1 package un-flavored gelatin
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon. salt
4 eggs, separated
1/2 cup lime juice, preferably Mexican limes (the tiny ones)
2 teaspoons grated lime peel, plus 1 teaspoon for the topping
1 cup whipping cream
1 baked Rich Marijuana Pastry Crust (See Below)
Sweetened whipped cream
Key Lime slices – small, Mexican limes work best
1/2 cup unsalted, shelled pistachio nuts
Combine the water and the gelatin. Allow to soften 5 minutes. Mix in half the sugar with the salt, egg yolks, and Lime juice. Stir constantly over medium heat until the mixture just begins to boil. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in 2 teaspoons of grated lime peel. Add three drops of green food coloring at this point for a more pronounced color effect, if desired.
Pour the mixture into a bowl and chill until slightly jelled. Gradually add the remaining sugar to the cream, and whip until stiff peaks form. Fold into the chilled, somewhat jelled mixture. Fill the pastry crust and chill the pie until the filling has firmly set. Spread more sweetened whipped cream over the pie, place slices of fresh lime around the edge, and sprinkle crushed pistachios over the top.
Golden Valencia Goodies
YIELD: 40 to 48 pieces
POTENCY: 1/8 teaspoon per piece
This is a light-potency candy which makes a nice early evening treat along with a flowery white wine, a sort of a garden-party high. You’ll find a candy thermometer handy in working with this recipe. They only run about $10 and are a good tool to have around if you enjoy candy and want to create your own.
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons potent marijuana butter
Grated peel from a firm, organic Valencia orange
2 cups turbinado (unrefined) sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup chopped skins-off pecans or almonds
In a large saucepan, combine the heavy cream, butter, orange peel, sugar, and corn syrup.
Cook the mixture, stirring continuously over medium high heat, until the candy thermometer reaches 238°. Or, cook stirring constantly over medium-high heat until the mixture reaches the stage where a bit of it rolled between the thumb and index finger forms a soft ball in ice cold water.
Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the nuts. Allow the mixture to cool somewhat. Drop spoon-sized pieces onto a wax-paper-covered cookie sheet. Cool, put in a tight tin, and keep in a cool place.
YIELD: 100 pieces
POTENCY: 1/4 teaspoon per piece
Wrap each piece individually in wax paper, not in foil. Even better, if you’ll be traveling with them, wrap them in the commercial wrappers from a tin of regular wrapped caramels.
2 cups turbinado (unrefined) sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cups light corn syrup
1/2 cup potent marijuana butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon dark rum
2 cups pecans – use only high quality pieces
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, bring a mixture of the sugar, salt, 1 cup of the cream, corn syrup, and butter to a boil. Boil slowly for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Don’t scrape the bottom.
Dribble in the remaining cream, continuing to stir. Add the cream slowly enough not to disturb the boiling.
Continue to cook until a little of the mixture, when plopped into cold water and rolled between your thumb and index finger, forms a firm but not hard ball.
When the firm-ball stage is reached, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla, rum, and pecans. Pour out onto a buttered cookie sheet with sides, and allow to cool.
When the mix has cooled, cut into bite-sized pieces and wrap.
YIELD: 45 to 50 1 1/2 inch squares
POTENCY: 1/3 teaspoon per brownie
An old Southern recipe, & an inspired way to use your best flowers.
1/3 cup mild-tasting marijuana butter plus 1/3 cup regular butter
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
3 large fresh eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon rum
2 tablespoons molasses or heavy dark honey
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup pecan pieces
1 cup small marshmallows
Melt the butter and chocolate in the top of a double boiler over simmering water. Remove the mixture from the heat; allow to cool.
Blend the eggs and sugar, and stir into the cooled chocolate/butter mixture. Add the rum, molasses, and vanilla and blend well.
Sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the mixture. Stir in the pecans and marshmallows.
Grease a 9 x 12 inch pan with butter or shortening. Spread the brownie mixture evenly in the pan and bake in a preheated 325° F oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and then cut into 1 & 1/2 inch squares.
Black Ganja Mousse
YIELD: 8 servings
POTENCY: 1 1/2 teaspoons per serving
5 medium or 4 large egg yolks
1 1/4 cups turbinado (unrefined) sugar
4 tablespoons grated bitter chocolate
2/3 cup whole milk
1/4 cup marijuana butter plus 3/4 cup regular butter
1 tablespoon chocolate liqueur, such as Cherry Suisse
Grated chocolate for garnish
Beat the egg yolks until smooth. Add half the sugar and continue to beat until the sugar has dissolved. Add the grated chocolate.
In a heavy saucepan, bring the milk slowly to a low boil, then dribble it into the yolk/sugar mixture, beating briskly with a whisk. Return the mixture to the saucepan, and cook over a very low heat until it thickens nicely.
Fill a large bowl one-third full with ice cold water. Put the custard into a smaller bowl, set it into the larger one, and whisk the custard until it has cooled.
In another bowl, beat the butter and remaining sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the custard, and beat the mixture until it’s smooth and velvety. Swirl in the liqueur with a light touch.
Pour the mousse into eight small, attractive mousse dishes, cover, and chill in the refrigerator for four hours or more. Serve cold, topped with an additional bit of grated chocolate.
Red Yam Pie
Potency = 1/2 teaspoon/slice
Begin with 4-5 purple yams or dark red sweet potatoes. Scrub vigorously under warm water then slice into thin rounds. Layer them into a pot, sprinkle with a dash of salt, and cover with boiling water.
Cover & cook over medium heat until slightly tender to the fork.
Pour off & reserve liquid. Transfer the slices to a lightly oiled baking dish (peanut or grapeseed oils work well).
Take reserved liquid and add:
3/4 cup Turbinado or white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 teaspoon grated orange peel
2 teaspoon grated orange peel
1/2 cup nuts ( pinon, walnut, pecan)
2 tablespoon concentrated frozen Orange juice
Several sprigs fresh mint
Stir together and pour over sliced yams.
Take 1 tablespoon Marijuana Butter and dot the surface evenly.
Cut strips 1/2″ wide from thawed pie shell and arrange in criss-cross pattern on the surface. Drizzle small amount of Maple syrup across entire surface.
Bake at 425° for 15-25 minutes until crust is a honey brown. Remove from oven and serve after allowing to cool a little.
Classic Date Nut Bars
Potency = 1/2 teaspoon/Bar
The first choice in making these bars is very well-aged honey, you know, the kind that has turned granular in the jar at the back of your cupboard.
Combine by adding sugar gradually and whipping until very light
1 cup granular honey, (or 1 cup Turbinado or white sugar)
1/2 cup Marijuana Butter
dash of salt
In a separate bowl beat together
6 eggs, yolks only ( freeze the whites if you want to save them)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract ( Option: 1 teaspoon Marijuana extract like cognac or rum)
2 teaspoon ice-cold water
Combine the yolk mixture with the sugar/butter blend. Sift and gradually stir in 1.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour.
2 cups chopped dates
1/2 cup grated Orange & Lemon peel
1/2 cup nuts ( pecans, toasted hazelnuts)
When thoroughly mixed together transfer to an oiled & floured baking dish 9-10″ by 12-14″. Bake at 325°F for 30 minutes. Allow to cool, then remove from dish onto a surface lightly dusted with powdered sugar.
Allow to cool completely, then cut into about 40 small finger-length bars. These bars keep well at room temperature but do better in the fridge in a closed container.
Peanut Butter Cookies
Potency: less than 1/2 teaspoon/cookie
Combine and blend until light:
1/2 cup soft Marijuana Butter
1/2 cup Turbinado sugar
1/2 cup commercial brown sugar
Combine and blend into sugar/butter mixture:
1 cup organic peanut butter
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract( Option: 1 teaspoon Marijuana extract like cognac or rum)
Sift then measure 1.5 cups organic all-purpose flour and add gradually to the cookie mix, working it in until the dough is stiff & blended. Chill for an hour, then roll into little balls by hand, flattening them with a fork onto a lightly oiled (peanut oil, of course) cookie sheet. Brush lightly with honey thinned with a little vanilla extract.
Bake at 375° F for 15-20 minutes.
MAJOR HINT: Place all cookies & other things baked with Marijuana butter on hard, non-absorbent surfaces to cool, or else you’ll lose a lot of the potency to the paper towel & trash can.
Extra cookie sheets, large flat pans, even aluminum foil works fine, and the excess butter can be wiped up with a slice of bread after the cookies are cooled & removed to their permanent home.
Maui Bread Pudding
Potency: @ 1/2 teaspoon/serving
Make 1.5 cups of bread crumbs from fresh bread, such as you may have just used to wipe up from a cookie bake ( see above). Otherwise just use any good fresh whole grain bread.
Mix with 1 cup milk and heat together in a small saucepan for a minute or two. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl blend:
1 cup drained unsweetened crushed pineapple
1 egg yolk ( set aside white )
1/2 cup granulated honey or turbinado sugar
1.5 Tablespoons vanilla extract
(Option: Use a Marijuana Rum extract)
2 Tablespoons Marijuana butter
1 Tablespoons Lemon juice
1 Tablespoons grated Lemon peel
1/4 cup crushed Macadamia nuts
1/2 teaspoon each of grated nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon
Take reserved egg white, add pinch of salt, and whip until stiff. Fold into the mix in the bowl along with the cooled bread/milk. Transfer blended batter to a lightly oiled baking dish and bake at 400°F for 30-40 minutes until lightly browned on top. Remove and allow to cool for an hour or so.
About 75 cookies
Potency @ 1/2 teaspoon/cookie
Combine and whip until light:
1 cup turbinado sugar
1 cup butter- 50/50 Marijuana & Regular
Blend together and beat in
1 large egg
1 cup molasses
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Ginger Extract or
1 Tablespoon powdered ginger
Sift and measure 4 cups organic all-purpose flour into a bowl. measure & blend in
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon grated orange peel
Blend the moist and dry ingredients, and allow to rest for an hour or so. Blend again and then roll out very thinly on a lightly floured surface. Cut into whatever shape you like, the equivalent of a 2-3″ round cookie. Bake at 350° F for 8-10 minutes.
Quick & Easy Cookie hint – Take any rolled cookie mix from the supermarket cooler section, open the package and peel apart the cookie dough. Take 1/2 teaspoon Marijuana butter and work into each cookie patty using a fork, then pat it back into shape using your hands.
Simply bake as directed and enjoy!
Classic Brown Betty
Potency: 1/2 teaspoon/serving
Combine in a bowl:
1 Tablespoon Marijuana butter
2 Tablespoon regular butter
1.5 cups dry whole grain bread crumbs
Lightly oil a 9-12″ diameter baking dish and press about a third of the crumb-butter mix onto the bottom. Set aside the remainder of the mix.
Prepare & set aside:
1/2 cup currants or raisins
1/2 cup thawed concentrated frozen apple juice
Peel, core and dice into small pieces 2-3 firm baking apples to make:
2.5 cups chopped apple
Blend together in a separate bowl:
3/4 cup Turbinado sugar
1 Tablespoon grated Orange peel
1/2 teaspoon each of salt, clove, cinnamon & grated nutmeg
1 Tablespoon extract such as vanilla or Marijuana/Cognac
Put half the chopped apples combined with 1/4 cup currants or raisins into the bowl on top of the pressed crumbs.
Drizzle with a little Lemon juice, then sprinkle with 1/2 the sugar/spice mixture, then top evenly with half the remaining crumbs. Press down lightly with your fingers, then add the remaining apples & currants or raisins, drizzle with lemon juice, top with the remaining sugar blend. DO NOT press down.
Take the 1/2 cup apple juice concentrate and moisten the surface as evenly as possible. Finally add the remaining bread crumbs, making a top layer which will brown nicely.
Place covered dish into a 375° F oven for 35-45 minutes, then remove cover and raise the heat to 400° F, and allow to brown for 15-20 minutes more. Cool before serving. Wonderful with a good whole bean vanilla ice cream.
Zesty Bread Pudding
Potency 1/2 teaspoon/serving
Combine and allow to soak:
1 cup dry whole grain bread crumbs
2 cups whole milk
2 egg yolks
1.5 Tablespoons grated lemon peel
1 Tablespoon Lemon juice
1/2 cup turbinado sugar
1 Tablespoon Marijuana butter
3 Tablespoons regular butter
Stir everything together and pour into a baking dish wiped very lightly with a bland oil. Bake at 375° F for 20 minutes. Allow to cool and serve with fresh strawberries and sprigs of mint.
Servings: @ 24
Potency: 1/2 teaspoon/serving
1.75 cups Turbinado sugar
1 cup whole cream ( not half & half)
1/8 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
Stir together until the sugar is dissolved, then cook over high heat in a heavy saucepan for about three minutes at the boil.
Remove from the heat and add:
4 Tablespoons Marijuana butter
4 Tablespoons regular butter
Replace on the heat and cook until the toffee is light brown and quite thick. If you have a candy thermometer the mark is 290° F; if not, it is the hard crack stage.
Remove from the heat and stir in:
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract, Marijuana rum extract, or extract of your choice
Pour the toffee into a lightly buttered Pyrex dish and allow to cool thoroughly.
When cold cut into about 24 pieces.
Marijuana Pastry Crust for Quiche and Pies
YIELD: two 9 to 10 inch crusts
POTENCY: 3 teaspoons per crust
This is an excellent short crust for quiche. It’s very light and crumbly, and works well at any altitude. You don’t roll out this crust; rather, you pat it into shape in a buttered pie pan or baking dish with buttered fingers.
2 cups unbleached white pastry flour
2 tablespoons marijuana butter plus 2/3 cup regular butter, softened
Pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon sugar
Suggestions For Preparation
Sift the flour, salt, and sugar together in a broad bowl.
Using a wide-tined fork or a dull dinner knife, blend the butter with the flour mix until you get a coarse, gravel-like mixture, then mash it around with well-buttered fingers until you have a nice grainy blend. Don’t expect a smooth mixture.
Pat the dough into a ball, wrap in a dry clean cloth, and chill in the refrigerator for two hours.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and pat it flat on an unfloured surface. (Whenever you are going to work a crust by hand you don’t want to flour it, because that will prevent the pieces from molding together.)
Pat the dough out in a circle with thick edges, the size of the pan bottom.
Place the dough into the pan, and pinch the dough up the sides of the pan. You may set aside a bit of the dough before beginning so that you’ll have a stockpile for repairs to this basic crust.
Finish the top edges with nice little scalloped pinches just like on Grandma’s apple pie, then prick the crust thoroughly with a fork. Prick all over the bottom and on the sides. This will prevent bubbling of the crust during pre-baking.
Set the oven at 375° and, allowing time for preheating, bake the crust for 10 minutes.
You now have a finished crust, which you can fill and continue cooking, or which you can freeze.
Rich Marijuana Pastry Crust for Pies and Tarts
YIELD: 12 slices
POTENCY: 1/2 teaspoon per slice
This crust is much richer than the preceding crust.
2 tablespoons marijuana butter, softened
2 tablespoons regular butter, softened
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 large egg
2 egg yolks
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup turbinado (unrefined) sugar
Suggestions For Preparation
Blend the butter with the flour until you have a grainy mixture.
Blend the egg, yolks, salt, and sugar together, and beat into the flour/butter mixture. Cover and refrigerate for two hours.
Work this dough into your pie pan with lightly buttered fingers. Poke holes in the bottom and sides with a fork.
Bake in a 400° oven for five to seven minutes if you are going to fill and bake some more, which you would do if you were using this crust in a tart recipe.
If you are going to fill a completely baked crust, as in the case of High Lime Pie, bake at 375° for 20 minutes.
NOTE: This recipe makes one l0 inch crust, with about 1 teaspoon of potency per slice. To cut the potency, use half marijuana butter and half regular butter.
Wow – talk about an apparent contradiction in terms! Hot water or alcohol (red wine) extracts of Erythroxylon Coca, the Coca plant, along with simple alcohol tinctures or oil extracts of Cannabis, as safe and effective cures ( note – that’s “cures”, not “treatments”) for addiction to Alcohol, Heroin, Morphine, Nicotine, Cocaine, and Amphetamine. Does not compute – right?
Well, hold on there just a minute podner – I have some news for you. Actually I’m not sure that I should be calling information from the 1700s & 1800s ‘news’, but the fact is that thousands of doctors in the US and Europe in the 1700/1800s considered Coca Leaf tea and tonics as highly effective cures for Opium, Nicotine and Alcohol addictions, and later on for Morphine, Heroin and Cocaine addictions, enabling addicts to complete withdrawal programs with very little suffering and to successfully stay clean afterwards. And as pointed out in several of the physicians quoted below, when extract of Coca Leaf was not quite sufficient, adding extract of Cannabis to the treatment virtually guaranteed success.
I can hear the snorts of disbelief from here. Cure drug addiction with a drug – sure. But hold on again just a minute – what about Methadone beloved of contemporary opiate addiction docs? What about all the pharma-technology being used by all those thousands of (highly profitable and minimally effective) drug treatment centers? What about will-power, prayer, and 12 steps?
All good and useful – for some. No doubt. But what about all the people who are not and can not be helped rid themselves of chemical dependence using these “modern” approaches?
And remember – we’re not talking about replacing heroin or morphine injection, or alcohol slurping, or a three-pack-a-day cigarette habit with snorting a line of Cocaine or, worse, firing up a crack pipe. By the late 1800s doctors realized that white powder (pharmaceutical) Cocaine could be just as much of a drug problem as the fruit of the poppy or the vine. Ample evidence exists from the 1860s to the present day that Cocaine is only minimally useful as a medicine and is one of the more dangerous recreational drugs, so we are definitely not talking here about the use of Cocaine as a treatment modality.
We are talking about using the whole, natural leaf of the divine plant of the Andes as a simple tea, or in many cases as a wine extract of the whole leaf – as in the widely used and justly famous “Vin Mariani”. And in fact doctors in the 19th Century used Coca leaf tea quite successfully to treat Cocaine addiction too – which it turns out was very common among physicians who, of course, were first in line to discover that a little tweak up the nose at the end of a hard day made everything seem OK. For a while.
I don’t mean to be flip about physician addiction. It was a terrible and increasingly pervasive problem in the 1900s and today it has grown like a cancer that seems to prey on the most compassionate and caring of physicians – the ones who feel their patients’ pain and suffering most acutely. And of course Pig Pharma is right there with a huge selection of readily available drugs for these physicians to use to, first, deal with the pain and ultimately to become addicted and to descend into the kind of despair from which there is often no exit (that they can see).
If you want to learn more about this tragic problem and the efforts being made to help addicted and suicidal physicians check the link to the DisruptedPhysician blog in the links section of this blog. In fact I am so blown away by this blog that I’ve decided that it makes powerful sense to include addicted physicians in my “Coca Road – Journey To Natural Healing™” project – they would certainly benefit as much from a month of Coca Leaf therapy in the mountains of Peru as anyone suffering from any of the conditions/diseases that originally inspired this project.
But, back to the reductionist approach of Pig Pharma to natural medicines. Before Pig Pharma brought its scientific reductionism onto the natural medicine scene, Opium was just Opium and Coca Leaf was just Coca Leaf. Yes Opium could become a habit, but when you read the medical and scientific literature of the 17th-19th centuries most doctors knew how to deal with that addiction. Not surprisingly, as you will read later in this post, one of the most effective ways they had to deal with both Opium, Alcohol and Nicotine addiction was – wait for it – Coca Leaf extract and in stubborn cases, Cannabis extract (which was called Cannabis Indica at the time). And it is a rock-solid fact that nobody, ever, anywhere in the scientific and medical record became addicted to either Coca Leaf or Cannabis although, as I just said, there were plenty of people, both physicians and laymen, who were able to safely and effectively withdraw from Opium, Morphine, Nicotine, Heroin and Alcohol addiction with the help of these pure, natural medicines.
Once Pig Pharma turned its reductionist lenses onto the Opium Poppy and Coca Leaf – voila – the world was gifted (sic) with Morphine, Heroin, Nicotine, Cocaine, Amphetamines, and all the poisonous variants of these scientific (and commercial) wonders.
Let me explain what I mean by scientific reductionism. Let’s start with the naturally-occurring Coca plant as it grows wild and cultivated in the Andes. Scientific Reductionism is not content with saying “Well, here is a plant whose leaves have been healing people and improving the quality of their lives for thousands of years. What a wonderful discovery.” Scientific Reductionism instead says “Wow, look at what this plant can do! There must be some single active principle that is responsible for the plant’s almost magical powers. If we can isolate and extract that active principle then there’s no need to go through the messy (and expensive) process of growing the plant – we can just figure out how to make that active principle in our laboratories and then we can patent it and get enormously rich. And even better, we’ll use our political, economic and military power to make sure that the indigenous people who have used this plant with respect and moderation for thousands of years don’t have access to the natural plant so then they’ll have to buy exclusively from us or from our very close friends the drug cartels!”
So if you’ve read this far you might be intrigued by what these 19th Century doctors learned about using Coca Leaf tea as a withdrawal support for addicts, supported if called for by the use of extract of Cannabis, and why they considered this a superior approach to anything else available at the time. (Or since, I would add.)
Obviously in this post I can’t cover all of the 19th Century medical literature on this subject, so I’ll just offer you a few selections, most taken from the original source materials that I have compiled in my new 700+ page eBook “The Coca Leaf Papers”.
Several others are from 19th Century narcotic addiction literature which, while it can be rather steamy, also occasionally discussed the extreme difference – night and day really – between synthesized pharmaceutical cocaine and the pure natural leaf of the Coca plant. In “Coca leaf Papers” you’ll find an extensive bibliography with hyperlinks to dozens of original sources, many of which will offer you detailed insight into how these doctors of long ago managed to accomplish with simple Coca Leaf teas and tonics what industrial-scale anti-addiction programs of today largely fail to do – permanently cure opiate and alcohol addiction.
Of course it is important to note that today’s drug problems are far more complicated that those faced in the 1800s – thanks in no small part to the antics of the corporate and government anti-drug bureaucracies and their partners-in-crime, Pig Pharma. (Not a typo.) It is no accident that legally prescribed pharmaceuticals are a major cause of drug death today, along with the toxic products of the ever-inventive street chemists serving the demands of brain-fried addicts. However, as I read the findings of these pioneering doctors, it seems pretty clear to me that the same Coca Leaf cure that worked with alcohol and opiates in the 1800s would probably work pretty well with the speed freaks of today. But, of course, nobody really knows because Coca Leaf is illegal and so it can’t actually be tested to see if it would succeed where all the modern medical ‘cures’ somehow only seem to make the dispensers more wealthy while leaving the addicts to gradually expire in a pool of their own body fluids.
From “The History of Coca” by Dr. William Golden Mortimer, 1901
Excerpt from Chapter XIV “The Physiology Of Coca”
Coca & The Curing Of Drug Addiction
“Prominent in the application of Coca is its antagonism to the alcohol and opium habit. Freud, of Vienna, considers that Coca not only allays the craving for morphine, but that relapses do not occur. Coca certainly will check the muscle racking pains incidental to abandonment of opium by an habitué, and its use is well indicated in the condition following the abuse of alcohol when the stomach can not digest food. It not only allays the necessity for food, but removes the distressing nervous phenomena. Dr. Bauduy, of St. Louis, early called the attention of the American Neurological Association to the efficiency of Coca in the treatment of melancholia, and the benefit of Coca in a long list of nervous or nerveless conditions has been extolled by a host of physicians.”
(From) Erythroxylon Coca: By W.S. Searle, MD
New York, 1881
Coca Leaf & Opiate Addiction
“Perhaps one of the most valuable as well as wonderful properties of Coca is the facility with which it meets and extinguishes the craving for opium in the victims to that fearful habit. Professor Palmer, of the University of Louisville, Kentucky, has an article upon this subject in the Louisville Medical Journal, for 1880, and he therein narrates three cases in which he found the Coca a complete and easy substitute for the opium or morphine which had been habitually taken. One sufferer had been in the habit of taking thirty grains of morphine daily, and yet abandoned that drug wholly, and at once, and without the slightest difficulty, by resorting to the fluid extract of Coca whenever the craving attacked him.”
“Nor can this be considered simply an exchange of masters, since the uniform testimony of even those who have used Coca for a long time, and continuously, is that abstention from its employment is perfectly easy, and is not accompanied by any feelings of distress or uneasiness whatever.”
“Were Coca of no other use than this it would be a boon to afflicted humanity such as no one who has not been bound hand and foot in the slavery of opium can appreciate.”
From “Coca And Its Therapeutic Applications” by Angelo Mariani (1890)
Excerpt from Chapter V
“Dr. Villeneuve, among other cases of morphinomania conquered by the combined use of the pate and the Vin Mariani, communicated to us in 1884 the following observation: “M. X , barrister, 32 years of age, five years ago began to use morphine preparations as a remedy against a very alarming chronic bronchitis and granulations in the throat, which were irritated constantly by cigarette smoking.”
“The patient at first only used morphine, but his physicians committed the imprudence of treating him by hypodermic injection. A notable change for the better was produced during the first month, but, unfortunately, abuse succeeded promptly the use of the medicament – so much so that when I commenced to treat the patient, he was taking daily from 1 gramme 50 centigrammes to 1 gramme 80 centigrammes of morphine hypodermically. When he was four hours without his dose there appeared insomnia, hallucinations and delirium; constipation lasting sometimes for fifteen days, which brought on in the spring a very alarming perityphlitis, jerking of the muscles, sudden frights, dyspepsia, and at last frightful congestion of the face whenever he drank a drop of wine or brandy.”
“After a month’s treatment I had succeeded in reducing the daily doses without causing alarming symptoms; the physiological functions seemed to awaken again. However, the congestion and especially the dyspepsia was very grave, and the cough which had been suppressed by morphine returned. It was then that I treated my patient with phosphate of lime, the pate and the Vin Mariani. Lacking his habitual stimulant, he was plunged in a semi-coma from which he could not always be relieved with weaker daily doses of morphine.”
“The danger I feared most was a relapse of bronchitis, and that the cough and expectoration might end fatally. But in about a week, during which he took ten doses of Pate de Coca daily, the cough became less fatiguing and disappeared entirely in about twenty days. The patient then commenced to take small doses of Vin Mariani (two Madeira-glasses a day). At first congestion appeared, but little by little, as digestion became more easy, my patient, who on account of his profound anӕmia could not tolerate any table wines, took at first a small glass, then two, then three glasses at a meal. Now he can go and take his dinner in town, which he had not been able to do for three years; he regained his former vigor, is able to undertake anew his occupations, and has entirely given up his morphine habit.”
From “The Treatment of Opium Addiction”
J.B. Mattison MD, NY 1885
“Should there be minor discomfort, one-half-ounce doses of fld. ext. coca, every second hour, have a good effect. Cases occasionally require nothing else. If, however, as usually occurs, despite the coca, the characteristic restlessness sets in, we give full doses of fluid extract of cannabis indica, and repeat it every hour, second hour, or less often, as may be required. When the disquiet is not marked, this will control.”
“Having thus crossed the opiate Rubicon, treatment relates, largely, to the debility and insomnia. For the former, of internal tonic-stimulants, coca leads the list.”
“On the discovery of cocaine, it was thought its use, hypodermically, might prove of value in the treatment of this disorder, and, on asserted foreign authority, somewhat extravagant claims. Statements were made of its merit in this regard; but repeated trials by the writer have failed to prove them, and, in his opinion, it is much inferior to a reliable fluid extract of coca.”
From: “The Modern Treatment of Alcoholism and Drug Narcotism”
C.A. McBride, MD, New York 1910
Cocaine is an alkaloid obtained from the coca leaves. The leaves themselves have a very
stimulating effect upon those who use them. The Indians of South America are known to chew coca leaves in order to enable them to carry heavy burdens over long distances and to climb mountains without undue fatigue. When taken in this form, the habit does not seem to be contracted in the same way as when the alkaloid cocaine is taken by itself. We ourselves have tested its use in connection with our army in order to ascertain whether our men could stand a more fatiguing march by its use than otherwise. For some reason or another we have not heard any- thing further of its use in that direction.
Athletes at one time were accustomed to chew the leaves before entering upon some strenuous competition. To a great extent I believe that that has also dropped out of fashion, but it is said that in some of the recent Marathon races a well-known athlete used these leaves to sustain his strength during the contest. That he came in fresher than most of his competitors might be accounted for in this way.
There are several preparations upon the market containing an extract of the leaves and sold as tonics. The general public will be well advised to take none of these preparations without first consulting their doctor.
From “The Opium Habit And Alcoholism, Including Their Therapeutic Indications”
(by) Dr. Fred Heman Hubbard 1881
Case No. 2. Mrs. Julia L., 31 years old,, 5 years married. The incentive inducing her to take the drug, was association with a sister who was an opium eater.
She possessed a delicate organization, with hysterical tendencies, enjoying, however, apparently good health before forming the habit, although her immediate friends supposed her to be consumptive. Seeing her sister take the drug, she would occasionally indulge, and being frail and easily influenced, soon formed the habit.
Patient No. 2 on coming under our observation, was consuming twelve grains of morphia per day. When she was fatigued by over-exertion, the dose was increased; the morphia supporting her during such emergencies, as the power to undergo physical endurance under its action is wonderful. While prostrating in the end, its direct effects are to sustain the system.
Our patient’s natural tendencies rendered her susceptible to the pestiferous effects of the poison, so that she early foil under its influence and was reduced to a skeleton. In appearance her skin was dark and jaundiced, indicating a degeneration of the nutritive constituents of the blood; the hair and nails ceased to grow, the latter becoming brittle, showing a suspension of their nutrition.
As is usual with opium eaters, anorexia and constipation aggravated her case. She had not menstruated since forming the habit, and had imagined herself to be with child for some months. During the tenth month of the practice, her family were horrified by her having a
hemorrhage, apparently from the lungs. It did not suggest itself to them that the habit was the exciting cause of the suppressed menses and its vicarious elimination from the system, by hemorrhage. Her strength failed progressively from this time, the hemorrhages recurring, with some degree of regularity, every three or four months. She was given up as irrevocably doomed to slow consumption, a weak, hacking cough giving color to the supposition.
We considered her case a desperate one and so informed her family. She insisted, however, upon being treated, if only that she might die free from the monster, opium.
In order to decrease her consumption of morphia slowly, we prescribed:
Cannabis Indica, 3 v.
Belladonna Tr ? vi.
Glycerine, ; xv.
Alcohol, § xx.
Salt Baths were ordered to be taken three times a week; the diet to include a liberal allowance of fruit and vegetables and a lemon or orange was ordered to be taken
before breakfast and on retiring. If the bowels in these cases do not respond to a fruit diet, it is necessary to facilitate their action every other day by an enema, consisting of one ounce of castor oil. As there was general poverty of the nerve centres in this case, we ordered syrup of bypophosphites, taken alternately every other week, with the following:
IJ. Iodide Lime, gr. x.
Phosphate Iron, 3 i-
Quinia, 3 i-
Lactopeptine, 3 ii-
Syrup simple, 3 v.
M. Sig. Teaspoonful at nine, three and nine o’clock.
During the subsequent forty days this patient’s improvement was phenomenal, and was accompanied by a ravenous appetite. She gained flesh at the rate of three pounds per week. Her bowels did not, however, relax, or show any disposition to regulate themselves, displaying an atonic condition, which it was absolutely necessary to overcome before a cure could be effected. On the thirty- fifth day of treatment she had a hemorrhage, more profuse than usual, succeeded by hemoptysis for three days.
The lime, iron and quinia were discontinued, and the following pill was given: —
r£. Ferri sul. gr. xv.
Colocynth, ext. gr. x.
Henbane, ext. gr. iv.
Leptandrin, gr. lii.
Podophyllin, gr. li.
Aloes, gr. iv.
Capsicum, gr. v.
M. Pills xxv. Sig. One pill after meals.
Some years previous to forming the habit, the patient had suffered dysmenorrhcea and leucorrhcea, receiving treatment at that time for ulceration of the os-uten An examination displayed a congested and thickened os with two or three cicatrixes, the results of former ulceration. On the seventieth day of treatment, she experienced for the first time expulsive pains, severe in character accompanied with backache and followed by leucorrhcea. Warm injections of castile soap water, preceded an injection of tea twice the strength of that commonly used at the table, and as warm as was consistent with comfort. The next morning we ordered the castile soap water repeated, using the following as a final vaginal injection.
5- Glycerine, iii.
Carbolic acid, 3 ii.
Camphor aqua, 3 i.
Aqua, 3 x.
This, in a measure, controlled the symptoms, but we were hastily called three days afterwards, and found the patient suffering general prostration. The bowels had not acted for three days, the movements excited by injections were unsatisfactory, giving no relief. Anorexia being complete, the sight or smell of food induced nausea.
With our present experience we would not pursue the course resorted to in her case, where the bowels were unrelaxed. As it was, the prescriptions Nos. 1 and 2 were stopped and baths ordered. Electricity was applied with sponges over the abdominal viscera and rectum, exciting a passage, which was, however, scant, and forced, and not sufficient to relieve the system. Calomel of the tenth trituration, with full doses of podophyllin, was administered during the evening. At four o’clock the following morning, we were called and informed by the messenger that our patient was dead, having breathed her last a few moments before. She was indeed dead to all appearances, being in hysterical catalepsy, with no appreciable action of the heart or respiratory muscles.
She had suffered greatly during the night, vomiting incessantly, with no action upon the part of the bowels. We administered, hypodermically, one-half grain of morphia, when a little cold water sprinkled in the face excited reflex centric spinal action and revived her.
This instance only confirmed the conviction that it is impossible to cure the opium habit, and bridge the patient over the crisis, without having the bowels freely relaxed.
The condition unmistakably indicates – and the indication should not be misinterpreted – a state of the nerves’ periphery, which affects the system at large by a reflex action, showing that nature is oppressed by some obstacle which precludes the possibility of an immediate cure. The indications are broadly presented, demanding that no further effort be made to reduce the dose. The patient should be put on the smallest amount of opium consistent with a quiescent state of the nerves, and means should be taken to build up the general health by the judicious administration of tonics, to excite deposits of nutritive principles that give tone and strength to the nervous system.
A rule, scrupulously to be observed, is not to allow the patient to advance into the crisis until the bowels have freely relaxed, involving the entire canal. The crisis is a condition following the withdrawal of the last infinitesimal amount of opium. In preparation for it, patients may be kept as near the verge as the physician wishes, and they will improve, it being only a question of time when their improvement will revivify theantonic nerves.
The activity of the nerves’ periphery, presiding over the abdominal viscery, will be a true criterion of their condition throughout the system and a signal for the treatment to be resumed in safety, with victory near at hand. Drastic cathartics will not facilitate the action of the bowels, as paralyzed nerves recognize no such master.
We kept our patient on a small quantity of opium, slowly reducing that amount every third day, allowing the system time to recuperate. We prescribed the following:
IJ. Morphia, 3 ii.
Alcohol, 5 v.
Glycerine, 3 vi.
Aqua, I vii
M. Sig. Teaspoonful after meals.
Bottle No. 2 contained :
B/. Cannabis Indica, 3 vi.
Belladonna Tr. § iii.
Alcohol, 3 iv.
Ginger Tr. 3 v.
Gentian comp. Tr. 3 vi.
Syrup Ferri Iodide, 3 iv.
M. sig. Every third day replace what is taken from
No. 1, with the above.
“We directed the patient’s husband to inform us at once when her bowels fully relaxed. Thirty-seven days afterwards our presence was requested ; we found her greatly improved in every respect, presenting quite a natural appearance, her bowels having relaxed the previous night, moving twelve times before morning, with accompanying expulsive pains and profuse vaginal secretions, her catamenia appearing for the first time in three years. The attendants kept the first large discharge for our inspection, as it excited their curiosity by its peculiarity of character. It consisted of a mass of black coagulated matter, thickly studded with fibrinous laminae, or flakes, emitting a putrid odor; also a mass of remarkably bard scybala, baving stamped on their surface the imprint of numerous crescentic folds from the columnar epithelium, showing that it must have remained impact in one spot for some time. The relief experienced by the patient was complete, although she was exhausted. Prescriptions Nos. 1 and 2 were stopped and the patient was given one grain of quinia every hour, with instructions to chew coca leaves, retaining the juice extracted, which enabled her to pass safely through the crisis, without suffering nervous irritability. Within five days she was doing housework.”
“A letter from her brother, who is also a physician, written two years later, gives a glowing account of her perfect health, hemorrhages and other phthisical symptoms having disappeared, menstrual functions being normal, while her former frail state was entirely gone and replaced by robust health.”
I have a wide range of friends and colleagues in and outside of the medical and scientific communities, and I am always impressed by the range of reactions that they have to information from their long-ago peers – the doctors and scientists of the 18th & 19th Centuries. On any given subject their opinions generally fall on a normal curve.
On one tail of the normal curve are those who, while not doubting the sincerity of these long-dead writers, simply don’t see how the knowledge that they gathered during their lifetimes of research and practice could possibly be relevant today. There is simply no arguing with these people – one can usually spot them because of how fond they are of using the royal “We” when talking about the medical approach they are taking, e.g. “We believe that this treatment will be best for you…”
On the other tail of the normal curve are those who feel that for all the advances in medical hardware technology, bio-technology, diagnostic and imaging technology etc – they feel that these old-time doctors who had only their hands, eyes, ears, nose, and a lifetime of being intimately involved with their patients, must have had a set of sense-based tools that modern physicians simply don’t have. As an example I have one doctor friend who tells me, and I completely believe her, that she can smell certain kinds of cancer long before it is detectable by technology. Well, it is well-known that there are dogs that can do this – so why not humans? And of course there are many, many doctors who turn to the ancient herbal remedies and give them a chance to do their healing work long before they are forced to use the toxic tools of Pig Pharma.
And then there are all those physicians and practitioners who fall under the great central bell of the curve. They don’t think much about the knowledge of the past, but they don’t discredit it either. The problem that this group has is that the knowledge of the past is almost totally lost to both them and to society. Physicians don’t encounter it in their medical training, and scientists only encounter it as a vague set of building blocks upon which modern medicine and technology has been erected (unless they are those rare birds who actually study the history of science and medicine).
In this blog I am working to discover and bring forth lost knowledge for the potential benefit of those doctors and scientists who dwell in the progressive forward tail of the curve and all those moderate souls who are positioned under the great center of the curve. I try not to speak for the voices of the past but to recover them and give them a venue where their knowledge is available to be re-discovered, by doctors and scientists certainly but more importantly by intelligent people from all walks of life who are seeking to understand the great secrets of living long, and well, and in the full vigor and creative energy that is life at its best.
Those who have ears, let them hear; those who have eyes, let them see.