Before getting to the promised insights, dear reader, please indulge me for a few paragraphs.
Readers of this blog know that I am fascinated by lost knowledge, and by the phenomenon of history repeating itself for new generations who believe that their experiences are unique in the history of the human race.
So it is with the current “Opioid Crisis”. The historical reality is that absolutely none of this current “Crisis” is new – not in kind, not in scale, not in consequences, not in causes, and certainly not in the ineffectual “solutions” that are (once again) being proposed.
I am in the process of editing and preparing to re-publish a lengthy and complex book from 150 years ago by a New York doctor, Alonzo Calkins, who wrote the book for members of the medical profession of his time. His objective was to make clear the deep historical roots of the love affair between people and mind/body altering substances. Although it is clear that Dr. Calkins disapproved – to put it mildly – of any kind of mind-alteration with the possible exception of vigorous exercise and (Christian) prayer, he was also clearly a person with a deep grasp of world history and human nature.
The book is: “Opium And The Opium-Appetite: With Notices Of Alcoholic Beverages, Cannabis Indica, Tobacco And Coca, Coffee And Tea, And Their Hygienic Aspects and Pathologies Related” by Alonzo Calkins, MD, New York, 1870. (I will have this ebook available on Amazon in a week or so and will post a link in the sidebar of this blog.).)
Dr. Calkins lived near the end of the great Age of Exploration. For centuries before he wrote this book thousands of explorers, adventurers, writers, physicians and entrepreneurs of all kinds had been ranging the earth sampling all of the many and varied ways that people use mind-altering natural substances.
As far as Dr. Calkins was concerned, using drugs outside of a medical context is a destructive and immoral activity, so his book was not written in praise of all of those discoveries of colorful and imaginative ways that people of the world have found to get high. He was, however, a competent and observant physician, and he understood that in addition to people seeking to alter their minds in order to just plain have a good time, most people who use mind-altering substances are seeking ways to deal with misery, pain, disease, poverty, hopelessness and the general brutality of their existence.
This acknowledgement of the legitimacy of the human need for drugs, and the extensive documentation he offers, should give Dr. Calkins’ book a place in the library of anyone today who seeks to learn the lessons of the past in order to better understand the profound dilemmas we face today – dilemmas like 60,000+ Americans dying of pharmaceutical overdose. These numbers, so alarming to the breathless media, hypocritical politicians, parasitic “professionals”, and privileged classes, are really nothing new. Not at all. They are, however, absolute proof that people never learn, and especially that people who fancy themselves to be “in charge” never learn.
As long as societies that can well afford to change do not, and as long as a tiny minority keeps all the wealth and power of the society to themselves and continues to allow pain, disease, poverty, hopelessness and brutality to dominate the lives of the majority, the “drug problem” will never, not ever, be solved. Violent revolutions, however, can and do occur with regularity, and they are always about the same evils that “cause” the “drug problem”.
That is because, as Dr. Calkins’ book makes so clear although the author himself does not realize that he is making this point, in the end the “problem” is not drugs. It is the life that so many people are forced to lead by the cruelty, ignorance and selfishness of others.
So, that said, here is one of the many interesting chapters in Dr. Calkins’ book, chock full of those historical references I promised. Although I have been an avid investigator of the history of both Cannabis and Opium for many years, some of the following observations on Hashish were brand new to me, as I hope they will be to you as well. Keep well in mind the limitations of the time in which Dr. Calkins wrote, and have fun!
Chapter XXV: Opium And Cannabis Indica Contrasted
“Fallax Herba veneni.” – Virgil.
“That juice – the bane, And blessing of man’s heart and brain – That draught of sorcery, which brings Phantoms of fair forbidden things.” – Moore
The authorities upon Cannabis besides those to be specified are Rhases, Kaempfer, D’Herbelot, Herault, Mantegazza, and others. The solid extract (which is procured from the summitates of the herb) is called Hashisch in Arabia, Gunjah and Chumts in India (where it is also familiarly known as the “Herbe des Fakirs”), Bust or Shoera in Egypt, El Mogen by the Moors, and among the Hottentots Dacha or Dagga (Von Bibra). Bangue (Bang) or Bendji is the spirituous extract.
Cannabis as a stimulating narcotic has for some centuries at the shortest been known and familiarly used in India, Persia, Bokhara, and other countries, and in some of the Islands. In Egypt, particularly among the lower orders, it takes precedence of opium, and is chewed or sometimes smoked from the gozeh (Lane). Bhang – the more active preparation – is conspicuous for its inebriative and delirative operation.
The Massagetce (as is related by Herodotus), a people on the Araxes, had a seed (conjectured to have been this same seed of Indian Hemp or perhaps of the Datura), which thrown upon hot stones sent forth a vapor that excited boisterous mirth and shouting. Davis the navigator on visiting Sumatra found such a seed, a little only of which being eaten gave to every object a metamorphosed appearance and turned the man for the time into a fool. Dampier observed among the natives of this island an herb which produced exhilaration and then stupefaction, making the eater lively or dull, witty or foolish, or merry or sad, according to the predominant temperament.
Hashisch far surpasses opium in relative power. A dose of twenty centigrammes of the resinoid repeated three or four times shows activity in half an hour, but the full effect is not attained short of three times this space. The duration of action is three to four hours (Steeze of Bucharest). Irregularity and uncertainty in action are doubtless to be ascribed to adulteration (Schroff).
The full impression once produced the brain is speedily affected with a sensation of extraordinary elasticity and lightness and the senses become wondrously acute, a tingling as from an electric shock is felt shooting from the spinal centre to the periphery of the body, the vault of the cranium is lifted off as it were by the expansive force within, the skull seeming as if enlarged to the dimensions of a colossus; and now with one impetuous rebound the experimenter rises above this low commonplace of terrene existence to soar in a purer ether above.
If still conscious of a lingering upon the confines of earth he sways himself along in a balancing gait as though he were under a sort of ivresse. External impressions as from the pricking of a pin or a stroke from the hand may perchance pass unheeded. Objects in the immediate range seem invested with an unwonted splendor, human faces take on a seraphic lustre, and the man for the time feels himself to be possessed of the power of ubiquity. According to the varying humor things around may seem to have assumed a fantastic dress, when peals of laughter will break forth; or suddenly a change will have come over the spirit, when under the impressions produced by lugubrious images and depressing apprehensions the mind will be wrapped in cloudiness and gloom (Polli).
The appetite is assisted by moderate doses but made ravenous for the time by large ones, and the digestive function is correspondingly aroused while constipation is obviated, and the various secernent processes go on in their normal way (Dr. Teste). Not until after long-continued and excessive use does appetite decline, as is observable of the Arabs, says Auber, who finally get fleshless and withered as the general tendency to decay becomes more distinct and progressive.
An excessive dose hinders the approach of sleep; a moderate one brings on a sopor speedy and irresistible. This sleep may be profound and stertorous, or it may partake more of the dreaminess of ecstasy. In the story of Mahmoud lord of the Black Isles, the wife, to cover up her absence for the night, administers just before going out a powder that soporizes him immediately and effectually for the time, or until she shall return again to awaken him with a perfume placed under the nostrils.
This powder there is reason for believing was some preparation (simple or compounded) of the hemp. In another of the stories of the “Nights,” that of the Jew Physician, is a similar incident described. So the chamberlain of Ala-ed-Deen is suddenly thrown into a profound sleep by the use of a powder which Ahmed Kamakim an arch-thief throws upon his face. Unlike that after the opium-sleep, the sensation on awaking is one of refreshing.
The mental condition is an ideal existence, the most vivid, the most fascinating. Time and space both seem to have expanded by an enormous magnification; pigmies have swelled to giants, mountains have grown out of molehills, days have enlarged to years and ages. De Moria in wending his way one evening to the opera house, seemed to himself to have been three years in traversing the corridor. De Saulcy having once fallen into a state of insensibility following upon incoherent dreamings, fancied he had lived meanwhile a hundred years. Rapidity as well as intensity of thought is a noticeable phenomenon. De Lucca after swallowing a dose of the paste saw as in a flitting panorama the various events of his entire life all proceeding in orderly succession, though he was powerless in the attempt to arrest and detain a single one of them for a more deliberate contemplation. Memory is sometimes very singularly modified nevertheless, there being perhaps a forgetfulness not of the object but of its name proper, or the series of events that transpired during the paroxysm may have passed away into a total oblivion.
The normal mental condition is that of an exuberant enjoyance rather than the opposite, that of melancholy and depression, though the transition from the one state to the other may be as extreme as it is swift. Oftener the subject is kept revolving in a delirious whirl of hallucinatory emotions, when images the most grotesque and illusions the drollest and most fantastic crowd along, one upon another, with a celerity almost transcending thought (Mirza Abdul Roussac).
Command over the will is maintainable, but temporarily only. As self-control declines the mind is swayed by the mere fortuitous vagaries of the fancy; and now it is that the dominant characteristic or mental proclivity has its real apocalypsis. The outward expression may reveal itself under a show of complacency and contentment in view of things around, or suspicion, distrust, and querulousness of disposition may work to the surface, or maybe a lordly hauteur that exacts an unquestioning homage from the “profanum vulgus” by virtue of an affected superiority over common mortals, is the ruling idea of the hour; or peradventure the erotic impulses may for the time overshadow and disguise all others.
Amid the ever-shifting spectacular scene the sense of personal identity is never perhaps entirely lost, but there does arise in very rare instances the notion of a duality of existence; not the Persian idea precisely, that of two souls occupying one and the same body in a joint-stock association as it were (the doctrine as alluded to by Xenophon in the story of the beautiful Panthea), but rather the idea of one and the same, soul in duplication or bipartition else, and present in two bodies.
The rapturous delights inspired by the beatific visions thus find expression in an exclamation of an aged Brahmin: “O sahib, sahib, you can never know what perfect pleasure is until you see as I have seen and feel as I have felt – spectacles the most gorgeous, perfumes the most delicious, music the most transporting and bewildering.”
The inspiration of the Pythian priestess at Delphi has been attributed to opium and again to hashisch, and not unlikely both conspired to the effect. This improvisatore power was amusingly developed one day in a pupil of Dr. O’Shaughnessy’s, upon a trial of ten minims of the tincture. The young man in the ecstasy of the excitement assumed the airs and language of an Indian rajah, talking learnedly and haranguing with great volubility in a lively display of brilliant fancy and logical acuteness, to the admiration of friends no less than to his own astonishment as subsequently felt (for the recollection of his scenic personations survived the performance), inasmuch as a habitual taciturnity and an unostentatious carriage were so congenial and habitual to the young man. The paroxysm having lasted six hours, a retransformation occurring somewhat suddenly was complete nevertheless.
Note. In a Prize-essay lately read before the American Philosophical Society by H. C. Wood, M.D., the Professor records an experimentation with somewhat unexpected results, as conducted upon himself. The preparation used was an extract made from Kentucky hemp, in quantity about half a drachm. The effect, which began in three hours, lasted into the following day. At midnight a profound sleep had come over him, and in the hours of waking there was noted an anesthesia affecting the entire skin. The characteristic expansion of time and space was a conspicuous symptom. Mental action as an effect of volitional effort was mostly restrained, from the embarrassment experienced in attempts towards a concentration of the thoughts. A sense of impending death besides hung over him at intervals. In a student who experimented with a grain dose, there was developed a hilarious excitement simply, with a sexual erethism ensuing which did not relax short of three days. This scientific paper (the first contribution of the kind to the medical literature of America) should command the attention of the Profession.
This singular excitant, extensively known in the age of the Crusades appears to have been used by the Saracens for a double purpose, to kindle up the ardor of the soldier against the Paynim, and in larger dose to beguile his adversary into a careless security and so to facilitate the stealthy use of the poignard. In the neighborhood of Mount Libanus there existed from the beginning of the twelfth century for about one hundred and fifty years a military organization, made up for the most part of rude hordes gathered out of the tribes of Kurdistan. Ishmaelitish by genealogy, vindictive in their passions and implacable in their resentments, while professing fealty to the Crescent they campaigned oftener in reality, “their hand being against every man and every man’s hand being against them. Their generalissimo was known as “Le Vieux de la Montagne” (Von Hammer).
At Allamut and Massiat were their famed gardens, secluded by high walls from the vulgar gaze but within adorned with every decoration and luxury that could entrance the vision and captivate appetite; and here presided girls of enchanting beauty and ravishing seductiveness, the houris of the scene. Into this “outer court of the temple,” the youthful aspirant to the honor of a matriculatory membership having been previously drugged with hashisch, was mysteriously conveyed, here to breathe the balmy airs of a terrestrial paradise, introductory to the solemn oath of covenant which at once exacted entire and unquestioning obedience and which denounced an abjuration on peril of life.
Such were the Herb-eating Assassins, the “Hashasheen” (De Sacy). A final dispersion was carried out by the victorious sword of Hulakii, when Aldjebal, Khalif of Baldrach, after sustaining a siege of three years was shut up in a tower by Ulau, there to perish in his solitude by a lingering death (Benjamin of Tudela).
Hashisch, more energetic in action than opium, is in comparison prematurely exhaustive also. Rapid deterioration of the physical forces is to be expected, and as is thought a determination towards phthisis may be established. The ultimate mental condition is that of dementia. The santons (holy men) of Egypt, those distinguished objects of popular veneration in their wanderings from town to town, are living illustrations of this degenerescence, in their corporeal as well as in their mental decay.
Quite unlike opium in one characteristic, hashisch is a powerful aphrodisiac (O’Shaughnessy), ranking second on the list perhaps, or after arsenic. The power of the latter indeed appears remarkable. In the Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal is a case from Dr. Parker, that of a young man thirty years old at his death, who began the use at the age of four. A double effect ensued, a prodigious development of the sexual organs in size, and a proportionate exaltation of function amounting to an impetuous and uncontrollable salacity.
Deleterious as is hashisch in the ordinary habitual use, it may be counteracted or neutralized very effectually for the time by the free use of lemon-juice. Dr. Castelnuovo a resident in the country for thirty years observes, that the people of Tunis understand the secret thoroughly and avail themselves habitually of the benefits.
Bearing an analogy to the poppy from their more intimate relationship to cannabis are Hyoscyamus, Belladonna, and the Datura family. The first – reckoned by Von Hammer to have been identical in origin with the bendji – produces giddiness and stupidity. Belladonna, that “insane root that takes the reason prisoner” (rather is it one out of a number of such), excites delirium and the risus sardonicus (Ray).
The pathologic mental phasis is described by Winslow as a species of “hallucination without fantasia,” i.e. a metamorphosis of things actual in idea rather than a display of mere fanciful creations without analogies in natural things. A pathologic condition has been remarked simulating delirium tremens. The recollection of past phenomena is found to have been obliterated “at once and irrecoverably.”
Datura brings spectral illusions, but leaves a persistent, perhaps incurable stupidity. A singular effect wrought upon the memory is in the interchanging of the names of objects, there being at the same time a conscious perception of the incongruities. The daturas possess strong erotic powers, and a species is used in India by courtesans upon themselves and for the benefit of their visiting friends. The cordial sometimes made by digesting the seeds in wine is especially dangerous to the sex by a double action, exciting physical desire most actively for the time and making the subject oblivious altogether of any faux-pas adventures hazarded.
“Mom couldn’t sleep more than a couple of hours and then she would just lie awake until I came in to get her up in the morning. She would always be exhausted. When Medical Marijuana became legal in our state I asked her doctor if she would prescribe it for Mom for sleeping. The doctor said that she could prescribe Medical Marijuana for pain but not for sleeping, so we agreed that it might help Mom’s arthritis. I filled out the paperwork and got approved and then went to the dispensary and bought the first prescription. The young woman there talked with me about dosage and recommended a Vaporizer for Mom rather than her smoking the Marijuana. She showed me how it worked and how easy it was to control the dose by the size of what I put in the Vaporizer.
Mom now inhales just once or twice from the Vaporizer at bedtime and then falls asleep reading! Before her Medical Marijuana she hadn’t read a book in years. Now she reads and then sleeps for five or six hours. And also, we now light up the vaporizer again before her lunch, which she now actually eats and then she takes a two-hour nap! Medical Marijuana has been a blessing for her. And it really does help with her arthritis pain too.”
Kathy (Washington) in a Panaceachronicles.com comment
If Cannabis Flowers did nothing else but help people get a good night’s sleep or a restful afternoon nap then the fact that it is helpful in so many other ways almost wouldn’t matter. But the fact is that, for most older people, pure, natural Cannabis flowers are the only sleep-aid they will ever need. The bonus is that these natural little beauties are not addictive like so many pharmaceuticals and don’t cause collateral damage to your brain or body like almost all pharmaceuticals.
Where most prescription and OTC sleeping pills operate by knocking you out without even a hint of subtlety, and leave you with brain fog and a nasty headache, not to mention organ and neurological damage with long-term use, you can tailor your Cannabis flower sleep medicine to give you exactly the kind of sleep you’re looking for without paying for that relief with ugly side-effects afterwards.
Since there are over 800 recognized strains of Cannabis, and since each strain has its own treating & healing properties, let’s begin by discussing the best kinds of Cannabis for promoting sleep.
In one sense this is an easy task. Almost any landrace or hybrid Kush, a family of Cannabis strains that originates in the mountains of Central Asia, has strong sleep-inducing properties. Commonly available Kush strains include Hindu Kush, OG Kush, Purple Afghani and Purple Kush.
Some strains based on Kush genetics without “Kush” in their names also have the sleep-aid properties of pure Kush strains including AK-47 and White Widow. A little research at a credible website such as leafly.com will give you all the information you need, and if there is a dispensary in your area that you trust you’ll probably be able to get good advice on the spot.
With a number of excellent choices available, if you are using a medical Cannabis dispensary as your source then choosing which Cannabis strain is right for you, or the older person you are caring for is simply a matter of what is available in your area. In states that allow medical Cannabis sales through dispensaries your challenge is going to be finding the most helpful, knowledgeable dispensary and then working with them to determine which of the strains they carry will work best in your individual situation.
When discussing Medical Marijuana with any advisor for use as a sleep aid remember that it is important to take into account whether you are taking any pharmaceuticals for any other medical conditions. If you are fortunate enough to live in a legal state and have a doctor who is knowledgeable then you can get advice from them, but the reality is that Cannabis conflicts with very few pharmaceuticals. However, if for example you have Diabetes then you will want to choose a strain that does not promote the “Munchies” which could easily lead to a blood sugar overload.
This is just one example of the kind of common-sense precaution that anyone using Cannabis for any reason needs to take. Others include precautions that asthmatics need to keep in mind when thinking about inhaled vs ingested Cannabis, issues that a person challenged with obesity might face if the Cannabis strain that they choose for sleep instead makes them want to raid the fridge, and potential hazards from falling that an elderly person might face unless they are all tucked in before their Cannabis sleep aid starts to come on strong, or if they have to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and are still half-asleep. Any such issues can be resolved by taking a thoughtful approach to the use of Cannabis as a sleep aid, and by asking knowledgeable people for advice on potential issues before beginning.
In states that allow patients to contract with growers for their medical Cannabis supply you won’t be limited to what a dispensary has in stock as a sleep aid choice, since a responsible medical Cannabis grower will have access to seed stock for virtually any strain you feel is best, and of course a good grower will also understand the properties of each strain and be able to make knowledgeable recommendations.
Finally, if you are in a position to grow a personal legal crop of medical Cannabis for you or for your patient you will be able to choose from among dozens of first-rate Cannabis seed suppliers, and you’ll be even more certain of the provenance of the strain you are growing. These are people who have been in the trenches of the “War On Drugs”, and who have dedicated their lives to making authentic, pure Cannabis seeds available to growers worldwide despite the terrible risks. Now that Cannabis is finally coming into its own as a natural medicine these seed producers have come out into the open and as long as you live in a Cannabis-legal state you’ll be able to buy your seeds from any of them online.
Are We Talking Naptime or Nighttime?
Normal sleep patterns vary so much that there’s no general prescription the best use of Cannabis therapy for an individual who is experiencing a short-term or long-term disruption of their sleep. Fortunately, plenty of people have talked online about their experiences with Cannabis as a sleep-aid.
It’s important to keep in mind that a person with sleep problems might not need a Cannabis strain that will essentially knock them out, and some of the “couchlock” strains of Cannabis Indica can do just that. But a given individual may benefit more from a Cannabis Sativa strain that simply relaxes them and helps them enjoy reading a little before falling asleep, and might reject the more compelling hammer of Indica at bedtime. Because Cannabis lets a person choose from among different pathways to sleep it’s important not to throw away this advantage by simply assuming that everyone needs a strong Cannabis Indica for sleep.
One pathway to sleep that many seniors enjoy is a daytime nap, and yet many people who suffer from conditions that create pain and discomfort have a hard time getting any rest during the day, much less at night. So in some sense the ability to nap peacefully may simply depend upon relief from the conditions of body and mind that are interfering with that daytime rest.
This leads to a consideration of what strain or strains of Cannabis are already being ingested, if any, to treat any of the person’s other health issues besides sleep and rest? If Cannabis is not already being used to treat any other conditions, then the choice of strain or strains and the method and timing of use in promoting daytime and nighttime sleep become less problematic.
But if a heavy strain is already being used, say for pain, and the person is still having a problem with sleep, the problem may be that the heavy Cannabis strain being used to help control the pain has lost some of its sleep-promoting effect in the process. This may mean that the pathway to sleep is blocked, and if it is, then the relaxation & meditation pathway to sleep may still be opened by the use of a mentally stimulating Sativa strain. If the environment is right and if the person is able to relax in bed or a comfortable reclining chair doing something they enjoy like reading or watching a movie, then a little Sativa flower in a cup of infused tea or in a vaporizer can send a person onto that longed-for pathway to sleep, perchance to dream, with just a light touch of the sacred blossom even if they are also taking a heavy-duty strain for pain.
Another important consideration is whether or not to smoke Cannabis as a way to enjoy its sleep benefits. For Seniors who don’t mind, or who enjoy smoking, this is a good choice for shorter dozes like an afternoon nap, or as a way to get back to sleep in the middle of the night. The sleep that comes with smoking a nice pipe of Kush will last at least several hours, but not much longer, and there is very little residual mind cotton. However, for a Senior who for whatever reason doesn’t want to smoke, which for many Seniors is a good decision, vapor devices offer a great alternative.
There are several big differences between smoking Cannabis bud and using a Vapor device.
First, since the vapor device doesn’t combust the THC in the bud, it takes fewer puffs to get the desired result. Which also means that if you are buying Cannabis, your usage is less expensive and if you grow your own or a friend grows it for you, you use less per session.
Second, also because there is no combustion, there are no nasty combustion byproducts. In spite of all the positive aspects of Cannabis use, Cannabis buds are still organic plant material and when you combust any plant material – Cannabis flower or firewood – you get hundreds of chemical compounds in the smoke, many of them harmful and even carcinogenic, along with particles that lodge in the tiny air sacs in the lungs.
A third benefit is that with pure vapor you get more of the great tastes of the terpenes and oils in the Cannabis bud and almost none of the “gag and cough” components. Not that you can’t overdo it with a Vapor pipe too – the secret is to take small, light draws and to figure out from experience how much you need to get a good sleep and not to exceed that amount.
The final option for Seniors is ingestible Cannabis in just about any food or beverage form that you can imagine from gummy bears to classic brownies to infused teas. The advantage of ingesting Cannabis for sleep is that the effects last much longer than inhaled Cannabis. The effects take longer to come on, and when you wake up they take longer to wear off, but ingested Cannabis is definitely the solution for a Senior who wants a long night’s deep sleep. It is important to note that with ingested Cannabis dosage control is important because unlike smoking, you won’t know that you have taken too much until it’s too late to stop. This means that Seniors using ingested Cannabis as a sleep aid should be very particular about anything they buy, making sure that it is produced by a reputable company with solid dosage controls in place. Buying Cannabis edibles from local entrepreneurs can be just fine, or it can be a disaster in terms of dosage control.
Other than buying reputable Cannabis edibles, the other option is to make them yourself, and if you are buying your Cannabis from a good dispensary they ought to be able to tell you the concentration of THC per gram in the buds you are buying, as well as offering you everything you need in the way of scales, thermometers etc. to make your culinary efforts a success.
My wife and I both prefer to use Cannabis edibles as our sleep aid, and we also prefer to cook them ourselves because we can be certain of what ingredients are in the edible as well as how much THC there is in a given dose. Not all Seniors would want to go to this much trouble, which is why taking precautions is necessary if a Senior is using a commercial product, or even a batch of Alice B. Toklas brownies baked for them by a well-meaning friend.
Speaking of making edibles for yourself or a friend, although there are a lot of choices in Cannabis cookbooks these days I like to think that the recipes and extract techniques that my wife and I invented for my 1981 book “Marijuana Foods”, which was the first book written specifically for people who wanted to use edible Cannabis for medical and recreational purposes, still offer some of the easiest and most delicious ways to cook with and ingest the divine flower. You can find the hardcopy version of Marijuana Foods on Amazon.
With all sensible precautions taken, and all important choices made thoughtfully, Seniors who have access to high quality Cannabis can simply forget about any sleep issues they may have been having, and can toss those poison pills hawked by Pig Pharma where they belong – in the trash.
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).
“The Intercept” has just run an excellent piece outlining the lobbying efforts of the Opioid Manufacturing sector of the Pharmaceutical Industry to scuttle new Federal regulations that would attempt to make it harder for doctors to prescribe Opioid drugs like Oxycontin. The major manufacturers involved in the lobbying are Purdue, Cephalon, Endo, and Janssen (a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson).
The efforts of these parasitical manufacturers to maintain open season on the wholesale addicting of new “patients” while at the same time keeping up the flow of millions of tablets of these drugs that somehow manage to leak into the street market ( who, us?), is symptomatic of the thug-like nature of virtually the entire pharmaceutical industry.
When you look at the numbers you see that pills are the main “Opioid” killers, not Heroin, not Morphine, and certainly not Opium from the Poppy, and for all the hype about synthetic Opium pills like Oxy, the job they do of relieving pain is no better than a pipe of good opium. Of the 47,000+ drug overdose deaths counted by the CDC in 2014, 8800 were due to Heroin, which leaves +38,000 due largely to pills.
The single justification for the “Opioid” pill industry’s existence is that their products are claimed to be safer than natural Opium, Morphine, or Heroin. If you want to find the reason for the industry’s panic at the increase in Opioid pill deaths, look at the ratio between deaths from the dreaded slayer of youth Heroin and the supposedly safe if used as directed wonder pill.
If a huge part of your industry’s claim to fame is that your product is safer than the juice of the poppy then you have to be pretty upset when people are finally realizing that your pills are killing users nearly 5:1 compared to the fruits of the little flower.
Consider for a moment two possible tracks for our society – the one we are on and the one that could have been, and yet might be.
The track our society has taken is to turn our health, just like we’ve turned most of the other key aspects of our lives, over to highly intrusive institutional management. Most of us no longer have any management role in our food, our children’s education, our family and community security, our finances, or our privacy. One of the results of our capitulation to pervasive institutional management of our lives is that the exponentially-growing health industry, always quick to spot (or make) an opportunity, responded by creating vast numbers of expensive, enormously profitable drugs for all those astounding new diseases of modern society that patients are required to take by their doctors who give no natural options in place of the medical management system’s proprietary pharmaceuticals.
The second track, which might have been, is that all of the medical knowledge gained by doctors, patients and society at large in the 1700s and especially the 1800s regarding three of the great natural drugs – Opium, Coca and Cannabis – might have been kept and nurtured rather than discarded and largely forgotten. Had those three natural medicinal drugs not been demonized and outlawed as part of the warped spiritual movement of the early 1900s that gave birth first to Prohibition and later to the War On Drugs, these three great natural drugs would be available today as a part of the :People’s Pharmacy” just like hundreds of other herbal, natural medicines.
The industrial pharma industry would still have developed, and a lot of people would still be victims of their concoctions, but without the legal framework lovingly erected over decades by authoritarian conspirators there would be a whole segment of the Medical industry devoted to the use of all natural medicines, not just those permitted by the state as part of its role in enforcing the monopoly of Industrial Pharma over medicinal products.
Even more important, a nationwide, community-bases network of natural medicine practitioners would have evolved – people in every community who knew how to grow all of the ancient medical herbs and who utilized the advances of technology to produce ever-more effective but still natural medicines.
Of course we have a great model for this system in the network of Medical Cannabis growers and patients who are finally emerging after the long night of Prohibition – which is still in the very earliest stages of dawning – to point to and see what might have been for ALL the great natural medicines and not just Cannabis, and not just in a few states in the US and a few countries in the world.
In a society where those who wanted any form of any natural drug could grow and prepare it for themselves, or could go to a reputable dispensary or belong to a regulated collective, then we would certainly have some addicts among these people, but they would be able to lead as normal a life as they chose to live without the constant suffering, pain, and jeopardy of addiction to “illegal drugs” and all the horrors that go with that scene.
People with little income would not be driven to prostitute themselves and do violence to feed a drug habit if the drugs they wanted were freely available in safe, natural forms. It is possible, is it not, that given access to natural drugs in a climate free of violence and exploitation many if not most people could use drugs and still lead a normal life even if trapped in circumstances of poverty.
I believe that centuries of recorded experience in societies worldwide shows that the overwhelming problem with addiction is how society treats addicts. If an addict is free to lead an otherwise productive and normal life, many will do so, and those who won’t would have been lost whether drug laws made them criminals or not.
Perhaps what makes addiction so awful for so many people isn’t what the drug does to them, it’s what society does to them as a consequence of their addiction. The popular image of addiction is what is used to sell all the prevention/intervention programs that flourish around addicted people. Human degradation in every form is shown as a consequence of drug addiction, and many people buy that and think no further. But consider the number of people who are technically addicted who lead normal, productive lives in comparison with those whose lives are supposedly ruined by addiction, you begin to realize that plenty of people are addicted to drugs and other substances and don’t descend to street prostitution, emaciation, bleeding scabs and sleeping in alleys. It seems that one begins to see that maybe it is circumstances and not the drugs themselves that determine the direction that addiction takes. Remove all the harsh punishments for addiction and I wonder – what would happen to addiction?
If the illegal status of drugs and the consequences for addiction were removed, at least drug addiction would no longer be part of the trap that ensnares millions of people in the US. Poverty and exploitation would continue in other ways – unless of course (you never know) some kind of new dynamic was released in poor communities by removing the key role of criminalized drug addiction in keeping the iron collar of poverty and exploitation firmly clamped around their necks.
I’ve been browsing through the 19th century medical & historical literature on Coca Leaf and medical Cocaine, and find myself wondering about what has changed between then and now? As you’ll see in the following excerpt from “The Safety & Efficacy Of Coca Leaf & The Dangers Of Cocaine” (in) “History of Coca” – Dr. W. G. Mortimer, 1901, in the late 1800s at least some doctors considered widespread Cocaine use by the working classes to be a non-issue.
As you read through Dr. Mortimer’s comments below, ask yourself – is the Cocaine that Dr. Mortimer is talking about the same Cocaine that is everywhere in the world today? If it is essentially the same Cocaine – then what has changed? If as you’ll see society tolerated millions of Cocaine users in the late 1800s, and experienced few severe medical consequences, What can this little set of anecdotes tell us about that world, and what does this knowledge suggest for today’s world?
The question does occur to me – have many of us been accepting the “War On Drugs” line on Cocaine and never asking exactly how many people die of Cocaine (not overdose – just “from Cocaine”) per year. I just looked it up and have to admit surprise that approximately 5000 people per year have died from Cocaine over the past decade, with 2006 at the peak year with nearly 7000 deaths.
On the one hand that is a lot of people – but on the other hand, do 5000 deaths a year out of 1.5 million regular US users justify the enormous police oppression of Cocaine, led worldwide by the US? When you consider that 400+ Tons of Cocaine arrives in the US every year, that means that proportional to what’s coming in not many people die from Cocaine use – not nearly enough to justify the brutal worldwide network of militarized police that “battles” the perhaps largely mythical Cocaine scourge.
So, given some doubt about how serious the Cocaine “threat” really is, I thought it might be useful to compare our 2015 experience with society-wide use of Cocaine to the experience of medical professionals in another time. Here’s a very small cross-section of what medical doctors were saying and publishing about widespread Coca Leaf and Cocaine use in the late 1800s.
Excerpt from “The Safety & Efficacy Of Coca Leaf & The Dangers Of Cocaine”:
<strong>“It is a noteworthy fact already referred to, that there has been no recorded case of poisoning from Coca Leaf, nor cases of Coca Leaf addiction commonly regarded as “Habit.” The cases of cocaine poisoning and addiction often sensationally reported are even open to grave doubt. The condition termed “cocaine habit” is not generally accepted by physicians. Certainly the very general use of cocaine as an anӕsthetic has not resulted relatively in anything like the number of rare accidents from the use of chloroform and ether, and this fact must appear the more remarkable when it is appreciated that chloroform and ether are administered under skilled observation, while cocaine is commonly employed by hundreds of thousands – even millions – of laymen, many of whom are absolutely ignorant of its properties.
“The use of any alkaloid should be with the appreciation that the factor of personal idiosyncrasy may exert an influence to occasion irregular action. A case of fatal poisoning has been recorded against cocaine from as small a dose as two-thirds of a grain of the hydrochlorate given hypodermically, and from twenty minims of a four percent solution (four-fifths of a grain) of the same salt injected into the urethra, and smaller doses it is asserted have produced alarming symptoms. On the other hand, numerous cases are recorded where excessive doses of the alkaloid have been continued for long periods without giving rise to serious trouble. A recovery is recorded after forty-six grains of cocaine had been taken into the stomach, and in one case twenty-three grains of cocaine was used hypodermically daily.
“ Dr. William A. Hammond experimented upon himself by injecting cocaine subcutaneously. Commencing with one grain the dose was gradually increased until eighteen grains were taken in four portions within five minutes of each other. His pulse increased to one hundred and forty and became irregular. Five minutes after the last injection he felt elated and utterly regardless of surroundings, consciousness being lost within half an hour. The next morning in going to his study where the experiment had been performed he found the floor strewn with books of reference and the chairs overturned, indicating there had been an active mental and physical excitement. He had turned off the gas, gone upstairs to bed, lighted the gas in his sleeping apartment and retired quite as had been his custom.
“ At nine o’clock the following morning he woke with a splitting headache, and experienced considerable cardiac and respiratory disturbance, and for several days after felt the effects of his indiscretion by languor and indisposition to mental or physical exertion and difficulty in concentration of attention. He considered that eighteen grains of cocaine was nearly a fatal dose for him, and if he had taken it in one dose instead of within twenty minutes it might have been disastrous. This experimenter did not observe any influence upon the ganglia at the base of the brain. There was no disturbance of sensibility, no anӕsthesia nor hyperӕsthesia, nor interference with motility except some muscles of the face, which were subject to slight twitching. There were no hallucinations.
“ Dr. Hammond asserted that there is no such thing as a “cocaine habit.” He had given cocaine to many patients, both male and female, and never had a single objection to the alkaloid being discontinued, not as much trouble in ceasing its use, in fact, as there would have been to give up tea or coffee, and nothing like so much as to have abandoned alcohol or tobacco. He personally used for a nasal affection, during four months, from sixteen to twenty grains a day, averaging about six hundred grains of cocaine a month, applied in solution to the mucous membrane of the nose. During this period he experienced slight mental exhilaration and some indisposition to sleep. Subsequently he used nearly eight hundred grains within thirty-five days. In each instance the drug was discontinued without the slightest difficulty.
“ Dr. Caudwell, of London, experimented upon himself with both Coca and cocaine. He took increasing doses of fluid extract of Coca until two ounces were taken at a dose. From this he experienced giddiness with unsteadiness of gait, followed by sensations of mental and physical activity when it seemed any exertion could have been undertaken without difficulty. Under cocaine, in doses of one grain he experienced drowsiness, followed by sleep, and then persistent insomnia. Two and a half grains produced frontal headache, mental excitement and marked insomnia. Three grains after abstinence from food for twenty-four hours produced drowsiness, slight vertigo and wakefulness with a sense of well being. On the following morning five grains produced giddiness with a supra-orbital headache and a sense of weight at the pit of the stomach, while the pupils were widely dilated, and there was inability for exertion. All unpleasant sensations following this experiment had passed in two hours, though dilatation of the pupils lasted for six hours.
“ Professor Bignon, of Lima, considers that the Peruvian Indians consume daily an amount of Coca which represents from thirty to forty centigrammes – [4.5 to 6.0 grains] of cocaine. He regards ten centigrammes of that alkaloid per day [1.5 grains] a good average dose for those unaccustomed to its use. The average initial dose of cocaine hypodermically should not exceed a quarter of a grain. Under a moderate dose of cocaine, the central nervous system is stimulated through a direct action on the nerve cells. There is psychic exaltation, with increased capacity for mental work, which passes off in a few hours and is followed by complete restoration to the normal condition without after depression. Indeed, whatever depression there may be precedes the exaltation. From larger doses, the medulla and the sensory columns of the spinal cord may be directly affected, but only after very large doses is there weakness and lassitude, and general anaesthesia can only follow from an excessive dose.
“ Under a poisonous dose of cocaine there is an initial increase of respiration and of the heart beat, both of which soon slow under the influence of paralysis of the vasomotor center, this effect of cocaine upon respiration and the circulation being similar to that from atropine. The pupils are widely dilated and do not respond to light. Involuntary movement of the muscles of mastication, as in chewing, and rotation of the head or body has been noted in animals. There may be epileptiform attacks, clonic convulsions or tetanus. The most common symptoms of cocaine poisoning are those of profound prostration, with dyspnœa, pallor, cyanosis and sweat.
“ When the drug has been taken by the stomach that organ should be evacuated and washed out, while in any case stimulants may be indicated, such as nitrite of amyl, ammonia, ether hypodermically, chloroform to check spasm of the respiratory muscles and even artificial respiration may be indicated. After the severe symptoms have passed chloral may be administered. Both chloral and morphine are regarded as antagonistic to cocaine. Recovery may take place even after a long period of unconsciousness. I was called in one case to a dentist’s office to resuscitate a patient after his careless injection of an unknown quantity of cocaine, and we labored over the subject eight hours before consciousness was restored.
“ Mosso puts the lethal dose of cocaine at 0.03 per kilogramme, in animals and in man it is probably less. Mannheim, from a collection of about a hundred cases of cocaine poisoning – of which nine were fatal – has determined that one gramme [15.43 grains], of the alkaloid may be considered a fatal dose in man. A “cocaine habit,” as already referred to, is not generally accepted. Yet symptoms presumably due to the excessive use of large doses of cocaine are described. These embrace frequency of pulse, relaxation of the arterial system, profuse perspiration, rapid fall of flesh and hallucinations of sight or feeling. A peculiar symptom of chronic cocaine poisoning is that known as Magnan’s symptom, after the name of the describer. It is an hallucination of sensation in which the patient complains of feeling a foreign body under the skin. While other hallucinations are common from poisons this is said to be distinctive of cocaine.
“ There is but one further feature in the physiological study of Coca Leaf that we have to consider, and that is the manner of its elimination from the body. From experiments of Dr. Helmsing it was long since determined that cocaine is very difficult of detection in animal tissues. This may be appreciated when the important role which it is possible that Coca plays in assimilation is considered. When taken into the stomach Coca Leaf soon disappears from the alimentary canal, being decomposed and gradually setting free the products to which its physiological action is due. As these several alkaloids are carried through the tissues, they enter into further chemical change whereby they are still further broken down, and only soon after the administration of a very large dose is it possible to recover the bases from the alkaline urine with benzoyl.
“ Immediately after a poisonous dose of cocaine given to a cat there was found a distinctive reaction in the urine and blood, but a diminished dose gave after a longer interval only faint tracings, which gradually disappeared. Because of this difficulty of detection the decomposition products of Coca, chiefly as ecgonine, are determined post-mortem by a process of assay. The comminuted tissue is mixed with two parts of acidulated alcohol and digested at 60o in a reflux condenser, the process being repeated with fresh alcohol and the filtrates evaporated to almost dryness. The residue is taken up with water, and the solution shaken out with ether, the residual concentrated liquid being precipitated with baryta and extracted repeatedly with ether. The ethereal solution is then evaporated in a vacuum and the residue tested for the alkaloid.
“The fact that the Coca Leaf products are so thoroughly consumed in the body indicates the important influence these substances exercise in nutrition, the philosophy of which has been more fully detailed in other chapters.”
End of Dr. Mortimer quote. The entire text of Dr. Mortimer’s book and dozens of other hyperlinked resources is available in a free PDF download of “The Coca Leaf Papers”. Simply go to the “Request A Free Book” section of this blog and fill in the contact form and I’ll email you “The Coca Leaf Papers” as a free 6 MB PDF ebook.
Some Additional Musings on Cocaine and Coca Leaf
I think its fair to say that for the hundreds of years after Coca’s discovery by Europeans, and even after German scientists first developed large-scale processes for extraction of pure pharmaceutical-grade Cocaine, Coca Leaf extract in the form of tonics, tinctures, teas and wines, were manufactured by well-known “Houses” in Europe, Argentina, as well as all of Asia. Worldwide, Coca Leaf, Cocaine, and other forms of Coca-related medications had well-developed bases of many million users in the US, and even more in Europe and Asia.
Certainly a couple of obvious things have changed between the late 19th Century and now. Coca Leaf has become unavailable outside of Bolivia and Peru, and Cocaine has been criminalized worldwide, and everything remotely connected with the Coca plant has been thoroughly and professionally demonized.
Maybe most significantly, peoples’ bodies and lifestyles have changed pretty radically over the last 100-150 years. Very few people do actual physical work in 2015 compared with the both the urban and rural people of 1850 – 1900.
People today are almost invariably heavily medicated with prescription and OTC drugs as well as a wide variety of ‘recreational’ substances. The average person’s diet in 2015 is radically different from the diet of the 1800s, both in terms of the kinds of foods eaten and the degree of industrial processing of that food, and the average person today undoubtedly has hundreds, if not thousands of kinds of chemical residues in their body that didn’t exist in the 1800s.
So it is probably accurate to say that our 2015 bodies are very different compared with people in the late 1800s. I believe that our changed physiology can explain a lot of the difference between the experience of Cocaine users in the 1800s and today.
Although nothing that remotely justifies the harsh and vindictive police state that surrounds Cocaine production and distribution, there is huge chemical contamination in the chain as Coca Leaf becomes street powder.
I also question the common notion that even casual use of Cocaine leads to life-destroying addiction. Just as the Marijuana myth was created by the US government as pure evil propaganda I think that Cocaine has been similarly mythologized although the general public seems to have bought into the Cocaine myth to a far greater degree.
I am sharing these musings because the short excerpt above, taken from “The History of Coca – Divine Plant of the Incas” by William Golden Mortimer, MD (1901) makes some clearly well-informed statements about Cocaine that might strike most people as pretty unbelievable today. I have studied Dr. Mortimer’s writings carefully and have no doubt at all that when he cites the experiences of a wide range of medical professionals with both Coca Leaf and Cocaine he is reporting their findings accurately. However he makes the assertion, based on his experience, that while Cocaine can be a dangerous drug under certain circumstances, in the vast majority of cases of people who were using it in the late 1800s it was not a problem at all.
So if what the author says is true and accurate, what has changed between then and now? Has Cocaine changed, or have people changed, or are we simply dealing with another instance of self-serving government propaganda? You may agree that it is unlikely that Cocaine has changed – the pure alkaloid, not at all. Yet the society that Dr. Mortimer describes doesn’t appear to be teetering on the brink of coke-crazed holocaust.
If you find Dr. Mortimer to be credible then it appears that pure unadulterated Cocaine, if used by millions, would probably not be a problem drug if the people were taking it weren’t already chronically poisoned by their society in the first place. And, for the vast majority of people who use Cocaine today it is not a problem – I suspect that many of the reported 5000 Cocaine overdose deaths might be arguable. I have no doubt that our government simply cherry-picks the most pathetic cases and hold them up like boogeymen to scare the naïve among us into supporting militarization of the police under the rubric of a “War On Drugs”.
Yet in the face of all this psychopathic raw power the Medical Marijuana movement demonstrates that when the time has come, and if there is broad popular knowledge that the government’s game is exposed as total fraud, the most vicious anti-drug laws can be reversed. It really is amusing to watch the Federal agencies keep up their already-lost war in the face of growing independence of the states.
I hope that it is only a matter of time before anyone living in any State who wants to grow any natural medicinal plant for his/her own family use, and can do so without any interference by government at any level. Before the fight for legal medical Cannabis was fought and won by millions of enlightened citizens I would have called my own hopes Utopian – but that has changed forever.
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.