Hemp and Its Indian History

Ananta newsletter


by Ananta Hemp Works

Vol No. 7 | June 11th 2022



Could you ever imagine that a simple plant such as hemp might have a remarkable place in the history of India?

Hemp or traditionally called Vijaya has long been a part of Indian traditional medicines, folklore healing systems, and the Ayurvedic system of medicine. Although the most primitive references remain unknown, there have been circumstances where Bhang (another Sanskrit synonym for hemp) was used as a method to relieve pain and induce healing in most war injuries.

As a part of the invasion and other drastic changes in the ruling region, many classical references claiming its importance in the field of medicine are lost to the present generation. Many references including the extensive practice of hemp in the medications of Indian folklore medicine are lost now. Yet many innate tribal groups still practice these techniques, but they are unknown to the world outside.

References of Hemp in Ayurveda

Ayurveda has emphasized the importance of over 18,000 species of plants for various medical uses. Certain plants optimize the functionality of the entire system while others can be used as the supreme medications for a particular medical condition.

Vijaya or Bhanga as called in Sanskrit is classified as one among the 11 varieties of Upavisha by Rasa Ratna Tarangini (Classical Ayurvedic text). Rasa Ratna Tarangini is comparatively a new text among authentic ayurvedic classical texts. Upavishas are those drugs that are capable of producing signs of intoxication in healthy individuals when ingested by any means, specifically oral methods. They are mild poisons and have a milder effect on the strength and health of an individual.

hemp leaves

:॥ धत्तूरबीजं विजया गुञ्जा भल्लातकाह्वयः ||

विषतिन्दुकबीजं च त्वहिफेनञ्च रेचकम् ।

अर्कक्षीरं स्नुहीक्षीरं लांगली करवीरकम् ।

समाख्यातो गणोऽयं तु बुधैरुपविषा भिधः । ॥ (1)Rasa Ratna Tarantini, chapter 24, sloka 163-164

The purification method used for Vijaya for medical purposes is Swedana. The leaves of Vijaya are tied in a cloth and boiled in Milk for 3 hours and later sun-dried before being incorporated into formulations. If the leaves of Vijaya are used without purification or with a faulty purification method, it becomes a chronic deliriant poison and leads to intoxication, where a medical emergency is needed. Authentic Ayurvedic texts also describe the fatal signs of poisoning with Hemp.

विजयायां तु तैमिर्यं मनोविभ्रम एव च ।

अपस्मृतिः प्रलापश्च वान्तिः कण्ठे विशुष्कता ।। (2)Anupama Manjari, Upavisha Ganam.

RajaNighantu, another classical text mentions Vijaya as a superlative alleviator for Vata predominance. Owing to its hot potency (Ushna Virya) and Astringent metabolic end effect (Katu Vipaka), it helps to optimize the aggravated levels of Kapha entity. Hemp can be widely used to improve digestion, enhance metabolism, reduce pains and swelling, and regulate immunity.

भंगा तिक्ता लघुस्तीक्ष्णा ग्राहिणी कफहारिणी ।

 दीपना पाचिनी चैव पित्तला मदकारिणी ।।

 भंगा क्षुद्दीपनी चैव ध्वजभंगहरा परम् ।

 स्वप्नमेहहरा चैव शुक्रस्तम्भनकारिणी ।।

 निद्राप्रदायिनी कामं कामोद्दीपनकारिणी । 

प्रलापनाशिका चैव धनुःस्तम्भहरा तथा । 

आन्त्रशूलहरा चैव वृक्कशूलप्रणाशिनी ।

पित्तशोषजशूलघ्नी त्वामाशयबलप्रदा ।।

अजीर्णजातिसारघ्नी तथाजीर्णनिवारिणी ।। (3)Rasa Ratna Tarantini, chapter 24, sloka 399-403

Apart from this Sharangadhara samhitha, an authentic classical book belonging to the category of Laghu Tri mentions Bhang in the context while explaining the properties of drugs. The author Acharya Sarangadhara has explained in depth the ability of the herb to spread through the body at great speed to initiate an action. This coined the term Vyavayi in Sanskrit.

पूर्वं व्याप्याखिलं कायं ततः पाकं च गच्छाति । व्यवायि तद्यथा भङ्गफेन चाहिसमुद्भवम् ।। (4)Sarangadhara Samhitha, Purva Khanda, chapter 5, sloka 18-20

Apart from these, the references of Vijaya are available in Charaka Samhita Chikitsa Sthana, Visha Chikitsa Adyaya in the context of Banga Visha, and Sushruta Samhita Uttara Tantra in the context of Stavara Visha Gana.

Reference in other medical systems

Here has been evidence that hemp had been a part of the vibrant culture of ancient Egyptian and Chinese medicinal practices. They have incorporated the goodness of hemp into their diet as well as on external applications for various skin maladies. Chinese monuments having medical importance have shown images and paintings portraying the hemp leaf in their formulations, but Authentic reference regarding the same is absent.


We are on the revolutionary journey to provide the remarkable potential of this versatile herb to each and every one of our customers in the best possible way. We want to build a retail brand of lifestyle products with hemp seed oil as one of the major ingredients because it has amazing effects on the body and mind.

We bring to you the best quality hemp products that have been purified with the natural, traditional methods mentioned by our great sages in Ayurveda. The future-focused Ananta Hemp Works have come up with innovative hemp products to help you guide your innate wellbeing.

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