Lifestyle related health complications; the Non-communicable diseases are wide spreading across the world. While seeking solutions in nature and naturopathy; can this one crop, “Hemp” provide not just cure but also equity to global health?
Lifestyle has changed for people all over the world. Traditional practices, social life, tacit knowledge of grandparents, all are sinking in the abyss of modernisation. Lifestyle change is creating a global health crisis, by stimulating not only diseases but also health complications. Almost 90% deaths in a year in the UK, and 70% global deaths are a result of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). Atherosclerosis, heart diseases, stroke, obesity and type 2 diabetes; and diseases associated with smoking and alcohol and drug abuse, are the very lifestyle related health diseases which, to quote the Telegraph, are leading to “global epidemic”.
The trend has gripped developing as well as poor countries. The World Health Organization predicts NCDs will be the biggest killers in Africa by 2030. The reasons for such global phenomenon concerns each of us and our way of living; our eating habits, our activities, our decline of socio-cultural relations. Recently, a DoctorOz YouTube episode highlighted how Bolivia is the country with lowest heart risks. An economically not very profound country, but a country with people where they exist as hunting-gathering communities; walking almost 17,000 steps a day, no intense dedicated workout, and a diet rich in carbs (available locally) was cited as the main reason. This is not something to generalise all over, but to understand that if we live with local resources which are in abundance, we can do well!
Global health is defined as ‘the area of study, research and practice that places a priority on improving health and achieving equity in health for all people worldwide’. Equity is the keyword here. But the world is highly diverse and contradicting. Nature is not the same for everyone, and perhaps for the best. Over the years, people have adapted with the natural environment and found healing in it.
Nature, our immediate environment, forms a big part of our lifestyle. Our habits, routine, etc. are all bound by the environment we live in. Hence, traditionally, as you must have heard in
fables and folklore, that medicines, and cures were derived from nature. And so is the case even today, even with allopathic medicines. They also use extracts from the same herb, patent it and then commercialize it. Well, not criticizing or highlighting anything bad, but perhaps this is the tacit understanding of all of us.
India, however, has been pioneering ‘AYUSH’ which stands for Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy. People across the planet have taken up yoga, and other alternatives viz. Ayurveda and naturopathy, and we have resounding testimonials of its benefits on health.
Mahatma Gandhi had adopted naturopathy after being influenced by the book Return to Nature written by Adolf Just. Gandhi used to stay at the Nature Cure Clinic of Dr. Dinshaw Mehta situated in Pune during 1934 to 1944. In his memory, the Government of India established, National Institute of Naturopathy in 1986. Gandhi used to inculcate Naturopathy in his constructive programmes.
It is the science of healthy living, and a system of drugless healing. The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) defines naturopathic medicine as:
‘A distinct system of primary health care-an art, science, philosophy, and practice of diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of illness.Naturopathic medicine is distinguished by the principles upon which its practice is based. The techniques of naturopathic medicine include modern and traditional, scientific, and empirical methods’ (AANP, 1998).
Belief in the healing power of nature: The body has an intrinsic ability to maintain and reinstate health. Naturopathic physicians facilitate this healing process.
Cognition of cause and then treatment: Naturopathic physicians treat the causal reasons of illness rather than just the symptoms of disease as symptoms are merely an external manifestation of an internal imbalance.
First do no harm: A naturopathic treatment plan uses therapies that are gentle, non-invasive, effective, and do not have adverse side effects. A conscious effort is made to use methods that do not suppress symptoms.
Whole person is provided treatment: Naturopathic physicians identify specific weaknesses or dysfunctions in their patients and tailor treatment based upon the patient’s individual presentation. It is the patient that is in need of treatment, not the disease state or symptom. William Osler, MD, once said, ‘It is more important to know what sort of patient has a disease rather than what sort of disease a patient has.’
Prevention: Naturopathic physicians assess both subjective and objective information necessary to discover potential susceptibilities to future disease states in their patients. They can discuss
specific lifestyle strategies or nutritional supplementation as a means for disease prevention.
Evidence-based medicine (EBM) is considered the paradigm in conventional healthcare and has been suggested as the methodology for natural medicine. The underlying foundation of EBM is the randomized controlled trial, which is very valuable in evaluating single treatments for individual diseases. There are randomized controlled trials that suggest that
naturopathic treatments, such as botanical medicine, nutritional therapies, acupuncture, and physiotherapy are effective at treating some conditions, such as fibromyalgia, migraine headaches, depression, asthma, hypertension, and type II diabetes.
We eat, drink, and breathe nature every minute of every day. It is of no surprise, hence, that the same crop that has been sustaining and healing our world has been providing for us for centuries.
HEMP! A maligned crop, hemp is now finding back its reputation and worth. Hemp has been used to treat depression, insomnia, digestive disorders, migraines, and inflammation. Women have used to facilitate childbirth, stimulate lactation, and relieve menstrual cramping using this one gem of a crop which grows worldwide!
Hemp’s first documented use as medicine was recorded way back in 2300 B.C.E. in China. It has been called the ‘Superior Elixirs of Immortality’. The legendary Chinese emperor Shen Nung used female hemp for treatment of constipation, gout, beri-beri, malaria, rheumatism, and menstrual problems. Hemp has since found acknowledgements in Chinese pharmacopeia literature. Hemp seeds are recommended from 9 to 15 grams, up to 45 grams, to nourish the cases of constipation in the elderly, “blood deficiency”, and recuperation from febrile diseases.
The Ayurvedic system of Indian medicine and the Arabic Unani Tibbi system also make extensive use of hemp for healing. The tenth century treatise Anandakanda describes fifty preparations of bhang for cures, rejuvenation, and as an aphrodisiac. The therapeutic powers
of hemp are immense and when prepared in concoctions with other vegetable, mineral, and animal substances, the narcotic powers are neutralized while the therapeutic powers skyrocket.
Ayurvedic physicians of India use bhang to treat dozens of diseases and medical problems including diarrhoea, epilepsy, delirium, and insanity, colic, rheumatism, gastritis, anorexia, consumption, fistula, nausea, fever, jaundice, bronchitis, leprosy, diabetes, spleen disorder, tuberculosis, asthma, gout, constipation, malaria, and well the list is quite exhaustive.
Hemp wasn’t just limited to South Asia, but it was a popular folk remedy in medieval
Europe. The likes of William Turner, Mattioli, and Dioscobas Taberaemontanus have given honourable mentions to hemp as a healing plant in their herbals. Nicholas Culpepper (1616-1654) advised in his herbal that “an emulsion or decoction of the seed… eases the colic and always the troublesome humours in the bowels and stays bleeding at the mouth, nose, and other places.”
In the middle of the nineteenth century, Dr. William O’Shaughnessy, a professor of chemistry at the Medical College of Calcutta, helped introduce cannabis, which he encountered as ‘bhang’, to European medicine. Dr. William O’Shaughnessy gave a detailed account of the use of hemp resin (two grains every hour) to alleviate the suffering of a man dying of hydrophobia.
Hemp soon became an official member of the pharmaceutical repertoire in Europe and America. The pharmaceutical preparation called Squire’s extract was commonly used as a specific to alleviate the symptoms of tetanus, typhus, and hydrophobia. Pharmacists found cannabis useful, with varying degrees of success, for all of the maladies the Indians and Chinese had long been treating with hemp. They also found it effective in the treatment of alcoholism, dysentery, uterine hemorrhage, migraine, palsy, anthrax, blood poisoning, incontinence, leprosy, snakebite tonsillitis, parasites, and a legion other medical problems.
Reports of cannabis poisoning occasionally surfaced, but as one physician noted in a 1912 essay on hashish, ‘Not one authenticated case is on record in which [an overdose of] cannabis or any of its preparations [has] produced death in man or the lower animals.’ That record holds true to date. In fact, one of the most remarkable qualities of cannabis is its safety as a medicine. With a lethal-to-effective-dose ratio of 40,000 to 1, cannabis is far safer than aspirin and most other legal medicines, which commonly have a lethal dose only ten times greater than their effective one.
In the late nineteenth century, cannabis was included in dozens of remedies available by prescription or over the counter. Among them were the stomachic Chlorodyne, and Corn Collodium, manufactured by Squibb Company. Parke-Davis made Casadein, Utroval, and
Veterinary Colic Medicine, and Eli Lilly produced Dr.Brown’s Sedative Tablets, Syrup Tolu Compound, Syrup Lobelia, Neurosine, and One Day Cough Cure.
The company of Grimault and Sons marketed cannabis cigarettes as a remedy for asthma. The use of a now illegal product by what are some of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world is no more surprising than the cocaine used in Coca-Cola in the early part of the
century, and it emphasizes the arbitrary nature of controlled substances. Far from being the enemies of civilization the Drug Enforcement Agency likes to depict, these are natural substances subject to the whims of government: mainstay in the home medicine cabinet today, sinister corruptor of children tomorrow. The eventual decline in use of cannabis by these firms was not due to any crisis of
conscience. Rather, they were unable to stabilize or standardize any form of preparation of cannabis extracts, thus there was no profit in it. Undoubtedly today the wide availability and inexpensiveness of cannabis has kept these firms from showing any new interest in it and using their powerful influence with the Food and Drug Administration.
With the institution of its prohibition, cannabis was removed from the British pharmacopoeia in1932. It was censored from the U.S. pharmacopoeia in 1942 and the Merck Index deleted its listing for cannabis in 1950. Yet, despite the controversies, people have kept rediscovering its medical pros, and hundreds of scientific papers have been published reporting its health benefits.
Cannabis or Hemp which has been a part of our lifestyles, and is still relevant to millennials, provides us the best herb available in nature. Its therapeutic applications can provide cure to various lifestyle related ailments, and provide cure to many other diseases as well. There are
lots of advocates of hemp and its benefits, be it Morgan Freeman, Dr Sanjay Gupta, Jennifer Aniston, Mike Tyson, etc.
Morgan Freeman openly advocates for CBD after he endured a nearly-fatal car accident in 2008. An actor by profession, Morgan developed fibromyalgia post his recovery. He consumes CBD for its natural pain-relieving effects. Although Morgan regularly uses CBD, he also uses THC to help treat his Fibromyalgia.
Whoopi Goldberg is an outspoken cannabis advocate. She is the talk show host of The View, actress, performer, comedienne, and cannabis advocate. In fact, Goldberg proudly supports CBD as a health supplement. One of Whoopi’s goals is to show the world how effective CBD
is for middle-aged women. She advocates CBD for women’s health issues such as menstrual cramps, nerve pain, and menopausal discomfort. Friends’ sitcom actress Jennifer Aniston also uses CBD for her anxiety. “CBD helps with pain, stress, and anxiety,” Aniston told Us Weekly.
Famous former boxer Mike Tyson is also constructing ‘Tyson Ranch’, a venture to build a pot farm in California City, approximately 50 miles from Los Angeles. Rob Hickman, an investor backing Tyson Ranch, told CNNMoney that Tyson “doesn’t drink anymore, he’s a heavy CBD and a heavy marijuana user.”
Lately, a lot of people and celebrities have started using CBD extracts for relieving pain, anxiety, depression, and other health issues. This crop is providing everyone an equitable option to cure, to treatment sans side effects, and to healing that stems from nature.
The cannabis industry is on a move. As of May 1, 2019, 33 states in the US have legalized medical cannabis and 10 states have legalized cannabis for adult use. At the federal level, however, cannabis remains illegal.
Canada legalized adult use of cannabis in 2018, and cannabis infused edibles in October 2019. In the European Union, the legal status of cannabis varies by country. Medical cannabis is legal in Germany, Czech Republic, Italy and Malta. The UK is
also moving to legalize medical cannabis. The status of edibles in the EU is legally blurred.
Cannabis has been allowed or made legal throughout most of South and Central America, as well as Africa. Australia has legalized medical cannabis, and New Zealand is expected to bring about a referendum for its legalization in September 2020. It is mostly legal in India and Sri Lanka, but is still illegal in many Asian countries.
A lot of research institutes are now back to researching use and misuse of hemp and potential of the crop. There is an influx of CBD products in the market worldwide. Hemp seed and hemp food is a great nutrition addition along with hemp seed oil, which provides essential amino acids and fatty acids.
It won’t be wrong to say that the future is already becoming greener. The 2018 Farm Bill officially reclassifies hemp for commercial uses after decades of statutes and legal enforcement conflating hemp and marijuana, the Farm Bill distinguishes between the two by removing hemp from the Controlled Substances Act. (While the two are closely related, hemp lacks the high concentration of THC that is responsible for the high from smoking marijuana.) This would effectively move regulation and enforcement of the crop from the purview of the Drug Enforcement Agency to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In India, the state of Uttarakhand has legalized hemp. Hemp seed have been used traditionally over the years as food and supplement. Local village ayurvedic doctors have always inculcated cannabis extracts in their preparations.
BOHECO is one pioneering company based in Mumbai, India which is transforming the image of the crop. Research institutes are developing prototypes of high yielding seeds, and
sampling for medical benefits and cancer cure from the crop. A social venture pilot “Kumaon Khand”, based in Uttarakhand, is working with local community, NGOs, Self-Help Groups (SHGs), and Private Limited entities to bring a local resource, hemp, to global acknowledgement in form of hemp products viz. Himalayan hemp oil and Himalayan hemp seeds.
Many entrepreneurs are taking interest in the crop. Investors are seeking such entrepreneurs. This crop is truly the future. Hemp can provide equity to everyone. The products can be available to everyone. It is in one true sense a healing derived from nature, a part of our lifestyle, and a cure to many ailments. Hemp is indeed the answer to global health challenges.
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