Bhang, Bhang... Guess Who’s Knocking!

Soft Secrets
01 May 2021

Bhang is a cannabis-infused drink, but one used for spiritual elevation. Originally intended only for religious processions, it has now become a "thing" in modernity.

No, it’s not related to your dirty thoughts! If we go into details, the literal translation of the word is the flower heads of cannabis, referring to female flowers with the THC concentration.

Bhang is first mentioned in one text from 1200-1000 B.C. as a beneficial substance to relieve anxiety, a potion connected with the Hindu god Shiva. The legend says that Hindu gods were tired from the battle with demons and so they consulted with the capital god in the Hindu pantheon, Vishnu. As you might guess, Vishnu advises them on how to prepare "amrita" or elixir of immortality. Initially, the deity suggests to “cast into the Milky Sea potent herbs, then take Mount Mandara for churning.” Several things were released during the churning, and one of them was a poison capable of devastating the world. Which is when Shiva decided to sacrifice himself to drink this poison. Fortunately, "Shiva on fire with the poison churned from the ocean was cooled by bhang."

The myth would explain why Shiva devotees drink bhang to this day. It goes a bit too far as the religious bhang is apparently better to be dragged from a Himalayan mountain range, near Mount Everest - the highest peak in the world - symbolizing it's a gift from the gods. The highest you can get in any sense of the word. Hey, at least we now know one of the reasons that prompted ancients to invent mythology. A story like this can't be written without drinking bhang, an ancient cannabis concoction that still captivates the mind and the body.

What is Bhang?

As mentioned, bhang is a cannabis-infused drink, but one used for spiritual elevation. At first, bhang was intended only for religious processions, but people eventually began religiously preparing it at home, and now it is a “thing” worldwide. For full enjoyment and perhaps for a more uplifting spiritual experience, it's best to try original bhang from India. Bhang, the authentic cannabis drink with a provenance in the Hindu culture, is an edible substance consisting of buds, leaves, and flowers of the female cannabis plant. It has a significant role in Ayurvedic medicine and is promoted as a remedy to various ailments, including nausea, vomiting, and physical pain.

How Is It Made?

You need to dry, grind and soak the buds and leaves of the Cannabis sativa plant to produce a paste that's added to foods and drinks. Though cannabis is an illegal substance in most parts of India, bhang successfully is sold on the market for one reason only: religion. This is especially true for the more religiously orientated towns, where bhang-infused food and drinks are considered street food and drinks. Pretty much like New York hot dogs! Blended with curd and whey is bhang lassi. Freshly grounded cannabis mixed with water, it is a bhang goli and it’s a true delight but combined with sugar and ghee as a clarified butter-this is the absolute hit!

Still Not Convinced?

Its name might sound strange, but bhang is similar to other cannabis edibles since it contains the same cannabinoids as any other cannabis-infused product. Various types of cannabinoids are found in bhang, but it's the two most common that make all the difference. The concoction is rich in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is responsible for the “high” sensation people experience from consuming cannabis in any of its forms. On the other side, it’s cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive cannabinoid, linked to the health benefits of bhang.

Health Benefits

Bhang abounds with the medical compounds found in cannabis, and it has been approved for the treatment of nausea in some parts of the United States. At present, the anti-nausea and anti-vomiting effects of cannabis products would best target individuals undergoing chemotherapy for cancer. However, cannabinoids can also help abdominal pain and chronic nausea in those patients where conventional anti-nausea medications fail. Pain reduction is another common medicinal use of cannabis products like bhang, and it seems highly effective at reducing pain, particularly when caused by conditions like fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. Bhang may also act as a remedy for muscle spasms and seizures. According to some research, cannabis products may reduce muscle spasms in people with multiple sclerosis (MS). This medical condition typically affects the brain and spinal cord, often causing muscle spasms. It may also reduce the frequency of seizures in people not responding to conventional treatments.

What Other Conditions Can Bhang Help?

Bhang may help in the battle against cancer. Test-tube and animal studies have proven that cannabinoids may destroy or limit the spread of specific cancer cells and inflammation associated with other diseases.  Bhang is also associated with reducing sleeping disorders provoked by sleep apnea, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia.  It can also significantly improve the appetite (not recommended if you are into losing weight). Future research should examine if and how bhang can act to remedy several mental health and neurological conditions. While the concoction can reduce anxiety and depression, it might also be beneficial for post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD), Tourette's syndrome, Parkinson's, and schizophrenia. 

Side effects

It’s hard to believe that bhang, the potion that brings you near gods, can also have some risks. Of course, this only happens when you are playing god and overdrink during the day. Some common reactions if you overdo it may include panicking, anxiety, or feeling depressed. Otherwise, you should feel euphoria.  In high quantities, the drink can affect short-term memory, cognition, body coordination or enhance paranoia.  The drink is not recommended for teens or women who are expecting childbirth or already breastfeeding. Bhang may lead to premature birth, low birth weight, or even affect the infant's health.  The drink is familiar to alcohol as it can trigger you to want more — causing irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, and confusion. To experience the benefits of bhang, drink it moderately and responsibly. 

The Recipe

While there's no substitute for drinking original bhang from India, you can still make your milkshake version at home. What you need from equipment is a pot, mortar, pestle, strainer, and stovetop. As per ingredients, you will need:  

  • 2 cups water,
  • 28g of cannabis buds,
  • 4 cups of warm milk,
  • 2 tablespoons chopped almonds,
  • 1/4 cup ginger,
  • 1/8 tsp garam masala, cinnamon, and cardamom,
  • 1/2 cup honey and 1 tsp rosewater.

Begin with the pot:

  1. Fill with water and bring it to a stovetop to boil.
  2. Add the cannabis buds to the pot and slowly remove the pot from the stovetop.
  3. Place a lid on it for five to ten minutes. 

With the strainer, split the plant front the liquid, warm up the milk and add two teaspoons of it to the mortar with the strained weed. The pestle is needed to grind the milk and weed together really gently and add two teaspoons at a time while grinding until you’ve used half a cup. Strain the weed from the milk and leave to rest. And now the sweet part:

  1. Add the almonds and warm milk to the mortar and grind until you’re left with a fine paste.
  2. Squeeze the paste and collect the extracts.
  3. Take all liquid ingredients, including the water that was used to boil the plant matter.
  4. Add the garam masala, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and rosewater.

Do not overpour honey or sugar, but be generous! Mmmmm...

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