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On the Action Of Cannabis Indica (1883)

Julie Gardener

New Member

House-Physician to the Hospital for Women, London; INDIAN hemp for some time back has been taunted as a medicine of some therapeutic value in cases of dysmenorrhtea; to me however, its action seems so variable, and, the preparation itself so unreliable, as to be hardly worthy 'of a place on our list of remedial agents at all.

Two preparations of this drug have been recommended for use, viz., the tincture and the extract; it should mnatter little which is used, the tincture being simply a spirituous sxolftion of the extract, Much, however, as far as results obtained go, seems to depend upon its place of cultivation. Many of tho'se jpersons who experienced unpleasant e'ffet's from one-grain doses had previously taken the same dose (different sample, however,) with almost no result at all.

It is usually said that cannabis India produces pleasurable smptoms; such, I regret to say, has not been my experience; in fact, the result has frequently been alarming to the, friends of the patient, but more frequently still, from the comparative inertness of the drug, no result is obtained at.all, even although three and four grains have been given as a dose. When unpleasant symptoms have been produced by the use of this drug, they do not readily pass off, but will often persist for a day or two, and the too early use of morphia will not uncommonly aggravate the condition.

The physiological effects of the drug usually manifest themselves about two hours after administration; this, however, varies, being hastened or retarded according to the condition of the stomach as regards food-at the time of ingestion.

Cerebral symptoms are the first to develop, the patient experiencing -peculiar indescribable sensations in the head, by no means pleasant in character, and although quite rational, knowing all that is going on, some have an irresistible desire to be always on the move. In some cases earlier, in others later on, the patient loses control over the muscles, being unable to move them at will in one case, the muscles, of the larynx were so affected,- and the patient when interrogated was for the time being unable to respond.

Muscular anzsthesia is often produced by the use of Indian hemp, and this is, as a rule, so complete that the whole body feels unsupported, as if floating in air. Pain, even at this stage, frequently persists, showing how little influence this drug evidently has on the sensory nerves. In some cases, spasmodic contractions of the voluntary muscles result, and this is more especially to be noted in the muscles of the jaw. Dimness of vision in mnany cases quickly follows, the pupils in some remaining unaltered, in others being apparently contracted. The pupil responds to light, but accommodation is interfered with, objects at a distance being very indistinct. The pulse is invariably rapid, but quite regular. Sensibility to touch is unaltered. Numbness and tingling have been constant symptoms in all the cases.

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