It is only in the last decades that science discovered what the ancients have known – canna-beverage bhang is highly beneficial and easy to make at home.
Bhang is deeply-ingrained in Northern Indian culture for thousands of years. A traditional beverage infused with cannabis, its uses include healing illnesses. For a concoction to offer numerous medicinal benefits, it must be a gift from the gods. And so it is that they also used it in spiritual and cultural rituals.
Bhang and cannabis stood the test of time. As civilizations rise and fall, through all the calamities and wars, people continued to use it for therapeutic purposes – its knowledge passed from one to the next generations. It was one of the most potent medicines before there was even a single pharmaceutical company.
In 1937, the United States classified marijuana as a banned substance. The crackdown and prohibition stopped any progress made to harness its medicinal properties. All that changed when, at the state level, one after another started to lift the restrictions.
Over the last few decades, researchers – through great difficulty – studied the controversial plant species and its constituents. Since then, science has caught up with what the ancient people knew. More importantly, they also found immense potential as a cure for illnesses, of which pharmaceutical companies have no answer.
What Exactly Is Bhang?
The best way to understand what bhang is – is to look at the ingredients. Traditionally, the ancients prepared it using water, milk, and various spices. The ease of preparation made this canna-beverage more popular, and people have been creative in using other ingredients such as yogurt, honey, coconut milk, and ginger. Of course, cannabis is the most essential ingredient of all – it is what makes bhang a ‘bhang.’
A Divine Origin
Atharva Veda – the fourth Veda in the Vedic scriptures of Hinduism – is thought to be compiled between 1200 BC to 1000 BC. It describes cannabis as one of the five sacred plants – a source of happiness, a joy-giver, and a liberator.
Legend has it that the Supreme Being of Shaivism, Shiva, had wandered off into the fields one day after an angry discourse with his family. Feeling tired and drained, he fell asleep under a leafy plant. When he woke up and saw the plant, curiosity led him to sample the leaves. Instantly feeling rejuvenated, the plant became his favorite – and he came to be called the Lord of Bhang.
There are also other origin stories. This one, for example, may or may not be related. At a holy mountain, a drop of nectar fell from heaven and grew into a plant. Shiva made a drink using the plant matter and found it to contain vast healing properties. He descended from the Kush mountains and offered the beverage to mankind as a gift.
In Ayurvedic medicine, bhang is used to stimulate the nervous system and acts as an analgesic, sedative, spasmolytic, and diuretic. It is also used as an aphrodisiac by newlyweds.
Today, researchers have uncovered how bhang provides medicinal properties.
Analgesic. Mostly for severe pains, the only medication available for relief is opioid, and that has turned into a health crisis. Cannabinoids found in bhang offer a reprieve. These compounds can also interact synergistically, thus lowering the dosage of opioids while providing the same or better benefit.
Gastrointestinal diseases. Cannabis mitigating nausea and vomiting is well-documented and helpful in managing the side effects of chemotherapy. Studies also showed its potential in alleviating gastric ulcers, secretory diarrhea, paralytic ileus, inflammatory bowel disease, colon cancer, and gastro-oesophageal reflux conditions. Bhang, as a route of administration, passes on these benefits and then more.
Age-related diseases. Old age brings about some conditions as the body deteriorates. The inflammation of the joints is a common affliction, and drinking bhang may provide some relief mainly due to the cannabinoids. It may also slow down or stop Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
Skin diseases. Bhang can also come in the form of a paste and thus can be used to promote skin health. It can be applied topically, and its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties can help relieve flare-ups due to dermatitis, psoriasis, and fibrotic skin diseases.
How to Make Bhang
While bhang can be purchased in various areas in India, traveling to the cannabis haven is not always possible for everyone. Fortunately, concocting the enticing drink at home is straightforward. However, looking for shops that offer exotic spices may be quite burdensome.
- 2 cups of water
- 4 grams of cannabis flower
- 4 grams of cannabis leaves
- 3 cups of warm milk
- 1/2 cup of honey
- 1 tbsp of coconut milk
- 1 tbsp of ground almonds
- 1/2 tsp of ground ginger
- A pinch garam masala
- 1 tsp of grenadine
- Muslin cloth or cheesecloth
- Clean, empty container
- Mortar and pestle
- Pour 2 cups of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil using a medium to high heat.
- Put the cannabis flowers and leaves (4 grams each) into the saucepan, and let boil for 10 minutes.
- Turn the stove off and allow the cannabis plant matter to steep for 7 minutes.
- Pour the concoction into a container using muslin cloth as a filter. Cheesecloth is a suitable alternative. Squeeze the plant matter to remove excess water.
- Transfer the filtered plant matter into a mortar and add 2 tbsp of warm milk.
- Using the pestle, gently grind the plant matter while slowly adding 1/2 cup of warm milk.
- Strain the liquid in another container and set aside.
- Add 1 tbsp each coconut milk and ground almonds into the mortar. Use the pestle to grind until forming a paste.
- Collect the paste and dispose of the particulates.
- Blend all the liquids while also adding 1/2 tsp ground ginger, a pinch of gram masala, 1 tsp grenadine, 1/2 cup sugar, and the rest of the warm milk.
- Stir and chill to preference.
Bhang Is Easy to Make at Home
First of all, bhang is a pleasant-tasting beverage. And, because it is easy to make at home, more people are finding out about it and learning how to prepare themselves. It has stood the test of time. From a traditional drink gifted by Lord Shiva to mankind, it has and continues to be used for medicinal purposes. Not only that, this concoction ingrained itself deeply into the Northern Indian culture, and has since spread to all parts of the world.
As it was used thousands of years ago, it is used by many people for healing and promoting good health. Some also use it for leisure or recreational purposes. How you want to use it is up to you. The most important thing to remember is to consume this canna-beverage in moderation.