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Medical References

The British Pharmaceutical Codex


Synonyms - Cannabis Indica; Indian Hemp; Ganjah; Guaza.
Cannabis consists of the dried flowering and fruiting tops of the pistillate plant of Cannabis sativa Linn. (Fam. Cannabinaceę), an annual dioecious herb indigenous to Central Asia and the Northern and Western Himalayas, and cultivated mainly in tropical districts of India, Africa, and North America.
Cannabis occurs in flattened, dull green masses which remain more or less compacted together by the adhesive resinous secretion. The tops vary in length from about 3 to 30 centimetres, the smaller tops being preferred; they consist of the upper part of the stem with ascending branches, which are longitudinally furrowed and bear numerous covering and glandular trichomes. The leaves are alternate and consist of simple or palmately compound bracts, each having two linear stipules and bearing in its axil two bracteoles, each of which subtends a single pistillate flower or a more or less developed fruit occasionally containing an oily seed. The taste is very slight and the odour somewhat heavy and narcotic.
The diagnostic microscopical characters are the conical, curved, unicellular cystolith-trichomes with enlarged bases; the similar but more slender trichomes without cystoliths; the numerous, usually 8-celled, rosette-shaped, glandular trichomes with either unicellular or multiseriate pedicels; the bracteoles with very numerous small cluster-crystals of calcium oxalate; the red stigmas with long cylindrical papillę laticiferous tubes with brown contents; occasional, more or less lignified, phloem fibres from the stem, and brown, thick-walled, pitted cells from the palisade layer of the pericarp.
Cannabis contains a soft, brown resin (cannabinone), the chief constituent of which is cannabinol, C21H26O2, a viscid, reddish oil, possessing a powerful narcotic action, but resinifying and becoming less active on exposure to air; choline, and traces of volatile oil, fat, and wax are also present. Cannabis yields to alcohol (90 per cent) from 10 to 22 per cent of extractive. The ash is about 15 per cent. The following test has been used for the identification of cannabis: Shake 0.1 gramme in powder with 5 millilitres of light petroleum for three minutes and filter; to 1 millilitre of the filtrate add 2 millilitres of a 15 per cent w/v solution of hydrogen chloride in dehydrated alcohol; at the junction of the two liquids a red colouration appears, and, after shaking, the upper layer becomes colourless and the lower layer acquires an orange-pink colouration which disappears on the addition of one millilitre of water.
Varieties: Tinctures of cannabis, prepared from African, American, German, and Indian varieties of the drug, when examined by oral administration to cats appear to possess about the same degree of activity, and this activity is not destroyed by long storage of the drug in a dry condition.
Standard: Cannabis contains not more than 10 per cent of fruits, large foliage leaves, and stems over 3 millimetres in diameter, and not more than 2 per cent of other foreign organic matter. Acid-insoluble ash, not more than 5 per cent. When a mixture of 10 grammes of finely powdered cannabis and 100 millilitres of alcohol (90 per cent) is shaken occasionally during twenty-four hours and then filtered, 20 millilitres of the filtrate, evaporated in a flat-bottomed dish, yields a residue weighing, when dried at 100 degrees, not less than 0.20 gramme. Cannabis indicę herba I.A. consists of the tops, in flower and in fruit, of the female plant cultivated in the East Indies.
Cannabis, in powder (Pulvis Cannabis : Pulv. Cannab.), contains the constituents and possesses the diagnostic microscopical characters of Cannabis, and complies with the limits for acid-insoluble ash and residue on extraction with alcohol (90 per cent) of the unground drug.
Action and Uses: Cannabis acts chiefly on the central nervous system. It first produces excitement with hallucinations, a feeling of happiness and indifference to surroundings, this stage being followed by deep sleep. The hallucinations include inability to estimate time and space. In the East the hemp is smoked and almost immediately produces symptoms of pleasurable excitement, followed by depression and lethargy. Cannabis is used as an anodyne sedative or hypnotic in mania, spasmodic coughs, phthisis, asthma, and dysmenorrhoea. It has been used in the treatment of chorea and paralysis agitans. It does not produce constipation or loss of appetite. Cannabis is usually administered as the extract in pills, or as tincture. In cases of poisoning the stomach should be evacuated and the usual methods adopted to prevent collapse and respiratory failure.
CANNABINĘ TANNAS: Cannabine tannate is a brownish powder which may be obtained from an aqueous extract of cannabis by precipitation with tannic acid. It has been used as a hypnotic in nervous insomnia, in dysmenorrhoea and in menorrhagia. Dose - 0.25 to 0.5 gramme (4 to 8 grains).
CANNABINONUM: Cannabinone, the brown resin obtained from cannabis, has been used as a hypnotic in hysteria and insomnia. Dose - 0.016 to 0.06 gramme (1/4 to 1 grain).

Extractum Cannabis

(Ext. Cannab.)

Extract of Cannabis

          Metric     Imperial
Cannabis, in coarse powder     1000 g     16 oz.  
Alcohol (90 per cent) (sufficient)        

Exhaust the cannabis by percolation with the alcohol and evaporate to a soft extract.

Dose: 0.016 to 0.06 gramme (1/4 to 1 grain).

In making this preparation the alcohol (90 per cent) may be replaced by industrial methylated spirit diluted so as to be of equivalent alcoholic strength, provided that the law and the statutory regulations governing the use of undustrial methylated spirit are observed.

This extract replaces the Extractum Cannabis Indicę of the British Pharmacopoeia, 1914, which was prepared in the same way from Indian cannabis (Cannabis Indica).

Tinctura Cannabis

(Tinct. Cannab.)

Tincture of Cannabis

          Metric     Imperial
Extract of Cannabis     50 g     1 oz  
Alcohol (90 per cent)     to 1000 ml     to 20 fl oz  


Dose: 0.3 to 1 millilitre (5 to 15 minims).

Alcohol content, 83 to 87 per cent v/v of ethyl alcohol.


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