Friday, July 30, 2010

The Flower

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tibet, the Origin of Hemp and the Tibetan monks...

The origin of hemp is thought to be in Central Asia (Kazakistan, Pakistan, Nepal, the Kashmir region of India, and the Tibetan region of China)

Two regions in particular: in the Mesopotamian Valley between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers (present day Iraq) and, at the same time, in the Huang He (Yellow River) valley in China. Hemp
spread from its native habitat toward the west in two directions. One route led through the Russian lowland plains to Scandinavia, extending to Poland, Germany, and the Baltic region. This distribution included the Carpathian Mountains and as far as the Danube River delta. This is where the northern and central Russian geographical race of hemp originated. The other route led through Asia Minor to the Mediterranean countries and into the provinces of the Roman Empire (Illyria, Gallia, and Hispania). From there, the southern Mediterranean ecological group originated, which encompassed southern Russia, Romania, Hungary, Serbia, Italy, and Spain. In central and northern Europe, hemp was introduced by the Slavs.

Marijuana has been used for religious purposes for thousands of years.  The Assyrians used marijuana as an incense in their temples for example.  In India marijuana was considered to be “a gift of the gods” and anyone who accidentally stepped on the plant “would suffer harm or disaster.”  Marijuana was used for medicinal uses as well, especially among the Chinese and medieval Europe, but in the Himalayas and Tibet it was considered a sacred plant for religious uses alone.

There are many ways the monks of India and Tibet prepare marijuana for use.  “Bhang is a mild preparation: dried leaves or flowering shoots are pounded with spices into a paste and consumed as candy — known as _maajun_ — or in tea form.  Ganja is made from the resin-rich dried pistillate flowering tops of cultivated plants which are pressed into a compacted mass and kept under pressure for several days to induce chemical changes; most Ganja is smoked, often with Tobacco. Charas consists of the resin itself, a brownish mass which is employed generally in smoking mixtures.”  Those who grow marijuana in India must chant the word “Bhangi” over and over while sowing, weeding, and harvesting the plant.

Bhang ceremony during Holi Festival in India:

The Tibetans considered marijuana sacred. A Mahayana Buddhist tradition maintains that during the six steps of asceticism leading to his enlightenment, Buddha lived on one Hemp seed a day. He is often depicted with “Soma leaves” in his begging bowl and the mysterious god-narcotic Soma has occasionally been identified with Hemp. In Tantric Buddhism of the Himalayas of Tibet, marijuana plays a very significant role in the meditative ritual used to facilitate deep meditation and heigten awareness. Both medicinal and recreational secular use of Hemp is likewise so common now in this region that the plant is taken from granted as an everyday necessity.

In Thebes, Hemp was made into a drink said to have opium-like properties. Galen reported that cakes with Hemp, if eaten to excess, were intoxicating. The use as an inebriant seems to have been spread east and west by barbarian hordes of central Asia, especially the Scythians, who had a profound cultural influence on early Greece and eastern Europe. And knowledge of the intoxicating effects of Hemp goes far back in Indian history, as indicated by the deep mythological and spiritual beliefs about the plant. One preparation, Bhang, was so sacred that it was thought to deter evil, bring luck, and cleanse man of sin. 
Saturday, July 17, 2010

Can using marijuana actually make you smarter?

Different Effects of Marijuana in Bipolar and Schizophrenic Patients

A recent study suggests that some patients with bipolar disorder who use marijuana actually performed better on certain neurocognitive tests.   However, marijuana appeared to have the opposite effect on schizophrenic patients.

Dr. Ole Andreassen of Oslo University Hospital in Norway and his colleagues studied the effects of marijuana on bipolar and schizophrenic patients. They believe that the different effects of marijuana on cognition indicate “different underlying disease mechanisms in the two disorders.”

Marijuana is known to have a number of negative effects, including decreased cognition. Recent research has suggested that marijuana use can
 worsen symptoms of schizophrenia, and early use is associated with psychosis.  The effects of marijuana on bipolar patients are less well known.

Andreassen and his team enrolled in their study 133 patients with bipolar disorder and 140 with schizophrenia.  The patients were questioned about prior drug use.  Over the previous 6 months, 18 bipolar patients and 23 schizophrenia patients had used marijuana.

All of the study participants then underwent several types of testing to assess neurocognitive function, including the logical memory test, the color-word interference set-shifting subset test, the digit span forward test, the verbal fluency test, and learning tests.

The bipolar patients who used cannabis performed better in verbal fluency than bipolar patients who did not use cannabis. They appeared to perform slightly better on the learning test, although these results were not statistically significant.

Marijuana use, however, worsened function in the schizophrenic participants, particularly with regard to focused attention, logical memory-learning, and logical memory-recall.

“Both neuropsychological test performance and individual effects of substance use can be regarded as endophenotypes, mediating factors between the neurobiological substrate and the expressed phenotype,” Andreassen writes.
Endophenotypes, characteristic traits used by researchers thought to be genetically linked to psychiatric disorders, are continually present even when more typical symptoms of mental illness are absent.   Some have postulated a biological relationship between bipolar illness and schizophrenia.  Andreassen’s results provide evidence to suggest that the two illnesses may be separate disease processes.

It is important to note that marijuana use results in a number of other negative effects that worsen overall function, and the data from this study do not promote the use of marijuana in bipolar patients.  Advises Andreassen, “The evidence linking drug use/abuse with poor outcome in severe mental disorder must still be decisive for clinical advice.”

Andreassen’s results are available in the November 2009 issue of
Psychological Medicine.


Monday, July 5, 2010

Shark Attack on tourists in Amsterdam Canal !

Cited for long shoe-laces in Amsterdam.

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