What is Bhang? History & Health Benefits

What is cannabis Bhang? 

Cannabis has been around for generations, with recordings of it being used by humans as far back as 2000 BC. Most notably, cannabis originated in the region of Central Asia, finding popularity among those who lived in India, Afghanistan, and even Thailand. 

These regions were gifted with a natural abundance of the marijuana plant and have integrated it into their culture for centuries.

Of these old relics, Bhang, a popular marijuana-infused drink, has persisted through time as a symbol of medicine and prosperity in the Indian culture. The drink itself has ties to many religious communities in India and is popularly used in festivals throughout the country.

Are you interested in finding out more about Bhang? Keep on reading!

What is Bhang? Can You Smoke Bhang?

Bhang definition

Unfortunately, no, you cannot smoke Bhang. Bhang is an edible mixture or drink that has deep roots in Indian culture. Traditionally, Bhang was made with a combination of the buds, leaves, and flowers of a female cannabis plant. 

For generations, Bhang has served as a form of Ayurvedic medicine and has provided its users with spiritual awakenings through its use in ritualistic and religious practices. 

While, unfortunately, cannabis is illegal in many parts of India, Bhang seems to be legal, having been added to food and drinks for centuries.

The History of Bhang

Having originated in Central Asia, cannabis has held a long relationship with the people of that region. For generations, cannabis has been used as a therapeutic, spiritual, and medicinal herb in several ancient cultures. So much so that cannabis has cemented itself as a fundamental part of the culture in many areas of India.

In the early days, cannabis was considered one of the sacred plants. It was used as a treatment for several different issues, including fever, sunstroke, digestive problems, and even speech impediments. 

Cannabis would be administered orally in the form of a drink called Bhang. Many of India’s people would also consume Bhang for various reasons, including settling anxiety or calming the nerves and increasing sex drive.

In Indian mythology, Bhang has held a strong association with Lord Shiva and Shiva worship in general. You’ll find that Lord Shiva is also commonly referred to as the “Lord of Bhang.” 

Tying into Lord Shiva’s love for taking what society rejects and acting as the destroyer of ignorance and illusion, his passion and use of cannabis perfectly fit his role. Lord Shiva would utilize cannabis to help him turn within and achieve mastery within himself.

The Benefits of Bhang

Being specifically created from cannabis, Bhang carries many of the original benefits of the herb it was made from. Some of the most well-known benefits of Bhang include:

  • Potential protection against cancer: A recent study published in 2019 found that the cannabinoids in cannabis carry the potential to fight and control cancer cells’ spread.
  • Bhang may be an effective remedy for sleep impairments: Like the ingredients, Bhang is made of, the drink may help reduce sleep disturbances and abnormalities in patients. Bhang may be useful in treating sleep apnea, insomnia, and muscle spasms that may irritate during the night.
  • Bhang may help alleviate inflammation: Through animal studies and trials, it was found that the compounds in cannabis and Bhang may help to reduce inflammation.
  • An effective appetite stimulant: Alongside helping with sleep and inflammation, Bhang may also increase hunger in those who need it. This side effect of Bhang can be used productively for those who wish to put on some weight.

How to Make Bhang

how to make bhang

What You Will Need to Make Bhang:

  • 2 cups of water
  • A pot
  • A muslin cloth
  • Mortar and pestle
  • 3 cups of milk
  • Around 1/2 an ounce (14 grams) of the fresh cannabis
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground fennel
  • 1/2 tsp ground anise
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp rosewater
  • 1/2 cup honey or sugar
  • Garnishing: leaves or chopped nuts

Step 1: Boil The Cannabis

To make Bhang, bring your 2 cups of water to a boil, and then remove the pot from the heat in your pot. Once your water has come to a boil, add your fresh cannabis and let it steep for approximately 7 minutes.

Step 2: Strain The Leaves

After boiling your fresh cannabis, strain the leaves and plant material from the water using your muslin cloth. The goal here is to collect as much water as possible, so if the plant matter is holding extra water, squeeze it to drain the water into the pot.

Step 3: Grind The Leaves Into The Milk

Grab your mortar and pestle, and grind the strained leaves with two teaspoons of heated milk. You’ll want to ensure that the leaves can fully absorb and combine with the milk. Grind steadily, ensuring everything gets mixed as much as possible. Once the leaves have absorbed the milk, squeeze them to extract the liquid and store the extracted milk in a separate container. Rinse and repeat until you have used about 1/2 a cup of milk.

Step 4: Add The Garnishing

Add whatever garnishings you have prepared into the mortar and pestle along with some heated milk. Begin grinding the ingredients together until they have been pulverized into a fine paste. Store the paste and get rid of any excess plant material or fibres that may have been left astray.

Step 5: Mix It All Together

Lastly, combine all of the ingredients, including the liquids, spices, garnishings, and heated milk. Mix well and enjoy Bhang!

Bhang – A Powerful, Soothing Drink

In the Vedic texts, Bhang is used to treat a vast array of different medical conditions, including epilepsy and depression. In India’s northern regions, Bhang is believed to be a symbol of success and prosperity, having deep-seated roots in Indian culture’s mythology.

Should you choose to try and recreate Bhang at home, it’s essential to realize that there are many different drinks variations. To get something closer to a traditional Indian lassi, some recipes will incorporate yogurt or whey for a thicker and creamier texture.