The Therapeutic Value of Cannabis Indica highlights cannabis as a treatment for dementia, migraines, ulcers, depression, dementia and more. It also highlights the stumbling block physicians experienced with potencies varying wildly from one supplier to the next. The article first appeared in the New York Medical Journal and was reproduced in The Canada Medical Record in its November 1891 issue.
The Therapeutic Value of Cannabis Indica
The Canada Medical Record (Vol. XX, No. 14. November, 1891, p. 327)
The virtues of cannabis indica are well known to neurologists, and especially to asylum physicians, but the profession generally does not appear to have great confidence in the drug. We are therefore pleased to see a letter in the British Medical Journal for July 4th, by Dr. C. W. Suckling, professor of medicine in Queen’s College, Birmingham, calling attention to the value of cannabis indica in a variety of morbid conditions. He states that during the last few years he bas been accustomed to prescribe it in many affections. In one form of insanity, more common in women than in men, and brought on usually by mental worry, often owing to the illness of a near relative, or by a moral shock, the drug acts almost as a specific. In this affection the patient is depressed and apprehensive, and imagines that animals are after her or that some one is trying to injure her. There are great mental confusion and mental loss, the patient is unable to carry on any conversation, and sometimes is unable to dress herself, the condition being one of acute dementia. The author says that he has notes of several such cases that have been cured with cannabis indica within a fortnight. He usually gives ten minims of the tincture three times a day, combined with iron and strychnine. He prescribes also complete rest and plenty of food. The cannabis indica is an essential factor in the treatment, for without it the rapid recovery does not follow; it seems to remove the mental distress and the restlessness.
Cannabis indica has proved very useful in his hands in the treatment of melancholia and mania. He has also found it of great value in the treatment of chorea when arsenic fails. It may be combined with chloral with advantage in such cases. In migraine the drug is also of great value; a pill containing a quarter of a grain of the extract, with or without the same amount of phosphide of zinc, will often check an attack immediately, and if the pill ls given twice a day continuously the severity and frequency of the attacks are often much diminished. The author has met with patients who have been incapacitated for work from the frequency of the attacks, and who have been enabled by the use of cannabis indica to resume their employment. The drug is also a valuable gastric sedative in cases of ulcer of the stomach and gastrodynia. It may be combined with nitrate of silver, and it increases the efficacy of the latter. It is also a valuable hypnotic.
Dr. Suckling omits an important practical point in connection with the use of cannabis indica. We refer to the difficulty of procuring reliable preparations of the drug. We have reason to believe that this difficulty exists in England as well as in this country. This fact probably accounts in a large measure for the distrust of the drug felt by many physicians. They have found its action so uncertain and irregular that they have abandoned its use altogether. – Ed. N. Y. Med. Journ.