Bhang adds a kick, but an overdose can take the fun out of your Holi. Here’s all you need to know about the desi cannabis, before trying it.
Holi, for any spirited Delhiwalla means rang aur bhang ki masti. The natural intoxicant made from the leaves and flowers of the female cannabis plant has been used in India during certain religious rituals for ages.
The law that makes it illegal to possess the psychoactive becomes low-priority during festivals such as Holi and Shivratri. For many, bhang is believed to be fun booster. While there are a few government authorised shops in Delhi that sell bhang, sweet shops and paan shops too sell bhang during Holi. To add a dash of fun into their festive preparations, a lot of people whip up bhang-based dishes at home, which range from jalebis to gol gappa to thandai, pakora, laddoos, kulfis, sherbat and even papads.
The traditional connect
Bhang features as an anxiety releaser in the ancient holy text and one of the four Vedas — the Atharvaveda. Bhang is associated with Lord Shiva, as it is believed that he discovered the transcendental properties of the cannabis. While bhang is popularly consumed in Mathura, making and drinking bhang is a part of the mystic charm of the holy town of Varanasi, that’s consigned to Lord Shiva’s worship. Bhang is prepared on the ghats of the city.
How’s bhang made
The flowers (buds) and leaves of female cannabis are ground into a paste with the help of mortar and pestle. Ghee, milk and spices are added to this mix. That’s how the bhang base is made; it could be used for making thandai, bhang lassi, halwa, laddoo or pakoras.
What’s good about it
Ayurveda has made use of bhang’s medicinal properties since ages. It helps release anxiety and gives a sound, peaceful sleep, and is also believed to fight depression. It is also a cure for ailments such as fever, dysentery, arthritis, sunstroke, nausea and vomiting, rigid muscles and indigestion.
Bhang overdose can lead to serious health complications. Those who have too much bhang suffer from temporary psychosis, and increased heart rate and blood pressure.
Who must not have bhang
If you suffer from heart problems, high BP, or nerve related diseases, you must avoid bhang intake. “For such patients, an overdose of bhang can prove fatal,” warns Dr Surbhi Bali, chief nutritionist, Fortis, Vasant Kunj. Overdose can also leave you with damaged digestive tracks and even lead to hepatitis in extreme cases. Bhang can also lead to respiratory tracks damage. “Those who are asthmatic should also never consume bhang,” says Dr Viveka Kumar, head, cardiology, Max Healthcare.
Getting a safe high
Keep your bhang-laced goodies away from the reach of kids and pets. Do not consume bhang empty stomach, or else it can hit you badly. “Always make sure to have some snacks before and after consuming bhang. It will help neutralise the effect of bhang,” says Dr Surbhi Bali, chief nutritionist, Fortis, Vasant Kunj.
Never ever mix bang with alcohol. Youngsters often do this for an extra kick, but it can have fatal results.
Tackle side effects
Herbal cure: Have a cup of herbal tea such as rose tea or jasmine tea; it will reduce the headache and help counter the effects of bhang.
Lemon water: Lemon water is a great source of antioxidants and vitamin C; it helps prevent the formation of free radicals.
Hydrate your system: Have lots of water, as it will flush out intoxicants from your body. Dehydration makes the hangover worse.
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