The New International Encyclopædia/Hashish

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HASHISH, hắsh'ēsh (Ar. ḥashīshat, from Ar. ḥashīsh, herbage, hay, from ḥashsha, to cut grass). The Oriental name of the tops and tender parts of Indian hemp (Cannabis Indica). Various preparations of the plant are employed for the producing of a peculiar intoxication. A favorite mode of extracting its active principle is by boiling the tops and flowers with water to which butter or oil has been added, evaporating, and thus forming an oleaginous solution or fatty extract. This fatty extract is frequently mixed with other substances which are reputed to possess aphrodisiac properties, and is taken in the form of electuary confection, or pastil. The majoon used at Calcutta, the mapouchari employed at Cairo, and the dawames or dawamesk of the Arabs, are preparations of this kind. In India it is employed as a narcotic stimulant under the names hashish, churrus bhang, and gunjah. American hemp (Cannabis Americana) possesses a similar but weaker action. The effect of hashish depends largely upon the individual. Among the Orientals the dreams are often of an erotic character, but this is not so among the Western nations. One of the first appreciable effects of the drug is the gradual weakening of the power of controlling and directing of the thoughts. Then comes the stage already described; and accompanying, and in part following it, there are observed errors of sense, false convictions, and the predominance of one or more extravagant ideas. These ideas and convictions are generally not altogether of an imaginary character, but are suggested by external impressions which are erroneously interpreted by the perceptive faculties. A minute may seem a year, and an hour only an instant. Sounds may be greatly exaggerated. The sense of duration of time and extent of space and the appreciation of personality are lost; there is a sensation of weight in the extremities, and anæsthesia of the skin, which may often become complete. Finally, if the dose is sufficiently powerful, there is marked drowsiness and sleep. The drug is used as a sedative as a substitute for opium. For the relief of pain in neuralgia and migraine it has been successfully used.