Avnish Pandya, Bombay Hemp Company, ET HealthWorld

Shahid Akhter, editor, ETHealthworld, spoke to Avnish Pandya, Co-Founder and Chief Research Officer at Bombay Hemp Company, to understand the rapid growth of cannabis based drugs and multiple clinical trials in this direction.

Cannabis & Modern Pharma
Cannabis has had a significant role to play as far as modern-day medicine is concerned. We have actually seen the development and approval of multiple drugs under the U.S. FDA as well as a few other jurisdictions such as the U.K., Japan, and Australia, predominantly from a paediatric epilepsy perspective, from dealing with multiple sclerosis and spasms related to the same. We’re also seeing multiple clinical trials being conducted in Germany and the Netherlands with regards to fibromyalgia and its application even for palliative care, especially for people that are suffering from chronic diseases such as AIDS, cancer, and Wasting Syndrome. We have also seen the development of cannabis-based medicines from a synthetic route point of view. In fact, some of the molecules have already been synthesised and are currently under clinical trials globally as well. We’re also seeing the initiation of clinical trials in India as far as a few of the topical and dietary products are concerned.

Cannabis: Yesterday & Today
Another important anecdote with cannabis, modern medicine, and its relation to India is that a group of scientists had actually isolated THC and figured out its biochemical pathway. The receptor system to which THC actually binds in the human body was called Anandamide, with reference to the Sanskrit word ‘Ananda, which means bliss. Cannabis, which in Hindi and Sanskrit is predominantly known as ‘bhang’ or ‘ganja, has actually been a very, very important part of traditional medicine, and when we talk about traditional medicine, we are covering the realms of Ayurveda, Unani, and Siddhi.Cannabis: Opportunities & Challenges
Different parts of the Cannabis plant, such as the leaves, the seeds, and the roots, have actually been part of multiple formulations, ranging all the way back in time to when the Atharvaveda was written and all the way to the modern texts that were translated from the Charak Samhita. Also mentioned was the use of cannabis from the perspective of managing pain, specifically chronic and neuropathic pain, and also its assistance as a digestive aid. A lot of the common bhang-based products that we see help with digestion and all the issues and disorders related to the bowel. We also see the use of cannabis specifically in managing certain mental health disorders, where Ayurveda has actually taken a keen interest in different diseases of the head, as it calls them.

There are more than 200–250 odd formulations that can actually come from the cannabis plant, where we use either the leaves or the seeds of the plant as a major or minor ingredient. Today we see multiple products available from an application, ingestion, and sublingual perspective that can help patients battle some of their most chronic illnesses while specifically improving their quality of life as well. Within Ayurveda, amongst the five prominent herbs, cannabis also happens to be the most fast-acting herb. We are able to see much faster results, unlike most Ayurvedic medicine, which would typically take much longer to show results.

Bombay Hemp Company
Bombay Hemp Company was conceived in ‘2013 when a bunch of us co-founders were travelling to Uttarakhand and Rajasthan during a Solar Rural Electrification Project and we saw hemp being used in multiple different forms by the ladies who were applying it on their stretch marks or by the men who were consuming the protein. When we were coming back via Delhi, we saw Body Shop having a range of hemp products. So, that was like an aha moment: the same thing has happened with neem, haldi, and yoga, and the same thing cannot happen with cannabis. So, we made it our mission to figure out what the possible areas are in which we can positively impact this industry.

Starting then to now, we’ve made some significant achievements in terms of getting regulatory approvals to sell hemp as a food item, as a seed, as a protein, and as a seed oil to manufacture medicines that would either be consumed or applied for specific pain and mental health-related disorders. We’ve also been able to cultivate hemp and cannabis for developing the right kinds of breeds and varieties in states such as Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.

The products that we are manufacturing today come from the leaves and the seeds, both of which are helpful specifically from a nutritional, pain management, and mental health perspective. We’ve seen the transformation of these products and the kind of effect it has on patients to manage their symptoms related to sleep or manage their pain, and that has kind of helped us, pushed us, and motivated us to make this a mission to be able to help people get rid of their pain in a safe and effective format.

  • Published On Apr 6, 2023 at 06:06 AM IST

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