An Indian Family Ended up in The Hospital After Cooking Weed Thinking it Was Fenugreek
We all have that one friend who shows up to the movies after chomping down a batch of marijuana brownies. You, and everyone else at the theatre, remembers them distinctly, mostly because they’re the ones who kept screaming at the screen, convinced the bullets from the live action sequence were headed straight for them.
Cannabis has been consumed orally for centuries, even as far back as 1000 BC (the OG one, not ‘before corona’). But a bizarre case that cropped up in India has sparked a confusing conversation on whether eating cannabis can land you straight in the hospital.
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A family of six in the Miyaganj village of the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh ended up in the hospital on June 27. Reports say the family fell sick after cooking cannabis leaves they mistakenly assumed to be methi (fenugreek), an ingredient often used in Indian cuisines.
According to local news sources, a vegetable seller named Naval Kishore sold weed to a family member named Nitesh claiming it was fenugreek as a prank. Nitesh then brought the packet home, where it was cooked along with potatoes to make an Indian dish known as aloo-methi.
While reports don’t mention how long it took for the high to kick in, the family apparently began to experience dizziness, and asked their neighbour to call a doctor. Some of them even allegedly lost consciousness. The hospital is yet to give an update on their recovery, but the police caught Kishore, who admitted to the prank.
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But the incident has left people wondering: Can cooking or eating cannabis really make you lose consciousness? Can bhang or brownies have the same effects? And how much of this extreme reaction can be attributed to the overpowering masalas (spices) that Indian food generally requires?
“There are three things that matter when it comes to taking drugs: it’s onset time, or the time it takes to start the process, how potent it is, and the duration it lasts for,” Dr Prashant Punia, a Pune-based neurosurgeon, told VICE. Punia points out that the active component in cannabis known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) takes longer to break down when ingested orally through edibles, and is broken down by the liver to convert to 11-hydroxy THC, a more potent psychoactive molecule.
“The intent and lack of mental preparation are also important factors that led to such a reaction,” he says of the case above. Since the family was eating the cannabis as a meal to suppress their hunger, and not to get high, the amount ingested went beyond their bodies’ limits.
“They probably didn’t eat enough for the THC content to be lethal, but since they had never tried it before, it may have triggered an overwhelming reaction in the brain’s neural pathways. People who accidentally consume cannabis tend to react differently. In this case, the fear of doom and unnatural feeling of the high may have caused their heart rate to go up, leading to paranoia or anxiety.” Punia says they may have lost consciousness in this tense situation so that their brain could avoid going through the overwhelming anxiety and fear the high may have triggered.
When Will Weed Be Legalised in India?
“I think this was a case of over-consuming cannabis,” agrees Viki Vaurora, the founder of the Great Legalisation Movement, a Bengaluru-based collective working to raise awareness about the medical and therapeutic potential of cannabis. Having worked with thousands of patients using cannabis extract oil to relieve their pain and symptoms, Vaurora says that he has previously observed cases of patients freaking out after ingesting more than the prescribed dose.
“While we don’t know all the details about the patients’ illness and recovery, from the reports we can assume that they were given really strong cannabis flowers of the indica strain of the cannabis plant, which is meant to make you feel relaxed,” he says, adding that if it was the cannabis plant’s sativa strain, their heart rate would’ve increased, and they would’ve felt energetic and anxious, instead of passing out.
Vaurora also adds that this reaction probably wasn’t prompted by the weed being adulterated with rat poison or shoe polish, as it often is in India, since that would lead to nausea and vomiting, and not a loss of consciousness.
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So does this mean cooking cannabis has the potential to push you over the edge? Not exactly.
Research suggests that cannabis should be cooked in a fat soluble substance like butter or oil, because it is not a water-soluble substance. It should ideally also always be decarboxylated, which is the process of activating the psychoactive THC by heating the cannabis leaves or flowers before infusing them.
While most people make edibles for the trip they tend to induce, the cannabis plant is also considered highly nutritious.
“The most nutrient-dense part of the cannabis is its seeds containing calcium, fiber, fatty acids and 16gm of protein in 50 grams of serving,” says Mamta Dagar, a nutritionist from Delhi. According to Dagar, cannabis is not only beneficial in completing the protein needs of our body, but also helps in anti-ageing as it contains anti-oxidants like polyphenols, phosphorous and magnesium.
The biggest problem with scarfing down edibles, though, is that it’s difficult to determine the THC content and use an appropriate dosage if you’re going for, say, homemade hash brownies.
Fenugreek Medicine can support our digestive system and SO much more. I’ve begun to experiment with this fascinating herb/spice and am excited to share Fenugreek’s healing attributes with you!
Have you ever cooked with it? Stay tuned. You will want to — like me — ‘sing from the rooftops’ (ok.. maybe you’ll just watch and listen while I do it!)
Fenugreek medicine has been used for centuries in Armenia, Egypt, India, Iran & Turkey. In the kitchen, these fragrant seeds are often incorporated into curries or chutneys, pickles, condiments of all sorts. It is very common in traditional vegetarian dishes for flavour and to assist with better digestion of legumes and starchy veggies. The leaves are used fresh (or can be found flash-frozen in freezer at grocery) or dried. Dried leaves are called Kasoori methi in India. They are a favourite in Indian cooking, as well as several African countries, and taste similar to a combination of celery and fennel with a slightly bitter bite.
FENUGREEK seeds are not eaten RAW. – akin to tiny pebbles and just as hard. When brewed in a tea or cooked, the slightly bitter, pungent seeds transform into a nutty maple-like flavour.
TIP: Soak the seeds overnight and take them on an empty stomach in the morning. Experts report that consuming soaked methi seeds first thing in morning can help regulate blood sugar levels, cholesterol and promote good digestion.
Fenugreek Medicine Highlights
Seeds: (Trigonella foenum graecum)
- Can both regulate and balance blood sugar levels
- Improves glycemic control + decreases insulin resistance
- Can lower triglycerides
- Can lower cholesterol (specifically the unwanted LDL)
- Can support and improve digestive system function
- Can possibly prevent and reverse “fatty liver disease” associated with obesity + insulin resistance
- Can help to prevent gallstones; can help to diminish existing stones and can prevent stones from re-forming due to anti-lithic (anti-stone) constituents
- Possibly prevents kidney stones formation (made from calcium oxalate)
- Can boost milk production in nursing moms + stimulate milk flow when breastfeeding
Is this not quite the amazing list of attributes? I think so!
Fenugreek Medicine is believed to help with weight loss. Experiments have shown that fenugreek seeds’ fibre appears to influence people to choose lighter foods when eaten regularly. I learned about this possibility in an herbal class from years ago and tucked it away in my brain to share later.. I will be on a search to find the ‘source’ for this tidbit!
NOTE: AVOID when pregnant. Fenugreek stimulates uterine contractions.
Use ONLY to help to induce labour.
Traditionally, Fenugreek tea has been used to counter heartburn and symptoms of acid reflux. When soaked in water for 5-10 minutes before bringing water to a quick boil, the mucilage from fenugreek seeds can help to coat the lining of the gastro-intestinal (GI) system. This is easy to do. No need to measure. Just take a small handful of soaked seeds and toss in a pot of water. For those that prefer a ‘recipe’, here’s one for you!
- 1 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds (lightly crushed)
- 1 cup of water (pure, good quality)
- 1 teaspoon of raw honey (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg (grated fresh or powder.. also optional)
Bring the water to a simmer in a small pot.
The water should not be boiling.
Add the fenugreek seeds to the water, as well as any other herbs/flavours
The flavor of fenugreek is quite mild.
Simmer the seeds for 3-4 minutes
Remove the pan from heat.
Allow to steep for 8-10 minutes (can allow to steep for longer. Taste is up to you!)
I tincture Fenugreek Medicine
the seeds, in this case. I am experimenting with this aromatic tincture as an herbal helper in digestive formulae for clients who want to improve digestion while avoiding re-occurrence of gall stones. The highlights above offer many ideas for how we can create helpful medicine scenarios
it’s an ongoing art & science –that’s why I LOVE this green world — lots of experimentation and many good results.
Fenugreek seeds tend to ‘marry well’ with tomatoes, potatoes; veggies in general and is often paired with Ginger, Garlic, Turmeric, Onion and Mustard seed. It adds a sweetness and a subtle bitterness to saucy dishes. When toasted, it imparts a definite maple syrup flavor which can also taste a bit like dark caramel.
The seeds benefit from longer cooking to infuse with other flavors, so I tend to use it in soups, stews, veggie ‘sides’ and chutneys. By the way
have you ever made a chutney?
Buy locally or online but get your hands on some good quality fenugreek seeds!
Here’s an online source