We are blessed by the works of Garcia Da Orta, a Portuguese physician and Jew who found his way into India (well actually the Portuguese Inquisition had something to do with it), back in 1534. As a physician he too learned about the medical properties of Cannabis while their. Somehow in 1563 (with the help of some friends) he succeeded in publishing a book “Colloquies on the Simples and Drugs of India,” a sort of Materia Medica of Indian Drugs.

Colloquies on the simples & drugs of India
By Garcia de Orta, 1895 Edition, annotated by the Conde de Ficalho
Translated [1913] by Francisco Manuel de Melo Ficalho

What is the difference between that which they call BANGUE and AMFIAM? It seems to me that they are one, for when you abuse your servants you sometimes call them BANGUE and sometimes AMFIAM. I, therefore, wish to know whether there is any difference between the two words.

The AMFIAM we call opium, of which I will speak to you when we come to it. I will now satisfy you respecting the nature of BANGUE its tree and seed. Antonia! give me what I told you to bring.

Here is the tree of the small ones, and see here is the seed, and here is what they sell in the drug shop. For you told me to bring them altogether.

This seed is like that of flax (Alcanave), except that it is smaller and not so white, and the little tree is also like flax, so we need not discuss them because we already know all about it.

It is not flax (alcanave), for the seed is smaller and not white, and the Indians eat either the seeds or the pounded leaves to assist or quiet the women. they also take it for another purpose, to give an appetite; and our writers say that the branches have much inside and little ring, which is contrary to what the flax (alcanave) has.

Do they make cords of this bark?


Is there anything else from which they do make cords?

Yes. From the fruit of the palm, which I shall touch upon further on. Also in Balaguate they make cords from the roots of a very large tree, and to confess the truth, they also make them from the flax (Alcanave) which is plentiful there, but not in the Deccan or Bengal. I saw there our flax from which we make our shirts, and all this flax is merchandise take met with in one above countries. They call it Alci. But there is very little of the flax (Alcanave) on the mainland. What is there is not the flax (Alcanave).

Be it so; and now tell me how this BANGUE is made, and how and for what it is taken.

They make the pressed leaves, sometimes with the seeds, into a powder. Some inject Areca Verde, and those who drink it become beside themselves. For the same purpose they mix nutmeg and mace with it, and there is the same effect in drinking it. Others inject cloves, others camphor of Borneo, others amber and Almisque, others opium. These are the Moors, who are much addicted to it. The profit from its use is for the man to be beside himself, and to be raised above all cares and anxieties, and it makes some break into a foolish laugh. I hear that many women take it when they want to dally and flirt with men. It is also said, but it may not be true, that the great captains, in ancient times, used to drink it with wine or with opium, that they might rest from their work, be without care, and be able to sleep ; for the long vigils of such became a torment to them. The great Sultan Bahadur said to Martin Affonso de Souza, to whom he wished every good thing and to whom he told his secretes, that when at night, he wanted to go to Portugal, Brazil, Turkey, Arabia, or Persia, he only had to take a little BANGUE. This was made up into an electuary with sec __nd spices, and was called Maju.

Has it this pleasant effect on every__y?

It may be that it has this effect when we have become accustomed to it. I myself saw a Portuguese jester, who was for a long time with me in Balaguate, eat a slice or two of the electuary, and at night he was pleasantly intoxicated, his utterance not intelligible. They he became sad, began to shed tears, and was plunged in grief. In his case the effect was sadness and nausea. Those who saw or heard of it were provoked to laughter as if it was an ordinary drinking bout. those of my servants who took it, unknown to me, said that it made them so as not to feel work, to be very happy, and to have a craving for food. I believe that it is so generally used and by such a number of people that there is no mystery about it. But I have not tried it, nor do I wish to do so. Many Portuguese have told me that they have taken it, and that they experience the same symptoms, more especially the female partakers. However, this is not one of our medicines and we have better not waste any more time over it.


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