Cannabis is an annual plant genus belonging to the Cannabaceae family. The fibers in its stems are used in yarn, weaving, and fabric making, and the pulped part is used in papermaking and is known as one of the oldest sources of vegetable raw materials in human history. Apart from cannabis, there are also cannabis-like plants that are just as useful. Do you know what these plants are?
Cannabis-like plants are plants whose leaf structures and appearances resembling cannabis. They include Japanese Maple, Cassava, Chaste Tree, Crotalaria, Fern, and Hibiscus. All of those plants resemble cannabis in some way. For example, while Japanese Maple has leaves that you can confuse with cannabis, Crotalaria’s general appearance will make you think it is cannabis. Let’s check these cannabis-like plants and their benefits together.
Cannabis-Like Plants: Hibiscus (Hibiscus Sabdariffa)
Hibiscus is a flowering plant belonging to the mallow family. Its fan leaves resemble cannabis. This plant grows in warm, tropical, and semi-tropical regions. The hibiscus plant has striking colors such as red, pink, orange, or yellow and a trumpet-shaped structure. It is the national flower of Haiti, South Korea, and Malaysia. It is used to attract bees, birds, and butterflies due to its flamboyant flowers. On the other hand, the hibiscus plant is used in foods and beverages, thus benefiting from many health benefits.
Hibiscus is a harmonious and diverse plant that can be grown in many parts of the world. Extending from Iran to Italy, from Mexico to India, hibiscus, which finds itself a wide living space, actually has flowers of various colors, but the most famous are the red-flowered ones. Known to contain plenty of vitamin C, the hibiscus plant is also rich in many minerals, especially magnesium and iron.
The hibiscus flower is found in tropical climates in different parts of the world, including Africa, Central, and South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. It has been used for a long time both in kitchens and for therapeutic purposes in Africa, the region where it was first cultivated. Hibiscus tea has been called “Karkade” for hundreds of years in Egypt and Sudan.
Hibiscus tea, whose use dates back to Antiquity, was served cold in ancient Egypt and was consumed by the pharaohs to cool off in the desert heat. hibiscus spread to different parts of the Western world in the 17th century; It began to be cultivated in Guatemala, Mexico, Australia, Hawaii, Florida, and the Caribbean.
Hibiscus tea has played an important role in various religious and healing ceremonies in the Nile Valley for centuries. This regal drink of history remains a very popular tea in northern and western African countries such as Nigeria. So much so that today, hibiscus tea is still preferred as the main drink of the celebration in traditional Egyptian and Sudanese weddings.
Hibiscus is one of the plants with the highest vitamin C content. This plant, which is full of vitamin C, helps to balance high blood pressure and blood sugar. Hibiscus is a very powerful antioxidant. This feature helps to increase body resistance in the winter months. Hibiscus, which contains manic acid and high magnesium, has a digestive effect. It is good for the problem of bloating, it relaxes the stomach.
Hibiscus is a caffeine-free herb. Thanks to its caffeine-free and high water-holding capacity, it helps to relieve digestive problems. It also helps to protect against stomach cancer as well as digestive problems. Studies on this subject have concluded that hibiscus extract reduces cancerous cells and prevents the spread of stomach cancer. The flavonoids in the content of the hibiscus plant support the person to enter a more positive and refreshing mood emotionally. It calms the soul and is good for depression.
On the other hand, hibiscus is also used as a treatment cure for Wilson’s disease, which is caused by the accumulation of excess copper in the liver, cornea, brain, and kidneys. Hibiscus is a plant that should not be missing from the diet list of those who want to lose weight. Hibiscus, which prevents sweet crises, regulates digestion, supports fat burning, and helps to eliminate edema.
The most important point when preparing hibiscus tea is not to use too many hibiscus leaves. If you use this herb, which has an intense flavor, too much, it may become undrinkable. It will be enough to throw a couple of hibiscus leaves into a glass of boiled water. After three or four brews, you can take the leaves and consume the drink. If you soak hibiscus leaves in water for too long, they leave a bitter taste. You can also consume this tea cold, you can keep it in the refrigerator for three days.
Hibiscus is not recommended for use by pregnant women as it may have a miscarriage effect. Likewise, it may have side effects for breastfeeding mothers. It should be consumed under the supervision of a doctor, as it may cause a reaction with the drugs by people who use blood pressure and cholesterol drugs. On the other hand, it is not recommended to use the hibiscus plant for those with goiter and thyroid complaints, due to the negative conditions that may be caused by the anthocyanin group active substances it contains.
Like many plants in nature, hibiscus also has its disadvantages. At the beginning of the groups that can be harmful are women during pregnancy. It is never recommended to be consumed during pregnancy as it may pose a risk of miscarriage. In addition, breastfeeding mothers should definitely consult their doctor and should never consume it unless approved by the doctor.
In the same way, it is of great importance for those who have a serious and chronic disease, especially those with heart and blood pressure diseases, who need to take medication regularly, who take hormonal therapy, or who have an allergic body, to consult their doctor before using it. Since hibiscus can have toxic effects in overdose, it is of great importance not to drink more than 1 glass of hibiscus tea a day, and never to exceed the amounts given in the recipes if we are going to use hibiscus in meals.
Cannabis-Like Plants: Japanese Maple (Acer Palmatum)
The Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) is a species of maple naturally found in Japan, Korea, and China from the Aceraceae family. They are deciduous trees that can grow up to 15 m. The bark is greenish taupe or light brown and smooth. The branches are yellow-purple, the winter buds are purplish yellow, conical, large, 1-scaly and pseudoterminal. Petiole 2-6 cm long; leaves are yellowish-brown hairy when first opened; palmate leaves have 5-7 lobes, lobes are wide, the edge is crooked, double-toothed, the tip is long and pointed.
The inflorescence consists of 10-20 flowers, 3-4 cm long, semi-drooping, with 1 or 2 pairs of leaves under it. Sepals are 5, purplish red, oblong, 3 mm long, and have hairy margins. Petals are pale yellow or pinkish white, broad and small. The number of stamens is 8, the length is 3.5 mm. The female flowers are in a small disc. Ovary flat; The stigmas opposite each other are long.
The flower is 1.5 cm long, winged, with a wide angle between the wings. It is oval-convex, slightly thin-veined, and weakly built. Chromosome number is 2n=26. It blooms in April and May. Seeds ripen in September. It likes temperate climates. It is a light-half shade tree. It is a species with a high nutrient demand. It grows well in dry, humous, slightly wet and acidic, well-drained, and organic matter-rich soils. Avoids salty soils. It is damaged by severe frosts. Withstands temperatures down to -18 C. It does not grow well in hot and arid climates.
Green species develop more effortlessly and faster than colored ones, and autumn colors are red (I think they are more beautiful). Bordeaux leaves are a bit troublesome, their main preference is humidity and cool environments. The most important point to be considered in plants is to plant in a semi-shaded area on damp grass or soil with good humus soil. Moisture increases the growth of these plants. The leaves of the plant, planted in the concrete ground, on the roadside, in full sun, lose a lot of water in August and become scorched, and they develop difficultly in the following years.
Cannabis-Like Plants: Cassava (Manihot Esculenta)
Cassava, scientifically known as Manihot esculenta, is a type of shrub native to South America. One of the staple foods for an estimated half a billion people worldwide, usually in tropical regions, the cassava plant is grown mainly for its starchy roots. In fact, after wheat and maize, cassava root is considered the third-largest source of carbohydrates in tropical regions.
Available in both bitter and sweet varieties, the flavor of cassava root has a fibrous texture that is often mistaken for potatoes and also resembles zucchini. It is usually boiled, fried, or ground into different flours and powders used for baking. Most of the cassava root plant is used medicinally and is also consumed in many different dishes. Some cassava plant species include Yucca filamentosa, Yucca gloriosa, Yucca elephantipes, Yucca brevifolia, and Yucca schidigera.
Cassava root is high in antioxidants, which are beneficial compounds that neutralize free radicals to prevent oxidative stress and damage to cells. Research suggests that antioxidants play a central role in overall health and may be protective against many chronic diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Cassava root is also rich in vitamin C and manganese, two micronutrients that can help minimize oxidative stress. A study published by the American Cancer Prevention and Screening National Cancer Research Center observed that oxidative stress and free radical formation were significantly reduced by vitamin C supplementation over five years. Another in vitro study from Italy found that manganese was significantly more effective than some other nutrients at scavenging free radicals and preventing oxidative stress.
The glycemic index is the measure of a particular food in raising blood sugar. Foods with a high glycemic index increase blood sugar levels rapidly, which can lead to diabetes symptoms such as fatigue and weight loss. Compared to many other starches, cassava root has a fairly low glycemic index (46). Conversely, boiled potatoes have a glycemic index of 78 and white rice has a glycemic index of 73. For this reason, cassava root is often referred to as a “Good Carb” and can be a better alternative to many other types of carbohydrates when it comes to blood sugar control.
But it should be noted that cassava root is still high in carbohydrates. If you have diabetes or are on a carbohydrate diet, it’s best to use this starchy vegetable only in moderation and combine it with plenty of healthy fats and protein to help maintain normal blood sugar levels.
Cassava root is a common ingredient found in many natural skincare products. The cassava plant can be used to exfoliate the skin and remove dead skin cells, while the roots can be mixed with honey or olive oil and applied as a skin mask to brighten the skin.
Even using cassava root in your favorite recipes will make your skin glow. It is packed with vitamin C, a nutrient involved in collagen synthesis that is believed to have anti-aging properties. Vitamin C may also protect against sun damage by scavenging harmful free radicals and has even been shown to suppress melanin production to help prevent dark spots and hyperpigmentation.
Arthritis is a condition of painful swelling and stiffness in the joints. Thanks to its rich content of both antioxidants and manganese, incorporating cassava root into your diet can be beneficial in providing relief from the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (arthritis in small joints such as the bones of the hands, fingers, feet).
Manganese is often recommended as a natural remedy for arthritis, and a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology even showed that manganese deficiency is associated with an increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis in older women. Similarly, the antioxidants in cassava root may be particularly beneficial in relieving inflammation and reducing arthritis symptoms; one study reported that people with rheumatoid arthritis had significantly lower serum concentrations of antioxidants than those without arthritis.
Cannabis-Like Plants: Chaste Tree (Vitex Agnus-Castus)
Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus) is a perennial plant species used for medicinal purposes from the verbena family. 1–3 m tall, bush-like, with pale pink, purple or blue flowers. The chaste tree is a perennial herb that is often used for medicinal purposes. This plant usually has a height of 1 meter to 3 meters and has the appearance of a bush. It blooms pale pink, purple or blue flowers.
Among the features of the chaste tree is that it is a plant that is often confused with the cannabis plant because it has small leaves. This plant is known for being good for many diseases in the medical field. Over time, the flowers of the tree turn into small fleshy fruits containing dark brown seeds, which are often mistaken for black peppercorns for their taste and appearance. These seeds symbolized the purity of the seed about 2500 years ago.
In ancient Greece, life was thought to relieve sexual desire. It was the most important part of the festivals dedicated to Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, marriage, and fertility. During this festival, chaste women adorned themselves with chaste flowers. The chaste virgin women of ancient Rome carried thin branches of chaste on their shoulders. Also known as a symbol of purity in the Middle Ages, chastity was adopted by the Catholic Church.
Those who had just entered the monastery would walk on a path decorated with chaste berry flowers. Chaste seeds were believed to suppress sexual desire and were frequently used in the dining halls of monasteries to provide sexual reluctance by grinding. For this reason, this plant was called monk pepper. It has been used for thousands of years for gynecological problems as well as suppressing sexual desire.
The chaste tree can be planted every month of the year, especially in spring. It has more than 250 tropical products. The chaste tree is an aromatic plant that grows in the form of a bush or tree with a height of 90 cm to 5.5 meters. The fruit-bearing twigs are short and filled with resinous hairs. They usually stick to your hands when you touch them.
The chaste tree blooms from May to October. Shrubs in this bush form should be constantly cleaned and dry branches should be pruned. Few species that grow in temperate climates, these plants can grow into a stone wall or abutment. The chaste tree likes moderate sun and likes fertile, well-drained soils. The main used part of the plant is the fruits.
The chaste tree is a perennial tree with a spicy scent that sheds its leaves in winter. The chaste tree can be easily grown in suitable climatic conditions and environments. The best time to collect their nuts is September. Its leaves consist of 5-7 leaflets. No special effort is required for its maintenance. Pruning and irrigation should be done when necessary.
It is used for pain in the premenstrual period and for the regulation of the menstrual cycle, especially because the substances in its content increase the production of progesterone. It is also known to reduce male potency (Anaphradisiac) and is therefore known as Priest Grass in some regions. The plant, which should not be used during pregnancy due to its effects, has also been used traditionally for the purpose of preventing pregnancy.
Although it is used traditionally and modernly for the elimination of menstrual irregularities, it is recommended to be used under the supervision of a doctor, since unexpected side effects such as depression, increased menstrual bleeding, and constant runny nose is encountered in some patients. It is also found to be risky to use in children and lactating mothers. Those who use dopamine-related drugs and Parkinson’s patients should also stay away.
It is the glycoside of vitexin found in its leaves. These substances inhibit thyroid peroxidase. For this reason, it can cause goiter. Extracts obtained from the trunk, leaves, and seeds of the chaste tree showed antibiotic activity against gram-positive bacteria; however, it does not show any effect against gram-negative bacteria and fungi. In addition, its fruits are used to make a medicine called Agnucaston.
Cannabis-Like Plants: Crotalaria (Crotalaria Juncea L.)
Crotalaria Juncea L., which is the most important species of the genus Crotalaria and known as Bengal Hemp or Bombay Hemp, is generally accepted as a plant native to India and is used as a soil improvement, fiber production, and fodder plant. It is extensively grown as a green manure plant in tropical regions, especially in Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, and China. In South Asian countries, it is one of the important fiber plants for centuries and is used in rope and paper production.
Crotalaria Juncea L. is an annual herbaceous plant with a tall, erect stem that grows up to 2.5-4 meters, commonly grown in tropical regions. The elongated lanceolate leaves are simple and spirally arranged along the stem and 0.5-3.0 cm wide, 4-12 cm long, and bright green. The plant has a strong taproot and very well-developed lateral roots. The stem diameter can be 2 cm thick. When grown under the short-day period, flowering lasts about 8 weeks from planting.
The flower is 8-20 cm long and panicle-shaped; sepal 1.5 cm long and hairy; the petal is 2-5 cm long and bright yellow. Fruit, cylindrical pod-shaped, with short velvety hairs, contains 6-12 seeds; The seeds can be curved heart-shaped, 6-7 mm long, and dark brown-black in color. The thousand-grain weight of the seeds is around 35-50 grams.
It is known that the first researches in the USA started in the 1930s. In the previous studies on the Crotalaria Juncea L plant, there are statements that its seeds or green parts, which are generally considered as fodder plants, may cause toxic effects in animal nutrition. However, recent studies and newly developed varieties have proven that they do not cause toxic effects. However, only Crotalaria spectabilis, Crotalaria Retusa, and Crotalaria Pallida species belonging to the same genus were determined by some researchers to be toxic.
Experts report that the seeds of Crotalaria Juncea L can be used as feed in some countries without causing toxic effects to farm animals. The researchers also determined that the seeds of the “Tropic Sun” variety developed in Hawaii were not toxic to animals. In a study conducted by researchers on chicks to determine the toxic effects of seeds of several Crotalaria species, it was determined that Crotalaria Juncea L seeds did not have any toxic effects in chickens fed 10 mg g-1 bodyweight.
Experts, in the results of their studies in which they investigated whether the seeds and feed of the Crotalaria Juncea L plant, which is an annual species widely grown in the tropics, have toxic effects, have revealed that this plant is a valuable feed source (without toxic effects).
It has been understood that the seeds do not cause acute toxicity in pets, but there are traces of pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Therefore, it is reported that it will not cause any problems in feeding and evaluation as fodder. Crotalaria Juncea L is known as the most aggressive species in its genus. In addition, it is stated that it can reach a green grass yield of 2,700 kg da-1 in 60 days and the fast-growing plant reaches 1.2 meters after 60 days and 1.8 meters at the end of 90 days. It is known that the leaves of the plant contain 30% protein.
In addition, researchers reported in a study that the ratios of lignin, cellulose, and hemicellulose in the leaves at each harvest time were lower than the ratios in the stem. It has been observed that sheep and goats prefer the leaves and upper parts of the plant. Grazing can be started when the plants are about 45-90 cm tall. Leaf quality is high (approximately 4-5% N equivalent of 25-30% protein, 22-28% the NDF, 22-27% ADF) low stem quality (approximately 1.3-1.7% N equivalent of 8-10% protein, Although the NDF is 74-76%, and ADF is 64-65%), the stalks can provide the roughage needed by ruminants.
Intense growth can cause some of the lower leaves to disappear before flowering and reduce forage quality. When the plant is 80% flowering, approximately 35-40% biomass consists of leaves. As a result, early harvest is better for forage use because the plants mature less and the feed quality improves as the leaf ratio in the feed will increase. In addition, Crotalaria Juncea L. gives successful results in silage production.
Cannabis-Like Plants: Fern (Pteridophyta)
Fern is a non-flowering plant that grows widely in sandy, moist and wet areas all over the world. The plant, which acquires a thicker and tree-like structure in tropical regions due to the climate, takes a herbaceous form in temperate regions. Fern, which is also used in many areas of medicine, is known as a poisonous plant. The plant having about 10,000 different types consists of the root, stem, and leaf. The plant has a thick root under the ground and leaves above the ground. Unlike other plants, the fern is a flowerless plant, that is, there is no fern flower.
In the sources of information about the fern, the first thing that stands out is the definition that the fern is a poisonous plant. The fern is a plant belonging to the fern family, whose roots are poisonous and therefore should be considered when consuming. Although fern is known by different names such as love ladder, tick grass, wolf fern among the people, Nepkrodium Filix-mas, Dryopteris Filix-mas, Aspidum Filix-mas, Wurmfarn, Rhizoma Pilicis are the main terms in the fern other names list.
The fern chromosome number is 500 and it is among the first examples given in biology to illustrate that the chromosome number is not related to the development level of a living thing. The outer part of the root of the grass under the ground is black, the inner part is white. The plant, which has many species such as male fern, female fern, staghorn, eagle fern, and venus hair, is also used in different fields in the medical world. The most widely used species in medicine is the male fern.
The fern, which has a thin, long, and segmented leaf structure, is a vascular plant. The vascular structure allows the water taken from the soil to be carried from the roots to the tips of all leaves. Although most species of fern live in soil, some species, such as antlers, can live on other plants. Although the fern is a flowerless plant, it is often preferred as an ornamental plant in landscape works due to the structure of its leaves.
Fern, which grows mostly in bushes, wall bottoms, creek edges, woodlands, and shadows, loves any moist and dark environment. The plant, which has many species, therefore finds habitat all over the world. For example; The eagle fern, which is the most common species, is found in a wide area from North America to Ecuador, from America to New Zealand. After the eagle fern, the most common species are female and male ferns. The male fern, which is in large green bunches, is seen in the Northern hemisphere. The size of the fern varies according to the type and region. Sources generally state that this plant has an average height of up to 120 cm. But the king fern tree, which grows in tropical regions, can grow up to 24 meters.
There are no fern seeds. Under the thin and long leaves, there are small brown spores, in other words, reproductive bags. The fern reproduces by these spores. Those who are interested in fern production also resort to the method of propagating or separating the plant with spores. Propagation by spores is generally a very long and laborious process. In the separation method, new shoots emerging from the roots of old plants are preferred and production is provided in a shorter time. Although its roots are known to be harmful, the fern also stands out with its benefits:
- Fern shows antimicrobial properties and is effective on harmful microorganisms. It appears to inhibit and kill pathogenic bacteria that cause food poisoning. Antimicrobial properties provide both protection from bacterial diseases and rapid recovery from these diseases.
- Fern is used for some harmful fungi and parasites. The use of fern gives positive results in reducing intestinal worms, tapeworms, and parasites.
- Fern is also known for its antioxidant properties. The plant, which contains vitamin C in its leaves and polyphenol compounds in its roots and stems, is also considered liver-friendly.
- The vitamins and polyphenols in the plant strengthen the body’s immune system and increase the body’s resistance against diseases such as flu or cold, especially in winter.
- Fern, which is rich in vitamin A, is also prominent in protecting eye health.
- It is believed that the plant provides protection against cardiovascular diseases, reduces the risk of developing these diseases, and lowers bad cholesterol.
- Fern, which is generally used as an ornamental plant, actually cleans the air. The plant containing antioxidants, chlorophyll and antimicrobial is effective on formaldehyde in the air. Thus, the fern you grow at home will also support you in cleaning the air of your home.
- Relieve heart palpitations, cure sore throats, reduce cough,
- Helping dieters to lose weight is among the other known benefits of fern.
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