What Is Huo Ma Ren (Semen Cannabis, Fructus Cannabis, or Hemp Seeds)

Huo Ma Ren also known as Semen Cannabis, Fructus Cannabis, or Hemp Seeds is the mature seed of Cannabis sativa, which is an annual herb belonging to the family Moraceae. It is a relatively practical and common Chinese herbal medicine, which first appeared in <Shennong Ben Cao Jing> in the late Western Han Dynasty (about 100 BC).

Cannabis sativa is a short-day flowering plant. It is native to India, Iran, the Himalayas to Siberia and China, and is now widely cultivated all over the world.

This plant is used in various forms for life, medicine, religion, etiquette, and entertainment. Its fibers can be made into paper, linen, fishing nets, biodegradable plastics, building materials, animal feed, and fuel.

According to the content of tetrahydrocannabinol in Cannabis sativa, some countries in Europe and America classify cannabis into medicinal cannabis or industrial cannabis. Industrial cannabis contains trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol, which is generally permitted as a legitimate economic crop. Cannabis sativa with high tetrahydrocannabinol content is defined as a drug in some countries.

In the fall of each year, people gather the mature fruits of Cannabis sativa, crush them slightly, take out their seeds, dry them in the sun, and make them into Chinese herbs.

Huo Ma Ren is rich in fatty oils, such as oleic acid, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, palmitoleic acid, eicosadienoic acid, stearic acid, arachidic acid, myristic acid, caproic acid, 2-methyl-propionic acid, behenic acid, lignoceric acid, palmitic acid, methyl oleate, ethyl linoleate, methyl stearate, methyl linoleate, ethyl linolenate, methyl palmitate, and ethyl palmitate.

Besides, it also contains grossamide, campesterol, stigmasterol, β-sitosterol, ergosterol, choline, trigonelline, isoleucine betaine, muscarin, cannabinol, cannabidiol, tetrahydrocannabinol, volatile oils, edestin, vitamin B, vitamin E, vitamin K, carbohydrates, resins, pigments, cellulose, and some trace elements.

According to <Shennong Ben Cao Jing>, the medicinal property of Huo Ma Ren is relatively mild, with a sweet taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the spleen, stomach and large intestine meridians.

In traditional Chinese medicine, it is often used to moisten intestines and relieve constipation, nourish yin and supplement blood, treat neurodermatitis, chronic eczema, facial distortion, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, coronary heart disease, arrhythmia, viral myocarditis, migraine, acne, intractable epilepsy in children, acute upper respiratory tract infection, hyperthyroidism, and multiple sclerosis. It is an important component of Ma Zi Ren Wan.

Health benefits of Huo Ma Ren (Hemp Seeds)

  • Anti-oxidation, enhancing the activity of superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase, removing free radicals, and delaying aging.
  • Enhancing the hypnotic effect of hexobarbitone sodium, and having sedative, analgesic, and anticonvulsant effects.
  • Reducing the content of serum total cholesterol, triglyceride, and low-density lipoprotein, and increasing the content of high-density lipoprotein.
  • Inhibiting platelet aggregation, preventing thrombosis and atherosclerosis.
  • Inhibiting the formation of hydrochloric acid gastric ulcer, indomethacin-ethanol gastric ulcer, and water-immersed stress gastric ulcer.
  • Improving the learning and memory ability of experimental mice induced by D-galactose.
  • Reducing liver damage caused by CCl4, D-galactosamine hydrochloride, or free radicals, and protecting the liver.
  • Reducing the incidence of ventricular fibrillation caused by reperfusion after cardiac ischemia, and improving heart function.
  • Stimulating the intestinal mucosa, accelerating intestinal peristalsis, reducing the absorption of water in the large intestine, and inducing defecation and diarrhea.
  • Enhancing the transformation of splenic lymphocytes, delayed allergy and macrophage phagocytosis induced by Concanavalin A, and improving immunity.
  • Studies have found that oral administration of its emulsion or intravenous injection of its alcohol extract can cause a decrease in blood pressure.

Huo Ma Ren is used with other Chinese herbs

  • It can be combined with Tao Ren (Semen Persicae) to treat irregular menstruation caused by blood stasis.
  • It with Xing Ren (Semen Armeniacae) and Zhi Shi (Fructus Aurantii Immaturus) can prevent postoperative dry stool.
  • It with Xue Jie (Sanguis Draconis) and She Xiang (Moschus) can treat facial distortion.
  • It with Yu Li Ren (Semen Pruni), Gua Lou Ren (Semen Trichosanthis), Zi Su Ye (Perilla Leaf), and Xing Ren (Semen Armeniacae) can treat constipation caused by intestinal dryness.
  • It with Dang Gui (Radix Angelicae Sinensis), Hong Teng (Sargentodoxa Cuneata), Jin Yin Hua (Flos Lonicerae), Chi Shao (Radix Paeoniae Rubra), Hou Po (Magnolia Bark), and Yi Yi Ren (Semen Coicis) can treat chronic appendicitis.

Side effects of Huo Ma Ren (Hemp Seeds)

Excessive use of it may cause dizziness, thirst, fatigue, limb numbness, convulsions, palpitations, or flushing.

In severe cases, it may cause conjunctival hyperemia, dilated pupils, increased heart rate, irritability, confusion, lethargy, coma, and weaken deep and shallow reflexes.

Precautions of Huo Ma Ren

  • The dosage of Huo Ma Ren should be controlled at 10-15g.
  • It can be made into decoction or tea.
  • It should not be taken with Mu Li (Concha Ostreae), Bai Wei (Radix Cynanchi Atrati), or Fu Ling (Poria Cocos).
  • People with loose stools should not take it.
  • People with weakness of the spleen and stomach should not take it.
  • People with intestinal looseness should not take it.
  • People with spermatorrhea or impotence should not take it.
  • Women during puerperium should not take it.
  • Children should not take it.

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