Hindu Kush: Where Did It Come From?

The word “kush” is synonymous with cannabis. That says a lot about the history and capacity of the beloved indica strain, Hindu Kush.  Hindu Kush is a landrace strain, or a strain that is naturally occurring without human intervention. These strains are fascinating because of their longevity and the traits they have naturally selected throughout cannabis’ evolution. Their resilient adaptability make them worthy of preservation efforts for education purposes and simply for the experience of growing and consuming a fragment of horticultural history, especially in an industry dominated by hybridization growing methods.

So from where does this particular landrace strain hail? Read on to find out.

Rehashing the History of Weed

Cannabis has been around for a very long time, and humans have likely been cultivating the plant since its discovery.  While the species was first hindu kush historyidentified as Cannabis sativa in the mid-eighteenth century, Barney Warf, University of Kansas professor of geography, traces the origins of cannabis to Central Asia, thousands of years ago in a report entitled “High Points: A Historical Geography of Cannabis.”  However, Warf concedes that other researchers have attributed the plant’s origins to the Hindu Kush mountains as well.

Human cultivation is responsible for cannabis’ movement across the globe

The first recorded use of medicinal cannabis dates to 4000 BC when it was used as a surgical numbing agent in ancient China. From there, cannabis traveled to Korea and Japan. Nomads in Central Asia used the plant frequently and helped to spread cannabis from Mongolia, through the Middle East, and into India and eastern Europe.

Although the rise of Confucianism led to the suppression of recreational cannabis use in China due to the potential disruption it could cause as an inebriating substance, it took root in Indian religious traditions.  Specifically, it has a sacred place in the Hindu tradition because of its association with the god Shiva, the Lord of Bhang.  Its entrenchment in Indian culture—spiritual, medicinal, and recreational—persists today and is responsible for the movement of cannabis to the Caribbean.

Human trafficking and capitalism catalyzed the global spread of cannabis. The Portuguese inadvertently introduced cannabis to Brazil through Angolan slaves. The Spanish introduced cannabis to Colombia and Mexico, and though that introduction was initially to create a market for hemp, the recreational use of cannabis found its way into Latin American lifestyles.  Indian indentured servants imported into Jamaica by the British after the abolition of slavery in that colony brought the recreational, medicinal, and spiritual use of “ganja” to Jamaica.  The English introduced the industrial hemp plant to the colonies in North America; the recreational use of cannabis became pervasive in the United States in the early twentieth century when Mexican immigrants escaping the violent Mexican revolution entered the country in large numbers.

Where did Hindu Kush Get Its Name?

Hindu Kush is named after the mountain range between Pakistan and Afghanistan. These origins explain the flower’s thick trichome coat responsible for its potent high. The climate of the 500 mile long Hindu Kush mountain range is volatile since it crosses the threshold of multiple climate zones. The eastern segment of the mountain range experiences dry winters, and wet, cold summers. The central and western part of the mountain range experiences the opposite conditions: hot summers and cold, wet, and snowy winters. An example of the Hindu Kush’s extreme geographical and climate conditions is its glaciation; a mountain range locked in an embrace with glaciers is the stuff of legends.

One account of the meaning of Hindu Kush is based on the harsh climate created by its misanthropic environment

Some believe that the mountain range’s name is a Persian derivative meaning “kills the Hindus.” So what kind of plants can grow in a place as inhospitable as the Hindu Kush mountain range? Juniper, birch, cedar, pine, and a special strain of the Cannabis indica species that shares its name.

Hindu Kush is a typical indica—it’s one of the originals. It is short, stocky, and wears a beautifully sticky coat of trichomes on its densely-packed leaves.  While some say that Hindu Kush prefers to be grown indoors, it’s important to give this evaluation some context. Indoor cultivation gives all plants a lot more stability and offers growers a level of control they can’t count on when subject to the variability of the outdoors. However, let’s take a second to consider this strain’s genetic history.  Hindu Kush has been inbred for thousands of years, and those genes have withstood some of the most extreme weather conditions the earth has to offer.  The power of the landrace strain is its evolutionary superiority.  For most of history, Hindu Kush has grown outside.  This genetic stability is what makes it particularly easy for novice growers to cultivate, which is probably why it has been a family favorite for as long as humans have been exposed to it.

The Hindu Kush Experience

The effects of Hindu Kush are archetypal of the indica species. Indicas are known for their sedating body highs, and Hindu Kush doesn’t fail to the history of Hindu Kushdeliver.  The sensation comes on slowly, incrementally filling the body with a calming heaviness that eventually penetrates the mind.  The thick high brings the fast-paced traffic of an unrelenting thought life to a contemplative crawl, making this strain a great choice for meditation.

These qualities make the strain most suitable for night time use. The physical and mental tranquility brought on by Hindu Kush can start with couchlock and culminate in a deep sleep. Consumers commonly use this strain to medicate chronic pain, nausea, stress, anxiety, and insomnia.

As is the case with any strain, results may vary.  Some users are able to smoke Hindu Kush in the morning and carry on as usual, while others specifically use this strain to fall asleep.  And since Hindu Kush contains high levels of THC, paranoia and anxiety are potential side effects to its consumption.  However, according to its strain page, most reviewers seem to love Hindu Kush.  Such universal appeal is a testament to the ancient potency of this beloved landrace strain.

Dianna Benjamin

About the author: Dianna Benjamin is a freelance writer, teacher, wife, and mom horrified and fascinated by social justice and our inability--yet constant pursuit--to get it right.