The thought of eating raw cannabis has probably never crossed your line, and until recently, there’s no reason that it should have. Indeed, on the surface, a raw cannabis smoothie hardly sounds appetizing – but hear us out.
There’s good reason to believe that marijuana may follow in the footsteps of ginger, beetroot pomegranate and more, and become the world’s latest superfood. In raw form, cannabis is not psychoactive, so can safely be a part of your diet. Incredibly rich in nutrients, a small kick of raw cannabis in your smoothie is sure to pack a punch.
Still unconvinced? Here are 10 benefits to eating raw cannabis.
1) No psychoactive effects
Recreational cannabis users tend to be all about the THC content and the psychoactive properties of a plant. However, when its raw, marijuana doesn’t deliver any psychoactive effect – or “high – at all.
Prior to heating and curation, marijuana is infused with many more acids. The drying and curing process converts THCA to THC, which in turn enhances its psychoactivity.
But eating raw leaves or juicing up fresh bud allows a user to enjoy the medicinal properties of cannabis in whole-plant form, without having their cognitive functions inhibited. Eating raw cannabis is no different to eating any other popular herb. That cannabis and cannabis-based products can now be administered in a non-psychoactive manner has given the industry a massive boost.
2) Cannabinoid acids
With the cannabis plant containing more than 400 individual compounds, with over 100 of them unique to marijuana (these are known as cannabinoids), it’s no surprise that the herb has a plethora of therapeutic properties. Recent studies have found that there are chemicals in other plants that have similar traits to cannabinoids, but they are no alternative to the real deals, which are present in both cannabis and industrial hemp.
THC, the famous psychoactive chemical, is a cannabinoid; as is the new star medical compound CBD. But the marijuana plant doesn’t produce THC at will. In fact, it’s tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) that’s the chemical on the plant while its in raw form.
THCA becomes THC by either aging, or the cannabis plant being heated. There’s potential for aged THC and various other activated cannabinoids to be found on the marijuana bud, however most will be in cannabinoid acids. A growing number of people believe that these cannabinoid acids could have plenty of medicinal benefits of their own.
Preclinical research has identified antispasmodic and antiproliferative properties in THCA. The acid also has the ability to activate TRPA1, a cell receptor that has importance influence in controlling nervous-system related pain and inflammation.
CBD has also been tested in its raw acid form. Studies have found that CBDA and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs link to the same receptors, possibly making raw cannabis a substitute medication. The TRPA1 receptor is also activated by CBDA, enhancing the analgesic effects of raw marijuana.
3) Healthy fats
You can get the benefits of raw cannabis without having to eat leaves or flower. Cold pressed hemp oil and raw hemp seeds are also full of important fatty acids. The industrial hemp plant is a wonderful source of natural omega-3, which promotes good brain health and development. Rich in linoleic acid, hemp oil helps to keep skin and hair in top condition.
You can purchase raw hemp seeds on the internet or at your local health food store. If you’re making pesto with cannabis leaves, then adding some raw hemp seeds offer a nutritional boost. Inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema could also be treated with hemp oil, according to preliminary research. Regular consumption of hemp oil may also tackle arthritis symptoms.
It can take a while to get to grips with medical cannabis and finding the appropriate cannabinoid profile for you. Too much THC and the psychoactive effects may be mentally overpowering, too much CBD and the sedating effects may overwhelm you physically. Taking too much THC can also cause paranoia and anxiety.
When dosing with CBD and THC, an average dose of either is in the region of 10mg. However, when consuming raw cannabis, the dosages of cannabinoid acids that the body takes in are much greater. This effectively lets you enjoy the health benefits of THC at higher potencies, and still not have to worry about ending up baked.
Put simply, dosing with raw cannabis is a lot easier, and virtually eliminates the chance of having a negative marijuana experience.
This means that you can consume large amounts of nutrient-packed raw cannabis without any of the unwanted side effects typically associated with the smoked or heated herb.
The most common way of eating raw cannabis is by whizzing up leaves and buds in a juicer. But choosing to eat the leaves raw or mixing them into a smoothie is a great way of bringing more fiber to your diet. Perhaps add some cannabis leaves to your next salad – after all, they’re just another leafy green! Having lots of fiber in your diet is vital to keeping your digestive tract operating smoothly. It also helps to encourage a nourishing microbial community.
Microbes in the intestines are responsible for breaking down fiber. The human body is extremely reliant on these microbes, and the maintenance of the internal ecosystem is essential for promoting a healthy immune system and tip-top mental health. A diet full of fiber helps these microorganisms to remain alive and well-regulated.
However, raw cannabis leaves are not for everybody, and some users find that they irritate the stomach. If this sounds like you, then perhaps consider either processing your leaves in either a smoothie-maker or a juicer. This will keep some of the fiber infused, while making digestion much easier. A vegetable smoothie is the ideal blend to throw raw cannabis into, but you could also use the leaves as a garnish, or as an ingredient in homemade pesto.
6) Additional terpenes
If there’s one downside in heating cannabis to smoke it, vape it or simply decarboxylate it, it’s that some terpenes can be lost in the process since they activate and burn at low temperatures. If you’re intent on heating cannabis for the activated THC and CBD, then there’s not much you can do. However, if you would like to sample these “hidden” terpenes, then simply eat your cannabis raw.
Terpenes are the compounds that are responsible for the wonderful, pungent aromas of cannabis. No two strains smell the same, and that’s thanks to the eclectic mix of terpenes. For example, linalool, an anti-convulsant and calming terpene has a beautiful lavender-like aroma. Lavender is sometimes used in sleep aid products, and linalool is also infused with qualities that enable you to doze off.
The majority of cannabinoids and terpenes have a similar boiling point – in the region of 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat your flower too much and you’re at risk of losing some of the crucial cannabis compounds that make a strain what it is. Raw cannabis, however, helps you to maximize your strain, and enjoy all of the cannabinoid acids and terpenes that it has to offer.
Green plants are renowned for being loaded with vitamins and minerals, and cannabis leaves are no exception. Expect to find the following in a typical leaf:
- Iron – helps transport oxygen through the blood
- Vitamin C – vital for immune function
- Vitamin K – helps reduce blood clots and promotes calcium absorption
- Calcium – promotes strong bones
- Folate – repairs DNA
You’ll also find cannabinoid acids in cannabis leaves, which have their own health benefits. For a balanced, healthy lifestyle, the consumption of a variety of leafy greens, including cannabis leaves, is essential.
It’s also important for the body to take in fatty acids – in the right quantities. This helps to maximize the nutritional value of cannabis.
Cannabis leaves that take shades of purple, blue and deep red are even better for eating than standard cannabis leaves. That’s because they are rich in anthocyanins, natural flavonoid compounds responsible for the strong coloring of red raspberries, plums, blackberries and more.
Extensive research and a review from 2004 have found that anthocyanins act as a health protectant. They are thought to be antioxidants and help stop damage to DNA. Anthocyanins can modulate the body’s immune response, warn off hormone-dependent illnesses and, in the right dosages, improve vision.
Marijuana’s glut of antioxidant compounds are well-documented – both CBD and THC, the power cannabinoids, are potent antioxidants. An antioxidant helps to protect the body from stress-caused damage. Raw marijuana is also rich in antioxidants, and a clever way of sneaking an anti-aging serum into your diet. You’ll get the nutrients and the therapeutic effects, without any of the high.
10) Chronic pain relief
Much more research needs to be carried out before we will have a definitive answer to how cannabis can help with pain relief, and just how potent an analgesic the herb is. However, it appears that cannabinoid acids have similar properties to their activated counterparts, and that they are much more effective than aspirin, ibuprofen and other over-the-counter options.
Patients with fibromyalgia and the inflammatory condition arthritis are turning to raw cannabis juice in their droves to help manage the chronic pain they have to deal with on a daily basis.
Juicing veggies is already recommended for arthritis patients, but the addition of some beautiful cannabis leaves provides an extra health kick. Sure, a smoothie without cannabis will still be packed with helpful nutrients, but the unique cannabinoid acids that can only be delivered through cannabis leaves take the therapeutic possibilities of “green juices” to another level.