The Therapeutic And Dietary Benefits of Eating Raw Cannabis
Cannabis is as much a vegetable as many of the plants we throw in our food every day. In fact, weed qualifies as a superfood in its own right! Packed with beneficial phytochemicals rarely found elsewhere, raw cannabis flowers and leaves add a healthy punch to salads, smoothies, and juices. Discover the benefits of eating raw cannabis below.
Discover the benefits of eating raw cannabis.
Move over kale and spinach—marijuana is the new superfood! When we get down to the root of the situation, cannabis is technically a vegetable, even though it’s not often viewed as such. Most cannabis users are familiar with the effects of smoking, vaping and consuming edibles, but have you ever wondered if eating raw weed leaves is ok? From a nutritional perspective, cannabis packs a plethora of healthy molecules, including:
The thought of chewing through a pile of fresh buds and leaves might be a turn-off. However, they can be used in nourishing salads and juices that are surprisingly pleasant on the palate.
Benefits of Eating Raw Cannabis
Smoking, vaping and cooking weed all affect the chemical composition to some degree. Some of these changes create beneficial chemical reactions, whereas others are detrimental. Many of the vital molecules within cannabis—namely terpenes and cannabinoid acids—are volatile and sensitive to high temperatures. Consuming raw cannabis keeps these compounds in their natural state, allowing users to access those phytochemicals that disappear or change when smoked.
Consuming raw cannabis enables users to stimulate their endocannabinoid system—a regulatory network that keeps the body in balance—without getting high or having to inhale anything in the process. Raw cannabis could very well become a popular functional food of the future.
Raw cannabis contains very different molecules to those inhaled after combustion or vaporisation. THC, CBD and other cannabinoids don’t actually exist in raw cannabis. Instead, they’re packed with their chemical precursors—cannabinoid acids. Cannabinoid acids feature a carboxyl group that is lost after being exposed to heat, a process known as decarboxylation. For example, non-psychoactive THCA converts to psychoactive THC, and CBDA converts to CBD.
Cannabis scientists have discovered that these chemicals possess their own unique benefits compared to their post-decarboxylation counterparts. Check out the below lists of properties to learn what the main cannabinoid acids have to offer.
- Binds to CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system
- May relax an upset stomach
- Stimulates the production of endocannabinoids
- Has soothing properties
- Aids the functions of the nervous system
CBDA  :
- Boosts endocannabinoid production
- May elevate the mood, more so than CBD
These aromatic molecules underpin the signature scent of cannabis. Not only are they responsible for the delicious flavour of certain strains, but they also modulate the cannabis high through the entourage effect  . Different terpenes interface with different cannabinoids to augment their effects.
Terpenes also produce effects entirely on their own. For example, limonene  and myrcene  induce a relaxing response that can enhance the feeling of wellbeing.
Because terpenes are volatile and degrade at high temperatures, you won’t enjoy nearly as many when you smoke. However, raw cannabis flowers are chock-full of these fascinating molecules. Consuming cannabis raw keeps terpenes in their natural state. Researchers are still figuring out exactly how terpenes survive digestion, but we know at least some of these molecules make it through into the blood.
Flavonoids usually fly under the radar when it comes to weed-related discussions. Cannabis smokers are often more preoccupied with cannabinoid and terpene profiles. The flavonoids, however, are a significant factor . These diverse phytochemicals are found in a range of superfoods, from kale and broccoli, to berries and tea.
Flavonoids play an important role in cannabis plants. These pigments colour plant tissue in order to attract pollinating species, and also to protect plants from UV rays and pathogens. Specific flavonoids found in cannabis include:
- Cannflavin A
- Cannflavin B
These often overlooked phytochemicals offer an impressive array of potential health benefits,
- Antioxidants effects
- Supports the heart
- Can help clean arteries
This impressive chemical profile shows cannabis is as healthy as any other vegetable, making it a perfect addition to any salad, smoothie or juice.
What Qualifies as Raw Cannabis?
Just like any other raw vegetable, raw cannabis means the buds and leaves are fresh and untampered with. Prior to being exposed to heat, these parts of the plant maintain their natural biochemistry and offer a different experience to smoking and cooking weed. Even letting cannabis dry and sit for too long will degrade cannabinoids and terpenes. In turn, it could possibly reduce the benefits received from consuming freshly picked flowers and leaves.
To classify as raw cannabis, these parts should not be:
- Smoked or vaped
Can You Get High From Eating Raw Cannabis?
So, would munching on these leaves get you high? In short, No.
See, fresh, raw cannabis doesn’t contain THC, but is instead packed with THCA. That cannabinoid acid only converts to psychoactive THC after heat-induced decarboxylation. THCA can also break down into THC through exposure to UV rays and ageing—though these buds aren’t truly “raw”.
Potential Downsides of Raw Cannabis
Of course, eating almost any food raw comes with an element of risk. When it comes to cannabis, chowing down on raw leaves can expose diners to potentially harmful bacteria—both salmonella and E. coli have been found on cannabis samples. Some growers also use chemical pesticides on their crop to keep pests at bay. Although effective, these substances can leave a residue behind on flowers and leaves that tastes awful and hurts our bodies
To make sure you stay safe when consuming raw cannabis, only consume cannabis you know hasn’t been treated with these chemicals. In turn, make sure it hasn’t been grown with the help of potentially harmful products like manure.
Methods of Consumption
The sheer diversity of consumption enables cannabis smokers and vapers to enjoy a huge assortment of pipes, bongs, extracts, concentrates, vaporizers and bubbles. The same level of variety makes consuming raw cannabis just as pleasant and fun. Far from chewing on raw leaves—though an easy and surprisingly tasty option—consuming raw cannabis takes many forms. Check out some of the most popular methods below.
Smoothies provide a tasty and easy way to load up on phytonutrients. Add raw cannabis flowers and leaves to your smoothies for a dose of cannabinoid acids and terpenes. Throw in some tropical fruits, berries and ice for unrivalled taste and freshness. Check out the Royal Queen Seeds’ cannabis smoothie for a recipe that will light up your taste buds and endocannabinoid system simultaneously.
At Royal Queen Seeds, we consider juicing the best way to consume raw cannabis. This method concentrates all of the good stuff—cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids—while leaving the unnecessary (and sometimes difficult to digest) fibre behind. Use freshly harvested raw cannabis to make a powerful shot of phytochemicals, or add the juice into smoothies.
Who said salads have to be boring? Thinly chop some fresh cannabis leaves and sprinkle them into a bowl loaded with spinach, onions, radishes, olives and peppers. Add some chicken or sunflower seeds for extra protein and crunch, and tuck in!
Don’t forget about the seeds! Hemp seeds are loaded with nutrients, and add a moreish nutty flavour to any dish. Sprinkle them onto pasta, salads, puddings and even cereal. These little spheres of goodness pack high levels of omega fatty acids, essential amino acids, calcium, iron, and fibre!
Cold-Pressed Hemp Seed Oil
Lastly, cold-pressed hemp seed oil condenses the benefits of hemp seeds into a tasty oil. Use this delicious oil for cooking, or add a dash over salads for that lovely nutty taste.
Did you know that cannabis is technically a vegetable? You can use it in salads and smoothies for a hefty dose of cannabinoid acids, terpenes and flavonoids.
Eating raw weed
In case you haven’t noticed, cannabis edibles have come a long way since the stem-laden brownies of yesteryear. The legal cannabis industry, until recently flush with investment capital, has come up with myriad new ways of eating weed.
Gummies, cookies, capsules, mints, chocolates, hard candies, and even beverages — all infused with THC — can now be found at dispensaries in legal jurisdictions. Cannabis edibles have become so popular that sales of food and drinks containing THC in the United States and Canada could top $4 billion by 2022, according to data from Arcview Research.
But are all of those edible products really necessary? Do you really have to fork over your hard-earned cash to buy edibles or spend valuable time making them? If you can get your hands on some tasty nugs, why go through all the hassle? Can eating weed by itself get you high, and what are the benefits of gobbling some green?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. The fact is, live cannabis plants and freshly-harvested marijuana flowers have little-to-no THC. Instead, this herb is high in THCA (or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid), an unactivated form of THC that is non-intoxicating. To get you high, the THCA must be converted to THC, which can be accomplished with the addition of heat in a process known as decarboxylation. The THCA is converted naturally when pot is smoked or vaped thanks to heating it upon inhalation. Edibles made with cannabis flowers or concentrates also have to be decarbed in order to get you lit. Even dried and cured buds, which undergo some decarboxylation as they age, still contain mostly THCA.
Another reason eating weed won’t get you high is because, by itself, THC has little bioavailability. Unless the THC molecules are infused into alcohol or fat (such as butter or oil), or are processed to make them water-soluble, they aren’t going to be absorbed by the body when eaten. Womp womp.
But even though eating weed won’t get you conventionally stoned, there are benefits to consuming raw flower.
What Are the Benefits of THCA?
Eating weed is a thing. In fact, consuming fresh and fresh-frozen cannabis is becoming a bit of health craze. Even though THCA isn’t psychoactive, it still has beneficial properties for health and wellness. Many medical marijuana patients prefer formulations with THCA for times when getting lit on their medicine isn’t appropriate.
Research shows that THCA has several benefits that warrant further study. In 2013, researchers determined that cannabinoids including THCA might slow the growth and spread of some cancer cells. Another study in 2012 found that both THC and THCA can act as neuroprotectants that promote brain health. And, research in 2011 found THCA has anti-inflammatory properties.
Fresh cannabis is also rich in terpenes, minor cannabinoids, flavonoids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Raw cannabis is also high in fiber, protein, and amino acids.
So, Is Cannabis a Food?
Dr. William Courtney is a physician and a member of the International Cannabinoid Research Society, the International Association of Cannabis as Medicine, the Society of Clinical Cannabis, and the American Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine. He views cannabis not as a medicine, but as a necessary component of a healthy diet.
“You only need it as a medicine when you have forgotten it is food,” Courtney told Fox News (an admittedly shady outlet. ).
Courtney believes that ingesting raw cannabis nourishes the endocannabinoid system, which helps regulate biological processes throughout the body.
“I believe this plant, having evolved over millions of years, is put together to support that system,” he said. “It’s clear that this plant is incredibly important for cell health, which at its best prevents disease.”
Courtney suggests that his patients consume cannabis, either fresh or fresh-frozen, as a regular addition to their diets. Fresh cannabis can be ingested by juicing, blending into smoothies, or chopped and added to salads or other recipes.
“When it’s consumed as a leafy green vegetable, you get the whole profile of the plant,” he said. “My experience day in and day out is overwhelmingly positive with patients who are using it.”
So, Where’s the Proof?
One of those patients is Katie Marsh of Madawaska, Maine, who uses fresh cannabis to treat rheumatoid arthritis. She was looking for a way to treat her condition without using the powerful pharmaceuticals that are typically recommended, which can come with dangerous side effects.
“I white-knuckled it through the pain and only took pain killers when I absolutely needed them,” Marsh said.
Then she went to see Dr. Courtney, who helped her determine which cannabis strains were most likely to help her. After getting a bag of fresh cannabis from a local grower, she started juicing weed daily, mixing it into a fruit smoothly to make the taste more palatable.
“I saw results very quickly. Within a matter of a couple of days I was able to stop the prednisone and ibuprofen,” she said. After 11 months, although she was still experiencing pain in her feet from damage caused by her condition, the disease was in remission.
So while it’s true you can’t get high from eating weed, you still might want to give it a try if you use cannabis medicinally. It might be just what your body needs to help it get back on track.
There are many ways to consume cannabis and get high. But will eating dank nugs get you stoned and improve your health, or is it just a waste of weed?