Juicing Cannabis: Medicine without the High
The act of juicing leafy greens like kale and spinach may not come as a surprise to many of you, but have you ever thought about juicing raw cannabis? Believe it or not, cannabis is one of the most nutritionally complete food sources known to man. And what many don’t realize is that raw cannabis, which simply is freshly harvested material as opposed to dried or cured, delivers therapeutic effects without the traditional ‘high’, similar to CBD. I will help you understand the benefits of consuming raw cannabis and how to do so effectively.
What's so Great About Cannabis?
Simply put, cannabis is powerhouse of a vegetable. The seeds alone contain fatty acids (Omega-6, Omega-3, Omega-9, and stearic & palmitic acid), protein, vitamins (A, B1, B2, B6, C, & E), and minerals (like iron and calcium). In its protein, it contains all known amino acids, including those most important to the human body; those which we cannot synthesize on our own. Juicing leaves extracts vital antioxidants, minerals and elements found in other rich leafy greens (such as kale) like calcium, iron, potassium, carotenoids, zinc and selenium. In terms of plant phytochemicals stored in the leaf tissue and trichome heads, the cannabis plant has more variety and abundance than almost any other species on earth. It shares beta carotene with carrots, limonene with lemons, and high levels of anthocyanins with blood oranges/cherries. Anthocyanins are known to be a non-narcotic but highly effective analgesic. In addition to its nutritional value, raw cannabis also contains the terpenes and cannabinoids (in their acidic form) that provide nearly all of the therapeutic effects associated with cannabis.
What are the Benefits of Raw Cannabis?
Raw cannabis is rich in plant-derived cannabinoids and essential nutrients capable of preventing and healing many diseases. Specifically, raw cannabis juice has been used to treat autoimmune disorders like Lupus, severe arthritis, and even brain tumors. In your daily life, it can boost your energy level, enhance your health, ease your pain, and more. Other known benefits to regular consumption include reduced inflammation, gastrointestinal relief, and decreased muscle pain and soreness.
Raw cannabis juice activates the brain’s endocannabinoid receptors and triggers an antioxidant release, removing damaged cells from the body. For those who are unfamiliar, nearly every human and animal on earth has an endocannabinoid (EC) system responsible for managing a vast range of physiological processes including mood, memory, pain-sensation, and appetite. The EC receptors are found in the brain, organs, connective tissue, glands and immune cells – all throughout the body. Our bodies naturally produce endocannabinoids to drive all those functions, but we've discovered that cannabis is also capable of stimulating our EC receptors and boosting our well-being.
The primary cannabinoids found in raw cannabis are THCa and CBDa - the ‘a’ designating they exist in their non-psychoactive, acidic form. Given that THCa is non-psychoactive, it can be metabolized in much larger doses than THC, making it an attractive option for those seeking the powerful medical benefits without the traditional cannabis 'high'. The key here is that raw cannabis leaves allow for administration of therapeutic levels of cannabinoids without sending you to the moon. For a full list of the medical benefits associated with each cannabinoid, click here.
How to Juice Cannabis
You don't need to go crazy with the extra ingredients. My recipe is simple, delicious, and designed to compliment the cannabis flavors with a refreshing, organic taste. Feel free add your favorite fruits and vegetables to achieve your preferred juice blend.
30 grams of raw, fresh cannabis leaves (or 10-15 grams of raw, fresh cannabis buds)
½ of a Lemon
1 Piece of ginger (based on personal preference)
Assuming you have access to raw, fresh cannabis material, the act of juicing it is relatively simple – just follow our visual guide.
Use a Masticating Juicer
Masticating juicers (aka cold pressed juicers), use a slower, crushing and squeezing action as opposed to centrifugal juicers, which use sharp teeth and high speeds to spin pulp around in its chamber. This is an important distinction as the high speeds associated with centrifugal juicers cause heat, which can inadvertently convert your THCa into THC. This process of converting cannabinoids in their acidic (non-psychoactive) form to their activated (psychoactive) form is known as decarboxylation, and is accelerated by heat. Although masticating juicers are more expensive than centrifugal juicers, they are twice as efficient and effective when it comes to extracting the juice from leafy greens. You may as well get the most out of your plants!
Select the Appropriate Strain
You should select a strain with a cannabinoid profile that is effective in treating your specific symptoms or ailment. What I mean is that certain combinations of cannabinoids are more effective at treating Lupus, while a different combination may be more effective for treating those that suffer from seizures. Not sure where to start? Check out my guide detailing the therapeutic benefits of each cannabinoid. Any and all of the cannabinoids can be combined for synergistic relief – this is known as the entourage effect. The good news is that even if you only have access to high-THC strains, juicing the plant allows you to extract a cannabinoid-rich juice with no risk of psychoactivity.
Use Raw, Freshly Harvested Plant Material
The important part here is that you use raw, freshly harvested plant material as the decarboxylation process begins to occur immediately after harvest. Recently harvested cannabis can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few weeks. You can juice nearly any part of the cannabis plant; the colas (male, female, or hermaphrodite), leaves, and even the seeds. Please note that the colas, or buds, have a higher concentration of cannabinoids than the leaves. Either part of the plant can be used alone, but a combination is ideal. Leaves can be taken in either the vegetative or flowering stage of the plant’s lifecycle. The plant material should appear green and healthy, without evidence of mold or pests. I recommend using only plants that were grown organically. If using plants grown with synthetic nutrients, please ensure that they are properly ‘flushed’ prior to juicing. I recommend avoiding plants that received potentially toxic foliar sprays (insecticides, fungicides, etc.).
Wash the Fresh Cannabis
It is recommended that you wash the plant material prior to juicing.
You can soak the leaves and/or colas in cold water for a few minutes and then drain the water.
Juice the Plant Material
It’s finally time to turn on the masticating juicer and run the plant material through it. The specifics of this process will depend on the model of juicer you are using.
Typically, the juice comes out of one side, while the pulp and fiber is released separately.
Save or Consume
As a general rule of thumb; the raw cannabis juice is best if consumed immediately following the extraction. However, it can also be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days or frozen into ice cubes and stored in the freezer for several months. The raw juice has a strong, bitter, leafy green taste; therefore, I recommend combining the cannabis with the juice of other fruits and vegetables.
How much do I consume?
Dr. William L. Courtney, the foremost specialist on raw cannabis juice, recommends you start with a small taster dose (a sip of juice) to ensure there are no allergic reactions or psychoactivity. Once accustomed, he recommends progressively increasing the dose to 10-15 grams of fresh, raw cannabis buds each day as a supplement. For reference, this would equate to roughly 30 grams of fresh leaves. These plant material weights coincide with Dr. Courtney’s suggested daily intake of 250-500mg of plant-based cannabinoids in the form of non-psychoactive acid.
Can I combine cannabis with kale/spinach/other leafy greens in my favorite juice recipe?
Yes! As long as you are using a masticating juicer, feel free to add cannabis juice to any and all recipes.
Where can I access raw, fresh plant material?
The best source of freshly harvested cannabis is a personal garden. If this isn’t an option, I recommend contacting your local dispensary or caregiver. Both dispensaries and caregivers are willing to work with these patients, as commercial gardens produce significant quantities of fan leaves that can be harvested at any time in the plant’s life cycle.
Does Juiced Cannabis Contain CBD?
This will all depend on the specific strain of starting material used. Unless you are working with hemp or a known high-CBD strain, chances are there are only trace amounts of CBD in the juice. Each strain of cannabis contains different ratios of cannabinoids; some of which get you ‘high,’ others of which are non-psychoactive. I can help you learn about the therapeutic benefits of CBD and how it can aid in athletic recovery.
- Cannabis is a powerhouse of a vegetable that everyone should consider
- Juicing allows you to add the benefits of cannabis to your diet without getting high
- Use fresh, raw cannabis in a slow-speed, masticating juicer