With a degree in English Literature and an Advanced Diploma in Business Administration, Alex became a freelance business writer for seven years. After seeing the shockingly positive impact of medical marijuana on a close member of his family, Alex took an interest in writing about cannabis. He soon shifted his focus to cannabis content, of which he has been writing for the past three years.
The benefits of raw cannabis aren’t fully understood. While we know of its medical uses, we’ve barely had a chance to look at the nutritional benefits. Believe it or not, there is much more to marijuana than getting high or – more recently – CBD.
Some might say that the benefits of raw cannabis lack any solid research – and they’re right. But keep in mind, experts said the same thing about medical marijuana, yet look where we are now. People from all walks of life now use medical marijuana with the full support of their doctors.
However, raw cannabis works very differently. If you’re unhappy or uncomfortable with conventional marijuana use, eating it in its flower form might be the best choice.
Before we continue, however, it’s important to note that “cannabis” is a genus of plants. This includes both the high-inducing marijuana (cannabis sativa) and the non-impairing hemp (cannabis sativa L.).
Since hemp has been a dietary staple for some time, the topic we want to address specifically refers to eating raw marijuana. We will, therefore, be using “cannabis” and “marijuana” interchangeably.
What Happens if You Eat Weed?
Marijuana is best-known for its ability to get people high. The high varies depending on the strain and its potency, but the drug’s euphoric effects make it particularly popular. But there’s a huge difference between raw cannabis and regular cannabis products.
But to answer the question – no. Raw cannabis will not get you high. How does this work? It’s a matter of simple chemistry.
THCa vs THC
Pretty much everyone knows about tetrahydrocannabinol (THC); however, THC wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA). THC, in fact, doesn’t even exist on its own in raw marijuana.
Instead, it remains hidden in an acidic form (hence the “acid” part).
This is because THC is the product of a chemical reaction. When you apply heat from a vaporizer or flame to the dry herb, it converts the THCA into THC through a process called “decarboxylation”.
What About CBD and Other Cannabinoids?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is the latest craze. Like THC, it exists in as an acid (CBDA) in raw cannabis. In fact, the same goes for all the cannabinoids. The application of heat is what turns them into active cannabinoids.
Raw Cannabis as a “Superfood”
When most of us picture marijuana, we don’t typically think of food (unless it’s the munchies). In recent years, health enthusiasts coined a new term, known as “superfoods”. While initially a trendy buzzword, the American Heart Association now recognizes them.
They clarify that superfoods alone will not miraculously improve health; however, “…adding these nutritious foods to an already balanced diet can bring health benefits”.
What is a “Superfood”?
Most superfoods are plants, with a few including fish and dairy. Basically, they’re very nutrient-rich – more so than your average food. But it’s important to note that, while many products carry that badge of honor, dietitians don’t have an actual food group assigned to them.
The list of superfoods simply grows as laypeople and experts add more to the list. That being said, it’s important not to let clever marketing and wordplay determine what we consider to be healthy or unhealthy. Instead, we need to evaluate foods based on what they demonstrably carry – and that includes raw cannabis.
What Nutrients Make Raw Cannabis a “Superfood”?
Raw marijuana is so full of nutrients, that we sometimes wonder how they all fit into that tiny package. While the seeds tend to contain the biggest reservoir of healthy compounds, every part of the plant is good for you. Let’s have a look at the main nutrients found in raw cannabis.
Fatty acids are a crucial component of any good diet. There are two major types that nutritionists recommend: omega-3 and omega-6. Raw cannabis just happens to contain both.
These compounds play a critical role in keeping our body in working order. They include:
Maintaining a healthy nervous system
Keeping thyroid and adrenal glands in good shape
Proper production of hormones
Maintaining blood pressure
Immune system support
Help reduce cholesterol
Maintain healthy skin
Carbohydrates may have received a bit of negative press in the last few years, especially with low-carb diets being seen as miracles. But the truth is that carbs are important, as long as they’re not sourced from processed grains. Fortunately, cannabis contains plenty of healthy carbs.
Carbohydrates are a very important part of our daily diet. Some of these key functions include:
You don’t have to be a nutritionist to know what these are. Vitamins and minerals are concepts adults hammered into our heads since elementary school – with good reason. There are some seriously critical vitamins and minerals in raw cannabis.
Vitamin C – provides immune system support
Vitamin K – helps absorb calcium and promotes blood clotting
Iron – repairs DNA and prevents anemia
Folate – improves the flow of oxygen through the bloodstream
Calcium – essential for bone maintenance and prevention of osteoporosis
Antioxidants play a key role in maintaining health and preventing some serious diseases. Specifically, they combat the effects of free radicals, which are responsible for a plethora of serious health issues. These include problems like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Reported Medical Benefits of Raw Cannabis
While medical marijuana continues to receive mounds of research, raw cannabis is barely a footnote in the scientific community. Consequently, we know very little about its benefits beyond simple nutrition; however, one doctor’s testimony provides anecdotal evidence that definitely warrants investigation.
Dr. William Courtney
Today, Dr. William Courtney is known for his advocacy and creation of the “raw cannabis movement”. Prior to embracing cannabis medicine, he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology from the University of Michigan. He then went on to receive his Doctor of Medicine at Wayne State University.
Courtney also interned for his Residency in Psychiatry from California Pacific Medical Center, followed by a Post Doctorate in Forensic Medicine. Dr. Courtney’s education and experience more than establish his credibility, making his advocacy for cannabinoid medicine particularly compelling.
Dr. Courtney’s devotion to the raw cannabis movement was spurred on by the unexpected health changes his wife experienced. Kristen Courtney suffered from several ailments. As a teenager, she developed lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, bladder issues and cervical cancer.
Making matters worse, she also had to live with constant infections and hypothyroidism, leading to 40 medications per day, along with 16 surgeries to date.
Mrs. Courtney began using marijuana for pain control, but soon found that her use also coincided with a reduction in her chronic infections. Later, she discovered that the beneficial contents of cannabis were even more present when consumed raw.
After starting a raw cannabis regimen, she experienced dramatic improvement after just six weeks. Eventually, her immune system strengthened considerably, her serious conditions all but vanished and she even became pregnant, despite being told that she would never have children.
Sadly, there is no real scientific research to confirm just how far-reaching the effects of raw cannabis could be for patients on a large scale. Hopefully, Dr. Courtney’s findings and his wife’s recovery will eventually give raw cannabis the attention it deserves.
Eye-opening Videos about Raw Cannabis
Other Medicinal Effects of Raw Cannabis
While curing diseases may not have a ton of scientific support, we know that cannabis – raw or otherwise – helps patients deal with a lot of symptoms. This is due to the cannabinoids and terpenes, which are known to aid with a variety of medical issues.
Before we get into this, however, we need to take note of one important fact. According to Dr. Courtney, the compounds in raw cannabis do not provide instant relief. They need time to build up in our fatty tissue.
This means it could take four to eight weeks before you see improvement. If you need immediate relief from the following health problems, stick to oil drops, smoking or regular edibles, along with raw cannabis, until enough time elapses.
Individuals use marijuana to help reduce inflammation, despite the fact that the terpenes and cannabinoids are weakened by combustion or decarboxylation. In their raw form, these compounds are much more effective.
Several different terpenes in cannabis possess anti-inflammatory properties. Caryophyllene and limonene, for instance, are known to help with inflammation. CBDA is also particularly effective in this regard, so consuming raw marijuana advertised as high-CBD is essential.
Alternately, you can always eat hemp, which is made up of over 99% CBDA.
Certain terpenes also offer pain relief. Myrcene and caryophyllene are known analgesics. Best of all, they’re among the most common terpenes found in cannabis. Limonene, although less common, is another terpene to watch for.
A lot of people use marijuana for anxiety. Smoking typically works well for handling immediate symptoms – assuming the strain is correct. But consuming the right terpenes in their raw form provides steady benefits in the long run.
If you suffer from anxiety, look for strains that contain myrcene, caryophyllene, limonene and linalool. All of these are known to have anti-anxiety properties.
Similarly, CBDA is also effective at controlling anxiety symptoms.
Depression is another reason many people use cannabis – raw or otherwise; however, like with anxiety, you need to choose your strains carefully. If smoking the wrong terpenes makes your issue worse, then you’d have to conclude that the same goes for raw cannabis over time.
Out of all of the specific medical conditions, we can say with confidence that cannabis definitely has curative properties. While there’s no actual cure for epilepsy (aside from surgery in rare cases), marijuana’s effectiveness is well-established.
We know that CBD helps treat cases of severe epilepsy – specifically Lennox Gastaut Syndrome and Dravet Syndrome; however, research into more common forms of epilepsy are weak or non-existent. Nonetheless, individuals who suffer from these conditions can greatly benefit from raw cannabis in addition to CBD and other treatments.
There is one other player, though – a terpene called linalool. While it has other functions, it is the only known terpene with actual anti-seizure properties. Unfortunately, it’s also harder to come by.
But if you suffer from any form of epilepsy, linalool is the one terpene you need to find.
Getting the Most Out of Your Raw Cannabis
Now that we know the many benefits of raw cannabis, the next thing to consider is how to consume it. Methods vary, but you don’t have to be an expert chef to make the best of your raw herb. Let’s see what options we have.
1. Straight Leaf
Let’s start simple. If you want to eat raw cannabis with essentially zero effort, then just eat the leaf. You can easily purchase plants at a dispensary or grow them yourself.
Cannabis leaves are known to taste fairly bitter, so popping them in your mouth might not be enjoyable. But you can always toss the leaves into a salad or onto a sandwich. Basically, just pretend they’re lettuce and use them accordingly.
Speaking of salads, you don’t have to make them an addition to your favorite ranch or Caesar. Just make a salad with those leaves as a primary ingredient. Toss in some other vegetables and top it with some dressing.
It’ll taste different than what you’re used to in a regular salad, but keep experimenting until you find a combination that suits your preferences. You can also add some nutrient-rich hemp seeds as a crunchy topping.
3. Salad Dressing
Salad seems to be a recurring theme here, but we promise this will be the last time we mention it. Dressing can make or break a salad, but sometimes that added flavor comes at a huge cost. Creamy ones, like ranch, Caesar or Thousand Islands are full of calories and sugar.
Instead, try grinding down the leaves using a grinder or food processor. Mix them with some balsamic vinegar or olive oil and you have a healthy cannabis salad dressing.
This may sound weird, but cannabis has a peppery taste. Some strains actually have a jalapeno-like flavor, making them perfect for salsa/.
Adding them to salsa is that it really helps mask the taste, assuming you’re not a fan. Not to mention you can snack on corn chips and still feel like you’re a health enthusiast.
Juices and smoothies are said to be the best, most effective way to make the most out of your raw cannabis. According to Dr. William Courtney, the body has an easier time absorbing nutrients in liquid form. He recommends 15 leaves and two dried ground buds per day.
However, make sure you get rid of the stems, as Dr. Courtney warns they can irritate your throat.
You’ll need a juicer in order to pull this off, but the devices are easy to come by at any department store. You don’t have to break the bank either, as many good models are available for under $100 USD.
When to Eat and When to Heat
In light of what we understand, it may seem pointless to smoke, vape or infuse cannabis into edibles when all you have to do is eat it or juice it raw. But there are instances when heating is the best option.
The main reason you would want to smoke or vape marijuana is because the effects are instant. The cannabinoids go straight through your lungs and into the bloodstream, which is essential for relief from things like pain, nausea, anxiety, depression and insomnia.
Another thing is that if you want to consume cannabis in the form of baked goods, candies, topicals and other common products, then you have no choice but to use heated cannabis. While you don’t smoke these products, all of them underwent decarboxylation. This is necessary in order to infuse the cannabinoids into a carrier oil.
Why Just Eat?
Heating is the only way to get high or provide edible variety; however, these methods erase a huge benefit, specifically nutrition. As we’ve established, raw marijuana can be a superfood.
But if you smoke the herb, it eliminates the nutrition aspect – not to mention it’s not exactly good for your lungs. Even if you consume it in regular edibles, most of these are sugary and unhealthy alone. They also lack the many nutrients in raw herb.
A second major benefit of eating raw is that there’s no need for developing cannabis tolerance to reach the right dosage. Its particularly beneficial to people who dislike getting high.
From a medical standpoint, raw cannabis offers gradual benefits that build up over time, whereas heating is a quick fix to alleviate immediate symptoms.