Anyone lucky enough to be able to cultivate cannabis can also take advantage of the potential benefits of cannabis roots. With a little effort and perseverance (and some trial and error) it’s even possible to select a variety of strains to be used alone or in combination, to make balms with a range of potency and uses. Typically, cannabis roots are dried prior to processing. The dried root mass is broken into small chunks and ground into powder (pestle/mortar or blender). Once the dried root is roughly powdered it is added to a slow cooker (crock pot) along with oil and water and gently heated for up to 12 hours, allowing the volatile compounds (including terpenoids and cannabinoids) to dissolve in the oil. The water prevents the mixture from drying out or ‘frying’ the roots (check hourly and add water as required). Once heating is complete, the liquid is strained and the residual root pulp frozen for processing a second time. The liquid is then frozen to separate the oils from the water; volatile oils will rise to the surface and can be scraped off as a semi-solid. At room temperature the oil will liquefy and have a smooth, translucent appearance. Once all the oil has been separated from the ice, it can be reheated and beeswax added to achieve a more spreadable consistency at room temperature. Trial and error is the best way to establish the desired consistency. Aromatic essential oils can be added to the mixture to improve the fragrance or enhance the medicinal properties; bergamot for cold sores and psoriasis; chamomile for eczema, dermatitis and inflammation; neroli for scars and stretch marks; or black pepper for muscle aches, cramps and arthritis.
The cannabis root is the most underutilized and underestimated part of the plant. People don’t usually pay any attention to it, but it does have its share of purposes and benefits. We already make use of almost every single part of the plant: leaves, seeds, flowers, resin, fiber. Given that, it’s still kind of hard to believe that we might have missed something along the way. During historical times though, this was very different. Cannabis root was highly valued by our ancestors as they used them for medicine in animals as well as humans.
The Roots Of Root Therapy
Hemp root was first recorded in Chinese medical literature some 5,000 years ago. The document states that the juice of hemp root is an effective diuretic. It was used by ancient Chinese to stop hemorrhage in women after they gave birth. Aside from medicinal uses, other Chinese literatures also document the use of hemp root in manufacturing gunpowder.
Around 77-79 CE, the Roman historian named Pliny published known uses of hemp root in his book Natural Histories. He said that when hemp root was boiled in water it was useful in treating joint stiffness as well as gout and similar disorders. Pliny also wrote that raw hemp root could be applied topically to soothe burn wounds.
Between the 9th and 18th CE, manuscripts in Azerbaijani also documented the popular uses of hemp roots as a decoction to treat wounds and cure fevers. It was particularly used by the local Azerbaijani to treat toothaches, ulcers, and abscesses.
Throughout history there have been other little known documented uses of cannabis root. While herbal uses from the ancient and medieval times have survived to present day, it seems that the numerous useful properties of cannabis root aren’t mentioned as often as other plants. But that doesn’t diminish the value of the humble hemp root.
Medicinal Value of Cannabis Roots
Cannabis roots contain too little THC and CBD to even be used for those purposes but analysis of its chemical compounds show why the root was considered such an important healing and anti-inflammatory herb in ancient times.
Cannabis roots are made up of lipids and sugars. It contains low levels of compounds that have its own important medicinal benefits. The ethanol extract of hemp root contains terpenes that have the following health benefits:
Friedelin: antioxidant and protects the liver;
Epifriedelanol: can prevent the growth of tumors;
Pentacyclic triterpene ketones: can kill cancer cells, reduce inflammation, acts as a diuretic, and reduces bacteria
The alkaloids found in cannabis roots have the following benefits:
Piperidine: used by pharmaceutical companies as a chemical building block to create medicine used in psychiatry
Pyrrolidine: also used by pharmaceuticals as a building block in the manufacture of stimulant medications
Small quantities of choline as well as atropine are also present in cannabis roots. Choline is an essential nutrient that plays an important role in maintaining health cell membranes. Post-menopausal women are at high risk for a choline deficiency, so they can benefit from consuming cannabis root tea. Atropine on the other hand is used to relax the eye muscles, can be used to increase heart rate during resuscitation, and it also has bronchodilatory properties.
Modern Day Uses
Many of today’s growers and even dispensaries make preparations using cannabis root to provide relief from a multitude of disorders. You can easily make home-brewed cannabis root tea by placing dried, powdered hemp root in a slow cooker for 12 hours. Anise, cinnamon, and other aromatic herbs can also be added especially if you aren’t fond of the taste of pure hemp. Once it’s done, strain the tea and drink.
Cannabis root is also used in many tinctures and liniments which are applied directly to the skin. A dry, powdered form of the root can be used as a poultice to soothe skin disorders such as dermatitis, cuts, and burns. Cannabis root used in salves, oils, and balms can also be used to treat herpes, blisters, pimples, acne, arthritis, hemorrhoids, dysmenorrhea, asthma, sore throat, colds, headaches, tension pains, migraines, and chronic inflammation of the larynx.
If you’re already growing your own cannabis at home, don’t throw out the roots so that you can maximize the many wonderful medicinal benefits of this underutilized part! You can even choose a to combine the roots of different strains or use them alone to create balms and salves made out of cannabis roots. Just remember to always dry the roots prior to processing them. Once dried, break them into chunks and then use a mortar and pestle or blender to grind it finely into a powder. Add it to a slow cooker, put some oil or fat, and let it simmer for 12 hours.
Check out these 10 things you probably never knew about cannabis roots!
#1) Long history of medicinal usage
The first recorded use of cannabis root as medicine dates back to roughly 2700 BCE in Shennong pên Ts’ao ching. Translated as The Classic of Herbal Medicine, this ancient Chinese text mentions that cannabis root was a remedy for pain relief. Dried and ground up to form a paste, the treatment was frequently used for broken bones.
In 79 CE, the Roman historian Pliny the Elder wrote in Naturalis Historia that cannabis root was boiled in water for joint cramps, gout, and acute pain relief.
In the early 18th century, English physician William Salmon echoed these claims with a cannabis root and barley mixture for treating sciatica and pelvic joint pain. Needless to say, using cannabis roots is in, well, our roots.
#2) Liver-protecting properties
While the research is limited, in 1971 it was determined that ethanol extract of cannabis roots contain friedelin.
Considered to be an antioxidant, friedlin is thought to have hepaprotective (liver-protecting) properties.
#3) Variety of topical applications
Did you know it is possible to make lip balm from cannabis roots? How about a soothing and healing paste? Dried cannabis roots can easily be incorporated into countless topical applications, which can be infused with olive or coconut oil as well as different essential oils for added healing.
#4.) Reduces Inflammation
Up to the turn of the 20th century, physicians in the United States recommended decoctions of hemp root for treating inflammation. The secret behind the practice? It may have to do with the fact that cannabis roots contain several pentacyclic triterpene ketones. These compounds are praised for their antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects.
#5.) Eradicates cancer cells
The pentacyclic triterpene ketones in cannabis roots are also thought to cause apoptosis, or programmed cell death, in cancer cells. Though the research is minimal, cannabis roots may prove to possess effective cancer-fighting properties.
#6.) Promotes healthy cell membranes
Cannabis roots are also shown to have small quantities of choline. Water-soluble, choline is believed to be an essential dietary nutrient that is a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine – vital to the development and maintenance of healthy cell membranes.
#7.) Strain-specific treatment options
The practice is in its infancy stages, but cannabis roots may also have varying properties depending on strain. Although we still have a lot to learn here, the potential for future remedies in this space is huge.
#8.) Cannabinoids present
Did you know cannabis roots contain trace quantities of cannabinoids? The concentration is minimal in comparison to buds or flowers but compounds such as CBD are existent in the roots.
#9.) Used to stop bleeding
Cannabis roots can be dried, ground and boiled for use as an anti-hemorrhagic to stop bleeding. This was particularly useful for post-partum bleeding after childbirth in the ancient world.
#10.) Soothes inflamed, burned, or irritated skin
Experiencing troubled skin? You may want to try applying dry cannabis root. The Greek medical writer Oribasius wrote that dry cannabis root could be used for treating skin eruptions when mixed with pigeon droppings. While you may want to hold off on the guano, raw crushed cannabis roots have shown to be effective for treating a variety of skin conditions.
Soaking your freshly harvested marijuana leaves in cold water for five minutes and then juicing them with some lemon, apples, carrots, beets or other vegetables is an extremely easy and incredibly healthy way to make the most out of your cannabis leaves. Juicing your cannabis leaves won’t transform the raw THCA acid into the psychoactive THC cannabinoid that will get you high. However many patients love experiencing the health benefits without the euphoric high by juicing ganja leaves.
Dr. Courtney: Cannabis and Psychiatry
Doctor William L. Courtney has a solid medical education. After obtaining the Doctorate in Medicine at the Wayne State University (USA) and doing his internship at the Psychiatry Medical Center of California, he obtained his post doctorate on legal medicine. Dr. Courtney is currently member of the American Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine, the International Association of Cannabis as Medicine, and the Society of Clinical Cannabis. Furthermore, he has also teaches Continuing Medical Education courses in clinical cannabis . A favorite research field of this American doctor is the daily use of cannabis, with a 250-500mg intake of phytocannabinoids in the form of non-psychoactive acid, which the doctor considers to be essential nutrients. During the last years, Dr. Courtney has shown his investigations to many other doctors; during his speech Cannabis Therapeutics in Rhode Island – April, 2010 – at the Institute of Molecular Psychiatry of Bonn – June, 2010 – at the Institute of Advanced Studies of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem – November, 2010 – or in his speech at the International Cannabinoid Research Society in Chicago – July, 2011.
Dr. Courtney is also vice-president of the Association Luxembourgeoise des Méthodes Préventives, that use his recipes for making raw cannabis juice. He also works with those cannabis dispensaries that want to offer cannabis juices to all their therapeutically users with serious diseases. He has also started several medical research laboratories in California
Kristen Peskuski, first patient healed with raw cannabis juice
Dr. Courtney’s most interesting story is about his wife Kristen Peskuski. Kristen suffered from Systemic Lupus Erythematosus for many years, an autoimmune disorder that damages the connective tissues of several organs. When her health status greatly improved after consuming raw cannabis juice every day, they were confident that they had found a viable treatment for certain chronic diseases. Kristen used to take about 40 medicines every day, while today she only takes them occasionaly, for some specific symptoms.
Although her gynecologist was skeptical at the beginning – even hostile of the idea of using cannabis as medicine – he subsequently stated: “It is a miracle, a story that deserves being told”. After a medical evaluation, the gynecologist carefully studied Kristen’s expedient to verify her previous health state. On the basis of her medical history, he claimed that Kristen “was about to die…and any medicine eminence could help her, could neither know what was happening nor how to proceed. That’s why they contacted Dr. Courtney, who saved her life.” Courtney initially prescribed her dry marijuana capsules, and then he gave her raw cannabis juice.
Doctors had told Kristen that she could never have a baby, however, she gave birth to a healthy girl without any medical intervention or treatment for pain. Nowadays, Kristen and her daughter are healthy, strong and radiant. Kristen Peskuski truly believes that cannabis saved her life; she tells that “when I take marijuana juice, I feel more focused, more alert. I breathe better. I have neither heartburn nor gastric disorders, I don’t feel muscle weakness or pelvic and back pains. Now that I feel good, my aim is to help other people with the same problem than mine, so they have all the information on raw cannabis juice.”
Dr. Courtney shares his wife’s passion for helping other people with cannabis and states: “I’m happy to know that my patients don’t need medicines anymore, which caused them ulcers, stomach hemorrhages or liver injuries, that pain and anti-inflammatory medicines usually cause. We believe that spreading this information is worth fighting for. Why deprive someone of reducing the risks of a tumor, a heart attack or diabetes?”
Doctor Courtney continues: “Go and visit Amber; at age 2, she was diagnosed with an end-stage brain tumor. With the classic treatment, she had a 10% chance to survive. After surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, tumors were still developing; the doctors recommended Amber’s parents to take her home and wait for what’s inevitable. A month later, Amber’s parents started to notice a change. Tumors were decreasing in size and number; the family had started to make juice with raw cannabis leaves, giving the child a few milliliters every day.
The fact that such an important institution like the National Cancer Institute has recently recognized the anti-tumor properties of cannabinoids shows that the situation is progressing at the highest level.
Composition and therapeutic properties of the raw cannabis juice
In natural form, cannabis is a super-nutrient, rich in essential nutrients capable of preventing and healing many diseases, since we can not sensitize these essential nutrients: essential fatty acids, essential amino acids, fibers, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, flavonoids, carotenoids, terpenes,…without forgetting the renowned phytocannabinoid acids.
Cannabis is a concentrate of essential nutrients and cannabinoids in acid, non-psychoactive form.
Humans have an endogenous cannabinoid system that controls many cell functions. 525 different molecules have been identified in the cannabis plant. Some of them act as modulators, facilitating the regulation of the cell physiology of the endeogenous cannabinoid system. The main component found in raw cannabis plants is THCA, which – along with other phytocannabinoids – interact with the immune system. Recently harvested cannabis plants also contain cannabinoids in acid form: THCA, CBDA, CBGA…which are non-psychoactive.
Patients become euphoric with THC doses between 10 and 20mg, while they can take complete doses – 200/1000mg – of other non-psychoactive cannabinoids. Many patients don’t tolerate THC due to its psycho activity, which interferes with their daily activities, even when it does improve several symptoms. When cannabis is ripe or heated, cannabinoids decarboxilate, what reduces the tolerable dose from 2000 to 10mg. The result is the loss of the anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and anti-proliferation – anti-cancerous – properties of cannabinoids.
THCA is a potent agonist of TRPA1 receptor, and antagonist of TRPM8 receptor (Source: JPET),what could explain its analgesic action, taking a prominent role in the treatment of prostate cancer. THCA has also anti emetic properties (Source: NCBI) and protects dopamine neurons from degeneration, what could be a great help for Parkinson treatments (Source: NCBI).
CBDA has the same properties than THCA in both TRPA1 and TRPM8 receptors, but it is also agonist of TRPV1 receptor and inhibitory of COX-2 (ciclooxigenase-2), an enzyme complex that has a very important role in inflammations. CBDA also has the potential of fighting against the mutation of tumoral cells (Source: NCBI), which are highly invasive in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells (Source: NCBI). CBDA has also influence on 5-HT1A serotonin receptors, what could partially explain its anti-nausea properties (Source: NCBI).
Acid cannabinoids CBDA and CBGA are known for being strong antagonists of GPR55 pro-inflammatory receptor (Source: JBC). Thus, cannabinoid acids have anti-inflammatory properties 2 to 4 times more efficient than cannabinoids in neutral form, which have been studied for the last 30 years.
We can still highlight another interesting property of acid cannabinoids: the acid carboxylic group is hydrophile, what means that these acid cannabinoids are partially soluble in water compared to decarboxylated cannabinoids – THC, CBD… – which are not.
The N° 6 630 507 United States patent states that some cannabinoids have useful therapeutic effects, which are not activated by cannabinoid receptors and, consequently, don’t have psychoactive effects. Furthermore, this absence of psychoactivity allows very high doses without non-desired side effects.
Dr. Courtney claims that these cannabinoids help the regulatory system of our body to be more efficient. In summary, they are nutrients that help to better regulate the performance of our 210 types of body cells. We are not talking here about their use as a medicine, but simply as essential nutrients.
The best way to spread this message is to have good information and to know what one is talking about. One of the first reactions when speaking of using Cannabis is identifying it with its psychoactive effects. Cannabis in natural form is not psychoactive, since THC is in acid form, THCA. This THCA can be decarboxylated to psychoactive THC over time, drying, ripening, storing and/or because it is heated by combustion, vaporization, cooking.
Doctor Courtney continues: “If you heat the plant, you get decarboxylated THCA – THC – and you will have psychoactive effects with only 10mg of THC. If it is not heated, you can take from 500 to 600mg of THCA, use it as essential nutrient and enjoy the antioxidant and neuroprotective properties that these high doses offer you.
This spectacular increase of the dose – from 10mg of psychoactive THC to 500-600mg of non-psychoactive THCA, CBDA, CBGA – explains the main difference between traditional medicinal cannabis and this new alternative daily use of cannabinoids. However, other substances of the plant, such as aromatic molecules , may affect mood or energy levels.
Cannabis is an incredibly complex plant, whose synergistic components are still not totally catalogued and studied. Meanwhile, it is up to every consumer to identify the most suitable strain to improve his/her health.”
The proportion of cannabinoids varies from one cannabis plant to another; however, we still don’t have studies or analysis about which parts of the plant contain more or less specific cannabinoids. For this reason, it seems that the most recommendable way to consume it is using the entire plant, leaves and flowers.
There are currently on the market different strains rich in CBD . The ideal CBD dose per person is 5-20mg per Kg of body weight. For a person weighing 70kg, ( 155lb.), 7gr of 5% CBD cannabis is needed for a dose of 5mg of CBD per Kg of body weight, while 35gr of 1% CBD cannabis will be needed to consume the same amount of this therapeutic cannabinoid.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a potent antioxidant for lipids, more efficient than vitamin E. That is why it is so useful for preventing diseases caused by alcohol and radiations, as well as CNS – Central Nervous System – diseases (myelopathy, encephalopathy), since CBD is capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier and so acting as antioxidant on brain neurones. CBD also has antiepilectic, antiproliferative and antidystonia properties.
Decarboxylation of CBDA to CBD needs a slightly higher temperature than decarboxylation of THCA to THC. Therefore, if you want to transform the CBDA of a plant to CBD, you will also have to transform THCA to THC.
The average THC dose for those who don’t have problems with its psycho activity is from 10 to 20mg. If we make a juice of a 10gr ripe cannabis bud with a 1:1 THC/CBD ratio (5%) we will get up to 500mg of THCA and 500mg of CBDA. If this juice is accidentally heated, a 500mg THC dose will we achieved, that is to say, approximately 50 times the needed dose to feel high!
Raw Cannabis juice preparation and conservation tips
Consuming cannabis in natural form is the only way to enjoy all the benefits of the plant. Extracting its juice is the best way to use cannabis as nutrient , but it is also possible to chew and swallow recently harvested – fresh – cannabis buds and leaves.
Using a juice extractor is highly recommended when processing a large amount of leaves, while a blender will be perfect for shredding buds. Using a blender for the buds instead of a juice extractor reduces the loss of cannabinoids, since these are attached to the juice extractor filter.
Before extracting their juice, it is recommended to clean the leaves and soak them in cold water for 5 minutes. Check that all leaves are perfectly clean before soaking them, even if they were grown orcanically. If our plants received any kind of phytosanitary treatment (insecticides, fungicides, acaricides,…) they are not suitable for making cannabis juice.
Buds have higher concentration of cannabinoids than leaves, and therefore are an excellent method of consumption if one has sufficient supplies. Both leaves and buds are extremely beneficial, but combining them is ideal. Cannabis buds must have their trichomes of white/milky color, there should not be any amber. You can use plant’s leaves either in their growing or flowering stage.
Male plants – from regular seeds – hermaphrodite plants or even all the trimming can be used to make raw cannabis juice. The main difficulty to supply ourselves with raw cannabis juice during all the year is, obviously, having enough green matter for the whole year. It would be perfect germinating one cannabis seed every day so, over time, we can harvest one plant every day.
To ensure that his patients consume 250-500mg of acid phytocannabinoids every day, Dr Courtney recommends taking care with plants grown too close to indoor bulbs or other possible heat sources. Sometimes, when plants are too close from HPS bulbs , the heat produced by the lighting system can decarboxylate THCA to THC. This could also happen in outdoor plants when they reach their flowering peak and the climate is too hot, although it is not usual.
If you want to process an entire plant, or a large amount of green matter, you should allow to cool your juice extractor from time to time. If your extractor is too hot, it may produce decarboxylation of cannabinoids during the extraction, what will make the juice to be psychoactive; a cup of hot marijuana juice is equal to several tens of joints.
The taste of raw cannabis juice is strong and “green”, so it is recommended to mix it with other fruit juices or foods: lemon juice, yogurt, oil from hemp seeds , fresh fruits and vegetables, garlic, turmeric and other spices, which will be the perfect supplement for cannabis juice. Dr. Courtney claims: “I started to make cannabis juice with carrots. I took 4 every morning, and 4 more every afternoon, but after taking carrot juice for several months my skin was starting to turn orange. That is why I now use broccoli and beet“.
Usually, patients start taking 1-3mg of fresh ground buds to ensure that there are neither allergic reactions nor psychoactivity. Once accustomed to this dose, it can be progressively increased from 10 to 15gr of fresh, raw cannabis buds every day. As a supplement, consume about 30gr of fresh leafs every day, even more if you have sufficient plant production .
The juice will be more efficient if we divide it in several intakes, since our body eliminates it very fast, aproximately 50 minutes after its assimilation by the intestinal tract. If we have 300ml of raw cannabis juice, we will make 5 intakes of 60ml during the day, every 3-4 hours. Keep the juice with ice and shake it before using it, so the fatty acids are evenly distributed in the watery part of the juice.
Doctor Courtney warns those patients with kidneys and gall bladder problems that cannabis juice in natural form poses some risks. Cannabis juice is not recommended for hypercalciuria or hyperoxaluria. Finally, doctor Courtney points out that patients consuming medicines whose efficiency could be decreased by grapefruit or pomegranate juice should inform their doctor before starting a diet with cannabis juice; the same happens if patients use anticoagulants (like Coumadín). Most leaves from plants contain large proportions of vitamin K, which can impede the liver to metabolize these medicines.
According to Dr. Courtney, some effects of the raw cannabis juice may appear 3 days after the first intake, while others can take a few weeks. We must consume raw cannabis juice from 4 to 8 weeks before noticing its beneficial properties, since phytocannabinoids are slowly accumulated in fatty tissues, just like liphophilic vitamins (A, D, E, K).
Mariellen Jurkovitch, director of the Humbolt Patient Resource Center, notices a great improvement in the patient’s health. She states that smoking marijuana lessened the pain of several patients and improved their life quality, but that she could not actually observe a true improvement in their health; raw cannabis, in its natural form, changed her point of view. She claims that while making the juice and cleaning the extractor means a lot of work, “people that do it love it, because they can see results“.