Have you ever wondered what would happen if you ate raw cannabis leaves? Spinach and kale are popular choices when looking for leafy greens in our diet. So, what about cannabis leaves? In this article we’ll take a dive into the many nutritional benefits of Cannabis.
Typically, people use other ways of ingesting cannabis such as smoking it, using CBD oil, or consuming edibles. However, there might be a benefit to actually eating the cannabis leaves raw. Cannabis leaves provide a similar benefit to many other leafy greens, such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The vitamins and minerals include iron, folate, vitamins K and C, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, potassium, selenium, and calcium. Iron helps to get oxygen in the blood and throughout the body. High fiber foods aid the body with digestion while Vitamins like Folate are needed for DNA repair within our cells and help to regulate cell processes, cell division, and cell energy production. Add that to the many health benefits of cannabinoids, terpenes, and antioxidants… and I believe we have a superfood here.
Anti-aging Properties of Cannabis
One great nutritional benefit of Cannabis is amino acids. Because our body does not produce them itself it is very important that we eat nutrient dense foods that contain healthy doses of Amino Acids. Examples of these are arginine and lysine. These two amino acids help with cell structure, transporting nutrients, and fixing damaged tissue. The plant also contains polyphenols and an ideal proportion of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are considered to have antioxidant properties. Selenium is also thought to have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are thought to help boost the immune system, work against the aging process, fight cancer, and help heart health because they decrease the number of free radicals in the body. One rule to remember is, like many other colorful fruits and veggies, cannabis contains anthocyanins which In addition to acting as antioxidants and fighting free radicals, anthocyanins may offer anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti–cancer benefits. This is one of the many reasons I love purple colored Cannabis.
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Another component of the leaves is chlorophyll. As cannabis is dried, the chlorophyll amount decreases. Chlorophyll is the component in plants that cause them to have their green pigment. When ingested, chlorophyll is popular for being a “detox” for your body. Reportedly, it helps stop damage to our DNA and refreshes the cells in our body to start a healing process.
So how can you get these benefits?
You would have to eat the leaves as you would eat kale or spinach – through smoothies, juicing, or even in salads. Eating vegetables, and in this case, Marijuana, raw is the best way to gain the maximum nutritional benefits of Cannabis. Not frozen cannabis juice/leaf cubes cubes, not cooked cannabis, it must be raw. Although, the above mentioned is, of course, the next best set of options. I’d recommend starting with eating small amounts and increasing it, a little at a time. It is important to note that since the leaves do contain Vitamin K if you are taking the blood thinning medication warfarin (Coumadin) you will need to consult with your physician about eating them. For the most part, you do not have to avoid vitamin K when taking warfarin, you just have to be consistent with the amount you eat daily so it does not affect your blood levels. To access raw leaves, you would have to live in a state where it is legal to buy a plant but it is very important to purchase your leaves from a trusted supplier using organic practices for the best results.
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Will it get you high?
For those of you wondering if eating the raw plant will get you high – the short answer is no. The cannabis plant is made up of cannabinoids, which when ingested can bind to receptors in your body and stimulate their effects. The two most popularized cannabinoids include THC and CBD. These come from their acid precursor forms, which are in the raw plant. These acidic forms do not cause any psychoactive effects. THCa (THC acid) and CBDa (CBD acid) are the forms that exist in the raw plant and when it gets heated, they turn into the more familiar forms, THC and CBD. Although these forms are more studied we are learning more every day of the many benefits of consuming the many cannabinoids available in raw cannabis.
THCa seems to have more evidence than CBDa, but its benefits include anti-inflammatory effects. Inflammation can cause many problems such as pain, auto-immune diseases, cancer, and other health issues. Therefore, anti-inflammatory agents can help people manage these complications. One study from the Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin showed that THCa might work similarly to a drug class called NSAIDs. These are drugs like ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve). Therefore, it may help support pain relief. Another study from International Immunopharmacology showed that THCa might inhibit TNFα, a protein in the body that signals inflammation. Therefore, it could decrease inflammation in the body.
It is important to note that these studies are still in the early stages and more studies need to be conducted before we can have conclusive evidence. However, as more research is performed, THCa could prove to play a bigger part in the cannabis industry. Other areas that are being researched include nerve damage such as Parkinson’s Disease or Alzheimer’s disease, prostate cancer, and helping decrease nausea and vomiting. The amount of research is expected to grow, especially with increasing legalization.
All in all, it seems that consuming cannabis leaves as a part of a daily diet may have many benefits and its research seems extremely promising! Step aside Kale, the new “superfood” has arrived.