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A Dietitian’s Perspective on Cannabis

December 26, 2013

Cannabis can save the world. A bold statement perhaps, but potentially true nonetheless. As a dietitian, when I look at the cannabis plant, I first see its nutritional value as a vegetable, loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. I also know that essentially cannabis is hemp, and hemp hits a home run every time when it comes to nutritional value (among its other thousands of industrial uses).

A quick nutritional summary of hemp:

  • Great source of complete protein
  • 100% vegan
  • Dairy-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Easy to digest
  • High in healthy Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids

Wow — what a power house!

As a holistic healthcare professional, I recognize and highly respect the diversity of cannabis in its uses as a medicine to heal and repair both the body and the mind. It is my opinion that cannabis may not only be the best medicine, but also the most nutritious plant known to humankind thus far.

The Nutritional Health Benefits of Raw Cannabis

While the exact nutritional profile of cannabis has yet to be determined, it seems safe to assume that the cannabis plant, including the seeds, is most likely just as nutritious as hemp, if not more so.

What’s being discovered now is the nutritional power and overall beneficial health effects of raw cannabis. Raw cannabis is not psychoactive unless heated, and it contains powerful disease-fighting compounds known as cannabinoids. Of these compounds, the most frequently studied are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD).

When used just as you would any other vegetable (in a smoothie, salad, sauté, juiced), cannabis appears to provide some pretty awesome health benefits. You may have heard of Kristen Peskuski-Courtney, a woman who struggled with multiple chronic illnesses which left her all but debilitated. After years of pharmaceutical intervention to no avail, her health dramatically improved through the power of raw cannabis juicing. The man behind this method of ingestion is Dr. William Courtney, a medical doctor and huge promoter of the “raw greens” cannabis movement.

From Dr. Courtney:

“Whether Sativa, Indica, Ruderalis, male, female, hermaphrodite, native, feral, bred for fiber, seeds or medicinal resin, cannabis is the best source for [beneficial cannabinoids]…Over 50 patients have used only [cannabinoids] to put their cancer in remission; and over 150 have found symptomatic relief.”

What does that tell you? What it says to me is that there is some powerful research being done and treatment methods being delivered out there to very sick patients, and they are all based on raw cannabis.

Dr. Courtney has researched the benefits of raw cannabis and has come to the following conclusions:

  • Smoking cannabis may not treat the disease, only the symptoms
  • Therapeutic levels of cannabinoids are better achieved through ingestion
  • When cannabis is heated or burned, the chemical structure of the plant compounds are changed, specifically the acidity of THC, which alters its ability to be therapeutic
  • Raw cannabis activates the brain’s cannabinoid system, which triggers an antioxidant release
  • These antioxidants act as a “cleaner” and remove damaged cells from the body
  • Raw cannabis improves the efficiency of the cells in our body
  • Creating oils, butters or eating the raw plant is the best way to get the necessary beneficial compounds

Looking to incorporate more “green” into your daily diet? If you’re interested in exploring the benefits of raw cannabis, here are some tips and recommendations:

  • Raw cannabis can be used every day, multiple times a day by anyone of any age.
  • Raw cannabis is not intoxicating unless it is heated, meaning there are no worries of mental or physical impairment after consuming
  • Raw cannabis can be added to smoothies, juices, and salads
  • Like any other herb or seasoning, ground up raw buds can be sprinkled on top of soups, stews, oatmeal, yogurt, or pudding
  • Juicing specifically takes a lot of material; Dr. Courtney suggests 20-30 big shade leaves or 2-3 raw buds (2-3 inches in length) per day for therapeutic benefits
  • Having your own garden at home is helpful as access to this quantity of raw product may be difficult or illegal in your state.

photo credit: Food Thinkers via photopin cc

  • Syreth

    Cannabis, a plant, is a vegan food? Wow, I didn’t know that. I thought they only ate meat.

    • DC Hale

      Vegan’s don’t eat meat, or any meat by products, such as milk & butter etc.

      • Syreth

        Ha ha, yeah, I was just being sarcastic about them saying that cannabis is “100% vegan” as if it isn’t obvious.

        • Jo Qatana

          It’s also gluten free! How convenient.

  • Jo Qatana

    How much whole raw cannabis would one have to juice to get a quart of raw cannabis juice?

    • Eat Me

      I can tell you 20 large fan leaves gives you about about 2 tablespoons of juice.

  • ZandarKoad

    Be warned, raw cannabis CAN absolutely get you high, if it is juiced and mixed with citric acid (such as blending oranges and cannabis leaves together). The citric acid rapidly decarboxylizes the THCA, turning it into psychoactive THC.

    So… good news for those who want that sort of thing, and a word of caution to those who wish to avoid it!

    • Crystal Sluka

      What would citric acid do to aged raw cannabis CBN turn to? It erases my high in 20 mins? Lemonade does. I’m no pro but that happens to me.

      • ZandarKoad

        I’m not exactly sure if you are asking or telling, but people who experiment with raw, fresh cannabis are rare. Thanks for sharing! Hopefully we’ll know more about raw & fresh usage personally ourselves soon.

        • Crystal Sluka

          I was asking? because I know it stops me from getting high or extremely
          sleepy from cbn aged cannabis, it stops it right away and I become not
          tired or high. or is it a sleepy high from cbn? lol

        • davejamesshaver

          Ive been ingesting it for over a year now😘

      • Desmond Meintjes

        Very interesting question. I have heard of lemons being used to reduce the effects of cannabis- one remedy even from the 1920’s. An interesting side note is that the most psychoactive cannabis plants- i.e. strong sativas generally contain way more limonene than indicas…. Perhaps the timing of the limonene ingestion has a lot to do with it. As zandarkoad says – you can get very high from raw cannabis mixed with OJ, whether or not the limonene in the oranges adds to the effect can be easily tested by just using citric acid and comparing the strength to the orange/ lemon mix.

    • Semein Washington

      This is my first time hearing about this. I’ve been thinking, either when legalization comes to me or me to it, that I would much rather grow plants for rosen and food rather than combustion. I always thought I would have to use heat and lipids to activate THC and now you teach me this.

    • Phoenixxxxx

      Thanks for the heads-up! I actually quit smoking it over 15 years ago because i didn’t like the high side effect (i only used it after 4+ hrs of dance training and then again a few puffs before bed for insomnia). Now in my *older* age I’m finding my back is no longer as indestructible as it used to be, so i want to start using again for the anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects (as i did back in my ballet years). Chiropractic is great for keeping my bones loose, but does nothing for inflamed, overworked and seizing/spasming muscles. Icing doesn’t work, either – i’m on ice already for the third time today with no relief.

      • roddie1111

        Look into boron / walter last. I take it every day – arthritis gone – feel better than I did in high school. I’m 49.

    • roddie1111

      Cannabis has killed no one in 5000 years. Humanity’s companion plant is the most healing.substance in human history. Amazing no one ever speaks to alcohol…..the worst substance in human history. Thanks for the uninformed fear mongering.

  • Crystal Sluka

    I eat 1tsp a day raw weed for a year and now I can walk and try to learn again y’all 😱🙌 so plz give it to your sick kids raw weed no smoking unless u have ticks like I do where u act crazy and cuss lol. Yes great sleep aid is aged CBN raw weed 1tsp weed daily. Amen🙋

  • Jarett Ross

    I’m doing school project on Legalizing Cannabis and I wanted to know if the author Jessica Aragona is credible, please respond

    • Susie Mmpatient

      Google her.

  • Andy Shotts

    I’ve been juicing whole raw flower with pineapple, bananas, mango, blue/strawberries, spinach and apple cider vinegar. I don’t notice anything other than the “green rush” like I get from wheat grass shots. My partner, however, says it gets her noticeably high. I juice early in the morning, and never burn until after dinner, if I was experiencing any psychoactive effect I would know.

  • pawl55

    I have noticed that people are very confused about this. it is a simple vegetable that if you eat will heal and protect you. as for citrus juice i am skeptic and maybe these are very potent strains of cannabis that zandarkoad is talking about or already cured.. I have studied this alot lately and want to try but there is no supply for Raw Cannabis here so SOL for me and many people in need of it here.

  • Gerald Wonnacott

    A schedule 1 drug, cannabis research is hard to come by.
    Anecdotal stories, while certainly uplifting, is not proof.
    Hopefully, we will start seeing published, peer reviewed research. For now, I use it to get high. I’ll stick with known nutritionally loaded foods – berries, tree nuts, dark leafy greens, fruit, cold water fish! Down the road – perhaps…