Raw cannabis may be the next frontier in medical marijuana. While the benefits of activated cannabinoids, especially THC and CBD, are becoming better understood, researchers are only beginning to investigate the effects of cannabinoids in their raw, acidic form, such as THCA and CBDA. However, some doctors and their patients claim that raw cannabis can be a powerful medicine as well as a valuable dietary supplement.
How is raw cannabis different?
When a marijuana plant is growing or freshly harvested, its cannabinoids are still in their acid form. This is the form in which they exist until they are decarboxylated, which happens with heat and age. This is why if you’ve ever tried eating raw plant or extract, you probably didn’t get high; tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), the raw, or acid, form of THC, has very little to no psychoactive effect.
What are the advantages of using cannabis raw?
Because THCA does not have nearly the psychoactivity of THC, patients can tolerate much higher doses of marijuana in its raw form. While most people will feel an effect from 10 mg of activated THC, it’s possible to consume hundreds of milligrams of THCA in a single dose with no high. This is a tremendous advantage for patients with serious or chronic illnesses that benefit from very high dosages.
Researchers have just begun to investigate the health benefits of THCA and CBDA. So far, both are thought to have powerful cancer-fighting and anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, THCA has been found to protect brain cells, ease nausea, stimulate appetite, and modulate immune function. CBDA is capable of slowing the growth of bacteria and may also help to stimulate appetite and combat nausea. Future research is essential to fully investigate these and other potential benefits.
How do you get raw cannabinoids?
There are a few different ways you can consume raw cannabinoids. Some extractors produce unactivated tinctures and oils, which contain high levels of THCA and/or CBDA. Mary’s Medicinals offers a THCA patch that works in much the same way as a nicotine patch, delivering the active ingredient through the skin.
Patients who have access to large amounts of fresh or frozen cannabis have the option of juicing the plant, a method highly recommended by Dr. William Courtney of Cannabis International Foundation. Dr. Courtney attests that he has served approximately 8,000 patients who have benefitted from consuming raw cannabis, whether juiced, pureed, or chopped as a vegetable. He offers the following suggestions for those who wish to try juicing:
- Harvest when trichomes are still clear rather than amber
- Juice 15 leaves and two 2”- 4” raw buds per day.
- Cannabis juice is quite bitter, so it’s best mixed with other ingredients.
- Split your juice into 3 portions, and consume one with each meal.
- You can refrigerate raw cannabis juice up to three days in a tightly sealed container.
If you choose to juice fresh or fresh-frozen cannabis, keep in mind that you will lose some trichomes in a juicer, especially when using buds. You’ll be able to keep more cannabinoids, terpenes, and other good stuff in your drink if you puree the buds rather than juice them. If you can’t take the plant matter in your beverage, however, you may want to minimize your loss by juicing only leaves either saving your buds for smoking or using them to make bubble hash, which you can also consume raw.
Want to learn more about how cannabis works in the body to deliver its unique combination of psychoactive and health effects? Check out our free eBook on the endocannabinoid system. Just click below to download! Nature’s Gift Shop in Pueblo West serves adults over 21 with any valid state ID. Come in and ask us about our non-activated cannabinoid products, including the Mary’s Medicinals THCA patch.
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