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The Therapeutic And Dietary Benefits of Eating Raw Cannabis

Cannabis is as much a vegetable as many of the plants we throw in our food every day. In fact, weed qualifies as a superfood in its own right! Packed with beneficial phytochemicals rarely found elsewhere, raw cannabis flowers and leaves add a healthy punch to salads, smoothies, and juices. Discover the benefits of eating raw cannabis below.

Discover the benefits of eating raw cannabis.

Move over kale and spinach—marijuana is the new superfood! When we get down to the root of the situation, cannabis is technically a vegetable, even though it’s not often viewed as such. Most cannabis users are familiar with the effects of smoking, vaping and consuming edibles, but have you ever wondered if eating raw weed leaves is ok? From a nutritional perspective, cannabis packs a plethora of healthy molecules, including:

  • Protein
  • Fibre
  • Antioxidants
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals

The thought of chewing through a pile of fresh buds and leaves might be a turn-off. However, they can be used in nourishing salads and juices that are surprisingly pleasant on the palate.

Benefits of Eating Raw Cannabis

Smoking, vaping and cooking weed all affect the chemical composition to some degree. Some of these changes create beneficial chemical reactions, whereas others are detrimental. Many of the vital molecules within cannabis—namely terpenes and cannabinoid acids—are volatile and sensitive to high temperatures. Consuming raw cannabis keeps these compounds in their natural state, allowing users to access those phytochemicals that disappear or change when smoked.

Consuming raw cannabis enables users to stimulate their endocannabinoid system—a regulatory network that keeps the body in balance—without getting high or having to inhale anything in the process. Raw cannabis could very well become a popular functional food of the future.

Cannabinoid Acids

Raw cannabis contains very different molecules to those inhaled after combustion or vaporisation. THC, CBD and other cannabinoids don’t actually exist in raw cannabis. Instead, they’re packed with their chemical precursors—cannabinoid acids. Cannabinoid acids feature a carboxyl group that is lost after being exposed to heat, a process known as decarboxylation. For example, non-psychoactive THCA converts to psychoactive THC, and CBDA converts to CBD.

Cannabis scientists have discovered that these chemicals possess their own unique benefits compared to their post-decarboxylation counterparts. Check out the below lists of properties to learn what the main cannabinoid acids have to offer.

  • Non-psychoactive
  • Binds to CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system
  • May relax an upset stomach
  • Stimulates the production of endocannabinoids
  • Has soothing properties
  • Aids the functions of the nervous system

CBDA [2] :

  • Non-psychoactive
  • Boosts endocannabinoid production
  • May elevate the mood, more so than CBD

Terpenes

These aromatic molecules underpin the signature scent of cannabis. Not only are they responsible for the delicious flavour of certain strains, but they also modulate the cannabis high through the entourage effect [3] . Different terpenes interface with different cannabinoids to augment their effects.

Terpenes also produce effects entirely on their own. For example, limonene [4] and myrcene [5] induce a relaxing response that can enhance the feeling of wellbeing.

Because terpenes are volatile and degrade at high temperatures, you won’t enjoy nearly as many when you smoke. However, raw cannabis flowers are chock-full of these fascinating molecules. Consuming cannabis raw keeps terpenes in their natural state. Researchers are still figuring out exactly how terpenes survive digestion, but we know at least some of these molecules make it through into the blood.

Flavonoids

Flavonoids usually fly under the radar when it comes to weed-related discussions. Cannabis smokers are often more preoccupied with cannabinoid and terpene profiles. The flavonoids, however, are a significant factor . These diverse phytochemicals are found in a range of superfoods, from kale and broccoli, to berries and tea.

Flavonoids play an important role in cannabis plants. These pigments colour plant tissue in order to attract pollinating species, and also to protect plants from UV rays and pathogens. Specific flavonoids found in cannabis include:

  • Cannflavin A
  • Cannflavin B
  • Kaempferol
  • Quercetin
  • Anthocyanins

These often overlooked phytochemicals offer an impressive array of potential health benefits,
such as:

  • Antioxidants effects
  • Supports the heart
  • Can help clean arteries

This impressive chemical profile shows cannabis is as healthy as any other vegetable, making it a perfect addition to any salad, smoothie or juice.

What Qualifies as Raw Cannabis?

Just like any other raw vegetable, raw cannabis means the buds and leaves are fresh and untampered with. Prior to being exposed to heat, these parts of the plant maintain their natural biochemistry and offer a different experience to smoking and cooking weed. Even letting cannabis dry and sit for too long will degrade cannabinoids and terpenes. In turn, it could possibly reduce the benefits received from consuming freshly picked flowers and leaves.

To classify as raw cannabis, these parts should not be:

  • Cooked
  • Steamed
  • Smoked or vaped
  • Dried

Can You Get High From Eating Raw Cannabis?

So, would munching on these leaves get you high? In short, No.

See, fresh, raw cannabis doesn’t contain THC, but is instead packed with THCA. That cannabinoid acid only converts to psychoactive THC after heat-induced decarboxylation. THCA can also break down into THC through exposure to UV rays and ageing—though these buds aren’t truly “raw”.

Potential Downsides of Raw Cannabis

Of course, eating almost any food raw comes with an element of risk. When it comes to cannabis, chowing down on raw leaves can expose diners to potentially harmful bacteria—both salmonella and E. coli have been found on cannabis samples. Some growers also use chemical pesticides on their crop to keep pests at bay. Although effective, these substances can leave a residue behind on flowers and leaves that tastes awful and hurts our bodies

To make sure you stay safe when consuming raw cannabis, only consume cannabis you know hasn’t been treated with these chemicals. In turn, make sure it hasn’t been grown with the help of potentially harmful products like manure.

Methods of Consumption

The sheer diversity of consumption enables cannabis smokers and vapers to enjoy a huge assortment of pipes, bongs, extracts, concentrates, vaporizers and bubbles. The same level of variety makes consuming raw cannabis just as pleasant and fun. Far from chewing on raw leaves—though an easy and surprisingly tasty option—consuming raw cannabis takes many forms. Check out some of the most popular methods below.

Smoothies

Smoothies provide a tasty and easy way to load up on phytonutrients. Add raw cannabis flowers and leaves to your smoothies for a dose of cannabinoid acids and terpenes. Throw in some tropical fruits, berries and ice for unrivalled taste and freshness. Check out the Royal Queen Seeds’ cannabis smoothie for a recipe that will light up your taste buds and endocannabinoid system simultaneously.

Juicing

At Royal Queen Seeds, we consider juicing the best way to consume raw cannabis. This method concentrates all of the good stuff—cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids—while leaving the unnecessary (and sometimes difficult to digest) fibre behind. Use freshly harvested raw cannabis to make a powerful shot of phytochemicals, or add the juice into smoothies.

Salads

Who said salads have to be boring? Thinly chop some fresh cannabis leaves and sprinkle them into a bowl loaded with spinach, onions, radishes, olives and peppers. Add some chicken or sunflower seeds for extra protein and crunch, and tuck in!

Hemp Seeds

Don’t forget about the seeds! Hemp seeds are loaded with nutrients, and add a moreish nutty flavour to any dish. Sprinkle them onto pasta, salads, puddings and even cereal. These little spheres of goodness pack high levels of omega fatty acids, essential amino acids, calcium, iron, and fibre!

Cold-Pressed Hemp Seed Oil

Lastly, cold-pressed hemp seed oil condenses the benefits of hemp seeds into a tasty oil. Use this delicious oil for cooking, or add a dash over salads for that lovely nutty taste.

Did you know that cannabis is technically a vegetable? You can use it in salads and smoothies for a hefty dose of cannabinoid acids, terpenes and flavonoids.

Can You Eat Weed? All You Need to Know About Marijuana Edibles

Marijuana — colloquially called weed — refers to the dried flowers, seeds, stems, and leaves of the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plants (1).

It’s a popular drug used by millions of people either for pleasure or to treat chronic health conditions.

Weed can be used in a number of ways, but some of the most popular methods include smoking and vaping.

However, some people wonder whether it’s safe to eat marijuana and whether ingesting it has the same effects as smoking or vaping.

This article explains whether it’s safe to eat weed and the health effects — both positive and negative — related to ingestion.

The short answer is yes, you can eat weed. In fact, marijuana-infused foods and drinks have been consumed throughout history, as far back as 1000 B.C. ( 2 ).

Marijuana was used as medicine in ancient China and India and was introduced to Western medicine in the early 19th century. Edible applications, such as tinctures, were prescribed to treat various conditions, from chronic pain to digestive disorders ( 2 , 3 , 4 ).

Edible marijuana products were also used to relieve stress and induce euphoria, similar to alcohol.

Bhang, a beverage made from a mixture of the leaves and flowers of marijuana plants, has been consumed for centuries during religious festivals, such as Holi, a Hindu festival of love and color ( 3 , 5 ).

In the United States, recreational use of edible marijuana products became popular during the 1960s, and today, many different types of edibles are available, both legally and illegally, depending on state laws.

For example, gummies, candies, chocolates, capsules, teas, and oils are some of the edible marijuana products sold in both legal marijuana dispensaries and through the illegal marijuana market.

Edibles enthusiasts also make their own weed products by infusing butter or oil with marijuana and mixing it into baked goods and other recipes.

Raw marijuana

Though you can eat raw weed, it won’t have the same effect as consuming marijuana-based products, as marijuana has to go through a process known as decarboxylation to become activated ( 6 ).

Raw marijuana contains tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), compounds that must be exposed to heat, such as in smoking or baking, to turn into the active forms, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) ( 6 ).

Therefore, eating raw weed will not result in the same effects as consuming weed that has been heated, as in edible products like candies, tinctures, and baked goods.

Though you can’t get high from eating raw weed, some health experts believe that eating it may offer some health benefits due to the wide array of plant compounds it contains.

Yet, research in this area is lacking, so the potential therapeutic benefit of raw marijuana is still unclear.

Weed has been consumed in various forms throughout history for both medicinal and recreational purposes. Though you can eat raw marijuana, it won’t have the same effects as marijuana that has been heated.

Marijuana has many medicinal benefits and has been used to treat various ailments throughout history.

Today, edible marijuana products have a number of uses in the medical field and are becoming a more popular, accepted natural treatment in clinical settings.

May benefit certain health conditions

Edible marijuana products are often used to treat conditions, such as chronic pain, cancer-related symptoms, and anxiety.

Medical cannabis products can legally be prescribed in countries around the world, including Italy, Spain, Germany, and parts of the United States ( 7 ).

THC is one of over 100 active compounds — known as cannabinoids — in marijuana.

THC is the compound responsible for the psychoactive properties of marijuana products, including edibles, that may induce feelings of euphoria and relaxation ( 2 ).

Other compounds in marijuana, such as CBD, have been shown to have pain- and anxiety-reducing properties.

The powerful combination of therapeutic compounds in this plant makes it a popular natural treatment that effectively reduces symptoms of and eases pain related to various conditions.

For example, edible marijuana products, such as oils, tinctures, pills, and gummies, are prescribed to treat poor appetite, pain, and weight loss in people who have cancer ( 8 ).

Additionally, these products may significantly reduce pain and muscle spasms, relieve nausea and vomiting, enhance sleep quality, and improve depression and anxiety ( 9 , 10 , 11 ).

In fact, pharmaceutical companies manufacture oral preparations of marijuana-derived treatments, such as Sativex, which is an oral spray prescribed to treat pain and muscle spasticity ( 12 ).

Though edible marijuana products are prescribed and used to treat many other ailments, such as digestive and neurological disorders, high-quality research in these areas is lacking.

Therefore, the full therapeutic potential of marijuana is still unknown ( 13 ).

Edible marijuana is used to treat symptoms related to various medical conditions, such as cancer and chronic pain. However, high-quality studies are lacking, so the full effects of marijuana products on health are still unclear.

Though edible marijuana products may benefit many conditions, some potential adverse effects may occur.

The main issue with edible marijuana products is that it can be very difficult to determine an appropriate dosage. Concentrations of THC vary widely depending on different factors, such as where the product was made and the quality of the marijuana used.

Additionally, unlike smoking weed, edible marijuana products have a long latency period, meaning it can take a while — sometimes hours — for it to take effect.

When marijuana is smoked, THC reaches the brain and takes effect within a few minutes. The effects peak at around 20–30 minutes after smoking and begin to wear off within 2–3 hours ( 10 ).

In contrast, the psychoactive effects of edibles usually take 30–90 minutes to kick in. The high feeling lasts much longer and typically peaks at about 2–4 hours after ingestion ( 10 ).

The effects of edibles can last for many hours, depending on how much was ingested, as well as your body weight, metabolism, gender, and other factors.

The combination of the highly variable THC concentration and the long latency period of edible marijuana products makes them very easy to unintentionally overconsume, which can lead to unwanted symptoms, such as paranoia and impaired motor ability.

Additionally, though rare, there have been instances of cannabis-induced psychosis, a condition usually related to overconsumption of edible marijuana products that results in symptoms like paranoid delusions, extreme sedation, hallucinations, and confusion ( 14 ).

Other side effects related to edible marijuana products include dry mouth, sleepiness, and changes in visual perception.

Edible marijuana products can also interact with alcohol and certain medications, including blood thinners and antidepressants. Therefore, you should avoid consuming edibles with these products (15).

Another concern is that edible marijuana products often resemble regular candies, cookies, and other baked goods, posing a risk for children, pets, and other adults.

In fact, between 2005 and 2011, marijuana-related calls to U.S. poison control centers increased by 30% per year in states that decriminalized marijuana. Many of these calls were related to accidental ingestion of edible marijuana products ( 16 ).

Edible marijuana products are difficult to dose and take a long time to kick in. They also resemble regular food products, which may lead to accidental ingestion.

Though smoking weed is not often considered harmful, research has shown that inhaling marijuana smoke can negatively impact health, similar to cigarette smoke.

Both cigarette and marijuana smoke contain toxins, such as ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, that may damage your lungs and increase your cancer risk ( 17 ).

Currently, some research shows a weak link between smoking weed and certain types of cancer ( 18 ).

Yet, scientists emphasize that it’s unclear whether or to what extent smoking marijuana influences cancer risk, as many available studies are of low quality, and confounding variables, such as cigarette smoking, affect study results ( 19 ).

Smoking weed has also been associated with lung inflammation, bronchitis, and even impaired brain function ( 10 ).

In contrast, edible marijuana products have not been shown to negatively affect lung health or cancer risk.

Therefore, if you’re concerned about the possible health risks associated with smoking weed, you may want to use edible marijuana products as an alternative.

However, because most marijuana research focuses on smoking weed, the long-term health implications of consuming edibles are still unknown.

Nevertheless, ingesting marijuana is likely safer than smoking it.

Marijuana smoke contains toxins that may negatively affect health. Though edibles are likely safer, the long-term health implications of these products are still unknown due to a lack of research.

Many people enjoy using marijuana products to relax and ease stress, while some take edibles to treat or improve symptoms of a medical condition.

Either way, it’s important to use safe products and choose appropriate dosages to avoid unwanted side effects.

If you’re interested in using edibles to treat a medical condition, your healthcare provider is the best person to consult to learn if medical marijuana is an option.

Depending on where you live, you might be able to get a prescription. In the United States, 33 states allow the use of medical marijuana. It has also been legalized in countries around the world, including Italy and Australia ( 20 , 21 ).

Some conditions that may warrant a medical marijuana prescription include chronic pain, anxiety, multiple sclerosis, terminal illness, and inflammatory bowel disease.

In contrast, recreational use of marijuana is illegal in many parts of the world, including most parts of the United States. Only 10 states, including California, Maine, Vermont, and Oregon, allow for the use of recreational marijuana products.

However, even though marijuana is legal to use in these states, it remains illegal at a federal level and is considered a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Schedule I substances are “determined to have a high potential for abuse” and are defined as having “no currently accepted medical use” (22).

Yet, many disagree with this classification, especially those who have seen firsthand that marijuana products offer powerful medicinal and therapeutic benefits for many people.

In fact, scientists have repeatedly questioned marijuana regulation, with some arguing that the current legal status is outdated and “thwarts legitimate research” exploring the potential of marijuana in the medical field ( 23 , 24 ).

Though both social and political views on marijuana are changing rapidly, for now, citizens must abide by the laws set forth by state and federal governments for the use of both medical and recreational marijuana.

Purchasing safe marijuana products

When using edible marijuana for the first time — whether for medical or recreational reasons — it’s important to do so safely.

Sticking to prescribed dosage and usage recommendations can help reduce your risk of potential negative effects related to overconsumption.

If purchasing edible marijuana products in a state where recreational use is legal, only purchase products from a licensed dispensary that you trust.

Licensed dispensaries are often required to have their products tested for safety and potency in state-accredited laboratories to be approved for sale.

However, testing protocols vary considerably from state to state, and some don’t require laboratory testing ( 25 ).

It’s important to note that marijuana bought from illegal operations or dispensaries that sell untested products can be contaminated with pesticides, mold, fungi, bacteria, heavy metals, formaldehyde, and other substances, which can pose serious health risks ( 26 ).

Dispensaries typically carry a variety of marijuana products with different concentrations of THC and CBD, which can be confusing for first-time buyers. Consulting dispensary staff is a smart way to find the best product to suit your needs.

The legality of marijuana varies, so the use of both medical and recreational marijuana products depends on where you live. Only purchase marijuana products from trusted sources and follow dosing recommendations carefully.

Edible marijuana products may offer various benefits, including reducing symptoms of chronic illnesses and anxiety.

Still, these products may cause side effects, react with common medications, and take a long time to kick in.

Depending on where you live, you may be able to use medicinal or recreational products legally. However, it’s important to only purchase from licensed, reputable dispensaries that sell products tested for purity and potency.

Marijuana can be used in many ways, but you may wonder whether it can safely be ingested. This article explains whether eating weed is safe and discusses both positive and negative health effects.