Juicing raw cannabis is a health trend that has been increasing in popularity in recent years. The cannabis plant in its raw form can provide a range of organic compounds that are not available after the plant has been dried and cut down. These compounds may be beneficial for health in various ways. Let’s find out a little more about those potential benefits, and why they are only associated with raw, fresh cannabis.
The science behind juicing raw cannabis is simple. The cannabis plant actually produces a set of chemical precursors to the cannabinoids we all know and love, such as THC, CBD, CBG and so on. These precursors are known as cannabinoid acids, and every cannabinoid has a corresponding cannabinoid acid – THC derives from THC acid or THCA, CBD derives from CBDA, CBG from CBGA, and so on.
Decarboxylation of Cannabinoid Acids
When cannabinoid acids are exposed to heat and light, they begin to break down into subtly different molecules – the cannabinoids themselves – in a process known as decarboxylation. This process gradually takes off after the plant is harvested (although it may begin to occur just before harvest, as the plant reaches maturity).
Most users of cannabis typically want that reaction to take place as quickly and effectively as possible, so that there are as many cannabinoids available as possible! To speed it up, it is possible to subject your cannabis to controlled heat for a certain length of time, usually in an oven. You can learn more about the process of cannabinoid acids degrading to cannabinoids in our handy guide, What Is Decarboxylation?
However, the cannabinoid acids that are present in the fresh plant before decarboxylation happens have different biological characteristics than the cannabinoids they turn into after they decarboxylate. THCA is not psychoactive like THC, for example – but although it does not provide a high, it may have specific medicinal benefits that could even exceed those of THC in certain circumstances. If you want to know more about the specific properties of THCA, then head over to our guide What Is THCA?!
Beneficial Compounds Found in Raw Cannabis
THCA has been found to have anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea and neuroprotective effects. Similarly, CBDA has also been found to have anti-nausea, anti-vomiting, and even anti-cancereffects. Even CBGA, although it has not been studied intensively, has been found to have potential anti-cancer effects.
Furthermore, it’s not just the presence of cannabinoid acids in raw cannabis that makes it an attractive proposition health-wise. The fresh plant contains abundant other compounds that may evaporate off rapidly after harvest, during the drying stage or when subjected to heat-induced decarboxylation.
These compounds include phenols, ethers, esters, ketones, terpenes and terpenoids. Most of these classes of compounds may have health benefits, and some in particular are thought to have a wide range of positive effects in the levels and quantities produced by the cannabis plant.
In particular, terpenes and terpenoids are well-known for their many potential benefits on human health. Cannabis should still contain a reasonable quantity of terpenes and terpenoids even after it has been dried and cured (unless it’s been subjected to poor conditions) – but those quantities pale in comparison to the quantities found in the fresh plant!
Terpenes and terpenoids are the volatile compounds that make up the major part of the aroma of cannabis. Different combinations of dozens of different terpenes and terpenoids make up the unique aromas of different strains – as well as the aromas of most fruits and flowers in existence! If you want to learn more about these essential compounds, take a look at our Essential Guide to Terpenes!
In dried, cured cannabis, terpenes and terpenoids should make up around 1% of the total weight of the plant material. But in fresh, raw cannabis, these delicious terps may make up as much as 10% of total weight! Needless to say, that’s a huge amount of terpenes being lost via evaporation during curing.
So by consuming raw cannabis, it’s possible to get a much more complete range and concentration of terpenes, terpenoids, and a whole range of other potentially-useful compounds. But how do you go about juicing raw cannabis?
How To Juice Raw Cannabis
First off, it’s best to note that, just as with other ways to consume cannabis, you’ll probably have a more pleasant experience if you stick to using flowers, and maybe the crystal-coated leaves that surround the flowers.
The process of juicing raw cannabis is simple. It may even be as simple as throwing a few grams of fresh buds into the blender as you make your regular breakfast smoothie! Or if you want to produce juice without the “bits”, it’s also possible to juice cannabis in a slow juicer. In a slow juicer, it’s best to make a bigger batch that will last for up to 2 days (storing your cannabis juice for any longer may not be optimum). However you make it, you’ll probably want to mix it with another, more pleasant-tasting fruit or vegetable, as it’s a little “green” on its own!
When it comes to dosage, there isn’t exactly any consensus out there as the research is so limited – but Dr William Courtney, who states that he has successfully treated his wife Kristen’s lupus with raw cannabis juice, suggests that 500-1000mg of THCA per day is a good medicinal dose. Given that the most potent strains of cannabis contain around 25-30% THCA in their raw state, you’ll need a good couple of grams at least to obtain that kind of dosage, per day.
So there you have it! If you decide to try juicing raw cannabis based on our suggestions, please let us know how you get on in the comments!