The cannabis plant is good for more than just its flower. You can juice cannabis leaves for a full range of nutrients, and it won’t even get you high.
Cannabis leaves, which weed trimmers often discard to focus on neatly groomed buds, contain about as much fiber, iron, and calcium as other leafy greens like spinach or kale. But they also have the added bonus of cannabinoids, the plant’s chemical compounds. Since they’re unexposed to heat, the cannabinoids won’t have any psychoactive effects, but they’ll still have medicinal properties.
The body’s endocannabinoid system, an endogenous network of cannabinoid receptor cells, regulates a variety of physiological functions, including appetite, inflammation, sensation, metabolism, pain, sleep, mood, stress, energy, and memory. An imbalance in the endocannabinoid system is often to blame for a variety of disease states, according to medical professionals. Juicing cannabis leaves helps replenish that system by feeding the body’s cannabinoid receptors.
Before the cannabinoids get heated up, they exist in acidic form. This chart by Steep Hill Labs outlines exactly how the cannabinoids transform in the presence of heat. The psychoactive compound THC, for example, exists as THCA in its raw form, which has anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and antispasmodic properties. Juiced cannabis leaves also release the phytocannabinoids (naturally occurring within the plant) CBCA, CBDA, and CBGA, which have analgesic and anti-fungal properties, in addition to anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. Raw cannabis is high in fatty acids, too, which are essential for brain and nervous system functionality, proper thyroid activity, heart health, and so on. In fact the cannabis plant contains all 21 of the known fatty acids, including those the body can’t make on its own. Moreover, raw, acidic cannabinoids have been shown to improve cell function and oxygenation.
To dilute the acidity of the raw cannabis leaves, it’s recommended to juice them with another component, such as water or fruit juice. Raw cannabis on its own may taste somewhat bitter or peppery, according to LA-based cannabis cook Jeff the 420 Chef. He recommends mixing it with carrot juice for taste and nutrients, or adding apple juice or cucumber to sweeten the blend. Sometimes, he’ll even add a host of other leafy greens to the mix. Maya Elisabeth, cannabis infuser and herbalist from Whoopie & Maya, also recommends adding other super foods like beats, tumeric , carrots, celery, cilantro, parsley, lemons, cucumber, kale, and oranges .
“Raw cannabis itself is a superfood,” says Jeff. “Juicing is a great start, but I think you can go beyond it. There’s so much more you can do with the cannabis leaves or the plant.” He suggests drying out the roots of the plant and making a paste with them to treat burns, for instance. “I’m one of those people who’s about using the whole plant especially when I’m cooking,” he says, to eat, drink, treat burns, and all. The leaves are also a great form of protein, he adds, drawing a connection to hemp seed protein (not to mention hemp’s uses for textiles, building materials, fuel, and so on). “The entire plant is magical,” says Jeff. “It’s the only plant that has so many different uses. It’s not just for smoking the bud anymore.”