Cannabis is a Super-Food!

Cannabis Nutrition

Did you know that cannabis is considered a superfood? 

“Superfoods are foods — mostly plant-based but also some fish and dairy — that are thought to be nutritionally dense and thus good for one’s health.”
Source: Live Science

As such, it is important to understand how to prevent the destruction of these healthy nutrients by taking a close look at how it is consumed.  Is smoking, vaping, or cooking and processing cannabis into edible forms our only and best choice in how to consume this amazingly versatile plant?  Experts know the key to achieving a true health balance using cannabis medication involves the layering of different methods of consumption.  To unlock the full potential of cannabis it is important to understand the whole process of how naturally occurring acidic ingredients transform and “activate” into the more familiar forms of THC, CBD, CBG, THCV, and dozens of other unresearched compounds. 

Acidic cannabinoids are the “natural” forms of this specific type of ingredient.  These natural or acidic forms are not psychoactive (meaning it won’t get you “high”) but have many health benefits.  This is a fantastic bonus for those patients who don’t want these effects! Examples of these cannabinoids include THCA, CBDA, and CBGA.  Applying heat such as vaping, smoking, processing, or cooking leads to a chemical reaction called decarboxylation, aka “decarbing.”  This causes the acidic cannabinoids inside the plant material to change into the more well-known and better studied compounds (for instance the THCA changes into THC, CBDA into CBD, etc.).

Most patients are familiar with the benefits of heating cannabis to achieve decarboxylation of cannabinoids.  Science is slow to catch up on much needed research due to cannabis’ continuing illegal status, but preliminary studies have delved into exploring the effects of acidic cannabinoids.  Benefits include general control of inflammation, seizures, pain, and more.  Historical documentation exists that talks about the use of raw cannabis as a food source for humans and animals, as well as serving as a valuable health preventive and treatment.

Parts of the Plant and How to Consume

Different plant parts have different nutritional value. One of the easiest and most available forms comes in the seeds.  Raw cannabis seeds (commonly marketed as hemp seeds) are a complete protein, which means they contain all nine amino acids that our bodies are unable to make on their own.  These small powerhouses are also rich in Vitamin A, B vitamins, folate, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, iron, sulfur, and zinc.  They are also a source of fiber which helps control blood sugar levels and prevent constipation.  Patients are easily able to add this versatile seed into their diet by eating a handful as a snack or adding a sprinkle into recipes or salads.

Cannabis leaves are not as nutritionally packed as the seeds, but they are a good source of many nutrients.  The cannabis plant has two types of leaves, fan leaves and sugar leaves.  These leaves differ somewhat in their nutrition concentration and health benefits.  The fan leaves are especially rich in fiber and contain magnesium and calcium to boot.  Sugar leaves also have small concentrations of medicinally active cannabinoids (but much less than the plant flower or “bud”). 

The cannabis flower or “bud” is the main powerhouse of the cannabis plant when it comes to medicinal benefits and content.  These structures are where the plant produces most of the active ingredients in the cannabis plant.  Some patients like to add ground cannabis flower and leaves to recipes as a food seasoning or salad ingredient to reap its effects.

The stems and roots contain nutrients as well, but they are not commonly eaten raw because of their tough texture.  Cannabis leaves, seeds, and flowers can be consumed as a raw snack or added into salads.  Remember that cooking the cannabis applies heat and “activates” any THC in the plant which can cause psychoactivity.  Do not cook or heat the cannabis if you don’t want the high!

Brew Up a Tea

Drinking a soothing, infused cannabis tea is a historically documented and increasing popular method of consumption for many patients.  This easy to produce drink allows incorporation of acidic or “activated” cannabis into your busy schedule.  To make this simple brew, just add 1 liter of water to 1 gram of ground cannabis (your choice of CBD or THC predominant type/strain) in a small saucepan.  Bring to a slow simmer, turn off heat, and cover with a lid. This helps keep the THC activation to a minimal.  Allow the mixture to steep for approximately 15 minutes.  Remove and strain into a container.  Remember, a small amount of THCA will be activated.  This mixture is ideally consumed within 24 hours (up to 1 week but steady loss of potency occurs).  For those who desire to activate the THC, a recipe is include here.

Ancient Chinese medicine documents use of all parts of the cannabis plant including the roots.  Cannabis roots can be carefully prepared and brewed into a tea or decoction that continue to be used for centuries later.

Juicing

Juicing cannabis has no heat processing involved and runs no risk of ‘activating’ any THCA into its psychoactive form of THC.  Proponents of this method view cannabis not just as medicine but also as a vegetable to be added into the diet for disease management.  Preliminary research and clinical reports show that using cannabis in this form may be an exciting new way of approaching serious disease treatments for cancer, diabetes, autoimmune conditions, and more.  Unfortunately, due to the ongoing federal illegality and prohibition of cannabis, research has not progressed as fast as we would hope. 

Cannabis medication is incredibly complex, but versatile.  Fully unlocking this mysterious plant’s potential involves a little preparation and education.  Welcome to the world of cannabis medication- a world where your food could truly be your medicine.

Article Written By: Melissa Cornwell
Author for Ark420.com & CannaCook.com

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