Raw Cannabis – Medicine Without the High

Cannabis in its raw state provides a “super-green” food, high in chlorophyll, giving our cells oxygen, antioxidants, and medicinal cannabinoids. In addition, the vitamin/mineral content of the plant is most highly preserved in its raw state. It is a difficult plant to eat raw, due to the stalactites (tiny hairs on the stem) that may irritate the mouth, throat, and stomach. The flowering tips, more concentrated in the cannabinoids, are usually full of a sticky resin which sticks to your mouth if you try to chew it and may taste bitter. One can avoid these problems by taking only tender young leaves, or juicing the leaves and buds.


Raw cannabis as a medicine has rarely been studied, mostly because it has a low content of THC, the chemical in cannabis that causes the psychoactive effect.  So, if not to “get high”, why would anyone want to deal with the discomfort of eating prickly sticky plant matter, needing a significant fresh plant supply, and possible ingestion of mold or other contaminants in order to use it raw? It turns out that in California, due to the liberal growing allowances in some parts of the state, enough patients have been able to experiment with raw cannabis to rediscover its remarkable medicinal properties. I met such a patient in 2009, who presented at the International Cannabinoid Research Society Conference.  She has had multiple serious chronic diseases, all improved to the most remarkable extent that I have ever seen in my experience with over 10,000 medical marijuana patients. When I asked her to what she attributes her success, she replied, “Using raw cannabis.” (See below Kristen’s Story). Kristen was treated by Dr. William Courtney in Mendocino, CA, who is at the forefront of the use of raw cannabis as medicine.  An increasing number of medical marijuana patients in Humboldt and Mendocino are exploring juicing the raw leaf.  A dispensary in Arcata has given out juicers to some patients, provided free raw leaf, and is gathering data on its effects.


Fresh green raw leaf should be used, taken right off the plant, not dried or heated in any way. If you dry the leaf/bud, it’s not really raw, and its chemical composition changes. Dr. Courtney advises the use of large shade leaves, or fan leaves picked from a plant that is 3 months of age. The leaves should be soaked in water for 5 minutes before juicing. 8-10 leaves a day is one dose for one person. Most mix it with other juices to improve the flavor or add some raw honey. Split the juice into 5 parts for 5 doses per day. A recent Washington Post interview with Dr. Courtney comments,  “Maybe nowhere else in the country could a pot doc advise growing 40 plants — enough for one juicing each day on the 45-day cycle required of the auto-flowering strain. Not only is it possible here, but a striking number of patients truly do not want to get high.”


It is currently thought that raw cannabis has medicinal activity due to the presence of cannabinoid-acids. All natural cannabinoids (such as THC and CBD) come from precursor carboxylic acids. This carboxyl group is unstable; heat, light, or alkaline pH make it evaporate as CO2, resulting in the more well researched cannabinoids. Even just drying for a while causes these precursors to break down. THC-Acid is not psychoactive, and accounts for almost all of the cannabinoid content in the raw plant. We don’t yet know what part of the medicinal properties of raw cannabis is due to these acids, what part is due to the nutrition in the raw food, and what part relates to the detoxification process that accompanies the inclusion of raw juice in one’s diet. The action of cannabinoid acids is currently being researched.
For more ways to prepare raw cannabis see: www.cannabis.uk.net/raw%20cannabis/RAW%20CANNABIS.htm.


Kristen’s Story

Presented at the International Cannabinoid Research Conference July 2009 (reprinted with the permission of the author Kristen Peskuski).


I am a female patient that was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus at age 16. I was diagnosed with Interstitial cystitis and unsuccessfully treated with chemotherapeutic installations, urethral dilatations, and bladder dilations under general anesthesia to mechanically avulse the nerves enervating the bladder, six times. Bladder failure required daily self-catheterization for over 2 years. Additionally, I have had chronic fatigue syndrome, marked hypoglycemia, asthma, endometriosis, chronic sinusitis, chronic bacterial infections, severe allergies to almost all medications. Pre-cancerous cell growths were removed twice from my cervix, and I was also diagnosed as sterile. I underwent 14 surgical procedures and treatment in 5 states, including Mayo Clinic. Despite these efforts, I was bedridden for 3 ½ years, taking over 40 medications a day, such as Plaquinyl, Methotrexate, Methadone, Vioxx, Morphine and Prednisone, to alleviate symptoms, boost the immune system and control side effects of other medications. After years of multiple antibiotics I developed antibiotic resistance and could be described as hyperinflamed and hyperreactive. I finally got anaphylactic shock as a reaction to medications which resulted in, liver failure.  On stopping all the medications, I got withdrawal seizures and hypothyroidism.

In 2006, I moved from St. Charles, Illinois to California to use medicinal cannabis and tried up to very large quantities. I smoked or ingested up to 14g per day! I was in less pain, was having less infections, and the symptoms of many of my chronic diseases decreased. I was ingesting capsules made from the green cannabis leaves for one year with continued improvement. I progressed to using fresh juiced leaves in 2008, using 10-30 leaves freshly juiced, which I drank throughout the day, in 3-5 doses, because the effect peaks for only a few hours. My remission now became dramatic! All conditions cleared up, my autoimmune blood tests became normal, and I became pregnant! The pre-cancerous skin flap has disappeared. My RA titer was negative for the first time in 13 years. I avoided back surgery and a third sinus surgery. I was able to get off regular antibiotic usage for the first time in 6 years. My recent pregnancy, during which I continued green leaf therapy after consulting with my OBGYN and rheumatologist at UCSF. was full-term and produced a perfectly healthy baby girl. During the 6th month of pregnancy I had to stop cannabis due to the constraints of traveling, and after one month my immune system began to falter, especially with a lung infection and increased autoimmune blood markers. With restored juicing of cannabis leaves, my symptoms cleared and I was able to have a full term pregnancy with no complications. It is clear that there are components in the fresh green leaves that have contributed to my remarkable recovery. I hope that these issues will be studied more in the near future and that other people can benefit from the potent properties of fresh green leaf cannabis.