The NorCal medical cannabis community is abuzz with the latest trend in ingestion: juicing the cannabis plant. Dr. William Courtney is the leading advocate of this medication method, and he recommends juicing fresh, organic leaves and buds every day. He says raw cannabis has medicinal benefits that are lost when the plant is dried and heated (as when it is smoked or cooked into food).
Dr. Courtney recommends juicing fifteen leaves and two buds and drinking the juice, mixed with a little bit of fruit or vegetable juice for taste, over the course of the day. Fresh trimmings can be refrigerated up to three days.
“Cannabis is a unique functional food [that] if used in its natural state, daily, provides benefits in excess of nutrition,” states Dr. Courtney. He has also called it “the most important vegetable on the planet.”
The chemical compounds in raw cannabis are different from the THC and CBD we usually think of when we talk about medical cannabis. The living plant contains tetrahydrocannibinolic acid (THCA), which turns into delta-9 THC as the buds decarboxylate [release CO2] while they dry and when they encounter heat. The same process turns CBDA into CBD.
Dr. Courtney says THCA, which does not cause the psychoactive effects of THC, has its own special medicinal properties. It can be consumed in much higher doses than THC, allowing for greater medical benefit.
His wife, Kristen Peskuski, was on over forty different medications for her chronic illnesses—which included lupus, arthritis, endometriosis, and more—until she discovered the healing properties of cannabis juicing.
“About four to six weeks after I started on juicing every day, I had no more back pain, I<didn’t need pain pills. I felt the best I ever had,” testifies Peskuski in a video about the benefits of juicing cannabis. She credits cannabis juice with her successful pregnancy and childbirth, which doctors had told her for years she would never be able to do.
“Cannabis provides highly digestible globular protein, which is balanced for all of the Essential Amino Acids. Cannabis provides the ideal ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids,” explains Dr. Courtney. “Critically, cannabis is the only known source of the Essential Cannabinoid Acids. It is clear that all 7 billion individuals would benefit from access to cannabis as a unique functional food.”
Some wonder whether cannabis juice can live up to all this hype. While a few medical cannabis facilities have started to offer raw plants or juice, most people do not have ready access to blooming cannabis plants on a daily basis. If you do not grow your own plants, juicing is an expensive proposition.
Others have questioned Dr. Courtney’s claims about the medicinal benefits. Some have pointed out that known medical benefits from the THC and CBD found in dried bud are weak or nonexistent in the raw plant. And while THC and CBD have both been shown to kill metastasized tumors in cancer, THCA and CBDA have not.
“Compared to CBD, CBDA had negligible effects in cell viability assay against multiple cancers. We therefore never took a great interest in the molecule,” says Dr. Sean McAllister, a researcher at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco.