Juicing raw Cannabis is currently not a very well known method of Cannabis ingestion; however that is changing rapidly thanks to the work of a Dr William Courtney and his followers.
The avid juicing community who have been juicing raw vegetables, herbs and fruits for years are also discovering the nutritious advantage raw Cannabis can provide over virtually any combination of plants they were already using.
Once you have read this guide you will understand why juicing is becoming so popular and why it is one of the best things you can do for your health.
There is a downside in that it is not always the easiest or most practical method of ingestion and that is why we did not include it in our Sweet Leaf Relief Guide to Managing Chronic Pain with Cannabis.
We felt that because of the amazing benefits of juicing raw Cannabis, it deserved its own guide. Our main guide is all about helping you to find a level of relief and functionality with Cannabis. Once you have achieved that juicing becomes the next logical step in your goal to not only stay on top of your pain but also to give your overall health an upgrade.
Juicing raw Cannabis has some distinct advantages over more ‘’traditional’’ methods of ingestion:
– There is zero ‘’high’’ at all and because of this much larger volumes can be consumed if necessary. This also makes it a very versatile method of pain reduction as vulnerable members of society such as children and the elderly are also able to utilise it.
– Instead of the typical ‘’neutral’’ cannabinoids such as THC, CBD, CBG etc you will actually be ingesting the acid form of these cannabinoids for example THCa, CBDa and CBGa etc and these acid forms will have slightly different therapeutic actions.
– Many of the terpenes (or essential oils) of the plant are retained because they are at their highest concentration while they are still fresh and these Terpenes have amazing therapeutic properties of their own. They also interact with and boost the therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids.
– If you are already using decarboxylated (non acid cannabinoids) in your pain management program, supplementing them with acid (fresh) Cannabinoids will help you get the widest spectrum of nutritional and therapeutic value out of your Cannabis.
– Let’s not forget that by juicing raw Cannabis it’s often a good idea to make smoothies or mix it with other vegetables or fruits to make it taste better and these will obviously have their own nutritional values too.
Why All The Fuss About Raw Cannabis?
Before we start looking at raw Cannabis as a means to an end – pain relief, it’s worth noting just how valuable raw Cannabis is to the overall function of the human body.
Cannabis is a nutrient rich powerhouse of a superfood, in fact it is considered by many to be a vegetable. Regardless of its label, its protein contains all known amino acids. Amino acids cannot be produced by the body and have to be obtained from an outside food source and Cannabis covers the entire spectrum.
By juicing the leaves (and buds) we are extracting antioxidants, iron, potassium, carotenoids, flavonoids, terpenes, zinc, selenium, fatty acids and a host of minerals found in other nutrient rich leafy greens such as Kale or Spinach.
Then we get to the 80+ phytochemicals that Cannabis contains that can be also be found in other vegetables, fruits and herbs. For example it has abundant supplies of beta carotene which is found in carrots, limonene found in lemons and linalool found in lavender.
Not to be forgotten are the concentrated terpenes. These will mostly be present in the buds rather than the leaves.
To top it off we get the 70+ Cannabinoids found in the plant and while we only have a decent scientific understanding of a few of the cannabinoids like THC , CBD and CBN the little bit of scientific data we do have on many of the others shows nothing but medicinal promise and benevolence. There are in fact more cannabinoids than that but some of them are pre-curser, breakdown or degradation cannabinoids. A good example is CBN which is derived from the degradation of THC. So you won’t be getting those cannabinoids from Juicing Cannabis but you will get them from other methods of medicating where heat is applied.
These cannabinoids and essential nutrients are capable of preventing and healing many conditions and raw Cannabis treatments have been used to treat autoimmune disorders like lupus as well as severe arthritis and even brain tumors.
They have the ability to boost your immune system, your energy levels, enhance your health, ease chronic pain and reduce inflammation. They can even improve your focus and sexual vitality.
Raw cannabis juice activates the brain’s endocannabinoid receptors and triggers an antioxidant release, removing damaged cells from the body.
Every human and nearly every animal on earth has an endocannabinoid system responsible for managing a vast range of physiological processes including mood, memory, pain-sensation, and appetite.
These receptors are found in the brain, organs, connective tissue, glands and immune cells throughout the body. Our bodies naturally produce endocannabinoids to drive all those functions, but we have discovered that Cannabis is also capable of stimulating our endocannabinoid receptors and boosting our well-being.
This is often referred to as homeostasis which implies that perfect balance within the body is restored despite environmental or other factors attempting to throw it off balance.
Benefits of Acid Cannabinoids:
Outlined below are the generally accepted therapeutic benefits of THCa and CBDa.
For a more comprehensive list of all of the main types of known Cannabinoids click here
THC-A: (Tetrahydrocannabinol Acid)
Analgesic – Relieves pain.
Anti-Emetic – Reduces vomiting and nausea.
Anti-Inflammatory – Reduces inflammation.
Anti-Insomnia – Aids with sleep.
Anti-Proliferative – Inhibits cancer cell growth.
Antispasmodic – Suppresses muscle spasms.
Modulates Immune System – THCa has been shown to both improve and potentially suppress the immune system functions.
Neuroprotective – Slows damage to the nervous system and brain.
CBD-A – (Cannabidiol Acid)
Antibacterial – Slows bacterial growth.
Anti-Emetic – Reduces vomiting and nausea.
Anti-inflammatory – Reduces inflammation systemically.
Anti-Proliferative – Inhibits cancer cell growth.
So How Does This help Me Reduce My Pain?
Both THC and THCa have analgesic (pain killing) properties; however the average person can only tolerate around 10mg’s of THC due to its psychoactive nature. With some tolerance building and experience this number could be raised significantly but THCa does not get you high at all so much larger quantities of the powerful analgesic can be ingested without unwanted psychoactivity or barriers to full functionality.
An article was published in the December 2004 issue of Scientific American about CBDs in Cannabis that could communicate two-ways with nerve cells.
It explained that one-way traffic to nerves is the main cause of inflammation in the body. Immune cells are being continuously attacked, and nothing is communicating with the nerves to tell them to calm down.
When you add cannabinoids, a two-way communication is made possible, and inflammation is reduced. The cannabinoids work to prevent, or fight symptoms by providing nerves with this two-way communication.
Dr William Courtney had this to say:
‘’The way CBDs work is that they bridge the gap of neurotransmission in the central nervous system, including in the brain, by providing a two-way system of communication that completes a positive “feedback loop.”
‘’As opposed to a one-way transmission, which can promote chronic inflammation of healthy tissue, the unique two-way transmission system engaged by CBDs mimics the body’s own natural two-way communications system.
‘’So individuals whose systems are compromised by autoimmune disorders, cellular dysfunction, chronic inflammation, cancer cells, and various other illnesses can derive a wide range of health-promoting benefits simply by consuming CBDs. And one of the best ways to obtain CBDs is to juice raw Cannabis leaves and buds.’’
Dr. Ethan Russo, a physician who is also a senior advisor to GW Pharmaceuticals, a British pharmaceutical company that is utilizing CBDs in their Cannabis mouth spray known as Sativex says:
“CBD works on receptors, and as it turns out, we have cannabinoids in our bodies, endogenous cannabinoids, that turn out to be very effective at regulating immune functions, nerve functions and bone functions,”
“There’s a tendency to discount claims when something appears to be good for everything, but there’s a reason this is the case. The endogenous cannabinoid system acts as a modulator in fine-tuning a lot of these systems, and if something is deranged biochemically in a person’s body, it may well be that a cannabinoid system can bring things back into balance.”
Sounds Amazing – Why Isn’t Everyone Doing it?
Despite its recent spike in popularity and for good reason, juicing is still impractical and out of reach for many people.
There are two main problems:
Sourcing Fresh Material
Typically around 15 Fan leaves are used for a daily dose. A supply of enough fresh Cannabis leaves especially but also sourcing buds at the right level of maturity can be tricky. Unless you have access to Cannabis grows or are growing yourself it becomes impractical to do with any level of consistency. This leads us on to the next major problem:
To consistently dose throughout the year we theoretically need plants in different stages of growth development to allow a constant supply of fresh buds and leaves. Indoors this is possible to achieve but it’s difficult logistically. While outdoor plants can theoretically supply us with a lot of fan leaves, we have no control over the weather or the light cycles. This means at a certain time of year Cannabis plants will be obliged to go into flowering regardless of where they are in the vegetation process. This change will be triggered by the waning ‘’light hours’’ in a day as the seasons change and autumn approaches.
Leaves can most definitely be taken from Cannabis plants that are flowering and we need flowering plants to provide us with raw Cannabis buds but we are also looking to harvest these buds while the trichomes are not fully ripened (ie an amber color) but rather while they are still somewhat immature ideally clear. This gives us a limited window.
For more information on trichomes click here * link to blog post with trichomes*
Luckily with a bit of planning there are ways around these problems. You will still need to grow your own Cannabis or have access to another legal grow.
The easiest way is to grow your own plants outdoors, depending on your climate. Cannabis grown outdoors can reach remarkable sizes and a single plant can produce 100’s of fan leaves and keep pushing out more even after they have been pruned.
You would probably need several plants to sustain your juicing regimen and 6 is often the legal number of plants a person can grow at any single time. This is often complicated further by state laws dictating that only some of those plants may be in flower at any given time.
Check and double check your state laws to make sure you stay on the right side of the law. It may take some planning and forward thinking as to how best you can keep yourself in supply of fresh leaves.
We do also have the option of freezing our Cannabis leaves but like any vegetable, they can turn slimy and become inedible. It’s better to actually make as much juice as you can and then divide up the portions into ice trays and freeze the juice itself. This juice stored in the freezer could easily last for several months.
While it is hard to imagine an indoor grow sustaining you with enough leaves to juice all year round, at least not with a regular home grow set-up, you could certainly have a few plants in a perpetual state of vegetation that you could use to supplement your outdoor grow.
If you have read our Sweet Leaf Relief Guide you will know that we recommend finding which strain works best for you and then keeping that strain indefinitely as a mother plant. It makes sense to keep several mothers of that strain in a constant state of vegetation if you are looking to juice some of the leaves and buds. It also means you can take cuttings (clones) and grow them out and flower them as per your needs.
Organic is Key
There are plenty of salt based nutrients on the market for the specific purpose of growing Cannabis and many of these nutrients can be ‘’flushed out’’ of the plant towards the end of its life cycle while the buds are maturing simply by only giving the plant filtered water and forcing it to use up stored nutrients.
This may be acceptable (if not ideal) for making traditional Cannabis pain relief medicines but considering the staggered approach to trimming leaves off of live Cannabis plants, this isn’t really an option for Juicing your Cannabis.
Organic is the only way to go and care should be taken to ensure that there are no obvious pathogens, infections, bug infestations, powdery mildew, mold or bud rot affecting the plants that you intend to consume as these can make you quite ill.
For a comprehensive guide on how to grow Cannabis organically click here *Link to organic guide when completed*
What Strains Should I Use?
Considering that there is no high at all from Cannabis juicing, it’s a great way to get as much THC in the form of THCa into the body as possible.
Many people still choose to go for high CBD low THC strains as their starting point but we don’t really see the point in that.
CBD and CBDa are undoubtedly excellent cannabinoids with plenty of therapeutic benefits and we are definitely after high doses of CBDs but should that really be at the expense of THCa?
Why not have both? There are plenty of medical strains out there which have a balanced ratio of THC and CBD. These are sometimes referred to as 1:1 strains indicating that they have the same THC and CBD for example 7% THC and 7% CBD.
So instead of a strain such as AC/DC or Charlotte’s web which have exceptionally high levels of CBD and only trace amounts of THC, we feel it is better to utilise strains that have a decent amount of both.
Strains like LA Confidential which is deemed a recreational strain is a great example of a Cannabis strain that has high levels of THC and very decent levels of CBD too.
If your pain condition responds exceptionally well to CBD then you may want to customise your medicine for your own needs and strains like AC/DC may make more sense.
Another factor to consider is that if you have determined which strains are good for your pain and you know they do the job through sampling more ‘’traditional’’ Cannabis medicines such as oils, tinctures or even just plain old bud to smoke or vape, then it would make sense to use the strains that are already working for you and once these plants have been taken to maturity you will have buds to make all kinds of medicines for your needs.
Also consider that the different types of Cannabis like Indica, Sativa and Hybrids all have their own unique properties according to their cannabinoid and terpene profiles. Some will be uplifting, stimulating and good for focus while others will be very sedating. Much of this is influenced by the terpenes themselves and by ingesting larger than usual volumes of terpenes through juicing they could very well have an effect on your mood or state of mind. An Indica Cannabis strain with high levels of linalool (terpene also found in lavender) may not be the best bet for your morning juice if you are looking for clarity and energy for the day.
Managing Risks and Harm Reduction
Making sure there is no high
Let’s address the elephant in the room here; there is zero chance of getting high at all, is this correct?
Theoretically yes, there is no way you should get high but it can happen if something goes wrong.
To prevent this from happening, you need to have an understanding of the decarboxylation process.
While Cannabis is growing and the plant is alive, cannabinoids will be in their acid states which are not psychoactive. Only through the process of decarboxylation can the acid cannabinoid be converted to their decarboxylated ‘’neutral’’ state cannabinoid. So THCa will convert into THC and become psychoactive.
In order for this process to start one of two things needs to happen:
⦁ Time – As soon as the plant material is removed from the plant the process of decarboxylation will begin. It is a slow process generally taking months but it does start happening right away.
⦁ Heat- When we apply heat to Cannabis it will begin decarboxylating at certain temperatures. That is why smoked or vaped bud does not have to be decarboxylated first as the heat from vaping or combustion will perform the process for us. The same applies to edibles which are cooked or baked.
You will be removing the buds or leaves and making the juice right away. You can store the juice in the freezer for several months without problems but you must take care not to let the material dry out before you get a chance to do this.
One thing to be cautious of when growing is extreme heat. The heat radiating from a strong HPS light could in theory ‘’activate’’ some of the cannabinoids if the plants are too close to the light and are being exposed to higher than normal heat.
This can theoretically happen in nature too if the weather is extreme and the plants are close to ripening. It’s very rare but there have been reports of this.
Another very important thing to monitor when you are making your juice is that the juicer itself is not getting hot and activating the cannabinoids.
When sampling a new batch, always test a very little bit and see that there is no psychoactivity before going on to take what would be considered mega-doses if the cannabinoids had been activated. Better to be safe than sorry. Large doses of psychoactive cannabinoids could be very unpleasant even for seasoned users especially if it is unexpected.
This is purely anecdotal and we haven’t yet been able to determine the validity of these claims but several people have mentioned that making smoothies with Lemon, Orange or Lime juice could actually start the process of decarboxylation due to their acidity and it could get you very stoned. Best to avoid these and stay on the safe side until we can confirm if this is true or not.
Allergies, Contraindications and Other Precautions:
Dr. Courtney warns patients with kidney and gall bladder issues that Cannabis juice in its natural form poses risks.
Cannabis juice is not recommended for hypercalciuria or hyperoxaluria.
He also points out that patients taking medicines that grapefruit or pomegranate juice may interfere with, should inform their doctor before starting a diet with Cannabis juice. So should patients who use anticoagulants (like Coumadin).
Most leaves from plants contain large proportions of vitamin K, which can impede the liver to metabolize these medicines properly.
In very rare cases people have been known to actually be allergic to Cannabis. It’s probable that the allergy is not to Cannabis itself but one of the many compounds it contains. Terpenes seem to be one of the most common causes of allergic reactions.
That is why it’s always best to test a little bit first before taking full doses.
If the plants you plan on using have had any kind of phytosanitary treatment (insecticides, fungicides, acaricides) they are not suitable for making cannabis juice and should be avoided even if they have been rinsed.
These are different from the salt based nutrients often used in the plants growth cycles but as discussed avoiding chemical nutrients is best even if you do get a chance to flush them from the plant.
Organic is The Way!!!
Making Your Cannabis Juice
What You Will Need:
Masticating juicers (also known as cold press juicers) utilise a slower, crushing and squeezing action compared to centrifugal juicers which have sharp teeth and use high speeds to spin the pulp around in the chamber. These high speeds often lead to heat which can activate your cannabinoids and make them psychoactive by converting the THCa into THC.
Masticating juicers are more expensive but they are essential to getting your juice made correctly.
We understand that this is a pricy piece of equipment but it is a true masticating juicer capable of breaking down tough Cannabis fibres.
Ice Cube Trays
Preparing the Juice
Dr. William Courtney recommends that patients juice 15 leaves, and 2 large (2 to 4 inches long) raw buds per day.
Realistically getting so many buds may be tough so use what you have available, small buds as and when you can, will be fine too.
Remember the bud should be on the immature side and should not have any amber trichomes. Clear trichomes are ideal and mostly clear with some cloudy trichomes is fine too.
A jewellers loupe or magnifier are both great tools to check the stages of development of the plant’s trichomes. For more info on trichomes click here.
Simply remove the fan leaves from the plant, give them a wash even if they are organically grown and soak them in cold water for 5 minutes. Then add them to the juicer along with the buds.
A tip if you are using buds as well as leaves – it may be a good idea to use blender to break them up a bit otherwise many of the cannabinoids may end up sticking to the filter of the juicer.
Remember to be very careful not to let heat from the blender ‘’activate’’ your cannabinoids. A few short sharp bursts should do the trick.
Like many other supplements, Cannabis juice should be taken with meals so divide your juice into 3 portions and take it with a meal 3 times a day.
Once your Cannabis has been juiced you are able to store it in the fridge for 3 days, so storage for the duration of the day is fine but if you are doing bulk amounts you would need to put them into the ice trays and freeze them immediately. You are on the clock for potency loss as soon as the leaves have been removed so rather cut them off the plant when you know you can juice them immediately, even if you are storing them in the freezer.
When you take a daily portion out for the day you can let it thaw and then divide up the portions or simply add them to the ingredients in a smoothie recipe you are using and divide that into 3 equal parts.
Frequently asked Questions
Can I Use Male or Hermaphrodite Plants?
Yes for the purposes of juicing fan leaves these are perfectly fine to use. You obviously won’t get buds from a male plant but the leaves are usable.
Will it Show Up on a Drug Test Considering its THCa and not THC?
The answer is possibly, so if you’re going to be subject to a drug test then do not drink Cannabis juice. THCa is used as a biomarker when labs do drug tests. This basically means that a lab may test specifically for THCa as a means of creating a differential between someone who has consumed plant material vs. a prescription such as Marinol. So the answer is sometimes they do test for it sometimes they don’t.
Can I Just Juice Buds Instead of Leaves if I am Battling to Find a Sufficient Supply and If So How Much Should I Take?
Yes you absolutely can.
Dr. William L. Courtney, the foremost specialist on raw cannabis juice, recommends you start with a small taster dose (a sip of juice) to ensure there are no allergic reactions or psychoactivity. Once accustomed, he recommends progressively increasing the dose to 10-15 grams of fresh, raw cannabis buds each day as a supplement. For reference, this would equate to roughly 30 grams of fresh leaves. These plant material weights coincide with Dr. Courtney’s suggested daily intake of 250-500mg of plant-based cannabinoids in the form of non-psychoactive acid.
I Would Like to Juice More Leaves but I Cannot Source Enough – Where Else Can I Get leaves From?
If your own garden is not producing enough leaves, it’s unlikely that your dispensary will be able to supply you with any. They do have strict limitations on what they can and can’t do with their product, even what they may consider ‘’waste product’’. Your best bet would be to speak to caregivers or find growing collectives in your area. If you can’t find any, you could always start one.
Cannabis Juicing Recipes
We are providing you with a few Cannabis Juice recipes for smoothies and drinks. It’s likely that you will need a blender so remember to add the ingredients and then blend them thoroughly, allowing the machine to cool down first before adding the Cannabis juice. Once the Cannabis juice is added then you can give it a few short sharp bursts to mix in with everything else but remember you do not want to heat the juice as it could activate the cannabinoids and get you uncomfortably high.
2 cups almond milk
⅓ cup low-fat yogurt, vanilla or honey flavored
¼ cup peanut butter
2-4 tablespoons honey
Raw Cannabis juice
¼ cup oatmeal
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 bananas, peeled and sliced
Honey drizzle, optional
1. In a blender combine all the ingredients, with the exception of the optional honey drizzle, starting with the liquids. Blend until smooth.
2. Pour the magic into a couple of glasses. If you want that extra hit of sweetness, give it a drizzle with a bit of honey.
Sweet and Spicy Greens
3 handfuls of spinach
1 large cannabis bud
5 kale leaves
20 small sugar leaves
1 cup pineapple
The Peach Berry Smoothie.
2 cups milk
1/3 cup half-and-half
½ cup Greek vanilla yogurt
½ cup sliced peaches, drained
½ cup frozen mixed berries
2 teaspoons honey
3 ice cubes
Directions : Blend and enjoy
½ cup organic hemp milk
1 Tbsp organic hemp seeds
1 Tbsp organi cold pressed hemp seed oil
1 tsp organic flax seeds
½ cup organic green kale
¼ cup organic cucumber
2 slices organic cantaloupe
Fresh raw cannabis
Mix all ingredients in a blender. Add water and ice to taste. Blend until smooth, pour into a glass and enjoy!
The Fruit Bowl
1 large frozen banana, sliced
1½ – 2 cups coconut milk
2 cups frozen strawberries
4 tablespoons pomegranate juice
Directions : Puree till smooth and divide between two glasses. Enjoy!
Important Points to Remember
⦁ When it comes to juicing, fresher is better (like most vegetables).
⦁ Cannabis that has been dried and prepared for smoking is not suitable for juicing.
⦁ Do not be surprised if your local dispensary does not have a fresh supply of raw cannabis available. Many patients and caregivers are required to grow their own medicine to get access to quality starting material.
⦁ Dr. William Courtney recommends that patients juice 15 leaves, and 2 large (2 to 4 inches long) raw buds per day.
⦁ Raw buds are flowers harvested when the THC glands are clear (rather than amber).
⦁ It is recommended that you mix in another vegetable juice to cut down on the bitterness of the raw cannabis. A popular choice is carrot juice, and a ratio of 1 part cannabis juice to 10 parts carrot juice is a good rule of thumb.
⦁ Split the juice drink into 3 parts and drink with each meal, or store for up to 3 days in a tightly sealed container in the fridge.
⦁ Never let you Cannabis be heated.
⦁ Always check for bugs, powdery mildew, bud rot mold etc before consuming.
⦁ Always use only organic fertilizer.
⦁ Document your pain levels so you know how well it is working.
Quick Guide to Juicing Cannabis and Freezing
What you will need:
⦁ 15 large fan leaves and stems plus 2 immature buds. (This is ideal for a daily dose; you can use whatever you have.) CBD peaks in plants between 70-90 days.
⦁ Distilled or Reverse Osmosis water
⦁ Small, opaque glass bottle with tight lid
Ice cube trays if freezing
⦁ Fruit juice or other liquid for flavor
The Juicer : This is very important – Twin Gear Masticating (not Centrifugal) Using a blender or the wrong type of juicer can heat the juice which will activate the THC which will get you uncomfortably high for many hours. It will also destroy the benefits of the raw juice.
The Leaves: As fresh as possible. Get rid of any slimy ones. Just.
Preparation – rinse, and then soak for 5 min. in RO or distilled cold water. Either option is preferable to tap water which will contain chlorine.
– Feed leaves and small stems at a pace that suits your juicer. If it clogs up, use the reverse feature on many juicers to free it. Once you have enough for your daily dose add some water or juice and pour into glass bottle.
– Place it in the refrigerator. Divide your daily dose into 3 portions to take during the day. (With a meal is best for maximum absorption. You can also use a little lecithin which is known to help with the absorption of cannabinoids . Milk, coconut milk, hemp seed oil etc are also great.
– Up to 3 days in the refrigerator
– 6-12 months frozen depending on the type of freezer
– Pour undiluted juice into ice cube trays and freeze immediately according to daily portion sizes. Label the ice trays with the date
Things to Remember:
– Never allow the material to be heated or it will activate the THC and get you unpleasantly high.
-Remain sterile at all times
– Throw out any material that is slimy or degraded.
– Always check for mold, powdery mildew etc
– Document your progress
– If you are having a dry spell use what you can, it won’t always be possible to keep up with the ‘’recommended intake’’.
Enjoy and Spread the Word
The Secret to Natural Pain Relief
Introduction & comprehensive FREE guide to growing, processing and using cannabis products for help managing chronic pain conditions. Even if you have no garden and zero growing skills or experience.
Always consult your physician when considering a change to your current treatment.