A Dietitian’s Perspective on Cannabis

Published on December 26, 2013 · Last updated July 28, 2020

Cannabis can save the world. A bold statement perhaps, but potentially true nonetheless. As a dietitian, when I look at the cannabis plant, I first see its nutritional value as a vegetable, loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. I also know that essentially cannabis is hemp, and hemp hits a home run every time when it comes to nutritional value (among its other thousands of industrial uses).

A quick nutritional summary of hemp:

  • Great source of complete protein
  • 100% vegan
  • Dairy-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Easy to digest
  • High in healthy Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids

Wow — what a power house!

As a holistic healthcare professional, I recognize and highly respect the diversity of cannabis in its uses as a medicine to heal and repair both the body and the mind. It is my opinion that cannabis may not only be the best medicine, but also the most nutritious plant known to humankind thus far.

The Nutritional Health Benefits of Raw Cannabis

While the exact nutritional profile of cannabis has yet to be determined, it seems safe to assume that the cannabis plant, including the seeds, is most likely just as nutritious as hemp, if not more so.

What’s being discovered now is the nutritional power and overall beneficial health effects of raw cannabis. Raw cannabis is not psychoactive unless heated, and it contains powerful disease-fighting compounds known as cannabinoids. Of these compounds, the most frequently studied are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD).

When used just as you would any other vegetable (in a smoothie, salad, sauté, juiced), cannabis appears to provide some pretty awesome health benefits. You may have heard of Kristen Peskuski-Courtney, a woman who struggled with multiple chronic illnesses which left her all but debilitated. After years of pharmaceutical intervention to no avail, her health dramatically improved through the power of raw cannabis juicing. The man behind this method of ingestion is Dr. William Courtney, a medical doctor and huge promoter of the “raw greens” cannabis movement.

From Dr. Courtney:

“Whether Sativa, Indica, Ruderalis, male, female, hermaphrodite, native, feral, bred for fiber, seeds or medicinal resin, cannabis is the best source for [beneficial cannabinoids]…Over 50 patients have used only [cannabinoids] to put their cancer in remission; and over 150 have found symptomatic relief.”

What does that tell you? What it says to me is that there is some powerful research being done and treatment methods being delivered out there to very sick patients, and they are all based on raw cannabis.

Dr. Courtney has researched the benefits of raw cannabis and has come to the following conclusions:

  • Smoking cannabis may not treat the disease, only the symptoms
  • Therapeutic levels of cannabinoids are better achieved through ingestion
  • When cannabis is heated or burned, the chemical structure of the plant compounds are changed, specifically the acidity of THC, which alters its ability to be therapeutic
  • Raw cannabis activates the brain’s cannabinoid system, which triggers an antioxidant release
  • These antioxidants act as a “cleaner” and remove damaged cells from the body
  • Raw cannabis improves the efficiency of the cells in our body
  • Creating oils, butters or eating the raw plant is the best way to get the necessary beneficial compounds

Looking to incorporate more “green” into your daily diet? If you’re interested in exploring the benefits of raw cannabis, here are some tips and recommendations:

  • Raw cannabis can be used every day, multiple times a day by anyone of any age.
  • Raw cannabis is not intoxicating unless it is heated, meaning there are no worries of mental or physical impairment after consuming
  • Raw cannabis can be added to smoothies, juices, and salads
  • Like any other herb or seasoning, ground up raw buds can be sprinkled on top of soups, stews, oatmeal, yogurt, or pudding
  • Juicing specifically takes a lot of material; Dr. Courtney suggests 20-30 big shade leaves or 2-3 raw buds (2-3 inches in length) per day for therapeutic benefits
  • Having your own garden at home is helpful as access to this quantity of raw product may be difficult or illegal in your state.

photo credit: Food Thinkers via photopincc

Shop highly rated stores near you

Showing you stores near
See all stores
Jessica Aragona
Jessica Aragona
As a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant, Jessica has a unique perspective on the nutritional benefits of cannabis.
View Jessica Aragona's articles
Get good reads, local deals, and strain spotlights delivered right to your inbox.

By providing us with your email address, you agree to Leafly's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.