Non-psy-cho-ac-tive can-na-bi-noid the-ra-py

Say what?!

It’s a fancy 12-syllable way of saying using the cannabis plant in a raw, fresh (or frozen) unheated way. This method of ingestion is both preventative and therapeutic, but NOT psychoactive. Some call this modality ‘green leaf therapy’, and it’s one of the most exciting areas of cannabis research today.

For those who want the medicinal effect of the plant without any psychoactivity or degree of ‘high’, this fits the bill.

The raw, non-heated, fresh, sugar and/or fan leaves, and/or flowers from the cannabis plant can be used juiced or in shakes. You’ll be raising a glass to non-psychoactive cannabinoid therapy.

In doing so you can ingest the plants’ proteins, essential amino/ fatty acids, and other dietary essentials. In addition, you’ll be accessing it’s anti-inflammatory and endocannabinoid system (ECS) regulating properties, which helps to control inflammation based diseases.

Just as proper ‘low and slow’ protocol with CBD oil may take 2-6 weeks to slowly make its medicinal effects truly known in your system, ‘green leaf’ or raw cannabis therapy may take as long to start regulating your endocannabinoid system to a noticeable degree.

In the meantime, you are providing a plethora of dietary benefits to your daily intake.

Can you buy raw cannabis through a Licensed Producer?

Only in its seed or clone form, with a licence to grow. BUT, in most areas of Canada you may now grow the legally allowable four plants without a license.

In this case, access to the ‘trim’ of the cannabis plant is readily available. Trim includes fan and sugar leaves. You can also use the flowers. This plant material should be cut just before use, or cut and frozen until use in you juice or shake. Even regular room temperature can start the decarboxylation (decarbing) process in trim over time.

Let’s review the basic science of decarbing using THCA, as an example. THCA is the precursor to THC (just as CBDa is the precursor to CBD).The change in the chemical structure occurs with heat, which causes decarboxylation. It is essentially the process of knocking off a carboxylic acid group of atoms, turning it from THCA into THC. The THCA is a larger molecule than THC. It does NOT fit into the lock and key CB1 receptors in our ECS in the brain, so no ‘high’ can occur.

Because of this, THCA is non psychoactive. Conversely THC, which is a smaller molecule that fits perfectly into the CB1 receptors, IS psychoactive.

People vape, smoke or bake THCA entirely for this reason (to convert to THC). However,  some people are not THC tolerant. They do not want the ‘high’ that may be associated. This is where the raw plant is preferable. 

Dr. William Courtney, MD is an expert in non-psychoactive cannabinoid therapy who has studied  that it’s possible to get far more of the THCA cannabinoids into your system, for example, in a raw format. For instance, one can ingest 500-600 mg of THCA without issue. In other words, one can tolerate much more of the medicinal cannabinoids when not heated, which may allow for more effectiveness as an antioxidant, anti inflammatory, and as a neuroprotectant because it can be used in much higher doses.

By contrast, there is a suggested dose restriction to the cannabinoids when heated and eaten (about 10 mg on average). Psycho-toxicity would result if you tried to ingest too much, especially in edibles where the THC may take hours to take effect, and one may consume more than necessary when trying to gauge effect.

Dr. Courtney believes that cannabis is the poster child for raw foods. Or, more to the point, that it is FUNCTIONAL food – something that provides benefits in excess of nutrition.

Within the cannabis plant are essential amino acids in a very balanced format. It is also a source of essential fatty acids in a uniquely balanced format (essential acids are defined as something we cannot create internally but must be acquired through our diet). The cannabis plant also offers essential cannabinoid acids, terpenes and flavonoids. In today’s world of packaged and processed foods and depleted soils, this is no small thing.

Personally, I have a shake with frozen cannabis leaves from a grow-at-home license almost daily. My recipe is quite simple but effective. I change up the ingredients but always make sure to keep in mind that cannabinoids are fat soluble, so I always add it to a drink that has a lot of fat content.

While many juice the fresh cannabis leaves, I use frozen leaves in shakes (thereby adding fiber to my diet as well). Where once I added spinach, I now add cannabis trim.

Kait’s blender drink:

Handful of frozen cannabis leaves, coconut water, MCT oil and coconut oil and yogurt. I add protein powder, collagen, half an avocado and frozen berries (extra flavour and antioxidants). I often add other things as well including: almond butter, apple and ginger, lemon or lime, vanilla or almond extract, leftover coffee from the day before or a cup of herbal or green tea I have steeped overnight (in this case I add less coconut water).

There are no limits to the variations, just ensure that you have enough fat in the shake as the cannabis is fat soluble.

If you don’t have access to plants, but would like to try non-psychoactive cannabinoid therapy you may look into THCA oil from the Licensed Producer Emerald Health Therapeutics, or CBDA oil from Whistler or CannaFarms.


DID YOU KNOW?  An acre of cannabis provides 5 times the CO2 removal compared to an acre of trees?


— Kait Shane, Community Outreach Educator at Natural Health Services and Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant (CHNC).

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