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The Many Surprising Benefits of the Cannabis Root

February 19, 2020 in General Education

Most cannabis users know all about the many benefits of cannabis leaves, stems and buds, but did you know that the cannabis root also has a myriad of medicinal properties? I certainly didn’t! In this article I will discuss the history of cannabis root usage, list its benefits, the compounds it contains, the many ways to use cannabis root and techniques for growing and cleaning it.

Things You Never Knew About Cannabis Root

  1. Long History of Medicinal Usage
  2. Liver Protectant
  3. Has Many Topical Applications
  4. Anti-Inflammatory
  5. May Eradicate Cancer Cells Through Apotosis
  6. Maintains Healthy Cell Membranes
  7. Anti-Hemorrhagic
  8. Soothes Skin Burns, Cuts and Irritations
  9. Its Properties May Vary Depending on the Strain
  10. Reduces Fevers
  11. Gastrointestinal Protection
  12. Treats Bacterial Infections and Toxins
  13. Antioxidant
  14. Treats Gout
  15. Contains trace amounts of cannabinoids and is not psychoactive

Historical Background of Cannabis Root

The use of the cannabis root was mentioned in a Chinese herbal publication as far back as 2700 BC. The root was dried and ground into a paste as an analgesic for broken bones and post-surgical procedures. Fresh cannabis root juice was also used in ancient China for medicinal purposes.

The Roman physician, Dioscorides, chronicled his use of boiled cannabis root in a poultice to treat inflammation and gout.

In 1600, it was reportedly used in Indonesia to treat gonorrhea as well as gout. Cannabis root was also mixed with other compounds to treat sick sheep.

In 1960s Argentina, cannabis root was used to reduce fever, treat dysentery, gastric distress and was considered to be an important supplement to maintain good health and well-being.

Applications For the Cannabis Root

The root has been used both internally and externally, using the following methods:

  • Dried and ground into a powder and mixed with the juice to form a paste
  • Pulverized and mixed with wine
  • Raw
  • Juiced
  • Baked
  • Decoction which is an oil extraction process
  • Topicals such as a poultice, a compress, mixed with balms and creams
  • Added to food
  • Used intrarectally

Compounds Found in Cannabis Root

Terpenes

The terpenes found in the cannabis root are different than those found in the resin glands of the flower, and in the leaves, seeds, stalks and stems. One of their main functions is to deter predators from attacking the plant. This is achieved through their bitterness.

Pentacyclic Triterpene Ketones

A group of terpene-based compounds that contain the following properties:

  • Antimicrobial
  • Anti-Inflammatory
  • Analgesic
  • May kill cancer cells
  • Diuretic
  • Contains immune modulation properties

Triterpene

A triterpene is a type of hydrocarbon compound consisting of three terpenes, found in the cannabis root. The two main triterpenes in cannabis root are friedelin and epifriedelanol.

Friedelin

It was first discovered in the cork plant and has several health benefits:

  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Antipyretic
  • Analgesic
  • May treat osteoarthritis
  • May have antiproliferative effect on cancer cells
  • Promotes liver health

Epifriedelanol

  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-aging of tissue
  • Anti-cancer properties through apoptosis, especially in cervical cells

Monoterpenes

  • Carvone has been shown to inhibit the sensation of pain
  • Dihydrocarvone

They can also be found in dill and spearmint and provide a minty aroma

Sterols

  • Choline helps maintain the health of the cell membranes so that the messages received by the cells are transmitted effectively. It is an essential nutrient for liver, nerve and brain health. Postmenopausal women are very likely to be choline deficient which can be restored by drinking some cannabis root tea.
  • Other sterols include sitosterol, campesterol and stigmasterol which all have LDL cholesterol reducing properties.

Amide Molecule

Amide compounds are found in many drugs such as LSD, penicillin and paracetamol. The amide compound in the cannabis root, N-(p-hydroxy-ß-phenylethyl)-p-hydroxy-trans-cinnamamide, has analgesic properties.

How To Clean and Prepare Cannabis Root

1. Remove the Roots When the Soil is Fresh and Moist
If the soil is dry, it will stick to the roots, making it more difficult to clean them.
2. Use a Small Gardening Shovel
Take a small shovel and gently bang the roots to get the majority of soil off. Continue banging until no more soil comes off.
3. Cutting and Rinsing The Roots with Water
Cut about 3-4 cm above the root. Rinse the roots repeatedly, using room temperature water, until you remove all the soil. You do not want to ingest any residue from the soil. Avoid exposing the roots to extreme temperatures in order to maintain their chemical composition.
4. Drying The Roots
Dry the roots for two days in a dry, dark place such as a closet or a pantry. Make sure it is not too moist which may cause them to become moldy or to develop bacteria.
5. Remove The Remaining Residue
Use an old toothbrush or a small soft brush and gently remove any remaining soil and dirt.

Decoction is considered to be the best method for processing cannabis roots. The standard recipe is for 1 ounce of cannabis root to 2 cups of boiling water. You may need to adjust the ratios for your needs. Put the root and water in a pan over medium heat and simmer until about 1/4 of the water evaporates. Strain the mixture.

Cannabis Root Topicals

You can use cannabis root to make lotions, salves, balms, liniments, massage oils and tinctures.

  1. Strain off the liquid, separating it from the root pulp. You can freeze the plant matter for re-use.
  2. Place the liquid in a container in the freezer. After the water freezes, the oils will rise to the surface and can be scraped off into another container.
  3. Reheat the oils to room temperature and add beeswax and other essential oils for a spreadable consistency.

Growing Techniques

Hydroponic and aeroponic techniques are highly recommended if you are cultivating the roots for medicinal purposes. It allows the grower to track their progress, makes it easier to add nutrients and ensures that the roots will be clean and free of soil.

Please note that there is very little research about the long-term effects of cannabis root usage. As a result, it is best to err on the side of caution. It may contain compounds that interact with some prescription medications. If ingested in high doses, it may be toxic to the liver and irritate the stomach lining. Topical usage may be safer, but might also cause a reaction. More research is sorely needed to investigate all the potential medicinal benefits of the cannabis root.

Sources:
seattleweekly.com, Digging Into The Medicinal Benefits of Cannabis Root, Meagan Angus, Aug 9, 2017
rxleaf.com, Save The Roots: Cannabis Root Is Required Medicine, Christine Kielhorn, PhD, Oct. 29, 2017
herb.co.com, 5 Reasons To Love Cannabis Roots and How To Effectively Use Them, Anna Wilcox, Aug. 13, 2019.
cbdrootsource.com, How To Clean and Prepare Your Cannabis Roots
green-flower.com, 10 Things You Never Knew About Cannabis Roots, Rachel Garland, 7/24/19
sensiseeds.com, The Importance of Cannabis Roots: Medical Potential and How To Use The Root, updated 1/20/20, reviewed by Dr. Sanjai Sinha

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