Vaping or smoking, consuming tinctures, capsules, and edibles are some of the most popular ways that hemp can be used as medicinal therapy. However, as more people discover the health benefits of hemp, one has to wonder, can eating it raw provide any health benefits? From a nutritional perspective, the short answer is yes.
While the aspect of “getting high” is totally missing, it is impossible to deny the bucket load of health benefits that eating raw hemp comes with. In fact, it’s said that phytochemicals contained in the trichome heads and leaf tissue of raw hemp, provide more abundance and variety than any other plant species.
Eating hemp straight from the earth may sound kinda strange, but there’s enough evidence to back up why this unorthodox practice should be incorporated into your everyday diet. As with all living things, nutrients power our basic bodily functions, and like any other raw herb, hemp is loaded with nutrient-rich cannabinoids that can do the human body a lot of good. In this article, we will look at just what happens when we consume the hemp plant just as mother nature intended — raw, green, and completely unmolested.
The Rundown on Cannabinoid Acids
As we’ve learned, you wouldn’t receive any effect from the fresh buds of the plant. However, hemp only becomes psychoactive after being heated.
Of the 113 identified, the two most abundant cannabinoids found in hemp are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In their acidic form, they are called CBDa and THCa, but after a process of drying and curing, much of their medicinal potential is decreased due to heat. This also includes many nutrients including essential amino acids, key vitamins, and important minerals that the body cannot synthesize on its own. This is called decarboxylation, a process that converts cannabinoid acids such as THCa and CBDa into their “active” forms, THC and CBD -- certainly much different chemicals via smoking, vaping, or cooking hemp.
Without that, THC remains in its acidic state as THCa. In its elemental form, THCa, in particular, is non-psychoactive and along with CBDa and can actually be metabolized in much larger amounts than without issue. This, of course, leaves little concern for those who are looking to receive relief without the high. To further explain, digested hemp needs to enter your bloodstream to give you that “high” feeling. But, since it’s difficult for your body to break down the composition of hemp, it doesn’t absorb these acids. Rather, it just passes through your digestive tract, converting these cannabinoids acids into the nutrients it needs, via your own metabolism.
Um, Are There Any Benefits?
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about consuming cannabinoid acids is the fact that they have the ability to help our cells communicate with each other via our endocannabinoid system (ECS), which may be key to preventing the development of illness and disease caused by endocannabinoid deficiencies. Below are several ways you can benefit from consuming raw hemp.
Amino Acids and Omega 3’s & 6’s: Raw hemp has an ideal ratio of essential amino acids that provides sufficient amounts of and stearic and palmitic acid -- many of which cannot be produced by the human body alone -- as well as omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids important for brain development, blood pressure regulation and immune system function. EFA’s are also key to maintaining balance in the endocannabinoid system.
Vitamins and Antioxidants: In 2003 after discovering CBD contains vital neuroprotective antioxidants, the cannabinoid was patented by the U.S. government. In their research, they found that CBD — which also includes CBDa — is a powerful antioxidant that could prevent cell damage, as well as help in the treatment of different central nervous system disorders. Raw hemp also contains vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, & E, which help to promote general growth and development.
Chlorophyll: This is a pigment in hemp that usually gets lost in the process of being dried and cured. However, when not dried or cured, it is this very component that offers a number of health benefits. At a cellular level, chlorophyll (structured similarly to hemoglobin) has the ability to rejuvenate the body and can prevent DNA damage, promote detoxification within the body, encourage healing as well as treat inflammation and improve the absorption of iron.
Anthocyanin: Raw hemp flower contains a very effective analgesic called anthocyanin. Considered non-narcotic, they not only bring about the beautiful ‘purple-ish’ appearance in some strains, but they work great at promoting a healthy heart and immune system, and can even improve your vision.
Terpenes: These organic compounds found in hemp are not only responsible for its flavor and unique aroma, but also contains a bounty of medicinal properties. The three well-known terpenes are: pinene, a neuroprotective terpene that strengthens our nervous system, linalool which contains anticonvulsant, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory properties, and lastly, limonene, said to lower cholesterol, boost metabolism, and also prevent gastrointestinal issues.
The Many Ways You Can Eat It
The cleansing properties of raw hemp are impressive and cannot be emphasized enough. To consume raw hemp, remember to use fresh buds and leaves when eating it raw; dried or cured buds will simply not work. Here are a few to fully take advantages of its benefits:
Cold-pressed Hemp Seed Oil: Using a fat is said to help increase the bioavailability of raw hemp, so you can get the most out of all the fresh plant has to offer.
Juicing: What can we say — the fresher the leaves, the more beneficial the juice. Using hemp leaves are the perfect way to take your juicing to the next level.
Salad: Chopping up some leaves and adding a few leafy greens into the mix can make for a dynamite dressing over a healthy salad.
Smoothie: If you find the taste of raw hemp bitter, no problem. You can always customize your drink by diluting it with other fruits and veggies.
Hemp Seeds: Like pumpkin or sunflowers, or these can be consumed just like any of your favorite seed snacks.
So, is raw hemp the newest member of healthy superfoods or just another wellness trend? Perhaps the answer is yes for both. hemp has a vast amount of health benefits that can do a lot of good for a lot of people and there are a number of way for people to enjoy it thanks to modern growing technology and the creativity of mankind.
The bottom line is, raw hemp is versatile, more efficient and discreet and is safe to be consumed daily to all ages and groups without producing the mind-altering, intoxicating effects.