Very little attention has been paid to the mighty cannabis root. In fact, I had no idea that it had so many medicinal properties until I stumbled upon an article about it. While it contains no significant amounts of cannabinoids, it does contain many other medicinal active compounds. It is not psychoactive. In this article, I will discuss its historical usage, list the benefits, its active compounds along with its different applications and the protocol for cleaning cannabis roots for medicinal purposes.
History of the Cannabis Root
Cannabis root has a long history of usage going back to approximately 2700 BCE, according to Chinese literature. It was an analgesic and the root was dried and ground to a paste, used to treat broken bones and to relieve post-surgical pain.
In 79 CE, Roman historian, Pliny the Elder, documented the use of cannabis root for joint cramps, gout and acute pain relief. He wrote about using fresh cannabis root in its raw form where it was directly applied to burns to reduce pain and blistering. He noted that it must be changed often to prevent it from drying out.
In 18th C England, Dr. William Salmon wrote about the use of cannabis root and barley to treat sciatica and pelvic joint pain.
From the late 18th C to the beginning of the 20th C, American physicians recommended the decoction of cannabis root and seeds to treat inflammation, incontinence and venereal disease.
Potential Benefits of the Cannabis Root
- Reduces fever
- Provides liver protection
- Treats skin burns, wounds and irritations
- Maintains the health of cell membranes
- Provides relief for a large range of female medical conditions; menopausal symptoms, labor pains and postpartum hemorrhage
- Treats gonorrhea and other STDs
- Reduces gastrointestinal distress
- Induces vomiting
- Acts as a stomach tonic
- Treats bacterial infections
- Treats gout
- Maintains immune system health
- May treat painful blockage of the bladder
Applications for Cannabis Root
- Roots can be used raw, boiled, juiced, as a compress and a poultice.
- It can also be processed through decoction which is a method of extraction for roots, stems and bark. The plant material is mashed and then boiled in water to extract the oils, organic compounds and other substances. It can be used to make tinctures and teas. Decoction is also the name for the liquid which is the end product of the process.
- Topical applications are produced by drying the root and infusing it with olive or coconut oil and essential oils. It makes a great lip balm!
Active Compounds in Cannabis Root
Cannabis root contains many more terpenes, in higher concentrations, than those that are present in the resin glands in the flower and in the stems, stalks and leaves. They are bitter which acts to deter predators from attacking the plant.
Pentacyclic Triterpene Ketones is a group of terpene-based compounds that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, diuretic, pain relieving, antimicrobial, immune protecting, cancer cell killing properties.
- Friedelin contains 12.8mg/kg and is an anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antipyretic and anti-ulcerative.
- Epifriedelanol contains 21.3mg/kg and is an antioxidant which slows the progression of aging and may have anti-cancer properties.
- Carvone is shown to have antinociceptive activity
They are also found in spearmint and dill and account for the minty aroma
- Sitosterol may lower LDL cholesterol
- Campesterol may lower LDL cholesterol
- Stigmasterol may lower LDL cholesterol
- Choline is the precursor for the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. It helps maintain healthy cell membranes which partly determines how well chemical messages are received by cells.
N-(p-hydroxy-ß-phenylethyl)-p-hydroxy-trans-cinnamamide has analgesic properties.
Proper Cleaning Method for Cannabis Root Medicine
The cannabis plant is a phytoremediator, which means that it sucks up all the pollutants, heavy metals and harmful chemicals from the soil. It is great for cleaning up the planet, but not so great if you plan to ingest the plant.
It is best to use fresh roots which are full of nutrients, grown in clean soil
Decoction is considered to be the best method for processing cannabis roots. Follow this protocol to properly decoct your roots:
- Pull the roots gently out of the ground with the goal of breaking as few strands as possible.
- After the roots are removed, use a sharp knife to remove them from the stalks and leaves.
- Clean them with lukewarm water only. DO NOT USE SOAP. This is a labor of love since cannabis roots are difficult to clean. It is worth the effort to take your time in order to end up with a safe product. You may want to use a soft toothbrush to remove the dirt from the roots.
- Once the roots are clean, dry them and store them in a cool, dark environment for 48 hours until they are completely dried.
- The standard recipe for decoction is 1 ounce of dried root to two cups of boiling water. If it is too weak or too strong for your needs, adjust the ratios, accordingly.
- Once you have determined the ratio that works for you, place the roots and water in a pan and simmer on medium heat until about 1/4 of the water evaporates. Strain the mixture and allow to cool. It will last up to 72 hours in the refrigerator.
Using Cannabis Roots to Make Topicals
1. Once you have cleaned and dried your cannabis roots, you can grind them into a fine powder.
2. Mix the powder with the oil or fat of your choice
3. Place it in a slow cooker for 12-18 hours
4. Take the powder from 1-2 root balls and mix it with 4 cups of fat such as coconut oil and 2 cups of water. You can add some beeswax to harden the balm, making it easier to store and to carry around.
5. You can use it to treat skin irritation such as blisters and skin disorders such as acne, wounds and burns. You can rub it on your temples for headache relief or on your chest to relieve congestion. It also eases joint pain.
Cannabis Root Tea
1. Mix powdered cannabis root with other herbs of your choice and place in a slow cooker for 12 hours.
2. Strain and enjoy!
Please note: If ingested in high doses, cannabis root may be toxic to the liver and may irritate the stomach lining. Due to the lack of research about cannabis root, there is very little data about its effects.
Topical applications may be safer but may also cause a reaction. It may also interact with some prescription medications.
With all its potential medicinal properties, the cannabis root deserves much more attention by cannabis researchers!
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
rxleaf.com, How To Prepare Cannabis Roots As Medicine, Matt Weeks, Oct. 15, 2018