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Sensi Magazine

Sativa the Superfood

Aug 17, 2017 02:22PM ● By Randy Robinson
In recent years, Americans have veered away from drive-throughs and gas station food. Today, many are steering toward healthier diets. As people prod the Internet, magazines, and shows for new sources of nutritious-yet-tasty meals, the term “superfood” is popping up quite a bit.

Which brings up the questions: What, exactly, is a superfood? And does cannabis fall under this category?

A superfood could be considered any food item that’s incredibly dense with vitamins, proteins, amino acids, antioxidants, polyphenols, or any number of other molecules that provide health benefits. Examples of some superfoods include salmon, oatmeal, green tea, blueberries, and quinoa. Let’s see how cannabis holds up to these superfood standards.

Beyond Edibles—Raw Cannabis
When most people think about cannabis and food, they will probably imagine edibles: THC-infused gummies, suckers, and sodas. Raw cannabis and its juice, although growing in popularity, haven’t been heavily marketed by the burgeoning cannabis industry. Cannabis juicing is exactly what it seems: dropping cannabis flowers and leaves into a juicer and separating its nutrition-dense juice from the solid plant matter. Raw cannabis juice alone has no “recreational” potential; it doesn’t get anyone high.

However, cannabis can be incredibly useful without any psychoactive effect. The buds can be eaten raw as part of a salad or as a side dish, but juicing is the quickest and easiest way to prepare cannabis as a part of a healthy and balanced diet. Raw is key here, since cooking buds or heating them in any way can “activate” the plant’s cannabinoids, potentially causing the elevating effects for which cannabis is known.

Nutritional Facts
To view cannabis as a superfood, it helps to think about it as just another vegetable.

Parts of the Cannabis sativa plant are already available as a prepackaged superfood in nearly every grocery store. Hemp seeds, which are non-psychoactive, won’t give anyone a buzz, and they’re packed with omega-3 fatty acids—the same heart-healthy oils found in avocados and fish. The seeds contain proteins, vitamins, and amino acids, too, which every person needs.

The cannabis plant proper—its leaves and buds—offers more nutrition than the seeds. Raw juice and plant material are packed with cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other nerdy-sounding stuff that confer a ton of health benefits. Those benefits include analgesic, anticancer, antitumor, and possibly even antiaging properties.

Donna Shields, MS, RDN, founder of cannabis consulting firm Holistic Cannabis Network, says making cannabis—especially raw cannabis—part of a healthy diet might help stave off illnesses. “Chronic disease is caused by inflammation,” she explains. “The reason we eat superfoods is to tame the fire of inflammation in the body. Cannabis is an antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties.”

But wait, there’s more: Raw cannabis offers fiber, folic acid, potassium, riboflavin, zinc, niacin, phosphorus, thiamine, beta-carotene, and beta-caryophyllene, and vitamins A, B12, D, and E. Woo! It’s practically like getting a full garden salad in one plant.

As for how much cannabis you should include in your diet, that’s entirely up to you. If you’re drinking cannabis juice for medicinal purposes, you’ll need to gauge your intake based on your individual needs. If you’re drinking cannabis juice for general health purposes, adding as little or as much as you want according to your tastes should suffice.

About Those Cannabinoids
The two prominent cannabinoids in cannabis are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the stuff that gets us lifted; CBD can make us feel chill, but it won’t get us spacey. In raw cannabis, these two compounds are in their natural, acidic forms, which we designate THC-A and CBD-A. When we heat the plant (such as by smoking), we knock off the acidic part of the molecule, which allows it to activate cannabinoid receptors on our cells.

THC-A, which is an “inactive” form of THC, behaves more like CBD in our bodies than THC, ironically. “One of the upsides of using it in its raw state is that you’re not getting the high,” explains Shields. “Most people are able to consume a greater quantity of the plant matter, getting a greater quantity of cannabinoids than if they used it in some other form.”

Where do I get fresh cannabis?
Your chances of finding fresh cannabis at most dispensaries or retail stores are slim. These businesses prefer to harvest and cure buds for smoking, not for juicing. If you’re a registered medical patient, you can ask a caregiver to grow your cannabis for you, and they can provide you  fresh trimmings. Or, as allowed under Colorado law (if you’re 21+), you can grow your own cannabis.

 How to Make Raw Cannabis Juice
° Start with fresh cannabis buds and leaves. These should be moist. Avoid dried or cured buds.
° Mix the buds and leaves with other fruits or vegetables to add flavor and  more nutritional benefits. Run the mix through a juicer and enjoy.
° Experiment with fruits and vegetables—especially carrots—to mask the  bitter flavors of the cannabis. Consider eating a slice of orange after drinking the juice to clear the palette.