Forget about smoking it – juicing marijuana might be the best way to prevent and heal chronic liver disease!
Many Americans are under the impression that marijuana serves one purpose – to get people high. Often associated with stoners having the giggles and then the munchies, smoking marijuana has recently been decriminalized in several U.S. states.
Whether or not it is legal for people to ‘get stoned,’ evidence that marijuana contains substantial medicinal benefits is growing by leaps and bounds. Smoking the plant’s bud is the traditional mode of marijuana consumption; however, there is a new movement condoning juicing marijuana buds and leaves for a variety of health benefits. Upon further evaluation, it appears that (if it were legal) drinking marijuana juice is an ideal habit for combating chronic liver disease.
Juicing Fruits and Vegetables
More than a passing health fad, making juice with fresh fruit and vegetables provides your body with a smorgasbord of easily absorbable, health-promoting, disease-hampering nutrients. Making your own fresh juice requires either a juicer or a blender to extract the liquid from your preferably organic produce. Loaded with vitamins, minerals, enzymes and antioxidants, the following are ideal candidates for a liver-friendly cup of fresh juice:
- Spinach and kale
- Carrots and celery
- Apples and pears
- Cucumbers and cabbage
- Citrus – lemon, lime or orange
- Cranberries and beets
- Ginger and turmeric root
- Chard and collards
- Garlic (Read why “Garlic Is Good for the Liver.”)
Active Ingredients in Medical Marijuana
Doctors, researchers, advocates and patients have discovered that marijuana harbors a variety of medical uses; as such, medical marijuana is currently available by prescription in nearly half of U.S. states. Known botanically as Cannabis, marijuana is an extremely complex substance, containing two primary active ingredients:
- Cannabidiol (CBD) – CBD does not affect the mind or behavior, but is useful in reducing pain and inflammation, controlling epileptic seizures and possibly even treating mental illness and addictions.
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – THC increases appetite and reduces nausea. THC may also decrease pain, inflammation and muscle control problems.
In August 2013, CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta wrote an editorial where he detailed the reasons he believes marijuana should not be listed as a Schedule I drug: “It doesn’t have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications.”
Backed by plenty of research, medical marijuana prescriptions are frequently administered to relieve the following:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Low appetite
- Chronic pain
- Seizure disorders
While smoking marijuana is the traditional method of consumption, juicing Cannabis to extract its beneficial properties might be better. In its raw form, marijuana leaves and buds contain an abundance of CBD. More specifically, CBD has been shown to be:
- Not psychoactive (it will not get people high)
- An antioxidant
- An anti-inflammatory
- A cancer preventative
The properties of cannabidiol make it ideal for preventing and/or reversing a long list of chronic illnesses – including liver disease. Unlike heated forms of Cannabis (smoked, vaporized or in baked goods), raw Cannabis contains both the terpenes (the aromatic compounds of the plant) and the cannabinoids in the ideal portion and ratio.
Dr. William Courtney, a California physician, researcher and leading expert in raw dietary Cannabis is a staunch supporter of juicing Cannabis for its health benefits. According to Courtney, “It’s clear that this plant is incredibly important for cell health, which at its best prevents disease.” Courtney’s sentiment is reminiscent of Hippocrates’ infamous quote: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” when he states “You only need it (marijuana) as medicine when you have forgotten it is food.”
The biggest distinction that juicing has over heated forms of Cannabis is that it doesn’t get you high. This is useful for anyone juicing Cannabis – but especially for cancer patients who have been sick for many years and have developed a tolerance to THC (the chemical that causes the psychological effects of marijuana). In addition, not getting high makes it easier to ingest higher doses of Cannabis; therefore absorbing more CBD.
Cannabis for Liver Disease
Although the movement for medical marijuana is gaining momentum, there is not yet a large body of research showing that juicing Cannabis helps those with chronic liver disease. Nonetheless, a solid rationale exists. Those with liver disease are repeatedly at risk of inflammation causing liver injury, a cycle that can lead to permanent liver damage if uninterrupted. Several studies have demonstrated the value of CBD to those with compromised liver function:
- As published in a 2011 edition of the journal Cell Death & Disease, researchers found that CBD selectively induces death of activated hepatic stellate cells (cells responsible for liver scarring). This discovery shows that Cannabis is a potential therapeutic agent for the treatment of liver fibrosis.
- As published in a 2008 edition of Journal of Neuroendocrinology, researchers found that cannabinoid receptor antagonists (such as Cannabis) can resolve fat accumulation in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and treat patients with cirrhosis because they slow the progression of liver fibrosis.
- As published in a 2011 edition of the British Journal of Pharmacology, researchers found CBD acts on the liver after finding that it helped restore liver function in animals with fulminant liver failure.
CBD’s value to those with chronic liver disease comes as no surprise given its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-cancer properties.
Juicing Tips for Real Life
Juicing Cannabis sounds like a good idea. Unfortunately, it may currently be illegal and/or hard to obtain the raw ingredients. Still, the following tips can help you get the most of your marijuana juice if a safe opportunity arises:
- Fresh – As when juicing any fruit or vegetable, the fresher the better. Marijuana that has been dried and prepped for smoking is not suitable for juicing.
- Quantity – Courtney advises patients to juice 15 leaves and 2 large raw buds per day. (Raw buds are flowers harvested when the THC glands are clear rather than amber.)
- Bitter – Raw Cannabis is very bitter. Experts advise mixing the Cannabis with other fruits or vegetables to reduce the bitterness. One part Cannabis juice to 10 parts other fruit/vegetable juice is advised.
Alternative to Juicing Organic Produce
Fresh juice is a highly effective way to deliver a wide range of valuable nutrients right into your bloodstream. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to an abundance of organic produce – nor do they always have the time to juice.
Raw Cannabis is not likely to land in the produce section of your local supermarket anytime soon, but marijuana juice will eventually surface. Just as we differentiate between drinking wine and eating raw grapes, society will learn to distinguish between smoking pot and juicing raw Cannabis. With its potential to prevent, reverse or at least minimize many types of chronic diseases (including liver disease), authorities will have a hard time keeping Cannabis juice away from those who could benefit.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3057300/, Cannabidiol improves brain and liver function in a fulminant hepatic failure-induced model of hepatic encephalopathy in mice, Y Avraham, et al, Retrieved July 19, 2015, British Journal of Pharmacology, April 2011.
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