Some time ago, the internet was ablaze with articles touting the benefits of a new way to ingest medical marijuana: Juicing raw medical marijuana plants. The information stated that, much like juicing and the raw food diet, juicing medical marijuana preserves vital compounds and enzymes, like CBD cannabinoids, that would otherwise deteriorate with the combustion from common baking or burning methods. What’s even more amazing is that experts claim that a diet saturated with cannabinoids may treat an oft-misunderstood biochemical disorder: Clinical Cannabinoid Deficiency.
Mendocino and Humboldt County-based physician, Dr. William Courtney was one of the first to present works regarding the benefits of raw cannabis juice. His greatest proof? A miracle patient named Kristen Peskuski. Pekuski, by her own admission, had always been sickly. Throughout her life she suffered from hypoglycemia, endometriosis, rheumatoid arthritis, anemia, chronic bacterial infections, systemic lupus, chronic sinusitis, interstitial cystitis, and a host of other serious conditions. She saw doctors in some of the best hospitals around the country and was at one time taking over 40 prescription medications a day. Not a single doctor was able to diagnose the root of her illnesses, instead focusing on treating whatever ailment she was suffering from momentarily.
According to an interview published in High Times, things did not improve for Peskuski until she began self-medicating by smoking marijuana and using edibles. The positive results she experienced from medical marijuana gave her the confidence to go cold turkey on all her prescriptions and move to California in order to have access to clinics that provide medical marijuana treatment. Eventually, she came under the care of Dr. Courtney and this began the raw cannabis experiment. Pekuski says that raw cannabis saved her life because what she really suffered from was a cannabinoid deficiency disorder.
Emerging information about endogenous cannabinoids has revealed their role to be much more important in human biology and health than ever suspected before. For example, both anorexia and bulimia have been attributed to what doctors say is an imbalance of the endocannabinoid system. Endocannabinoids are naturally occurring and affect a number of physiological processes, including appetite and pain sensation. The CB1 receptors that accept chemical messages from the endocannabinoids do not distinguish whether the cannabinoids have been produced naturally or not. This is why using medical cannabis allows the brain to send the same messages as it would if the endocannabinoid system were not malfunctioning.
Dr. Courtney isn’t the only one working to better understand these discoveries. Ethnobionist, professor, and author Chris Kilham wrote an article, in which he asked the “seventy-four thousand dollar question.” He says, “Does cannabis simply relieve these diseases to varying degrees, or is cannabis actually a medical replacement in cases of deficient anandamide?”
While the general thinking has been that medical marijuana eases symptoms of various illnesses, the questions have now turned into whether medical marijuana actually addresses biochemical issues in the brain.
For Dr. Courtney and Kristen Peskuski, the results pointed in that direction. Moreover, it was the method of ingestion that may have been equally revealing. Juicing was what really allowed Peskuski to receive enough cannabanoids to recover from her illnesses.
As it is, within the natural makeup of a raw cannabis plant, THC exists in two varieties: THC and THC-A. Once the plant is cured and heated, components of the THC-A change. While this change creates an overall higher THC potency, it also decreases the available amino acids and other cannabanoid compounds, like CBD and CBN.
Raw foodists follow similar principles: Because heat destroys certain enzymes and nutrients in foods, incorporating raw, unprocessed foods allows for a greater availability of those elements. For Peskuski, who requires large amounts of cannabinoids without the psychoactive effects, nothing else was available to meet her needs.
However, as with any natural regiment, evidence is sometimes anecdotal and not all regiments are created equal for all patients. For all of the articles written about the benefits of juicing medical marijuana, there were almost none that questioned it’s promised results. This becomes a dangerous thing when it involves people with life-threatening illnesses who may not know how to properly medicate.
Dr. Courtney’s work has not been peer reviewed or tested in a double-blind study. Perhaps, this is due to certain blocks the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) put on medical marijuana research, but experts hope that sooner than later, clinical trials of marijuana on human subjects will provide irrefutable evidence of the benefit. As for doctors, while they may recommend using medical cannabis to ease symptoms, they normally won’t recommend programs (such as juicing), which have not been through clinical trials.
*On an unrelated note, Dr. Courtney is now running in the 2012 election for the U.S. House, representing California’s 2nd District. He is seeking the nomination on the Democratic ticket.