Can You Consume Raw Hemp Leaves?

Written By: Sam Milam

If you’ve ever been around the hemp or cannabis plant, you might have considered whether you could “beef up” your salad greens with some hemp leaves. Perhaps you’ve even asked yourself the question: “Can I consume raw hemp leaves just as I might eat freshly harvested kale or spinach in a salad?” The short answer is yes! The long answer is yes, you can! Raw hemp leaves are packed full of nutrients that are great for the body. But can it get you high? No, it can’t. There is a heating process required to make that happen, and raw hemp leaves aren’t going to make you feel high. Let’s take a look at some of the health benefits and strategies for incorporating these controversial leaves into your diet.


Nutrients In Raw Hemp Leaves

Cannabis leaf benefits are somewhat two-fold. You are getting the standard benefits of eating those dark, leafy greens, but you are also consuming cannabinoids that pack a powerful nutritional punch. When it comes to your overall health and wellness, diet is a significant contributing factor. Some of the “normal” nutrients you’ll receive from consuming raw hemp leaves include: 

- Iron
- Potassium
- Zinc
- Phosphorus
- Magnesium
- Fiber
- Digestible globular proteins
- Essential amino acids; a balanced proportion of Omega-3 fatty acids and  Omega-6 fatty acids

These nutrients are just the tip of the iceberg. Different strains grown in different environments provide a diverse range of nutrients. One thing is for sure, though, raw hemp leaves are full of vital nutrients for your health and should be considered a superfood, although you probably won’t see raw cannabis leaves in the supermarket anytime soon.


Cannabis-Related Nutrients Found In Raw Hemp Leaves

Beyond the more common nutrients often found in plants, the raw cannabis leaf is practically exploding with other nutrients that are specific to the plant. Of course, there are terpenes and chlorophyll in other types of fruits and vegetables, but raw hemp leaves have phytocannabinoid-derived acids that can only be found in this plant. The phytocannabinoid-derived acids include THC-A and CBD-A. These are the neutral forms of the more commonly known THC and CBD found in cured cannabis buds. They are nonintoxicating substances at this stage because they haven’t been heat-treated through a process called decarboxylation that would convert the THC-A into the intoxicating substance of THC.


Health Benefits Of Consuming Raw Cannabis Leaves

Some of the health benefits of THC-A and CBD-A include anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-emetic, anti-aging, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties. We could all do with consuming raw cannabis leaves with that kind of power! This powerhouse plant has shown promising results in all of the above categories and would make a great addition to any diet. A significant benefit of consuming raw cannabis leaves is that you are awakening the endocannabinoid system without having to experience the intoxicating effects of consuming THC (unless that’s what you’re going for). So you can reap the benefits of the plant and go about your day without feeling high or slower to react to stimuli. 

Each part of this plant has potent medicinal properties. You’ll find terpenes, the aromatic essential oils of a plant that are anti-inflammatory on their own. Chlorophyll is what gives plants their vibrant green colors, and can protect against DNA damage, treat inflammation, and detoxify the body. There are flavonoids in cannabis leaves, carotenoids, and, of course, phytocannabinoid acids. Each of these plays a role in nurturing, repairing, and protecting the body’s systems down to a cellular level.


How To Consume Raw Hemp Leaves

Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Hemp leaves can taste bitter. If you like bitter greens like arugula or dandelion leaves, then you might enjoy the flavor. But if you aren’t a fan, never fear. There are ways to prepare raw hemp leaves, so they are enjoyable to consume. Let’s take a look at a couple of options that might work out for you.

Juicing and smoothies. Juicing and making smoothies are popular options. You can mix the leaves in with other flavors like ginger, apples, and kale. Beware of the temperature that your juicer or smoothie-maker reaches. Heat causes THC-A and CBD-A to convert into THC and CBD. If you aren’t going for a high, you might be in for a surprise if you unintentionally decarb your hemp leaves. 

Salads. Making a salad is another great option for consuming raw cannabis leaves. You can eat just the leaves with a favorite dressing. Or get creative and add in different leafy greens, some baked salmon if you do meat, some cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and whatever other flavors suit your taste buds. 

Consuming raw hemp leaves is a safe and healthy way to add some powerful nutrients into your diet in one little package. Just like with any dark, leafy green, it’s essential to make sure you wash your greens and obtain them from a reputable source that doesn’t use pesticides and other harmful chemicals on the leaves.

Once you’ve found your method for consumption, raw cannabis leaves will do the work of repairing, restoring, and protecting your body. Whenever you prepare your raw cannabis leaves, it’s important to remember that heat can convert the acids into something that you might not be expecting, such as an unexpected high. Feel free to experiment with these flavorful and healthy leaves and find what works best for you!

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