The cannabis plant is one of the most versatile on the planet. We have already found an amazing array of ways to reuse parts of the plant for our benefit. These including making hemp clothing, hempcrete for houses and even hemp plastic.
Most methods of recycling the hemp plant utilize the stalks of the plant for their strong and hardy quality. But what about cannabis roots? Well, it turns out there is much more value to the humble root than meets the eye. And in fact, it’s no secret – we’ve been using cannabis roots medicinally for thousands of years.
Let’s take a quick look at the history behind cannabis root use and how we can apply this knowledge into our modern day lives.
The history behind cannabis roots for medicinal purposes is actually well-documented. One of the first historical mentions of cannabis roots was by the Roman historian Pliny The Elder. He wrote in his book, ‘Natural Histories’, that when prepared in water, the root could “relax contractions of the joints and cure gout and similar maladies” (1).
By the late 17th century, cannabis root was being used to treat fever, inflammation, gout, arthritis. Most of these remedies were prepared by boiling the roots in water and drinking the resulting concoction. The roots were also prepared to cure skin burns. This involved either pounding the roots flat, wrapping them around the burn or mixing them with a fat like butter and applying the mixture topically.
In ancient China, a juice made from the roots was used to assist with preventing hemorrhage after childbirth. For treatment of sexually transmitted disease gonorrhea, one German botanist prescribed c root as a treatment, although it’s unclear how the roots were prepared to treat that specific condition.
There is limited scientific evidence so far to back up the medicinal powers of these roots. However, we can take notes from traditional methods of preparation in order to concoct our own medicinal tonics, tinctures and topicals. Here’s the lowdown on how.
There are lots of mentions throughout history of cannabis roots being boiled into a soothing tea. For relief of various conditions like inflammation, fever and joint pains, it’s said that boiling the root extracts the water soluble compounds in the roots (2).
To prepare your own, first wash the roots to remove any soil residue. Next, you can either crush the roots in a pestle and mortar (this is the advised method to retain nutrients) or chop it up. Once prepared, add to boiling water. After reaching a boil, turn the water down to a simmer for about 20-30mins and you have a soothing root tea.
For extra medicinal properties and added taste, you could add honey, lemon juice or even herbs like mint.
Freshly ground roots can also be mixed with high-fat substance like butter. This gives the fat-soluble nutrients something to bind to.
You can make root butter in a similar fashion to how you make regular cannabis butter. First, either chop up the root or crush it. Then add it to a pan with a good amount of butter. One block should do the trick for the roots of a few plants. The most important thing when preparing using butter is to not let it burn. So make sure you heat it low and slow.
With this method, the longer you cook it for, the more medicinal properties you’ll get from the roots. A few hours should do the trick.
Topical application of root remedies is the method most commonly described throughout historical sources. Many dispensaries already stock root remedies in the form of lotions, salves, lip balms and more.
Here’s our recipe for making a salve using cannabis roots. It involves two steps. The first is to make an infused oil as the base for the salve.
Take the ground, dried roots and place in a pan.
Cover by one or two inches deep with coconut or olive oil and simmer at a low heat for around 5hours.
For part 2 you will need:
8oz infused oil (from part 1)
1oz beeswax (If you want a thicker salve, use more wax)
Vitamin e oil (as a preservative)
10 drops essential oil(s) of your choice
Once it cools, you can make adjustments to consistency by reheating and adding more oil or wax.
Be aware of the source of cannabis roots when using them to create medicinal products. Not all soil is created equal. Therefore when selecting roots, consider carefully which soil they are from. Cannabis roots can accumulate heavy metals from the soil like iron, chromium and cadmium (3).
Although there is not so much modern research yet to back up the traditional claims cannabis roots have as a medicine. However, there is a huge array of usage throughout history that suggests they have medicinal value.
It’s worth experimenting with some of the methods we’ve talked about to see what truly works for you. Just remember to be selective when it comes to sourcing roots and make sure you get them from a reputable source with great quality soil.
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