We use almost every part of the weed plant: leaves, seeds, flowers, resin, fiber, but the weed root is the most underutilized part of the weed plant. While the buds and leaves usually take center stage, it turns out there are more to the roots than what many of us assumed. During historical times, cannabis root was highly valued by our ancestors as they used them for medicine.
Long history of medicinal usage
The first recorded use of cannabis root as medicine dates back to roughly 2700 BCE in Shennong pên Ts’ao ching. Translated as The Classic of Herbal Medicine, this ancient Chinese text mentions that cannabis root was a remedy for pain relief. Dried and ground up to form a paste, the treatment was frequently used for broken bones. In 79 CE, the Roman historian Pliny the Elder wrote in Naturalis Historia that cannabis root was boiled in water for joint cramps, gout, and acute pain relief. In the early 18th century, English physician William Salmon echoed these claims with a cannabis root and barley mixture for treating sciatica and pelvic joint pain. Needless to say, using cannabis roots is in, well, our roots.
Did you know cannabis roots contain trace quantities of cannabinoids? The concentration is minimal in comparison to buds or flowers but compounds such as CBD are existent in the roots.
Eradicates cancer cells
The pentacyclic triterpene ketones in cannabis roots are also thought to cause apoptosis, or programmed cell death, in cancer cells. Though the research is minimal, cannabis roots may prove to possess effective cancer-fighting properties.
While the research is limited, in 1971 it was determined that ethanol extract of cannabis roots contain friedelin.
Considered to be an antioxidant, friedlin is thought to have hepaprotective (liver-protecting) properties.
Up to the turn of the 20th century, physicians in the United States recommended decoctions of hemp root for treating inflammation. The secret behind the practice? It may have to do with the fact that cannabis roots contain several pentacyclic triterpene ketones. These compounds are praised for their antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects.
Promotes healthy cell membranes
Cannabis roots are also shown to have small quantities of choline. Water-soluble, choline is believed to be an essential dietary nutrient that is a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine – vital to the development and maintenance of healthy cell membranes.
Strain-specific treatment options
The practice is in its infancy stages, but cannabis roots may also have varying properties depending on strain. Although we still have a lot to learn here, the potential for future remedies in this space is huge.
Used to stop bleeding
Cannabis roots can be dried, ground and boiled for use as an anti-hemorrhagic to stop bleeding. This was particularly useful for post-partum bleeding after childbirth in the ancient world.
Variety of topical applications
Did you know it is possible to make lip balm from cannabis roots? How about a soothing and healing paste? Dried cannabis roots can easily be incorporated into countless topical applications, which can be infused with olive or coconut oil as well as different essential oils for added healing.
Soothes inflamed, burned, or irritated skin
Experiencing troubled skin? You may want to try applying dry cannabis root. The Greek medical writer Oribasius wrote that dry cannabis root could be used for treating skin eruptions when mixed with pigeon droppings. While you may want to hold off on the guano, raw crushed cannabis roots have shown to be effective for treating a variety of skin conditions.
Cannabis roots contain a rich source of medicinal properties and may be far more valuable than we realized. After all, we’ve hardly scratched the surface here when it comes to understanding the plant as a whole.
If you are growing your own cannabis, be sure not to throw out the roots! Take advantage of the amazing plant and dry the roots for medicinal use. For tea, once dried, break down the roots into chunks and use a mortar and pestle or blender to grind them finely into a powder. Add the ground roots to a slow cooker, add some oil or fat, and let simmer for 12 hours.