During cannabis prohibition, hardly anyone thought of the nutritional value of weed. More likely, if the issue came up, cannabis was seen as an agent of indulgence—if you ever ate it, it was in something fattening like a fudge brownie, and when you smoked it, it gave you the munchies, leading to binge eating snack foods of dubious value.
With the widespread legalization of medical cannabis, that view is rapidly changing.
Strains that give you the munchies have been found to help people undergoing cancer treatment who suffer from nausea and loss of appetite.
While some cannabis strains increase appetite, the increase is only temporary. Studies have found that cannabis consumers actually weigh less than the general population. Some researchers think that THC in cannabis may affect microbiomes in our guts, helping us to better regulate digestion and weight loss.
With edibles gaining in popularity, diet conscious cannabis consumers are creating a host of healthy edibles, from ganja granola bars to strawberry banana cannabis smoothies.
And then there are those who see the whole cannabis plant as a superfood—from leaves to bud to seeds—that can have positive impact on health:
- Used as a vegetable, raw cannabis has powerful anti-oxidant properties.
- CBD oil extracted from bud has a host of positive health benefits.
- Seeds, derived from hemp, are rich in protein, vitamins and fatty acids.
Cannabis and Appetite
In a study released in 2018, John Davis, a researcher in Washington State University’s Department of Integrative Physiology and Neurosciences said “We all know cannabis use affects appetite, but until recently we’ve actually understood very little about how or why. By studying exposure to cannabis plant matter, the most widely consumed form, we’re finding genetic and physiological events in the body that allow cannabis to turn eating behavior on or off.”
The study went on to conclude “The researchers are optimistic that deciphering that ways cannabis acts in the body to alter appetite can lead to new treatments for illness-induced anorexia. Severe appetite loss is a common symptom of many chronic illnesses, and is especially problematic in cancer, HIV/AIDS, heart disease, and some metabolic disorders. A targeted treatment that offers the beneficial effects on appetite without the broader effects on the mind and body could increase quality of life and speed recovery.”
Cannabis and Weight Loss
An article in Strainprint, which bills itself as the leading medical cannabis data company, reported on a 2015 study of THC on mice, and found “THC causes changes in the gut microbiome (a microorganism connected to weight) that are assumed to contribute to healthy weight. Overall, it showed that the THC treatment, over a period of 4 weeks, reduced weight gain, fat gain, and energy intake in obese mice.
Strainprint explained that strains with the turpene humulene, and the active compound THC-V can energize and reduce hunger. They suggested that those who want to lose weight should consider the following strains:
- “Strains that contain THC-V (tetrahydrocannabivarin) deliver an energetic and euphoric high along with appetite-suppressing qualities. One high THC-V strain some users can access is Black Beauty. A more common route to strains that suppress appetite are those rich in the terpene humulene that has a similar effect to THC-V with appetite. Strains high in humulene include Sour OG, Sour Diesel, Girl Scout Cookies, and Skywalker OG.”
- “Strains that combine high levels of THC-V and humulene, like Green Crack, will pack an energetic punch while preventing you from reaching for the fridge.”
- “Cannatonic is a helpful appetite suppressant because it gives the user an upbeat feeling with its high CBD content and low THC content. Those who want a bit of a pep in their step in a social situation but don’t want to opt for a sugary alcoholic drink may find Cannatonic will produce the same relaxing effect of having a few drinks.”
In an article in Leafy, Dante Jordan gives his own personal perspective on how to control the munchies while high—by going on the Whole30 diet: “What this taught me was that my munchies weren’t a function of my high, but instead a function of my body. My cravings for the worst food imaginable weren’t because of the White Rhino I was enjoying, they were due to the way my body was programmed. This may be the case for you as well, and the Whole30 way of eating is a great way to hit the reset button. Now, I’m not claiming the Whole30 is some miracle cure for the munchies. The way THC affects your body may still yield the same hunger, but what the Whole30 does is put you on a system where your munchies will be fruits and veggies, not cakes and pies. You get so used to eating what’s essentially the paleo diet of lean proteins, eggs, and fruits and veggies that even when you do have the munchies, it becomes incredibly easy to snatch up a healthy option. Ultimately, this diet trains your body to make your munchies work for you.”
Cannabis as a Super Food
In an article in Leafly, Jessica Aragona summed up the nutritional value of cannabis well when she said “As a dietitian, when I look at the cannabis plant, I first see its nutritional value as a vegetable, loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. I also know that essentially cannabis is hemp, and hemp hits a home run every time when it comes to nutritional value (among its other thousands of industrial uses). She cited the following nutritional positives:
- Great source of complete protein
- 100% vegan
- Easy to digest
- High in healthy Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids
The article had good tips on how to incorporate raw cannabis into your diet. “If you’re interested in exploring the benefits of raw cannabis, here are some tips and recommendations:
- Raw cannabis can be used every day, multiple times a day by anyone of any age.
- Raw cannabis is not intoxicating unless it is heated, meaning there are no worries of mental or physical impairment after consuming.
- Raw cannabis can be added to smoothies, juices, and salads.
- Like any other herb or seasoning, ground up raw buds can be sprinkled on top of soups, stews, oatmeal, yogurt, or pudding.
- Juicing specifically takes a lot of material; Dr. Courtney suggests 20-30 big shade leaves or 2-3 raw buds (2-3 inches in length) per day for therapeutic benefits.
- Having your own garden at home is helpful as access to this quantity of raw product may be difficult or illegal in your state.
Fitday, a website that promotes health lifestyles, suggests when consuming cannabis edibles “Instead of baking or buying fake, processed foodstuff, opt for cannabis-infused coconut oil, olive oil, or cannabis butter and tackle the cooking yourself. The following wholesome edibles are easy to prepare and chock-full of the vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants your body is craving.”
They offered four examples of gluten free, healthy, low-calorie cannabis edibels you can make yourself:
Ganja Granola Bars
Do you like your granola bars chewy or crunchy? You get to decide when you make your own cannabis-infused snack bars. With gluten-free flour and alternative sweeteners, this buzz-time snack packs a tasty punch. The best part about making your own granola bars is that you get to pick your favorite ingredients—dried cranberries, raisins, walnuts, almonds, pecans—you name it!
Raw Vegan Energy Canni-Balls
These vegan-friendly energy balls taste like heaven—trust us when we say you won’t be able to eat just one—and are super easy to make. No baking required though they’re perfect for waking and baking. Soft and chewy, with plenty of nutrient-rich nuts and seeds, all you have to do is roll them up and pop them in your mouth.
Strawberry Ba-cannabis Smoothie
This is a stoner’s take on an old classic: the strawberry banana smoothie. With few ingredients, you can whip together this refreshing drink in under ten minutes, and the almond milk gives it a nutritious, nutty taste while also making it a solid option for people with lactose intolerance and dairy allergies. Don’t have strawberries on hand? Toss in your favorite fruit—frozen fruit works, too—along with bananas and blend it up.
“Baked” Kale Chips
This recipe combines two of everybody’s favorite things. All you need is some fresh kale and a little cannabis-infused oil for drizzling. Add a little salt and the seasoning of your choice, pop the trays in the oven, and in under a half an hour you’ve got a crunchy snack that’s miles healthier than potato chips and will also get you high.
Check out the article for recipes for these four treats.