One of the nation's leading cannabis doctors has an idea for a New Year's diet: a marijuana smoothie. Dr. William Courtney, who has spent years researching the potential health benefits of medical marijuana, argues that juicing whole hemp plants can provide a host of healing properties, ranging from pain relief to even helping prevent diseases like cancer.
Yet, many of the health benefits are lost, Courtney says, when a patient ingests marijuana in the most typical way: by smoking it. Burning the plant kills off enzymes, which can diminish some of the curative properties. Juicing the entire plant, on the other hand, retains the enzymes and may be more medically beneficial. Plus, smoking the plant kicks the THC--and its psychoactive properties--into high gear, producing marijuana's high, which many find to be a curative effect in its own right, but is not always what the patient desires or wants.
The health benefits of marijuana are slowly gaining traction in the medical community, especially now that medical marijuana has been legalized in 18 states. It is often used to treat chronic pain, arthritis and the nausea associated with chemotherapy and other painful treatments. It has even gained some attention--and skepticism--forpossibly helping cure more serious conditions, such as seizures and tumors. And while marijuana juice has not yet taken off as a form of medicine--or even as a short-lived health-food fad--Courtney contends that a four to eight ounce smoothie daily could be one of the most potent medicines in the world.
Dr. William Courtney recently gained media attention for publicizing the case of an eight-month-old cancer patient whose tumor, he said, was drastically reduced by twice daily cannabinoid oil treatments, which were rubbed onto the baby's pacifier.
Yet, not all doctors are convinced that marijuana juice holds the curative properties that Courtney envisions.
Michael Backes, a doctor at the medical marijuana clinic, the Abatin Wellness Center, said that the juice hypothesis has not yet been fully tested.
"The medical benefits of large doses of acidic cannabinoids have not been subjected to controlled clinical trials. The evidence at this point is anecdotal. And if someone is not harvesting the cannabis fresh and consuming it immediately, then there is a risk of significant THC intoxication," he told Xeni Jardin writing for Boing Boing.
Plus, said Backes, a badly prepared smoothie could actually cause damage on the way down.
"The throat irritation is based on the fact that the stems of cannabis have sharp little hairs," explained Backes.
Still, don't be surprised if you start seeing marijuana smoothies popping up in hippie health stores in Colorado sometime in 2013. Just make sure to pop off the lid and check that the plant has been blended sufficiently.