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How Can Cannabis Roots Be Used Medicinally?

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Almost every part of the cannabis plant can be utilized beneficially. Aside from the potent buds, the stems can produce fibers and building materials, the seeds can be used in food production, and the leaves hold potential as a green biomass fuel source. [1][2][3][4] Cannabis roots are one of the most overlooked parts of the cannabis plant.


Though they are not a potent source of cannabinoids, cannabis roots hold the potential to treat a variety of medical conditions thanks to the active compounds contained in them. In fact, cannabis roots were first employed medically as a treatment for gout by Pliny the Elder during the Roman Empire. [5]

Since then, herbalists and medical professionals from all over the world use cannabis roots to treat many other maladies. Depending on preparation and administration methods, cannabis roots could potentially provide a new source of cannabis based medicines.

Mixing and Pulverizing Raw Roots

The most rudimentary form of preparation is to use the roots in their raw form. By avoiding any applications of heat or concentration methods, the raw plants allow the medicinal constituents to remain unaltered. These medicinal compounds include triterpenoids, monoterpenes, alkaloids, sterols, and choline in varying amounts. [6][7][8][9][10] Ground cannabis roots provide a cooling sensation, so they can be applied directly onto burns to provide fast relief. [11] The same also works for joint pain caused by inflammation, with dermal application providing relief from the physical pain. [12]


This method often mixes the ground root with a fat or butter to help the application, but it also recommended to combine them with wine to allow oral consumption, to help relieve gastrointestinal distress. [13][14]

Making Juice or Decoction

Like the basic raw materials, cannabis root juice and decoction can relieve consequences of burns, inflammation or gastrointestinal diseases. The advantage of these two preparation methods over basic raw material is that the medical constituents from cannabis roots become more concentrated, allowing for increased dermal and oral absorption.

This increased absorption allows for more treatments to emerge, one of the most significant relating to complications surrounding childbirth. The juice from cannabis roots is common medeicine of Chinese Medicinal practitioners to prevent postpartum hemorrhaging. [15] When consuming the oral solution, women in childbirth can experience thickening vaginal discharge, which can help to stop excessive bleeding, flooding, or spotting. This thickening not only stops hemorrhaging, but can also help retain the placenta.

Decoction, on the other hand, is more typically applied directly to the troubled area, instead of being absorbed through the stomach. This concentrated form of cannabis roots serves one additional purpose beyond pain relief: vermin removal. [16] This technique was employed by various cultures in different ways.


The Ancient Greeks applied it directly to ears to remove ear worms, and in Burkina Faso it is used intrarectally to remove intestinal parasites.[17] Additionally, an 18th century Persian medical text called Makhzan-al-Adwiya records using cannabis use as a treatment for infections in horses [18].

It is unclear how effective these treatments are compared to synthetic alternatives, but they are often employed as traditional medicinal solutions from around the world.

Why Boiling the Roots?

Boiling the plant roots helps to break down the plant matrix. This helps extract more efficiently the highest concentration of medicinal ingredients. Boiled roots represent the first known medicinal application of cannabis roots by Pliny the Elder to treat gout in Ancient Rome. [19] This practice was authentic for the Roman Empire as far away as for China.

By boiling roots and wrapping any area of physical discomfort, pain relief from joint pain, rheumatism, and arthritis can be achieved. Direct compresses of boiled cannabis roots may also be used to treat “hard tumors,” but the word “tumor” does not necessarily mean cancer the way we think of it today. [20] This terminology stems from the 12th century, and could refer to anything from ulcers, sores, or pulled muscles. [21]

This same source also touted boiled cannabis roots as a treatment for fevers, but that may be tied in with an additional effect. In various Bangladeshi communities, boiled cannabis roots were touted as the treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. [22] Specifically, these communities used the roots to treat gonorrhea and syphilis, both of which are bacterial infections. This implies that cannabis roots may hold antibacterial properties, but there is no conclusive link.

Additional evidence does exist to support this claim though, as cannabis roots are useful in Argentina and Uganda as treatments for malaria, and it is helpful with treating erysipelas. [13][23][24] Each of these three conditions is bacterial, but the additional evidence may only be a correlation and not a causation.

Additionally, boiled cannabis roots can also be used to induce vomiting when taken orally. [25] This may provide an option to help remove toxins, similar to the vermin removal of juice or decoction. It is interesting to note that this has an opposite effect to other parts of the cannabis plant that have been known to prevent nausea.[26] Evidence is still developing, but the answer to this may reside in the lack of cannabinoids found in cannabis roots, compared to other parts of the plant. [27]


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