The Benefits of Eating Cannabis Fan Leaves

Can I say something weird?

I mean, I didn’t know it was weird until I started talking to people about it.

I eat my fan leaves.

If you’ve ever grown cannabis before, you’ve been confronted with a tub full of fan leaves at some point or another. Trimming fan leaves is an essential part of helping the plant bring it’s full energy to flowering and producing the dankest buds. You may have wondered what you’re supposed to do with cannabis fan leaves and if you’re normal (unlike me, apparently) you throw the leaves away.

But do you know you’re throwing away a nutritious leafy green that can be incorporated into your diet in a variety of ways?

You eat your fan leaves?

Said by pretty much every person I’ve admitted this to.

Yes! Seriously. And you should too.

Why You Should Eat Cannabis Fan Leaves

Here, we’re specifically talking about consuming raw or slightly heated cannabis fan leaves, the iconic 7-pointed leaves that grow on the stem and branches of the plant. We’re not talking about eating sugar leaves- I firmly believe those should be left for the strongest edibles possible.

Fan leaves have only trace amounts of psychoactive properties, and these properties are in their acidic, not active state so you won’t get high. Cannabis must be heated thoroughly to convert the acids into active compounds (ever made edibles without decarbing it first? You know exactly what I mean.)

In cannabis, we have a superfood. While studies are limited on the full extent of the health benefits of raw cannabis, current studies have shown that cannabis fan leaves (and even flowers) are incredibly nutrient dense, containing essential fatty acids, nine essential amino acids, dietary fiber, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, terpenes, and phytocannabinoid acids. Raw leaves can provide the body with an abundance of essential nutrients, including protein, fats, carbohydrates, and trace amounts of calcium, sodium, potassium and omega-3 fatty acids.

Taste

It tastes like your favorite bud and Spinach had a baby. It tastes… like cannabis. I mean, what did you really expect? It’s a dark leafy green, so it has the texture and the mouth feel of a dark leafy green. But the flavor is 100% pure grass goodness.

Now I know this is controversial to some; there are people who don’t like the taste of cannabis. And that’s fine! But if the only place you’ve tasted the lingering aroma of cannabis is on the other end of brownies, I invite you to reconsider.

Cannabis has a strong aroma that yes, can translate into a strong flavor. But believe it or not, there are dishes that pair better with the taste of cannabis than brownies and cookies.

Nutritional Facts of Fan Leaves

Raw leaves can provide the body with an abundance of essential nutrients, including protein, fats, carbohydrates, and trace amounts of calcium, sodium, potassium and omega-3 fatty acids. Additionally, Raw cannabis activates the brain’s cannabinoid system, triggering an antioxidant release.

While studies are limited on the full extent of the health benefits of raw cannabis, current studies have shown that cannabis fan leaves (and even flowers) are incredibly nutrient dense, containing essential fatty acids, nine essential amino acids, dietary fiber, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, terpenes, and phytocannabinoid acids.

Raw leaves contain a multitude of health benefits, including:  

  • Magnesium – essential for moving oxygen through the blood.
  • Iron – necessary for hemoglobin, myoglobin and certain hormone production.
  • Folate – B-vitamin that repairs and produces DNA by making red and white blood cells within bone marrow.
  • Vitamin C – supports immune function and cell health.
  • Vitamin K – reduces blood clotting by helping the body absorb calcium.
  • Zinc – supports wound healing, healthy immune function and correctly synthesizing DNA.
  • 5 times more protein than lettuce.

Nutrients Specific to Cannabis Fan Leaves

  • Terpenes
    • Found in all organic compounds with unique medicinal properties. Found in high concentrations in cannabis.
  • Chlorophyll
    • Responsible for green color with a similar structure to hemoglobin. Helps prevent DNA damage, has antibacterial properties, promotes cell detoxification and skin healing, treats inflammation and may prevent certain cancer types. Found in greatest concentration in raw plant state.
  • Phytocannabinoid-Derived Acids
    • Selective disease-fighting compounds found only in cannabis.
    • THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid)
      • Acid state of THC
      • Most abundant cannabinoid acid found in raw cannabis.
      • Anti-inflammatory,bronchodilator, antipyretic, antirheumatic, analgesic, antiemetic
    • CBDA (cannabidiolic acid)
      • Acid state of CBD
      • Anti-inflammatory (cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) specific)
      • Antitumor, antiemetic

Uses for Cannabis Fan Leaves

Cannabis fan leaves can be used as a substitution in any dish you would use dark leafy greens in. Always wash your cannabis prior to consumption, and use caution on consuming fan leaves if you foliar feed your plants.

Substitute fan leaves for almost anywhere you would use spinach or kale, including:

  • Smoothies
  • Juices
  • Soups
  • Stews
  • Salads
  • Toasted sandwiches
  • Tossed in pasta

Fan leaves can be heated without activating the THCA in THC, but too much cook time with change the acids into their active, intoxicating state. Cook for a short time below 220 F to prevent this. Personally, I prefer my fan leaves sautéed or toasted to remove some of the bitterness of the leafy green.

Cannabis is a therapeutic tool for a variety of illnesses and ailments, but for many people, consuming activated THC has a negative effect on their body or mental state. By eliminating the intoxicating effects, we can utilize the benefits of THCA for increased results without compromising health. The absence of the intoxicated feeling and psychoactive effects combined with the health benefits of cannabinoid acids opens a new avenue of medical treatments, or just a way to keep your body in tip top shape. With the recent legalization of recreational cannabis in NY, households will be allowed to have to 12 plants at once, increasing access to and use of the fan leaves.

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