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 its 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.
But first: fan leaves will not get you high. Fan leaves have only trace amounts of psychoactive properties, and these properties are in their acidic state (not active) 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.
How Do Fan Leaves Taste?
Fa leaves from the cannabis plant taste 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 Cannabis 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 weed activates the brain’s cannabinoid system, triggering an antioxidant release.
Remember the stats from above? Weed fan leaves contain:
- essential fatty acids
- nine essential amino acids
- dietary fiber
- and phytocannabinoid acids
So what does that impressively long list mean for you? Raw marijuana 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
- Found in all organic compounds with unique medicinal properties. Found in high concentrations in cannabis.
- 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 marijuana plants.
- 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
How to Use Extra Cannabis Fan Leaves
You can’t buy these greens at the store, so if you have extra fann leaves lying around, it’s probably from trimming your cannabis plants. Always wash your cannabis prior to consumption, and use caution on consuming fan leaves if you foliar feed your plants. (Depending on what’s in your foliar feed mix, you may not want to consume the fan leaves.)
Eat Your Fan Leaves
Cannabis fan leaves can be used as a substitution in any dish you would use dark leafy greens in.
You can substitute fan leaves almost anywhere you would use spinach or kale, like in a salad or in pasta, paninis, soups, and stews. Separate the leaves from the stems like you would with kale, wash, and let dry before adding to your recipe. If you’re concerned about the texture of the leaves, dice them finely before adding.
I like to use my fan leaves on paninis or placed under a bowl of pasta. I usually use a pesto sauce, but they would probably be good with a red sauce as well.
Fan leaves can be heated without activating the THCA in THC, but too much cooking 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.
Drink Your Fan Leaves
If you don’t want to chew the fan leaves but are still interested in getting the nutritional benefits, you can drink your fan leaves. Do this one of two ways:
- Blend the fan leaves. Add them to a smoothie just like you would spinach. Be sure to blend everything together well so you’re not left with chunks of leafy greens.
- Dry the fan leaves and pulse them into green powder. You can dehydrate the fan leaves in your oven at a low temperature for a few hours and then pulse them into a homemade green powder that you can add to any recipe for a nutrient-dense kick.
Benefits of Eating Raw Cannabis
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.
Home grow is the best way to have access to raw weed leaves. With the recent legalization of recreational cannabis in NY, households will be allowed to have up to 12 plants at once, increasing access to and use of the fan leaves.
Can dogs eat cannabis fan leaves?
Dogs (or any other pets) shouldn’t eat raw or cooked fan leaves off the cannabis plant. But! If your dog has gotten into the fan leaves, don’t stress. Fan leaves don’t contain any cannabinoids like THC or CBD so fan leaves will not get your dog high. The leaves may upset their stomachs, so keep an eye out for vomiting or diarrhea.
Fan leaves versus Sugar Leaves
Fan leaves are not the same as sugar leaves. Fan leaves are the iconic seven-pointed leaves that grow on the plant throughout its life cycle.
Sugar leaves are the small leaves that surround the flower when the plant is blooming. Sugar leaves do contain trichomes and cannabinoids and may get your pet high. However, the THC in raw sugar leaves is in acidic form and is actually THCa, not THC (decarboxylation is needed to change THCa into THC.) Raw sugar leaves may get your pet high and can upset their digestive systems, so seek medical attention if your dog eats sugar leaves.