A Tiny History: Cannabis Roots

By Rolling Up

The majority of growers have given little thought to the roots of cannabis plants besides making sure that they get enough water and oxygen. Most of the time, cannabis roots are simply tossed after it’s harvested. Cannabis roots have been largely ignored by modern medicine for its medicinal benefits. Scientists are now discovering the possibilities and healing properties of cannabis roots. The roots have been used to treat a variety of conditions, including fever infection, gout, arthritis, and joint pain.


The roots don’t contain any psychoactive properties like the flower and plant itself, but it does contain traces of cannabinoids. Cannabis roots have been largely used in ancient medicine. The Chinese herbal Shennong pen Ts’ao ching, dated back to 2700 BCE, mentions that cannabis roots were dried and crushed into a paste to treat pains caused by broken bones. 


In 77 AD in the Natural Histories by Roman historian Pliny the Elder he states that cannabis roots could be boiled in water to soothe joint pain, gout, and acute pain. He also said that the roots themselves can be applied onto burns to reduce pain and swelling, but needed to be changed to prevent the burn from drying out. Greek medical writer Orabacius wrote that the dry root could also be applied to cysts when mixed pigeon droppings. No other source has made this claim. Cannabis root has also been used as a tea in some cases in China and Korea.  


Today, some dispensaries are using cannabis root to make lotions, salves, balms, massage oils. While there are various uses and important medical properties, cannabis roots contain presence of alkaloids pyrrolidine and piperidine which can irritate the stomach lining. It’s riskier to use it internally than external. We don’t have all the answers to the health benefits and potential that cannabis has yet. Research is still being done but at least we know that the part of the plant that has been overlooked has a rich history.

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