When it comes to cannabis cultivation, roots are deemed as a vital part of the plant. The best growers know that cannabis roots need so much care as the soil where the plant grows. Poor soil management will lead to short plants and a bad harvest. Cannabis cultivation requires soil with certain features, normally known as a substrate. A substrate must let roots develop properly and ensure enough water retention to keep plants hydrated. Most preferably, cannabis should be grown in a mixture of black soil, peat, perlite, and vermiculite in order to achieve the most suitable environment for the root system to develop. Growers usually incorporate worm castings and compost, adding more nutrients alongside microorganisms. This mixture quickly turns into a habitat where there is a perfect balance of nutrients, water, minerals, and microorganisms. Root stimulators can be found in shops and they are widely used in cannabis cultivation, but still, it is worth noting that roots should be duly flushed before cutting off and harvesting plants so as to remove any heavy metals or product excess.
The Potential of Cannabis Roots Throughout History
Ethan Russo, a champion for cannabis roots, has found out that, from a pharmacological perspective, the contents of these roots differ greatly from those of cannabis flower. Cannabis roots have been traditionally used to treat symptoms like pain and inflammation. According to records found in India, these roots have also been used to make a beverage combining Bhang, a cannabis paste with ghee, milk, and spices.
Although roots do not contain cannabinoids—i.e. no CBD or THC—they feature other components: triterpenoids, widely known by its anti-inflammatory properties; and friedelin and its derivative compound, epifriedelanol, also present in citrus fruits, algae, lichens, coal, cork, and oak bark. The history of their use to treat symptoms traces back to Greek medicine in the 1st century: Pedanius Dioscorides, a Greek physician of the 1st century described the medical uses of kannabis emeros, or “female hemp,” mentioning that wet roots could be applied to a body area to reduce inflammations, dissolve edema, and ease cramped joints.
Around the same time controversy regarding marijuana classification came about, cannabis’ reputation as a medication reached the USA and spread over the country. In 1764, The New England Dispensatory recommended hemp roots to soothe several kinds of pain—including skin pain—and to reduce swelling.
Cannabis Roots in the Rastafari Culture
The cannabis seed sailed from the Old Continent to the Americas, along with the ritual practices of the Rastafarian culture. The use of roots and these rituals were introduced by slaves who landed on the Antilles. Based on an investigation carried out by Darío Bermúdez, the book “Rastafaris: la mística de Bob Marley” [Rastafarians: The Mysticism Behind Bob Marley] contains a comment by The Wailers bassist Aston Barrett about how cannabis and other seeds they used to survive were brought from King Solomon’s grave to Jamaica. The musician explains that apart from smoking, cannabis can be infused with tea, eaten as a vegetable, or used to make a wine-like beverage with the juice from its roots. Additionally, seeds can be used as fuel and branches can be weaved in many ways.
Secrets about the potential of cannabis are still hidden in the biological functioning of roots and scientific research on this matter. Only time and research will reveal other uses that can be served by these roots and how we could benefit from them. So after your next harvest, don’t get rid of roots: you can use them to make ointments for burns, inflammation and skin pain.