It has long been known that resinous cannabis flower tops are well endowed with medicinal components. But that’s not the only part of the plant that has been used for therapeutic purposes. Highlights:
• Cannabis roots were valued for therapeutic purposes in many traditional cultures.
• Cannabis roots are rich in triterpenoids and other compounds that have significant anti-inflammatory properties.
• Hemp root preparations have been used to treat a wide range of conditions, including fever, infections, arthritis, gout and joint pain, and as an aid to women during pregnancy.
• The main route of administering cannabis root remedies has been via topical application.
• Cannabis roots can draw heavy metals from the soil and contaminated soil can produce toxic roots and harmful plants that should not be used to make medicinal products.
Cannabis roots provide relief for various ailments.
The first mention of the curative qualities of cannabis roots dates back to 77 AD, as described in the Natural Histories by Latin naturalist Pliny the Elder. Since then, cannabis roots have been utilized by herbalists and physicians not only in Europe, but in many regions stretching from China to Argentina. Hemp roots were valued for treating a wide range of conditions, including fever, infections, gout, arthritis, joint pain, and even postpartum haemorrhage.
Scientists are just beginning to recognize the healing properties of cannabis roots, which have largely been ignored both in research and in modern medical practice. The roots don’t contain aromatic essential oils and cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, which are concentrated in the plant’s tiny glandular trichomes on the flower buds. Instead, the roots are imbued with other compounds that may have significant therapeutic applications.
Cannabis roots are rich in triterpenoids such as friedelin and its derivate epifriedelinol. Both compounds are abundant in nature and are known to have significant anti-inflammatory activity.
Friedelin is found in many plants, such as citrus & rhododendron, as well as in algae, lichen, coal & mineral wax. Friedelin is also present in cork and the bark of oak trees. Along with several other compounds in the roots of cannabis, friedelin has shown potent anti-inflammatory activity in in vivo experiments, reducing edema and swelling in any area of the body tested.
In order to target overactive inflammation, cannabis root historically has been administered as a topical preparation – following a boiled water extraction or decoction. This method of extraction involves boiling herb or plant material and dissolving the chemical components to make a tincture, poultice or tea. Decoction is the name for the resulting liquid, which can be applied to the skin or consumed internally.
There are several reports of the use of cannabis roots as a treatment for inflammation. The earliest dates back to the 17th century in Culpeper’s Compleat Herbal by English physician and herbalist Nicholas Culpeper. In 1640, another English botanist, John Parkinson, described hemp as “cold and dry” and he recommended “a decoction of the root to cool inflammation of the head or any other part.”
This cooling, anti-inflammatory property was confirmed by Dr. William Salomon in his personal notes (1710) and by Dr. Robert James in the book Pharmacopoeia Universalis (1747), and later by Husain Khan, who wrote in an 18th century Persian medical text: “A poultice of the boiled root and leaves is used for inflammations, and cure of neuralgic pains.”
PAIN & SKIN BURNS
At a lower concentration, the roots of cannabis contain monoterpenes, such as Carvone & Dihydrocarvone, which mainly show analgesic effects. Carvone & dihydrocarvone are the monoterpenes that give spearmint its distinct aroma and modulate the TRPM8 ionotropic receptor, which is sensitive to cooling and pain. Carvone’s antinociceptive activity has been confirmed by several in vivo tests, and that is why spearmint essential oil, which contains up to 70% of carvone, is currently under investigation as a treatment for ostheoarthritis.
Other compounds identified in cannabis roots include Sterols like B-sitosterol and campesterol and P-hydroxy-trans-cinnamamide, which was tested in vivo and also showed significant analgesic activity.
Historical accounts indicate that cannabis roots have been administered topically to treat gout and arthritis – usually by extracting the compounds from the root in boiling water. During the Renaissance, the French physician Francois Rabelais noted that “the root of hemp, boiled in water, soothes muscles, stiff joints, gout pains and rheumatism.” In the early 18th century, the English physician William Salmon wrote that “the decoction of the hemp root eases the pains of the gout, helps hard tumors or knots of the joints, cramps, shrinking of the sinews, and [eases] sciatic pain in the hip. The application must be re-applied every day.”
Cannabis preparations, made by pounding the raw root into a juice and mixing it with fat, have been used topically to soothe skin burns. In 1542, the German physician Leonard Fuchs wrote of hemp: “the raw root, pounded and wrapped, is good for the burn.”
In 1640, Parkinson described the qualities of hemp as “cold and dry” and, in addition to recommending it for inflammation, noted that “the decoction of the root and the fresh juice mixed with oil or butter [is] good for any place that had been burnt by fire.” And in 1758, the French author Mercandier wrote about hemp in Traitè du Chanvre, indicating that the root ‘‘pounded and ground fresh, with butter in a mortar, one applies it to burns, which it soothes infinitely, provided it is often renewed.”
As above previously, cannabis roots contain a high concentration of friedelin, an anti-inflammatory compound, which also has been researched for its antipyretic (fever-reducing) properties. When tested on animals, friedelin caused a significant reduction of internal body temperature comparable to the effects of paracetamol, a commonly used antipyretic drug.
In the Canon of Medicine, the 12th century medical encyclopedia written by the Persian philosopher Ibn Sina (known as Avicenna in Latin), the antipyretic properties of cannabis roots are discussed. Ibn Sina observes that “the compress with the boiled roots of cannabis decreases fever.”
In Argentina, hemp roots have been used both topically and orally for treating fever.
CHILDBIRTH & POSTPARTUM CARE
It appears that friedelin may also have estrogenic activity. Experiments have shown that administering 75 to 100 mg/kg of friedelin to female rats (with their ovaries removed) improved sexual behavior parameters and the estrogenic activity of the animals.
Friedelin is one of the main compounds present in Cissus quadrangularis, an edible plant commonly found in India, Sri Lanka, Java and West Africa. This plant is used in Ayurvedic medicine as an aphrodisiac.
Maytenus ilicifoli, widely known throughout South America as Espinheira santa, also contains friedelin and is a well-known herbal remedy for stimulating menstruation and for balancing estrogen during menopause. Traditionally brewed in a tea, the leaves of this healing herb botanical are also valued for their anticancer properties in Brazil, where friedelin-infused ointments are applied topically for symptomatic relief.
A scientific anaylsis of friedelin extracted from the bark of Mesua daphnifolia, a ubiquitous tree in Malaysia, showed cytotoxic activity against various women-specific malignancies, including breast cancer, cervical carcinoma and ovarian cancer cell lines.
Cannabis roots also contain lignans. Molecules that belong to the lignan class include several unique cannabisin compounds (of the types A-, B-, C-, D-, E-, F-, and G), which don’t exist anywhere else in the botanical world. Lignans, in general, are noteworthy antioxidants that promote health by acting through antiviral, antidiabetic, antitumoral, and anti-obesity channels. The structural similarity of lignans and mammalian estrogens underscore the potential efficacy of this class of compounds for combating some hormone-dependent cancers and for breast cancer prevention.
Practitioners of Chinese medicine have utilized preparations from cannabis roots to aid women during and after pregnancy. To assist with difficult childbirth, cannabis root is administered orally, either as juice or a decoction.
In the ancient Chinese pharmacopeia (Pên-ts’ao Ching), there are references to the therapeutic use of hemp roots for obstetric issues: ‘‘The juice of the root is thought to have a beneficial action in retained placenta and postpartum hemorrhage.’’ Other accounts from China report that the root of the hemp plant “dispels stasis and stanches bleeding. It is used in the treatment of flooding and spotting, vaginal discharge, difficult delivery and retention of the placenta. It is taken orally, either as a decoction or crushed to extract its juice (in its fresh form).”
METHODS OF ADMINISTRATION
To review – there are various traditional methods of preparing cannabis root for therapeutic use. The main route of adiministration has been via topical application. Fresh ground up root, juice, or cannabis root decoction were mixed with fat (oil or butter) for topical applications of cannabis root-based preparations.
Raw cannabis root can be applied directly after pounding and crushing the fresh root to extract its juices. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, there are also many references to using cannabis root preparations with dried material. One account refers to mixing pulverized cannabis root with wine to speed flesh wounds from gladiator combat.
To assist with difficult childbirth, cannabis root was administered orally, either as juice or decoction. As a remedy for infection, raw cannabis root has been administered topically, orally, and even rectally to treat animals.
The biological activity of cannabis roots hasn’t been studied clinically, and most of our current scientific understanding comes from preclinical research involving the same molecules found in cannabis roots and in other plants. In addition, cannabis roots contain small quantities of alkaloids – mainly cannabisativine and anhydrocannabisativine – that are exclusive to cannabis, but these have yet to be the focus of any basic research. Within cannabis roots, there are also residues of atropine and nerine, as well as choline, which isn’t an alkaloid but is very important for the formation of acetylcholine, lipid bilayers and cellular signalling.
Final thought: Cannabis roots can draw heavy metals from the soil, including iron, chromium, and cadmium. This bioaccumulative quality makes cannabis a great tool for phytoremediation (restoring the soil), but it undermines the therapeutic use of cannabis unless the source of the medicine is carefully considered. Contaminated soil can produce toxic roots and harmful plants, which should be scrupulously avoided.
HOW TO IDENTIFY & TREAT CANNABIS ROOT PROBLEMS
Roots are the most important part of the cannabis plant, when they’re sick the whole plant starts showing symptoms.
Cannabis root problems are usually called as root rot. Problems in the roots can be caused by different organisms such as bacterias, fungi, and parasites and although the symptoms are similar, they don’t always look exactly the same.
1. WHAT IS ROOT ROT?
Root rot is a condition that can ultimately kill plants. This condition affects roots when they are not in an optimal environment and affects them when they’re more vulnerable, especially when they are already stressed or shocked.
What Is Root Rot and its symptoms.
Organisms such as bacteria, algae, and fungi (among others) will attack the roots, making them into brown slime. This brown slime is unable to absorb nutrients and water and in most cases is impossible to fix them.
2. ROOT ROT SYMPTOMS
Because the first symptoms of root rot occur under the medium, growers are often not aware of the problem until it is more serious. Cannabis root rot can cause leaf symptoms that can look like any deficiency: cannabis leaves get burnt edges or tips; yellow or brown spots, nutrient deficiencies, and curled edges among others.
When the leaves start yellowing, the plant will most surely die and there’s nothing that can be done to save it because the roots are already too bad to be saved.
When plants start showing the consequences of root rot, such as yellow leaves or stunted growth it may be already too late.
3. WHAT CAUSES ROOT ROT?
Root rot occurs when the roots are affected by a bad organism after they are already stressed. Root stress can be caused by any of the following things:
Roots in a hotter medium have a tendency to develop problems associated with fungi and bacteria.
Cold roots are unhappy roots, low temperatures in the medium can shock the roots and can cause wilting among other problems, resulting in root rot.
Too much water tends to attract some type of bugs that reproduce in wet mediums and may drown your roots, both of these problems will result in damaging the roots.
If your medium is too thick, it may prevent the roots from being able to get oxygen.
BIG PLANT IN A SMALL CONTAINER
When your plant has overgrown the pot it is in (meaning the pot is too small for your plant to develop properly) you increase the chances of developing root rot. If you reach a point where the roots need to grow more but they can’t due to not having space, they will start to rot.
Root problems are common in hydroponics, this happens when you don’t use an air rock to oxygenate the water. Depending on your setup oxygenating the water is required, not doing it will ultimately kill the plant.
If there is a light leak into your hydroponic reservoir, or into your growing medium, it can quickly allow for a boom in unwanted nasties.
The decayed matter inside of a hydro reservoir or in a growing medium can lead to populations of bad bacteria taking a foothold and quickly populating
4. HOW TO PREVENT ROOT ROT?
Preventing root rot is relatively easy. By solely providing an optimal medium for them to grow, you will prevent any possible problems they can have. An optimal medium for roots to grow means providing the proper temperature, humidity, water, oxygen, and size of the pot.
How to choose an optimal medium for your plant and prevent roots problems.
Another crucial way to ensure you don’t have to deal with root rot is to thoroughly disinfect and clean periodically throughout each grow cycle. You should also totally clean out and fully disinfect your grow area in between each run. Think of your grow room in the same way you would think of your kitchen. Hygienic practices are of the absolute utmost importance, and by implementing an intensive cleaning routine you will give your plants the best chance at not only surviving but also thriving and producing the highest quality buds with the largest yields. High-quality air filtration units can also go a long way in keeping any and all fungal and pest issues at bay. UV-C disinfection and air filtration units have become part of all standard commercial cannabis cultivation setups, so these are also something that should be considered for hobby grows. It’s also important to understand proper pH and TDS or EC levels. By feeding your plants the correct nutrients, at the correct levels, and in water that has been properly pH regulated you give your plants the best chance of skipping any root rot (and all other diseases and deficiency) issues from the get-go.
Young, undeveloped root systems are much more susceptible to root rot than established root balls, so always take the absolute top car with young plants and try to disturb them as little as possible. This is especially important for hydro growers, as the roots are much more exposed and far easier to damage than soil or coco-coir setup. If you take care of these, there won’t be a problem. If you failed to provide these and your plants are already suffering from root rot, there’s not much you can do.
5. HOW TO TREAT ROOT ROT?
The first step to treating root rot is to identify what is causing it, as said above, root rot is caused by not providing an optimal environment for your roots. Because root rot is caused by different organisms, a solution that works for some growers may not work for others. You should start by checking the environmental factors, such as humidity, temperature, watering frequency, and drainage of the medium. Adjusting the environment is more of a long-term solution, after you adjusted whatever was wrong with it, it’s time to combat the root rot with a short-term solution. To combat root rot immediately, some growers use a mix of 100ml of bleach or hydrogen peroxide with 1L of water.
The root health depends on many factors: environmental, such as humidity, temperature, watering frequency, and correct drainage of the medium.
Using hydrogen peroxide will kill the organisms causing root rot but can be bad if you’re growing organically because it can kill good bacteria too. In such low concentrations, bleach shouldn’t be harmful but this is a cheaper alternative and may be harmful to the bacteria in some cases. The best way to treat root rot if you are willing to send a little bit more is to use root supplements. These products are mixed into the water and provide everything a root needs to grow healthy and also combat root rot. There are a variety of root supplements out there and the one you choose should be based on what you can afford and what will work in your case.
Here at Fastbuds we always recommend adding beneficial bacteria to your feed water. This can not only help with making nutrients available to the plant but will also help in preventing and treating the scourge of root rot (among other issues). The range of beneficial bacteria supplements available is ever-growing, but there are a few in particular that we suggest. These include:
CANNAZYM BY CANNA
This high-quality product helps in breaking down the dead root material and encourages beneficial micro-organisms. This can be used in all forms of cannabis cultivation.
If you are a pure hydro grower, check out this fantastic additive. It assists in the decomposition of organic matter in hydroponic gardening and contains bacillus – a natural bacterial root inoculant.
GREAT WHITE ROOT POWDER
Although this is more of a root-boosting stimulant, it also aids in root area management and cleaning. This is an additive that everyone should be using with every grow, no matter the style of cultivation.
ADVANCED NUTRIENTS VOODOO JUICE
This product contains a combination of eight microbial super strains that helps boost the roots and root zone which results in faster growth and healthier plants but also increased yields.
5. IN CONCLUSION
Root rot is a really serious condition, most experienced growers opt to remove the plant from the growing space in fear the condition can infect the other plants, especially in hydroponic setups. When dealing with this condition, the best thing to do is to maintain an optimal environment for your plant and roots because you’ll only notice something’s wrong after a couple of weeks when the conditions start to affect your plant’s leaves and branches, and at this stage, it is very hard to treat it, and even if you manage to save your plant, it will be left with serious growing deficiencies.