Cannabis roots: Traditional medicine meets modern wellness

Cannabis roots have a long history of therapeutic use in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). For over 1000 years, cannabis roots have been used to treat a variety of conditions including inflammation, gout, arthritis, infection, women’s health including postpartum bleeding and sexually transmitted disease (3).

"The available data on the pharmacology of cannabis root, as well as supportive historical evidence, provide significant support to its use as a therapeutic herbal medicine." (Dr. David R. Hastings, R.Ac., R. TCMP.)

Active ingredients

empyri uses advanced scientific methods to analyze for active ingredients in many different kinds of cannabis roots, including male and female hemp strains and various strains of marijuana. Cannabis roots do not contain THC or CBD and instead are rich in healing compounds (triterpenoids and monoterpenes) that have been shown to have a positive impact on many health conditions.

Friedelin: the triterpenoid friedelin is found at concentrations varying from 7.5-12.8 mg/kg in scientific literature, and empyri testing of Canadian Hemp yielded a concentration of 24 mg/kg. Friedelin has been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory activity (1), estrogenic activity (2), and antioxidant activity (3). 

Carvone: the monoterpene carvone has been found in the oil extract of cannabis roots at a concentration of 77.7%. Carvone can also be found in plants such as spearmint and studies show it has decongestant, diuretic, pain reduction, anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties.

Uses in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Inflammation + Arthritis

The active ingredients in cannabis roots have been the focus of numerous scientific studies demonstrating a positive effect on both inflammation generally and arthritis specifically. Two common methods of ingestion were pulverizing (juicing) fresh roots or boiling dried roots (decoction) and making cannabis root tea. Cannabis roots are rich in triterpenoids such as friedelin and epifriedelinol, both of which have anti-inflammatory activity during in vivo experimentation (4). Cannabis roots also contain the monoterpene carvone which has been shown to have analgesic effect making carvone an effective topical pain and anti-inflammatory treatment (5). 

Women’s Health

Dating as far back as the sixth century, cannabis roots have been used to reduce inflammation, enhance circulation, and stanch blood flow in women (6). Cannabis roots have been used internally to aid women with difficult menstrual conditions and post pregnancy issues (7). Some of the active ingredients in cannabis roots have estrogenic effects and have been shown to enhance sex drive in women (8).


One of the earliest references to the medical use of cannabis roots can be found in the Traditional Chinese Medicine text Shen Nong Ben Cao. It is here that we find early writings of cannabis roots being used to benefit digestion and boost vital energy. The active ingredient in cannabis roots has been shown to decrease inflammatory markers while protecting the gastrointestinal tract against inflammation (9). 


According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, poor circulation is the underlying pathology of most disease while proper circulation is vital to health, vitality and wellness. Poor circulation has been cited as the cause for many western medical conditions including hemorrhage, congestion, thrombosis and local ischemia. One of the active ingredients found in cannabis roots, friedelin, has been shown to reduce serum cholesterol and reduce systolic blood pressure, both of which indicates an improvement in healthy blood circulation. A 2007 study found that a friedelin rich extract significantly decreased the blood pressure of hypertensive rats (10). It has been postulated that cannabis roots were traditionally used as a Chinese herbal medicine primarily due to the improved regulation of healthy blood flow in the cardiovascular system.


Legalization of cannabis in Canada has led to a renewed interest in the pharmacotherapy of the cannabis flower and extracts, primarily those with CBD and THC. While cannabis roots do not have detectable level of these cannabinoids, they are rich in other active compounds including friedelin and carvone. Preliminary research carried out by empyri includes characterizing the chemical profile of both hemp and marijuana roots in a variety of growing conditions. Our research will expand to compare the phytochemistry of various cannabis chemovars while expanding our database of active chemicals, and their beneficial medical applications, in the cannabis root.

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  1. Antonisamy P, Duraipandiyan V, Ignacimuthu S, et al. Anti-diarrhoeal activity of friedelin isolated from Azima tetracantha in Wistar ratsSouth Ind J Biol Sci.2015;1:34–37 [Google Scholar].
  2. Aswar UM, Bhaskaran S, Mohan V, et al. Estrogenic activity of friedelin rich fraction (IND-HE) separated from Cissus quadrangularis and its effect on female sexual functionPharmacognosy Res. 2010;2:138–145 [PMC free article] [PubMed[Google Scholar].
  3. Natasha R. Ryz, David J. Remillard, Ethan B. Russo. Cannabis Roots: A Traditional Therapy with Future Potential for Treating Inflammation and Pain. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2017; 2(1): 210–216. Published online 2017 Aug 1. doi: 10.1089/can.2017.0028 PMCID: PMC5628559.
  4. Antonisamy P, Duraipandiyan V, Ignacimuthu S, et al. Anti-diarrhoeal activity of friedelin isolated from Azima tetracantha Lam. in Wistar rats. South Ind J Biol Sci. 2015;1:34–37.
  5. Chowdhury, Jasim & Nandi, Nemai & Uddin, Minhaj & Rahman, Majibur. (2007). Chemical Constituents of Essential Oils from Two Types of Spearmint ( Mentha spicata L. and M. cardiaca L.) Introduced in Bangladesh. Bangladesh Journal of Scientific and Industrial Research. 42. 10.3329/bjsir.v42i1.359.
  6. Tao H. J. (1999). (Originally Liang Dynasty). Japan- Mori Risshi. Complete Compendium of Chinese Materia Medica, Vol. 5, Collection of Commentaries on the Classic of Materia Medica.Beijing: Huaxia Publishing House.
  7. Brand E., Wiseman N. (2008). Concise Chinese Materia Medica. Taos, NM: Paradigm Publications, 51–52.
  8. Aswar UM, Bhaskaran S, Mohan V, et al. Estrogenic activity of frie- delin rich fraction (IND- HE) separated from Cissus quadrangularis and its effect on female sexual function. Pharmacognosy Res. 2010;2: 138–145.
  9. Antonisamy P, Duraipandiyan V, Aravinthan A, Al-Dhabi NA, Ignacimuthu S, Choi KC, Kim JH. Protective effects of friedelin isolated from Azima tetracantha Lam. against ethanol-induced gastric ulcer in rats and possible underlying mechanisms. Eur J Pharmacol. 2015 Mar 5;750:167- 75. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2015.01.015. Epub 2015 Jan 22.
  10. Jiao J, Zhang Y, Lou D, Wu X, Zhang Y. Antihyperlipidemic and antihypertensive effect of a triterpenoid-rich extract from bamboo shavings and vasodilator effect of friedelin on phenylephrine-induced vasoconstriction in thoracic aortas of rats. Phytother Res. 2007.


Jennifer Grant with Hemp Roots


Author Bio: Jennifer is the president and founder of empyri.  Jennifer’s passion for formulation and product development was set ablaze in 2019, when she incorporated the healing power of cannabis roots into her long-standing three-step skin care system. Armed with scientific evidence on the actives in cannabis roots and seeds, a clean and conscious brand was born. Using her masters degree in bio-chemical engineering, Jennifer is forging a path to ...READ FULL BIO