Cannabis Magnetobiology: Lost Knowledge, New Possibilities?

When I first wrote The Cultivators Handbook of Marijuana in the late ’60s I was able to take a lot of speculative leaps beyond my own experience by standing on the shoulders of others before me in the plant sciences. I wrote confidently about new concepts in Cannabis cultivation like male/femaleness, grafting and cloning, and the importance of the ultraviolet spectrum, because I was sharing strong information and passing along good ideas that I knew would be useful and helpful, even though my own experience was limited. 

In the last issue of Grow Magazine I wrote with equal confidence about the science behind the amazing but, once understood, totally natural influence of music on plants and suggested that Cannabis growers look into applications of the many scientific discoveries in this area that I believe are being overlooked.

In this article I would like to suggest with the same confidence that we all need to look seriously at electro-magnetism and Cannabis germination, growth, health, and flowering. I am writing to share solid information and proven ideas, but not from a place where I can tell you what works from my own experience. I am a scout bringing back word of old and seemingly lost lands where I believe I’ve re-discovered some gems of knowledge. I hope that what I am sharing here will inspire others to look into this amazing science that is well-understood in some other non-Western cultures and scientific traditions but that is just beginning to be validated by Western academics and researchers. 

150 Years Of Science & Practical Experience

Few other communities of plant lovers rival Cannabis growers in our passion for learning and experimentation. Our forums are full of discussions with people trying every conceivable growing technique, and the internet is full of pictures and videos by passionate Cannabis growers sharing their personal methods and latest results. There are hundreds, even thousands of websites filled with every possible kind of information on growing Cannabis, and fortunes are being spent on researching and cultivating this wondrous flower.

So, one might expect Cannabis growers to already be completely familiar with the use of magnetic energy to produce superior health and vitality both indoors and outdoors, but this seems to be, by and large, unfamiliar territory for the Cannabis community. It certainly opened my eyes as I began exploring what was discovered generations ago but that appears to have been ignored and lost to generations of Cannabis growers. Just the simple use of magnets to prime Cannabis seeds during germination holds incredible potential in plant health and flower yield.

This area of science goes back well over a hundred years and has a long history documenting almost uniformly positive results in more than 200 plant species. Research into wheat, rice, sunflowers, and apple trees, among others, show that exposing the seeds to either low-strength, low density static or electro-magnetic energy before and after germination does a variety of things including:

  • Increases vegetative growth and development 
  • Strengthens immune systems
  • Increases chlorophyll production and photosynthetic metabolism
  • Increases resistance to predators, pathogens, and molds
  • Promotes flowering and fruiting 
  • Promotes production of phytochemicals
  • Protects from cold shock, water deficit, and over-salinity 

Most of the work on magnetism and plants over the past 150 years has focused on agricultural crops and has given almost zero attention to Cannabis. One single study on dry industrial hemp seed didn’t show any effects. Researchers in Colorado are on the trail of some interesting applications of acoustical and electrical energy with Cannabis, and I’m sure there are others, but I looked pretty carefully for both published research and for online conversations among growers and found almost no awareness of this area of science, so I’m writing this blog to say hey.

There have been literally hundreds of scientific studies over the past 150 years (see the references) that strongly suggest that magnetism and electricity in various forms can play potentially beneficial roles at every stage of Cannabis growth, and can help produce superior plants with very low technology inputs. While few if any studies have been done yet with Cannabis, there is no reason why Cannabis should be an exception to electromagnetic applications that work in every other plant.

For example, in the research on magnetic treatment of seeds we find these enticing clues:

 “… plants originating from magneto primed seeds showed increased plant height, leaf area, fresh weight, thick midrib and minor veins. Similarly, chlorophyll and carotenoid contents, efficiency of PSII, quantum yield of electron transport, stomatal conductance, and activities of carbonic anhydrase (CA), Rubisco and PEP-carboxylase enzymes are enhanced with magneto priming of the seeds.“ (“Effect of Magnetopriming on Photosynthetic Performance of Plants” – see references)

To check what pre-germination magnetic treatment of Cannabis seeds might mean, google the words “PEP-carboxylase and Cannabis” or “Rubisco and Cannabis” or “PSII,” and then consider what even slightly enhanced activity of those vital proteins and photosynthetic enzymes in flowering Cannabis could mean for quality and yield. 

To be clear, there seems to have been zero research done on this aspect of Cannabis.  So while there could be negative as well as positive effects from magnetic field treatment, as you’ll see if you look it is rare to find a negative outcome mentioned in the findings around any kind of plant. All seeds appear to benefit.

I’m offering article as a “heads-up” rather than a “how-to.” I’ve put some curated links to core research in the reference section and it looks to me like there’s literally a whole new field in Cannabis cultivation waiting to be discovered in there. 

The process of figuring out how to apply magnetic energy to Cannabis cultivation — what strength, flux, polarity, duration etc. — is going to have to be trial and error in the Cannabis community, at least in the beginning, but it is already such a well-defined path in so many other plants that I would expect some exciting discoveries pretty quickly. 

There are really simple experiments with magnetic priming of Cannabis that could be done right away by anyone in the grower community.

Could getting healthier plants and better flowers in 10 to 12 weeks be as simple as tucking a few fridge magnets inside the damp paper towels we use for germination? Maybe germinate seed batch A with magnets tucked inside the moist towels and treat seed batch B the same but without magnets, then just see what happens in two and a half to three months.

Or maybe put a few fridge magnets in the bottom of some clone pots — clone A gets no magnets, clone B gets one, and clone C gets two. And see what happens.

Then, maybe try using different strength magnets and see if they give different results. Or, maybe go from using static magnetic fields (fridge and neodymium magnets) to treating the seeds with electromagnetic fields from a simple bench-scale electromagnet, trying different settings.

Or, maybe try running an unshielded low voltage DC current line near flowering tops (electromagnetism); there’s good evidence that it would have some dramatic effects. But for how strong and how long? Literally nobody knows with Cannabis, but there have been some pretty interesting results with other flowering plants. 

Before knowledge emerges all polished and “scientific” from the institutions, it first comes from the people. In fact, plant science is historically grounded in non-scientist’s love of plants and our desire to experiment with them. Just like the astounding medical applications of Cannabis that Western allopathic medicine and pharma are finally beginning to “discover” which the Cannabis community has known about for hundreds of years, Cannabis growers can lead the way working with static ferrite and neodymium magnets and electro-magnetic field treatments.

Why We Are In The Dark About Magnetism

Western experience broadly recognizes that magnetism is woven into the natural environment for plants and animals alike. It’s a common experience for gardeners to find, after a nighttime thunderstorm, that some plants have grown inches overnight. Grain-belt farmers worldwide will tell you that grain yields are better planted in North-South rows, in line with the earth’s magnetic field. Seattle Greg told me of an unsung genius in the Northwest in the ’70s who actually tried mining locally abundant magnetite and incorporating it into his marijuana grow mixes. Unfortunately, ground magnetite has no polarity and the attempts failed, but what a brilliant insight so long ago! 

It turns out that there are profound historical reasons why the applications of static and electromagnetism, DC current, galvanic current, and even AC current aren’t already being widely used in the Cannabis community, and why discussion of any form of electricity in plants has been taboo in Western scientific circles until very recently.  

Once you look closely it’s pretty clear that the historical legacies of white scientific racism and American and British ethnocentrism, particularly in the natural sciences and particularly the fields of botany and plant science, are why so few Americans, and especially so few Cannabis growers, have even a clue about the existence of this area of knowledge. 

That history of racism and ethnocentrism matters because almost all of the foundational discoveries in the science of plant responses to electricity and magnetism, and their own electrical being — their nervous systems, their ability to communicate, respond and learn, and their self-aware sentience — came first from an Indian genius named Jagadish Chandra Bose. His extensive, meticulously well-documented research through the late 19th and early 20th centuries demonstrated conclusively that plants have a life far beyond the simple, passive role assigned them in Western science. 

A 2021 article by Peter V. Minorsky in the journal Plant Signaling & Behavior entitled “The father of plant neurobiology,” says: 

“Bose revealed a complexity of signaling and behavior in ordinary plants that had hitherto been unimagined. He demonstrated physiological mechanisms in plants identical in function …with animals … responsible for growth, photosynthesis (energy metabolism), fluid circulation, breathing and transpiration, motor activity and response to light, temperature, water, trauma, shock, and toxicity.”  

The post-Victorian world of Great Britain was not ready to hear that plants perceive, feel, and communicate, much less that plants have a nervous system and perhaps even self-awareness, the essence of mind. They rejected and ridiculed Bose, and not simply because his thinking was so far in advance of their own. The Victorians were barely able to contemplate that their dogs or cats, or their children, might feel pain, make plans, and solve problems, much less accept the idea that their plants might be listening and thinking. 

While there were many Victorians who were charmed by children’s stories that featured singing, dancing flowers and vegetables, the entire scientific establishment of that age was closed to the idea of sentience in plants, permanently. But of course even without the acknowledgement of the establishment, plants were and are listening, and that would certainly have to include Cannabis Sativa, one of the highest order plant beings on the planet.

Many of us who grow Cannabis are already quite sure that our plants are living, feeling, sentient beings living in another universe parallel to our animal experience, even without knowing anything of the Bose legacy. But in the Victorian era, for a dark-skinned man from the colonies to be suggesting such things — well, my word! 

In turn, a disproportionate number of the early 20th century American  “founding fathers” of our current natural and plant sciences were intellectual inheritors of British colonialist narrow-mindedness and were themselves full-out racists, eugenicists, and fascists, some of whom were advocating versions of the Nazi “Final Solution” in detail long before Hitler appeared. They infected the American plant science community, and the entire American culture, with a blind ignorance that has persisted until only recently, all based on rejecting a worldview so different from their own that simply couldn’t be true, because a dark-skinned man from India had conceived and proven its existence first.

Minorsky went on to speak directly to growers today: “Plant physiology would have progressed down a very different path and at a greatly accelerated pace if Bose’s research had not been so vehemently rejected by powerful scientists in the United States.”

I’m confident that growers using today’s sensitive, non-invasive technologies can apply Dr. Bose’s concepts and simple methods and techniques to Cannabis. His understanding of plant neurobiology and communication can add incremental value for everyone from the small home grower to multi-acre indoor and outdoor grows.

Cannabis growers in the US and worldwide can learn from the writings of this genius from a century ago. As a community we can then follow the multiple trails he opened up for those of us living in the future, with our own imaginations and our new technologies, finally applying his original, fundamental insights and proofs to demonstrate the reality they reveal. 

Minorsky makes it clear that current Western scientists are not responsible for the historical racism that they are surrounded by, but he also makes it clear that scientists today can’t ignore how much wisdom was hidden or lost. Minorsky says, “Clearly, Western scientists of the current generation are not responsible for the racist sins of the past but in cases where the xenophobia and cultural ignorance of our intellectual forebears has effectively erased, marred or diminished the legacy of a great scholar, it is morally imperative that we, as scholars, not be implicit in perpetuating a gross, historical injustice. Bose was one of the most brilliant minds to ever contemplate plant function. It is high time that we in the West recognize and celebrate Bose’s contributions to plant biology and humanity.” 

There would be no better way for the Cannabis community to recognize and honor this genius who worked for all mankind against a headwind of hatred and abuse than to bring his insights into our Cannabis fields, greenhouses, and grow rooms and put them to work increasing the health and vitality of this high order plant being that we so appreciate, honor, and love. Over a century ago Sir Chandra Jagadish Bose showed us that electricity and magnetic energy are the twin pathways into a new relationship with plants, and who better to explore these paths than the Cannabis community of enlightened growers and awakened scientists? 

Selected References

1. “American racism and the lost legacy of Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose, the father of plant neurobiology”

Cannabis growers have always known intuitively that this side of our plants exists but here’s why we’ve never had the information – racist science. 

2. “The Nervous Mechanism of Plants” (1926)

Bose wrote this later in his life as a summary of his work. In many ways this book should have revolutionized plant science, and had it done so, our understanding of plants from food crops to Cannabis would be very different today.

3. “Historical Overview on Plant Neurobiology

This “brand-new” science goes back hundreds of years and is a fascinating look at how generations of passionate plant people have worked to prove what we all know intuitively about plant beings.

4. “New functions for electrical signals in plants

From movement to photosynthesis to wound healing, plants generate, transmit, receive, discriminate, and act on electrical signals. New technology allows stress-free monitoring and analysis of these long-suspected signals.

5. “Physical Methods for Seed Invigoration: Advantages and Challenges in Seed Technology

A nice review of current seed-priming technologies with detailed information on use of magnetic fields. Every technology reviewed is ultra high-tech except for magnetism, which refreshingly seems to still come out best overall. 

6. “Magnetic Field (MF) Applications in Plants: An Overview

This is a very useful article on the widespread use of magnetic fields in agricultural crop production, especially in countries that receive zero attention in US media. It’s particularly useful because it translates directly to Cannabis in grow rooms, in greenhouses, and in fields. It covers a huge body of research on magnetically-treated water. 

7. “Magnetic field regulates plant functions, growth and enhances tolerance against environmental stresses

Valuable research that, again only by inference, validates the potential of MF treatment for Cannabis seeds and plants. 

8. Effect of Magnetopriming on Photosynthetic Performance of Plants

Every Cannabis grower cares deeply about photosynthesis, and here is clear evidence of how magnetic field treatment enhances photosynthetic performance in plants.

9. “Magnetic field effects on plant growth, development, and evolution

This very useful article discusses low-intensity magnetic fields like one would get from ordinary magnets. Not a “how-to” but easily translatable into steps in a process of discovery with Cannabis.

10. “Magnetic fields: how is plant growth and development impacted?

Another good look at the use of different strengths and densities of static and electromagnetic fields and their specific effects.

11. “Review of Russian literature on biological action of DC and low-frequency AC magnetic fields

“…the historical roots, beginning with the ideas of V. Vernadsky and A. Chizhevsky, which led in the field of Russian biology to an increasing interest in magnetic fields, based on an intimate connection between solar activity and life on the Earth, and which determined the peculiar development of Russian magnetobiology.”

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