Flavonoids are an often overlooked aspect of the cannabis plant. The term might leave the uninitiated scratching their head. However new research is bringing them into the spotlight. In this post, we’ll start to demystify flavonoids, define some key terms, cover how they relate to cannabis, and how a better understanding of flavonoids can impact the quality of your experiences with cannabinoids.
Unrelated to THC and other cannabinoids or terpenes, flavonoids are any of a large and diverse family of phytonutrient pigments with a structure based on or similar to that of the flavone. Currently over 6000 flavonoid compounds have been discovered. Flavonoids help regulate cellular activity and fight off free radicals that cause oxidative stress on the body. They help the body function more efficiently while protecting it against everyday toxins and stressors as well as powerful antioxidant agents.
Flavonoids & the Body
Cannabis flavonoids play an important and often overlooked role in how we perceive the plant with our senses. This is due to the pigment and flavor they provide, but also their therapeutic benefits. Like cannabinoids and terpenes, flavonoids interact with the chemical receptors within the body's endocannabinoid system. Flavonoids have the potential to act as anti-inflammatories, antioxidants, and antibacterial.
Flavinoids & the “Entourage Effect"
Of the roughly 200 bioactive compounds found in cannabis, about 10% are flavonoids. Flavonoids are a crucial ingredient in the “entourage effect”. The “entourage effect” is characterized by the complementary interactions of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other bioactive compounds observed within the endocannabinoid system. Every strain has these compounds in varying amounts. This is why one strain can produce different therapeutic and psychoactive effects. Different ratios of these cannabis-based compounds exist in each strain, which triggers different chemical cascades in the nervous system.
Cannabis Exclusive Flavonoids
Cannflavins are a group of chemical compounds found exclusively in the cannabis plant. Unrelated to THC and other cannabinoids. Three variations of cannflavin have been discovered to date. In 1980 Cannflavin-A and Cannflavin-B were first identified. In 2008 Cannflavin-C was identified. While research is still limited, preliminary studies indicate that cannflavins could be potent anti-inflammatory agents.
Common Cannabis Flavonoids
Quercetin is the most abundant flavonoid. Found in a great deal of the food we all regularly consume including: •Apples •Kale •Cocoa (chocolate) •Red Onion •Berries •Red Wine •St. John’s Wort •Ginko Biloba •Citrus Fruits •Green Tea This is just a shortlist of all of the nutrient-dense, deeply colored vegetables and fruit that Quercetin is found in. This flavonoid is mainly found in the skin and leaves of plants acting as a pigment. It is known to be a powerful antioxidant that helps our bodies fight free radicals by down-regulating and suppressing inflammatory pathways. Quercetin is also known to act as an anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and antiviral agent and is thought to improve physical and mental performance.
Apigenin is commonly found in foods such as: •Celery •Parsley •Tarragon •Basil •Orange •Onion •Mint •Cilantro
A yellow-colored crystalline structure, used for centuries to dye wool. Interacting with GABA receptors, Apigenin has proven sedative and muscle-relaxing effects. It’s thought to be the active ingredient in Chamomile tea that helps with sleep, as it accounts for 68% of the flavonoids in the chamomile flower. Studies have shown that it can also help fight anxiety and depression, explaining why a cup of chamomile tea can be so relaxing. Apigenin is also known as an active antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties.
Kaempferol is common in plants like:
•Beans •Kale •Endive •Cucumber •Onion •Green Bean •Spinach •Ginger •Dill •Tea •Brocoli Kaempferol can be found in the highest concentrations in capers and saffron. Kaempferol is what gives rose petals their beautiful color. Kaempferol is known to modulate cell death, help new blood cells form, fight inflammation, and help target metastasis. All of this leads scientists to believe that Kaempferol has some therapeutic benefits in fighting cancer.
Maximizing Cannabis Flavonoids
If you’re interested in taking full advantage of flavonoids, how you consume your cannabis makes a difference. You might be wondering what cannabis consumption methods deliver the most impact. This is a complicated answer, however, it’s thought that eating cannabis is the best way to maximize your flavonoid intake. Smoking can release some flavonoids while destroying others. Tinctures are a reasonable option, depending on how they are prepared. While there is a lot we know about the benefits of flavonoids, research, as it relates to cannabis, is still in its infancy. The silver lining is that new research is being completed and studies continue to uncover further information regularly. This allows us to better understand how cannabis flavonoids can enhance our experience and wellbeing.