What Are Cannabis Flavonoids?
When it comes to marijuana jargon, cannabinoids and terpenes are words that are thrown around often. But of the 200+ active compounds in the marijuana plant, flavonoids often get overlooked. Cannabis flavonoids play just as important a role as cannabinoids and terpenes in the smell, taste, and color of plants.
Flavonoids are not unique to cannabis, either. In fact, they exist all over the plant kingdom, and scientists have discovered and named thousands of them. Those that are specific to the marijuana plant are scientifically referred to as cannaflavins. How we perceive the cannabis experience with our senses is greatly affected by the presence of flavonoids. Of all the compounds of marijuana, flavonoids are the most understudied, and so what we know about them is severely limited.
The most common role that flavonoids play in the plant kingdom is to give them their characteristic color. The blue in your blueberries and the purple in your Granddaddy Purple are perfect examples of flavonoids doing their best work. In the world of plants, we most often observe flavonoids giving plants a vivid color that isn’t green!
Though weed is more often green than anything else, around 10 percent of all of the compounds in marijuana are cannaflavins. Even the little orange hairs on your buds are orange because of the presence of these interesting plant nutrients. While cannabis flavonoids definitely contribute to the smell and taste of ganja, their most prominent role all around the plant kingdom is giving color.
The biomechanics of cannabis flavonoids
Other than just pretty colors, smells and tastes, cannabis flavonoids are extremely bioactive. They don’t just add character, but actually, help the plant grow and defend itself against pests. Cannaflavins play a role in UV filtration and nitrogen fixation. The importance of nitrogen to the health and wellbeing of a marijuana plant is enormous. Nitrogen is what allows the cannabis plant to produce chlorophyll (which interestingly, is the reason weed is green!) which is what gives it the power of photosynthesis.
What we know about flavonoids is pretty limited. Though we know that they have unique “jobs” in the cultivation of cannabis, we don’t really know how they interact synergistically with other compounds during the growing process. However, their prevalence in the marijuana plant is so enormous, we have to assume that they do work with the terpenes and cannabinoids to help cannabis survive in the wild.
Flavonoids can be just as healing as cannabinoids
Cannabis enthusiasts rave about the medicinal value of THC and CBD, but rarely do they know how the other compounds, such as flavonoids, contribute to the healing power of weed. In fact, flavonoids found in many of the fruits and vegetables we eat have a profound impact on how our bodies function.
Let’s take a look at catechins, for example. They are flavonoids that are found in cacao and green tea. Researchers have discovered that catechins provide cardiovascular health benefits as well as anti-inflammatory effects. They are also effective at keeping cholesterol levels in humans under control. Quercetins are another type of flavonoid found in many fruits and vegetables as well as cannabis. They are known to have antioxidant and antiviral effects.
When it comes specifically to cannabis flavonoids, researchers have been able to isolate and identify 23. There are probably loads more, but don’t forget that cannabis is still federally illegal - which puts a huge halt on scientific research. Cannaflavin A (they weren’t very creative on the names) was recently discovered by researchers to have anti-inflammatory properties greater than those of Aspirin.
Another flavonoid that is found in marijuana, but isn’t unique to it is kaempferol. This flavonoid has the ability to reduce the risk of chronic diseases, especially cancer. So next time someone tells you that CBD is a cancer-fighting agent, remind them that there are flavonoids that also contribute to this healing quality of cannabis!
The entourage effect
One of the characteristics of the scientific method is to break complicated things down into smaller pieces so that we can understand them better. That is why we have isolated compounds in marijuana that we have called cannabinoids, terpenoids, flavonoids etc. However, one thing we observe about cannabis (and medicinal plants in general) is something called the entourage effect. It is the effect of all of these things combined and is so mysteriously complex, we might never wrap our scientific minds around it.
While we know that THC is anti-inflammatory and CBD is anti-convulsive, we don’t know to what degree these cannabinoids do what they do with the help of all the other compounds in marijuana. That is what we mean when we say the entourage effect. The same goes with flavonoids. We can say that they have certain biofunctions and effects on the plant, but at the end of the day, it’s likely that they do so with the help of cannabinoids and terpenoids.
Cannabis flavonoids are another one of the many things that give cannabis its unique personality. Even within the cannabis species, different strains have different flavonoids, and varying amounts of them, too. They are equally as important as all of the other compounds in marijuana that we have come to know and love.
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