What Are Flavonoids in Cannabis?

All you need to know about flavonoids and how they contribute to the type of high you experience.
23 August 2021
5 min read
What Are Flavonoids in Cannabis?

Contents:
  • 1. What are flavonoids?
  • 2. Most common flavonoids
  • 2. a. Flavonols
  • 2. b. Flavanones
  • 2. c. Anthocyanins
  • 2. d. Isoflavonoids
  • 2. e. Other flavonoids
  • 3. Cannflavins
  • 4. Flavonoids and the entourage effect
  • 5. In conclusion

Cannabis plants produce hundreds of different chemical compounds, such as cannabinoids and terpenes. Both cannabinoids and terpenes are responsible for the type of high you experience when consuming cannabis but recent research discovered a new type of chemical compound that’s also believed to affect the type of high. Flavonoids are chemical compounds responsible for a cannabis plant's flavor while also playing a major role in the distinctive color cannabis plants can have.

1. What Are Flavonoids?

Flavonoids are part of a larger group of chemical compounds called polyphenols and are found in plants, fruits, and vegetables. Have in mind that not all polyphenols are flavonoids, despite their similarities, there are approximately 4000 different flavonoids out of a total of 8000 polyphenols, meaning that all flavonoids are polyphenols but not all polyphenols are flavonoids. As mentioned, flavonoids are found in most plants and are responsible for the different colors, smells, and flavors plants have while also being important in plant protection and reproduction. This happens because some flavonoids emit a strong odor that keeps away bugs and other flavonoids emit an odor that certain pollinators seek after, thus helping in reproduction and spreading seeds.

 

Flavonoids in cannabis: what are flavonoids?

Flavonoids are found mostly on the leaves and branches while terpenes and cannabinoids are found in the buds.
 

Flavonoids also influence the aroma and flavor of cannabis but, unlike terpenes and cannabinoids, flavonoids are present in other parts of the cannabis plant, such as stems, leaves, and seeds, so despite being usually disposed of, the leaves can be used to make super healthy smoothies. Apart from being beneficial for plants, flavonoids are also beneficial for humans. As it turns out, just like terpenes,  flavonoids have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties. There’s no concrete data to confirm it but scientists say that a clear indication is the lower incidence of chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, hypertension, and stroke in regions where people consume a lot of fruits and vegetables, such as the Mediterranean region.

2. Most Common Flavonoids 

Despite terpenes being better known in the cannabis world, flavonoids are actually found in higher concentrations than terpenes. Scientists have already found over 20 different flavonoids in cannabis, basically divided into three main groups:

  • Flavonols; 
  • Flavanons;
  • Isoflavonoids and;
  • Anthocyanins among others.

Flavonols

Flavonols are a group of flavonoids that includes kaempferol and quercetin, both of these chemicals have antioxidant properties and can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. 

Flavonols

Also Found in:
OnionsLettuceBerriesGrapes
KaleTomatoesApplesTea

Flavanones

Flavanones also have antioxidant properties but the main benefit is they help get rid of molecules that can damage your cells, potentially protecting you against cancer and several diseases. This flavonoid can also reduce cholesterol and offers anti-inflammatory properties.

Flavanones

Also Found in:
MandarinsOrangesKumquatGrapes
LemonsLimeClementineGrapefruit

 

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Flavanones are mainly found in citrus fruits because they’re one of the compounds that give citrus fruits the bitter flavor.

Anthocyanins

This flavonoid is believed to have both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and it’s mostly found in the following foods:

Anthocyanins

Also Found in:
BlackcurrantsCabbageStrawberriesCranberries
EggplantBlueberriesCherriesBlackberries

 

Anthocyanins are probably the most popular flavonoid because it gives plants, fruits, and vegetables their distinctive blue, purple or red colors. 

Isoflavonoids

Isoflavonoids play a role in metabolism and hormonal balance because they have phytoestrogenic effects that mimic estrogen. Meaning that isoflavonoids could benefit pre and post-menopausal women in combating conditions and symptoms caused by estrogen deficiency.

Isoflavonoids

Also Found in:
SoybeansRaisinsLentilsFava beans
ChickpeasPistachiosPeanutsPotatoes

Other Flavonoids

As mentioned before, scientists believe there are over 4000 flavonoids but we still don’t know all of them and we know very little about the ones we know. Anthocyanins, Flavonols, Flavanones and Isoflavonoids are the main flavonoids known but there are other flavonoids that even though we know they exist and where they exist, we don’t know much about them, they are:

  • Catechins and;
  • Chalcones.

These flavonoids are found in bananas, apples, pears, and peaches among other fruits, and offer antibacterial, anticancer, and antioxidative properties but more research is needed in order to understand catechins, chalcones, and all other flavonoids better.

3. Cannflavins

Apart from the flavonoids mentioned in this blog article, there are some flavonoids exclusive to cannabis plants. They are Cannflavin-A, Cannflavin-B, and Cannflavin-C. Cannflavins were first identified in 1986 when researchers found their anti-inflammatory properties to be thirty times stronger than aspiring A couple of years ago researchers figured out how cannflavins are made in the cannabis plant and according to a study published in 2020, claimed that cannflavins could even treat pancreatic cancer but these findings are just the tip of the iceberg.

 

Flavonoids in cannabis: cannflavins

Cannflavins A, B and C are the only cannflavins known yet.
 

Unfortunately, cannabis prohibition made it hard for researchers to learn more about cannflavins because even though cannflavins aren’t illegal cannabis plants are. And not long ago, possessing, growing, and using cannabis was still illegal, which made it impossible for scientists to research cannabis-exclusive flavonoids. This means that despite knowing their benefits, we still need to know much, much more in order to understand how to make the most out of all the beneficial chemical compounds such as cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids produced by cannabis plants.

4. Flavonoids And the Entourage Effect

Flavonoids possibly play a role in the entourage effect due to being partially responsible for the flavor and aroma of cannabis plants. For those who don’t know what the entourage effect is, it refers to how the different cannabis compounds such as cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids work together to provide a more complete effect. This happens because flavonoids help increase the bioavailability of cannabinoids in the body, also influence how the cannabinoids are transported in your body and how they interact with the cannabinoid receptors.

 

Flavonoids in cannabis: the entourage effect

Flavonoids affect how cannabinoids and terpenes are transported and their bioavailability.
 

On top of that, researchers believe flavonoids can affect a specific enzyme that is involved in metabolizing THC and CBD. All of these reasons are why you should always opt for full-spectrum concentrates rather than isolates.

5. In Conclusion

Flavonoids are found in most plants, including cannabis, and have a lot of health benefits that can protect you against several conditions. But, most of the flavonoids are in the cannabis plant’s leaves and branches so in order to get these benefits you should consume them.

A great way to consume cannabis flavonoids is to mix the leaves in foods and drinks, such as salads and smoothies; So if you are wondering how to consume cannabis flavonoids, you can use the big fan leaves to make super nutritious smoothies. 

 

If you know any tips to help fellow growers consume cannabis flavonoids, feel free to share them in the comment section below!

 

External References

  1. Cannflavins - From plant to patient: A scoping review - Simon Erridge, Nagina Mangal, Oliver Salazar, Barbara Pacchetti and Mikael H Sodergren.
  2. The Hallmarks of Flavonoids in Cancer. Molecules. - Ponte, Luis & Pavan, Isadora & Mancini, Mariana & Silva, Luiz & Morelli, Ana & Severino, Matheus & Bezerra, Rosangela & Simabuco, Fernando. (2021). 
  3. Flavonoids in the Treatment of Neuropathic Pain. - Rao, Prashant & Mainkar, Ojas & Bansal, Nitin & Rakesh, Neal & Haffey, Paul & Urits, Ivan & Orhurhu, Vwaire & Kaye, Alan & Urman, Richard & Gulati, Amitabh & Jones, Mark. (2021). 
23 August 2021
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