There has been so much news coming from the world of cannabis these last few years – and most of it has been good! News of state-level legalization and even talk of rescheduling weed on the federal level so that it is at least at a decriminalized level. Along with all the good news is more research into what is actually inside marijuana.
And the acronyms and abbreviations! We’re learning more and more beyond THC, CBD, cannabinoids and even the different names for marijuana. In addition, terpenes are aromatic compounds that contribute to the entourage effect, elevating the positive impacts of cannabis. And now we hear about flavonoids. What the heck are these?
What are Flavonoids?
Now more attention is being given to flavonoids, a family of phytonutrients. Flavonoids are the powerhouses within plants that create vibrant colors to attract bees, birds, and butterflies. They enhance the color and flavor of many florae – over 8000 different types – including 20 found in marijuana.
The word flavonoid is from the Latin “flavus,” meaning yellow or blond – the most common color created by flavonoids. It turns out flavonoids are essential for seed development and cell cycle progression in plants. They also help protect plants, defending them from UV rays, insects, bacteria, and fungi. Flavonoids help plants create their distinctive flavors, smells, and pigments. They are essential for hemp and cannabis plants.
As we learn more about flavonoids, the more we can appreciate their favorable properties. Cannaflavins (as the flavonoids in cannabis are called) are potent antioxidants. Antioxidants can bind with and neutralize free radicals – the unstable molecules that can damage cells.
Cannaflavins can cancel out the damage wrought by smoking and drinking. (Though this is no excuse to start – or resume — drinking and smoking!) Still, it’s good to know these helpful nutrients seem to be on our side, ready to repair some of the damage of being alive.
Benefits of Flavonoids in Cannabis
Flavonoids in cannabis also reduce risks from cancer and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. In addition, they can curb cardiovascular disease and help with weight loss.
Cannaflavins can benefit your immune system and some have found additional benefits for their anti-cancer, anti-mutagenic, and anti-oxidative conditions. While they accompany marijuana, the cannaflavins themselves are non-intoxicating – they won’t do anything to get you high. But they are still powerful.
Some of the anti-inflammatory benefits of cannaflavins A and B are 30 times stronger than aspirin. There is some evidence that cannaflavins have also been know to contribute to pancreatic cancer treatment. Results from a promising study of this were released in 2020, but still more research and studies are needed to be more conclusive with these benefits.
The Entourage Effect
The entourage effect is when each component of cannabis complements and enhances the impact of all the others. Again, the way THC and CBD, and terpenes all work together is notable. And it turns out that flavonoids also join in the entourage effect, bringing another layer of positive results.
Flavonoids, along with cannabinoids and terpenes, interact with chemical receptors located in the endocannabinoid system of our bodies. Therefore, flavonoids can optimize the therapeutic potential of cannabis.
My Favorite Flavonoids
Looking at some specific flavonoids will help us understand their properties and benefits.
- Quercetin is found in cannabis and chocolate, apples, citrus, and berries, among many other fragrant and deeply colored plants. It’s known for its anti-inflammatory properties and can help mitigate allergy symptoms and reports of helping high blood pressure. Quercetin is the most common flavonoid that have been found in the food we eat.
- Apigenin has been used throughout the ages as a yellow dye for wool, and it also can provide profound relaxation. Apigenin is one of the main ingredient in chamomile and other herbal teas. It’s also found in herbs like basil, tarragon, parsley, mint, and cilantro. Not only this apigenin is also an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
- Kaempferol gives roses their colors and could also help treat cancer! As another inflammation fighter, it can help target metastasis and modulate cell death. Eating your kale, green beans, and spinach will bring more kaempferol into your life.
Recent research of cannaflavins A, B, and C have shown anti-cancer and antioxidant properties. They are thought to be neuroprotective and perhaps can help protect our brains from conditions such as Alzheimer’s (though many more studies are needed to be more conclusive).
How to Bring More Flavonoids into Our Lives
The most colorful vegetables in the produce aisle are a great source of flavonoids. And cannabis products are also a tempting and enjoyable source.
To ingest more of the flavonoids found in cannabis, it’s generally recommended that you eat cannabis products rather than smoking. This is because smoking does activate some flavonoids but burns up others.
What Lies Ahead
While research on the many benefits of marijuana has increased, once the federal government comes around to legalization, there will be a considerable expansion in this field of inquiry. With more research, we will better understand the role flavonoids can play in creating better highs and amplifying health benefits. There’s still more to learn and understand, and we’ll enjoy that education every step of the way.