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So, What Exactly Are Flavonoids?
As cannabis fans, we’re sure you’ve heard plenty about terpenes and cannabinoids, but there are other components of the plant that aren’t talked about as often… lucky for you, today we’re talking all about flavonoids.
Okay… but what are flavonoids?
Flavonoids are a wide class of plant chemicals that are found in all plants. This doesn’t just mean fruits and vegetables; this includes grains, bark, roots, stems, flowers, herbs, tea, wine… and cannabis! Flavonoids are phytonutrients under the chemical category of polyphenols and are one of the largest nutrient families ever discovered.
We currently know of over 6,000 unique flavonoids… and there are probably even more to discover still.
Flavonoids have proven nutritional value and have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cardiovascular benefits. They’re largely responsible for why fruits and veggies are so healthy!
Despite their benefits, they are most well known for their influence over plant pigment… meaning their responsibility for the colour of plants. Best known for their non-green pigments, they’re the reason that our tomatoes are bright red, our blueberries are vibrant blue, and our greens are so green! Ever see a glimmer of purple in your Grandaddy Purp? You can thank the flavonoids.
Just like terpenes, they also influence the aroma of different plants… even though terpenes get all the credit.
This is a common thing! We talk a lot about the other compounds that make up our cannabis, but we don’t give enough credit to our flavonoids…
What are the roles of flavonoids in cannabis?
Cannabis plants contain over 500 different compounds, which means a LOT of factors decide the specific effects of a strain...
...but for some reason industry tends to put most of the focus on the role of cannabinoids (THC and CBD) and how they influence the overall effects of cannabis. Terpenes are becoming increasingly common in conversation… but why aren’t we talking about flavonoids?
Cannabis contains certain common flavonoids that are found in other varieties of plants… but also has its own unique flavonoids too! Flavonoids found in only cannabis are referred to as cannaflavins.
Together, standard flavonoids and unique cannaflavins influence the taste, colour, smell, and sensory experiences of cannabis. Different combinations of flavonoids, terpenes, fatty acids, and cannabinoids can together change these effects drastically. This combined effect is known as the “entourage effect.” This effect is the result of all components of cannabis working together simultaneously. Effects would change if each component was taken separately, or a component was let out all together.
As of right now, 23 flavonoids have been identified in cannabis plants. As for unique cannaflavins? There are currently only three known flavonoids that are only present in cannabis. These three unique cannaflavins have “extremely creative” names.... Cannaflavin A, Cannaflavin B, and Cannaflavin C!
Researchers are actively studying how these cannaflavins complement—or compete with—the more commonly researched flavonoids found in cannabis; as well as with the other compounds present in the cannabis plant.
When did flavonoid research start?
We mentioned flavonoid research being relatively new on the cannabis research scene—but fun fact—Cannaflavin A & B were actually discovered all the way back in the 1980s by Dr. Marilyn Barrett during her time as a PhD student at the School of Pharmacy of the University of London. She made the discovery when she was researching remedies for inflammation of knee joints in patients that went through surgery for rheumatoid arthritis.
Research started decades ago, but previous prohibition made advancements unfortunately difficult. Luckily, new information is coming out all the time. We’re rapidly moving forward into the future of cannaflavins!
What is the future for flavonoids?
It’s standard for craft cannabis producers to display the contents of cannabinoids; or the percentages of indica and sativa in a strain. For example, our strain of White Widow is 40% indica and 60% sativa. It contains 14% - 21% THC, 1% CBD, and 1% CBN…etc, but information about terpenes and flavonoids aren’t commonly available yet! That’s mostly due to the lack of comprehensive research on the topics, but we see many new advancements on the horizon.
We imagine a future where cannabis producers and dispensaries are able to provide more detailed information about each strains terpene and flavonoid content. With increased research going into cannabis strains and breeding, buyers might one day be able to seek out specific combinations of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids to find a desired “flavour” or effect.
But… there’s still a ways to go before we get there. Flavonoids are currently the most understudied part of the cannabis plant. Discoveries are in their early stages, but cannaflavins are definitely going to be the next big part of the cannabis conversation.
We’ll keep you updated as we learn more. Follow our blog for the latest in cannabis news!