Terpenes and phytocannabinoids, or more commonly known as cannabinoids, tend to be more widely known and used to distinguish cannabis strains. Especially when choosing a variety for a certain ailment, such as the terpene linalool. However, there are 200 or more bioactive compounds found in cannabis. Some of those are known as flavonoids, that contribute to a range of effects from marijuana. Flavonoids are not exclusive to the marijuana plant. They are present in a wide range of plants, with many functions.
Live Science defines flavonoids as, "a diverse group of phytonutrients (plant chemicals) found in almost all fruits and vegetables. Along with carotenoids, they are responsible for the vivid colors in fruits and vegetables. Flavonoids are the largest group of phytonutrients, with more than 6,000 types. Some of the best-known flavonoids are quercetin and kaempferol." The word itself comes from the Latin term 'flavis,' which references the color yellow that occurs in nature.
Leafly states, "Both odor and flavor are possible in cannabis due to the synergistic qualities that terpenes and flavonoids share with one another....flavonoids also affect the pigmentation of cannabis, just as they do with other flowers. Those beautiful, deep purple cannabis strains owe their coloration to the flavonoids known as anthoxanthins or anthocyanins. In other plants such as berries, anthocyanin may cause red, purple, or even blue coloration depending on pH levels."
Flavonoids also contribute to the defense system in plants, to protect against harmful UV rays and pests. They also aid in the attraction of pollen to flowers.
When cannabis is consumed, those flavonoids contribute to the taste, smell and entourage effect when paried with cannabinoids and terpenes. In the wellness community, flavonoids are known for a wide variety of health benefits to the human anatomy. 'Catechins' are a flavonoid type found in green tea, that provide antioxidant and cardiovascular health benefits. Flavonoids unique to the cannabis plant are known as 'cannaflavins.'
Merry Jane reports, "Research is underway to distinguish cannaflavins from more common flavonoids. For example, it was recently discovered that cannabis flavonoid “cannaflavin-A” inhibits “PGE-2,” a prostaglandin responsible for inflammation known for responding well to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin. The study showed that cannaflavin-A reduces inflammation and is exponentially more powerful than aspirin.
Cannflavin-B and cannflavin-C are being studied, too, while researchers are still learning how the presence of more common flavonoids in cannabis like β-sitosterol, vitexin, isovitexin, apigenin, kaempferol, quercetin, luteolin, and orientin work in conjunction with—or resistance to—cannabis cannabinoids and terpenes.
Because many flavonoids have high antioxidant properties that support the detoxification of tissue-damaging molecules, flavonoid consumption is often—although not always—associated with a decreased risk of certain cancers, most notably lung and breast cancer. Still today, more research is required on flavonoids’ role in these specific conditions. While the distribution of flavonoids in the cannabis plant varies on genetics, growing conditions, and the flavonoid itself, the compounds are found readily in cured cannabis leaves and flowers, reaching concentrations large enough for us to enjoy them. Soon, through extractions, or possibly synthesis, we might be twaxing joints with a dab of terp oil and a ribbon of “flav” oil."
As cannabis users, more and more information can greatly benefit the way we use this beautiful plant. Remember to write or call your state representative to push the issue of rescheduling cannabis, for this very reason of health & wellness benefit!