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Flavonoids and Cannabis

Research has discovered over six thousand varieties of flavonoids so far!

What are flavonoids?

Found in a variety of plants and fungi, flavonoids contribute to the many health benefits of fruits, vegetables, and other natural foods.

What do they do?

One main function is to help plants (particularly flowers) attract pollinators with their vibrant colors. They also play a role in protecting plants against the elements, UV rays, pests, and diseases.

Flavonoids affect the pigmentation of cannabis and other flowers. The flavonoids, anthoxanthins or anthocyanins, are responsible for the deeply purple cannabis strains, like Purple Trainwreck and Granddaddy Purple. Depending on pH levels, anthocyanin also helps create red, purple, and blue in berries and plants.

Much research explores their anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and antioxidant properties. For example, quercetin is a flavonoid in many fruits and veggies, studied as an antifungal and antioxidant.

Known for its potential cardiovascular benefits and antioxidant properties, catechins are another flavonoid found in cocoa, teas, and pome fruits.

What flavonoids are found in cannabis?

Flavonoids found only in cannabis are called cannaflavins.

Cannflavins A and B were first identified in the 1980s. Cannflavin C was identified in 2008.

Studies explore cannflavin A and cannflavin B’s ability to inhibit prostaglandin 2 (PGE2) production by human rheumatoid synovial cells in culture. PGE2 is a potent inflammatory mediator.

The journal Phytochemistry published the University of Guelph research showing how cannflavin A and cannflavin B can act approximately 30 times more powerful at reducing inflammation than Aspirin.

Research explores cannabis flavonoid FBL-03G and its ability to increase the survival rate in pancreatic cancer in mice. Assistant professor at Harvard, Wilfred Ngwa, Ph.D. said of the study: 

“The most significant conclusion is that tumor-targeted delivery of flavonoids, derived from cannabis, enabled both local and metastatic tumor cell death, significantly increasing survival from pancreatic cancer. This has major significance, given that pancreatic cancer is particularly refractory to current therapies… 

We were quite surprised that the drug could inhibit the growth of cancer cells in other parts of the body, representing metastasis, that was not targeted by the treatment. This suggests that the immune system is involved as well, and we are currently investigating this mechanism. The significance of that is that, because pancreatic cancer is often diagnosed in later stages, once it has spread, and the flavonoids seem to be capable of killing other cancer cells, it may mean the life expectancy of those with the condition could increase.”

The different strains, flavors, and scents in cannabis are often credited to terpenes. However, flavonoids play a vital role too. The synergy of terpenes and flavonoids both help distinguish odor and flavor in cannabis (and other flowers).

Synergy is when plant compounds work together to enhance each other, amplifying the benefits of each individual compound. This is known as the “entourage effect”.

How many flavonoids are in cannabis?

We can’t say for sure how many are found in cannabis just yet, but so far about 20 different flavonoids have been discovered, including orientin, quercetin, silymarin, and kaempferol.

Kaempferol and quercetin are both known as powerful antioxidants.

Apigenin is another flavonoid in cannabis – also found in chamomile. Many explore its interaction with skin cancer prevention.

Cannabis flavonoid luteolin is also found in various foods, like celery and green pepper. Research shows it to be an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and explores its impact on heart disease and cancer.

Where are they found in cannabis?

Terpenes and cannabinoids are primarily housed in cannabis trichomes. Flavonoids, on the other hand, are also found in other parts of the plant – including the stems, leaves, and seeds. 

Where are they found?

There are thousands of flavonoids found in various foods and plants. They’re naturally found in things such as cocoa, tea, citrus, berries, apples, onions,  red wine, soy, dried beans, peas, and lentils.

Flavonoids have been widely researched, though research on cannabis flavonoids is now starting to expand more too.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This article and information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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