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What Are Flavonoids?

You may have heard of the cannabis plant’s cannabinoids. You may have even heard of terpenes. But have you heard of flavonoids?

What are flavonoids?

Flavonoids are natural compounds or phytonutrients that are found both in the cannabis plant and in a large number of fruits and vegetables.

There are some flavonoids that are unique to the cannabis plant however. Out of the 6,000 strong collection of flavonoids, 23 cannabis-unique flavonoids can be found in the plant’s flowers, leaves and stems. These cannabis-unique flavonoids are also known as ‘cannaflavins’.

What’s their purpose?

Generally, the function of flavonoids is to provide pigmentation for a plant and its flowers so that pollinating insects can be attracted to it. A lot of fruits and vegetables that are not simply green coloured owe their vibrant pigmentation to their specific flavonoid make-up. Flavonoids are also involved in various other practical processes like filtering harmful UV rays and warding off pests and fungi.

From a medicinal perspective, as described by A.N Panche in an article for the Journal of Nutritional Science:

Flavonoids are now considered as an indispensable component in a variety of nutraceutical, pharmaceutical, medicinal and cosmetic applications’. These medical benefits are largely credited to the compounds’ ‘anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic and anti-carcinogenic properties coupled with their capacity to modulate key cellular enzyme function’.

Most interestingly for those intrigued by cannabis though, flavonoids, like terpenes, are thought to contribute to the taste and smell of certain cannabis strains. In fact, terpenes and flavonoids are thought to work in synergy to create the strains’ specific scents and flavours.

On this note, flavonoids are also thought to work alongside terpenes and cannabinoids to create what is known as the ‘entourage effect’. Simply put, the ‘entourage effect’ is the theory that cannabis may be more effective in its influence upon the endocannabinoid system when it’s used as the whole plant in its natural state as opposed to when specific cannabinoids like CBD or THC are singled out and used alone.

However, this effect and the role of flavonoids generally are understudied due to previous and still-existing legal limitations on the use of the cannabis plant that have made research studies much harder to carry out. Hopefully, with a wave of legalisation measures sweeping the U.S and much of Europe, more in depth research on flavonoids will be carried out in the near future.

Do you still have more questions on flavonoids? Let us know in the comments below.

For more information on this topic, take a look at our evidence base, a ground-breaking systematic review of the history of research in this area and a global first-of-its-kind searchable database for clinical referencing.

The rest of our comprehensive resources on medical cannabis are available on our website. We urge anyone considering the use of medical cannabis products to consult with a trained medical professional prior to beginning use.

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