Cannabinoids. Terpenoids. So many -noids are contained in cannabis that it can be a bit tricky to keep track of them all. Well, get ready to add a new one to the list: Flavonoids.
Flavonoids are a group of plant compounds found in every fruit, vegetable, and flower on the planet. That means cannabis is no exception, but cannabis flavonoids are rarely discussed because scientists have largely neglected them in favor of studying cannabinoids and terpenes instead.
Flavonoids offer a ton of health benefits, as they’re powerful antioxidants and with added anti-inflammatory properties, to boot. Flavonoids may explain why people with diets rich in fruits and vegetables experience fewer health problems later in life, and why green teas may fight disease and prolong life, as well.
How Come My Weed Packaging Doesn’t Include Lab Results for Flavonoids?
The simple answer: Most folks don’t care (or even know) about cannabis flavonoids. The media, consumers, and industry focus on cannabinoids like THC and CBD because they’re unique to cannabis. And terpenes (properly termed terpenoids) give weed strains like Strawberry Cough its strawberry flavors, or skunk weed its pungent aromas.
Flavonoids, despite their name, don’t really add to weed’s flavor or scents. They may contribute to the hypothetical entourage or ensemble effect, where all the components in weed work like an orchestra to heal the body or affect the mind, but there’s no evidence that they do — yet, anyway. And last but not least, most flavonoids aren’t unique to cannabis like the cannabinoids THC and CBD, or the terpene hashishene, are.
What Are Some Flavonoids in Cannabis, and What Do They Do?
By the last count, scientists have identified at least 6,000 different flavonoids. Cannabis naturally produces many of these flavonoids, but since cannabis science is still in its infancy stage, they’ll probably discover many more in the coming years.
Two flavonoids to watch for are cannflavin-A and cannflavin-B. While most flavonoids in cannabis are also present in other plants, cannaflavins-A and -B are unique to cannabis. Recent research suggests these flavonoids enhance the painkilling effects of certain medicines, which could help doctors better manage chronic pain in the future. In fact, cannflavin-B may be marijuana’s most potent painkiller, packing more analgesic power than THC or CBD alone.
Here are some other cannabis flavonoids and their properties:
Orientin: Studies show orientin has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, analgesic, anti-cancer, anti-depressant, and neuroprotective effects. It’s also found in açaí palm, black bamboo leaves, and yellow pheasant flowers.
Vitexin: Ditto as with orientin. Incredibly high doses (read: much too high to reach from regular cannabis consumption) can trigger goiters. It’s also found in Hawthorn, black bamboo leaves, and passion flower.
Isovitexin: Ditto as with vitexin.
Luteolin: There’s strong evidence that luteolin protects the heart and blood vessels, and it could become a medicine for treating and preventing heart attacks. It’s also found in yellow dyer’s weed, celery, parsley, and chamomile tea.
Kaempferol: Scientists are currently investigating kaempferol as a treatment for at least seven major kinds of cancer. It could help with managing diabetes or preventing HIV’s progression into AIDS, too. Kaempferol can also be found in pretty much every fruit and vegetable found at your local grocery store, as well as aloe vera and rosemary.
Apigenin: This flavonoid is best described as one of nature’s non-toxic tranquilizers. It boasts some potential as a cancer treatment, as well. Apeginin is also found in celery, parsley, and chamomile tea.
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A Word of Caution
While there’s a mountain of scientific evidence that flavonoids found in cannabis offer a host of health benefits, keep in mind that none of these studies say that smoking weed confers these same perks. These studies looked at flavonoids that were either eaten by the subjects or were injected into them. Vaporizing or smoking flavonoids hasn’t been thoroughly studied, so no one knows if inhaling flavonoids does anything at all.
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