Organic compounds that work synergistically with terpenes to provide aroma and flavor in cannabis and a variety of other organisms, including plants, fruits, and vegetables. Flavonoids are formed inside cannabis trichomes, and may also work synergistically with terpenes and cannabinoids in producing therapeutic effects.
“You can thank flavonoids for the purple hues in your bud.”
“What’s the difference between the flavonoids and terpenes in my weed?”
More About Flavonoids
Flavonoids are aromatic molecules that contribute to the unique aroma, flavor, and color palette of each cannabis cultivar. They are phenolic compounds, a large class of molecules which are frequently involved in the color, protective properties, and nutritional effects of plant-based foods.
Scientists have identified at least 20 flavonoids in cannabis, three of which are unique to the cannabis plant. Many of these flavonoids have been identified as having anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, and anti-mutagenic properties. Though flavonoids are a relatively prominent compound in cannabis, they aren’t nearly as well-known or well-researched within the cannabis sphere as their terpene and cannabinoid counterparts.
Why Does the Plant Produce Flavonoids?
Flavonoids fulfill a number of roles as a compound of the cannabis plant. Similar to terpenes, they help protect the plant from herbivores, insects, and other environmental dangers. Flavonoids also attract pollinators by affecting the plant’s color, protect the plant from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, and may contribute to pollen fertility.
Prominent Flavonoids of the Cannabis Plant
Below are the recognized flavonoids in the cannabis plant, as well as their medicinal effects:
- Cannflavins A, B, and C: Flavonoids that have been found exclusively in cannabis. Cannflavins A, B, and C may reduce inflammation by inhibiting the production of Prostaglandin E2 hormones.
- Vitexin and Isovitexin: Flavonoids of similar chemical makeup that exhibit a wide range of effects on the body, including antioxidant, anti-analgesic, and neuroprotective properties.
- Kaempferol: A flavonoid with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, kaempferol may also help treat depression symptoms and help prevent coronary heart disease.
- Apigenin: Studies on animals have found apigenin to have anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, bone-healing, and cancer-fighting properties. Apigenin may even help fight bladder cancer, specifically. It has also been found to reduce anxiety and act as a sedative.
- Beta-sitosterol: May reduce cholesterol levels and fight prostate cancer.
- Quercetin: Found to have antioxidant and anti-depressant effects similar to kaempferol, as well as antifungal and antiviral properties.
- Orientin: A common flavonoid of cannabis and tea, orientin may act as an antioxidant, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotectant.
- Sylmarin: Another flavonoid with antioxidant and cancer-fighting properties.
The Difference between Flavonoids and Terpenes
Flavonoids are similar to terpenes in that they contribute to a plant’s aroma and flavor profile, but may offer their own unique therapeutic effects. Flavonoids also play a more prominent role in the pigmentation of cannabis — responsible for the green, gold, or purple hues of each cultivar. In short, flavonoids and terpenes are two different types of compounds that fulfill similar, though not identical, roles for the plant and the consumer.
Flavonoids and the Entourage Effect
Cannabis contains hundreds of molecules that directly interact with our bodies and minds. Cannabinoids such as THC and cannabidiol (CBD) are well known for their effects, both intoxicating and medicinal. But, in a phenomenon known as the entourage effect, cannabinoids work synergistically with other compounds to produce a greater overall effect.
In recent years, terpenes have revealed themselves as major players in the entourage effect, working in tandem with cannabinoids to enhance the pharmacological benefits of cannabis. Further research is needed to know how much flavonoids contribute to the entourage effect, but there’s no question that the effects and mechanisms of flavonoids are fully in step with the more well-known cannabis compounds.