Have you ever been told to eat your vegetables? It’s not just because vegetables have loads of vitamins and minerals and healthy fiber – they are also packed full of beneficial compounds called flavonoids. Fruit, flowers, tree bark, and even the Cannabis plant owe their many rich colors and flavors to flavonoids. The Cannabis plant exclusive flavonoids constitute an integral part of its properties. Flavonoids also provide a wealth of health benefits – so read on, and eat your veggies!
Flavonoids are incredibly abundant and can be found in almost every plant: fruit, vegetables, grains, bark, roots, stems, flowers, tea and wine. There are over 6000 unique types of flavonoids found in nature, with a myriad of different functions. In plants, flavonoids mostly contribute to the bright colors and enticing scent of flowers, which helps to attract pollinators. Flavonoids also help to protect the plant from pests, disease, harsh UV light, and the weather.
It’s in humans, though, where the functions and benefits of flavonoids get really interesting. While experts can’t say for sure how the mechanisms of flavonoids work, they do know that plants have healing properties. For centuries, humans have been using plants as medicine without knowing why, and experts believe that flavonoids may be one of the reasons.
For the last 100 years or so, scientists have been working on isolating individual flavonoids to test their medical and dietary properties, and since then they have discovered that flavonoids are amazing in so many ways.
Experts can agree that they have anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic and anti-carcinogenic properties, as well as anti-allergenic, antiviral, and vasodilating actions. These benefits alone give them potential applications in preventing several different diseases such as cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, hypertension, and diabetes, just to name a few.
Many studies have been conducted on the potential of flavonoids to improve vascular health – A.K.A the health of your veins. When you eat a diet rich in flavonoids, they work with your body to keep hard plaque from forming on the inside walls of your veins. If this plaque becomes too thick, it can result in blood clots or high blood pressure, which can make you susceptible to lots of other maladies such as cardiovascular disease or a heart attack.
Flavonoids have also shown that they are not very welcoming to carcinogens. In the body, flavonoids, particularly those found in fruits and vegetables, tea, red wine and cereals, help in the production of metabolic enzymes that detoxify carcinogens, effectively kicking them out. These compounds act like steroid hormones such as estrogen, which are well known to prevent chronic diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disorders and osteoporosis.
Flavonoids are great at disease prevention, and the reason is because of their specialty: they are amazing antioxidants.Experts say that flavonoids may reinforcing your body’s strong antioxidant troops and protecting the cells from oxidative stress, which has been known to cause diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disorders and ageing.
As we go about our day, our cells are constantly bombarded with something called “free-radicals”. Free-radicals attack our cells and can damage them. This damage compromises the cell, leading to its eventual death. As with most attacks from invading forces in our bodies, our immune system steps in with an inflammatory response, but since free-radicals can attract even more inflammation, our inflammatory response goes into overdrive and can cause disease and tissue damage. Once your body notices that there is too much inflammation going on, it will send out its own antioxidant army called “endogenous scavenging compounds” that react with the free-radicals and neutralize them. In the process, they get consumed and depleted, but that’s where flavonoids come in.
Now that we’ve learned all the benefits of flavonoids, I have some great news: they can be found in Cannabis!
Cannabis contains so many amazing compounds like terpenes and Cannabinoids that work together with flavonoids to give our senses their own unique experience with Cannabis. While extensive studies on flavonoids have yet to be done because Cannabis legalization is in its infancy in so many places, we do know that flavonoids make up 10% of the compounds found in the plant and come in about 20 different varieties, depending on the strain’s genetics and place of origin. Experts have even identified a few flavonoids unique to Cannabis with their own unique health benefits that they have dubbed ‘cannflavins’.
Cannflavins A and B were shown to have anti-inflammatory powers that were approximately 30 times more effective than aspirin and seem to work particularly well for inflammation associated with asthma. On top of that, they are known to have antimicrobial, neuroprotective, and anti-proliferative (which means inhibiting growth, usually in tumors) properties as well.
One of the first flavonoids discovered in Cannabis in the 1960s, orientin provides antioxidant, anti-aging, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and antidepressant-like qualities. It also appears to help protect the heart tissue and nerve tissue and even prevent pain and weight gain. It can be found in many different medicinal plants such as holy basil and bamboo leaves.
Apigenin has generated a lot of buzz for its remarkable effect on cancerous cells compared to other flavonoids. It seems to be best at potentially fighting cancer cells and its low toxicity and immune-regulatory features could make it easier on the body than modern chemotherapeutic modalities. Like other flavonoids, it is a great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
Vitexin is a common component in many traditional Chinese medicines and can be found in many medicinal plants. It’s been known for centuries to provide antioxidant, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory effects, as well as neuroprotective effects. It may even give relief to those who are experiencing pain hypersensitivity.
This flavonoid uses its anti-inflammatory effects to target allergies. It works as an antihistamine to help relieve hay fever and hives. Quercetin is a common flavonoid found in many plant foods, especially fruits and vegetables.
Found in several other plants including pepper, celery, thyme, and broccoli, several studies have shown that luteolin has neuroprotective, anti-cancer, effects.
Like most flavonoids, kaempferol has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, making it great at fighting chronic disease.
All of these flavonoids, in conjunction with the terpenes, Cannabinoids and other compounds present in Cannabis, work together harmoniously in something called ‘The Entourage Effect’. This phrase was first coined by scientists in 1998, and it refers to the relationships between all of the different compounds. For example, in a study with mice, it was found that non-psychoactive extracts from Cannabis were able to temper some of the couch-lock effects of THC. In a separate human study, cancer patients found that THC combined with CBD was more effective at relieving their pain than THC on its own.
The Entourage Effect, plus specific flavonoids and terpenes help you tailor your Cannabis experience specifically for you. For example, my favorite strain is Lemon Skunk. I work from home, so I need a terpene and flavonoid combination that will keep me energized and happy so that I can get my work done. The limonene, along with the bright citrus scent, and neuroprotective and anti-depressant qualities of the flavonoids keep my energy and mood up all day even with a high percentage of THC.
The jury is still out as to how much flavonoids effect your Cannabis experience physiologically, but for me, they definitely effect my personal experience. The lively, spicy scent of Lemon Skunk‘s lemon and pepper notes with its sweet, mossy taste definitely enhances my experience.
Research on flavonoids, especially flavonoids in Cannabis, is not very common, however, the studies that have been done have shown promising results.
Flavonoids have the potential to be used to treat diabetes, hormone-dependant cancer, and H1N1 influenza, but the research generating the most conversation is around the potential to treat neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease and dementia. Flavonoids are linked to lower population rates of dementia, and their particular brand of neuroprotective qualities are perfectly suited to dealing with damage related to these neurodegenerative diseases. In one study, scientists created a concoction of flavonoids that showed that it may be better at treating Alzheimer’s Disease than the drug usually used to treat it.
Research around Cannflavins and their antioxidant and pain-killing abilities have only recently started to gain traction, but with the legalization and destigmatization of Cannabis growing worldwide, so is the possibility of getting relief to those suffering from chronic illness. With traditional Chinese medicine and Ayervedic medicine creating tonics and creams from flavonoids for centuries, all of this research shows that humans have intuitively been using plant flavonoids to heal themselves and others all along.
There are many compounds within the Cannabis plant that contribute to its health benefits, such as flavonoids. In addition to common beneficial flavonoids, the Cannabis plant has its unique flavonoids called Cannflavins, holding an amazing potential to improve our quality of life. Today, research is in progress and we can already find companies that specialize in flavonoid-based products derived from the Cannabis plant.
Consuming Cannabis through methods involving combustion, like smoking, make us lose some flavonoids and thus their benefits. Therefore, to maximize the pleasure of the plant, it is recommended to consume Cannabis through evaporation or extraction.
Keep that in mind when considering whether to buy a full spectrum product.