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Flavonoids, What Are They And Why Are They Important?

As cannabis is beginning to be recognized as a main-line medical treatment (finally!), chemical compounds within the medical plant are being discussed and studied.

We all know about THC, CBD, CBN, CBG… the great phytocannabinoids.

We are starting to get into the nitty-gritty of terpenes… limonene, myrcene, pinene, linalool.

But what we can’t do is forget about another important naturally occurring chemical compound, flavonoids!

Flavonoids don’t occur just in our beloved cannabis plant, but in many other commonly used plants as well such as broccoli, black tea, oranges, coffee, chocolate and more. They are everywhere! But again… what are flavonoids?

Flavonoids are naturally occurring pigment compounds that are in plants and are known  antioxidants. Flavonoids are one of the top reasons why your doctors tell you to eat your fruits and vegetables — they keep you healthy!

Flavonoids have been known to help with inflammation, help fight allergies, enhance mood and even help with memory. The flavonoids found ONLY in cannabis are: cannflavin A, cannflavin B and cannflavin C (not the most creative of names, but hey, we’ll roll with it).

Cannflavin A has been shown to be specifically therapeutic, where studies had shown it had anti-inflammatory properties greater than aspirin.

Cannflavin A and canaflavin B have also been shown to have antimicrobial and antifungal properties.

Research is currently being done on cannflavin c, as well as more research into cannflavin a and b, so we will be sure to update on new research as it gets published!

Other than the cannabis-specific flavonoids, there are other top flavonoids that occur in both cannabis and other commonly consumed plants such as: orientin (found in basil, passionflower), quercetin (found in apples, berries), silymarin (found in milkthistle), and kaempferol (found in broccoli, spinach).

Orientin is known from many studies to have several different medicinal properties as seen in “A Review on Medicinal Properties of Orientin”… ‘include antioxidant, antiaging, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammation, vasodilatation and cardioprotective, radiation protective, neuroprotective, antidepressant-like, antiadipogenesis, and antinociceptive effects’.

Quercetin has been used for many years as a medicine, known particularly for its calming effects. I’m sure many of you have used its yourselves. Ever take St. John’s Wart after a stressful day? Then you have benefitted from quercetin! Quercetin has also been known to help with cardiovascular health as well as being a pain-reliever.

Silymarin is known as a powerful detoxyifying agent. Many patients have used silymarin when suffering with various ailments affecting their livers including cirrhosis or hepatitis. Silymarin has been seen to help with liver health, improve immune system and to have anti-cancer effects.

Kaempferol is an interesting flavonoid as it is one of the few that may have anti-obesity effects! Additionally, there have been studies done that show it may “…. have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anticancer, cardioprotective, neuroprotective, antidiabetic, anti-osteoporotic, estrogenic/antiestrogenic, anxiolytic, analgesic and antiallergic effects as well” as discussed in “A Review on the Dietary Flavonoid Kaempferol”.

It is interesting to think a simple chemical compound that gives plants their pleasing colors could be so medicinal! The next time you visit a farm, an orchard, or even purchase your next cannabis flower product at BEYOND/HELLO make sure to take special note on its color… there may be something special about it.

Resources/Research: Feel free to check them out!

Barrett, M., Gordon, D., & Evans, F. (1985). Isolation from cannabis sativa L. of cannflavin—a novel inhibitor of prostaglandin production. Biochemical Pharmacology, 34(11), 2019-2024. doi:10.1016/0006-2952(85)90325-9

Chen, A. Y., & Chen, Y. C. (2013). A review of the dietary flavonoid, kaempferol on human health and cancer chemoprevention. Food Chemistry, 138(4), 2099-2107. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2012.11.139

Feher, J., & Lengyel, G. (2012). Silymarin in the Prevention and Treatment of Liver Diseases and Primary Liver Cancer. Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, 13(1), 210-217. doi:10.2174/138920112798868818