Cannabis Flavonoids: Everything You Need to Know

In this post:

  • What are Flavonoids
  • How Do Flavonoids Work
  • Flavonoids Benefits
  • Getting the Most Out of Cannabis Flavonoids
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When people talk about hemp and cannabis, cannabinoids often take center stage. Some may even discuss how terpenes play a role in enhancing the plant’s therapeutic effects.

But what is often missing from the conversation are synergistic compounds known as flavonoids. At ACS, we think it’s time for these critical cannabis compounds to shine.

Here we review what flavonoids are, their benefits, and how they work to maximize your hemp cannabis experience. Let’s dive in.

What are Flavonoids and Why are They so Important to Cannabis Plants?

Flavonoids are secondary metabolites known for their rich diversity and color in the plant kingdom. The word flavonoid comes from the Latin word “flavus” meaning “blonde” or “yellow,” which describes their most commonly occurring hue.

You can find 8000 varieties of flavonoids in almost every plant species, including vegetables, fruits, and herbs. To date, 20 of them have been discovered in the cannabis plant.

Flavonoids are one of the most prominent nutrient families in the plant world. They provide nutritional value while delivering health benefits to humans and the plants from which they’re derived. They help with seed development and the growth process by executing essential functions like cell cycle progression.

Flavonoids also act as a defense mechanism for plants, preventing damage from environmental stressors like bacteria, fungi, insects, and the sun’s UV rays.

In addition to controlling the growth process and providing protection, flavonoids are responsible for giving plants their appearance. Flavonoids participate in the flavor, aroma, and pigment differences in plants and provide each cannabis strain its unique taste, smell, and color. #mindblown

Flavonoids are essential for hemp and cannabis plants, and at present our flavonoids test detects up to 16 unique analytes via an LCMS method. Let’s look at how they support greater human health.

How Cannabis Flavonoids Work in the Body

Cannabis flavonoids play a crucial role in how you perceive the plant with your senses due to the pigment and flavor they provide, but they also deliver therapeutic benefits.

Flavonoids, working with cannabinoids and terpenes, interact with chemical receptors through your body’s endocannabinoid system. And just like those other two compounds, flavonoids can act as anti-inflammatories, antioxidants, and antibacterials while helping stave off certain diseases.

Flavonoids are vital ingredients in the “entourage effect,” which describes how the interaction of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other compounds complement each other with interacting with the endocannabinoid system in the body. Since every strain has a different combination of these compounds, you can think of the entourage effect as the reason why different strains produce different medicinal and psychoactive effects.

Different ratios of these plant-based compounds exist in each unique strain, which triggers different chemical cascades in the nervous system. This is why some strains are suitable for controlling pain, while others are better at producing an uplifting effect.

Common Cannabis Flavonoids and Their Benefits

Now that you understand how flavonoids work, let’s look at some commonly found in cannabis and their benefits.

Cannflavins A, B, and C

Cannflavins are a variety of flavonoids only produced in the cannabis plant and are part of a flavonoids class called flavone. These flavonoids are shown to be neuroprotective, antioxidant, and provide anti-cancer properties in animal models. Cannflavin A has been studied the most and thought to inhibit the COX-2 and reduce inflammation.

Quercetin

Quercetin is the most abundant flavonoid in the human diet, and, along with cannabis, it’s found in many plants, including:

  • Apples
  • Kale
  • Cocoa (chocolate)
  • Red onions
  • Berries
  • Red wine
  • St. John’s wort
  • Ginkgo biloba
  • Citrus fruits
  • Green tea


In addition to the list above, quercetin can be found in many other deeply colored, nutrient-packed vegetables. This abundant flavonoid acts as a pigment that adds color to plants and mainly occurs in the skins and leaves. It also provides many health benefits as a powerful antioxidant that helps our bodies fight free radicals by down-regulating and suppressing inflammatory pathways. In addition, quercetin is an anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antiviral thought to improve physical and mental performance.

Apigenin

Apigenin is a common flavonoid found in foods like:

  • Celery
  • Parsley
  • Tarragon
  • Basil
  • Oranges
  • Onions
  • Mint
  • Cilantro


Structurally, apigenin exists as a yellow-colored solid crystalline and has been used for centuries as a wool dye. It’s best known for its sedative and muscle-relaxing effects by acting on GABA receptors and is thought to provide the active ingredient in chamomile teal that helps with sleep.

In fact, apigenin accounts for 68% of the total flavonoids in the chamomile flower and contributes significantly to its color and flavor. Studies have also shown that it can also help fight anxiety and depression, explaining why a cup of chamomile tea can be so soothing. Apigenin is also known as an active antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties.

Kaempferol

Kaempferol is abundant in plants like:

  • Beans
  • Kale
  • Endive
  • Cucumbers
  • Onions
  • Green beans
  • Spinach
  • Ginger
  • Dill
  • Tea
  • Broccoli


But kaempferol can be found in the highest concentrations in capers and saffron. Kaempferol is also what gives rose petals their beautiful color. Therapeutically speaking, scientists have reason to believe that this flavonoid may be helpful in the treatment of cancer.

That’s because it is known to modulate cell death, help form new blood cells, fight inflammation, and help target metastasis.

Maximizing Cannabis Flavonoids

If you are interested in reaping all the benefits that flavonoids have to offer, you might be wondering what cannabis consumption methods deliver the most. While the answer to this question isn’t always cut and dry, it’s thought that eating cannabis is the way to get the most flavonoids out of cannabis.

Why not smoke? While combustion can activate some flavonoids, it can also burn up others. Tinctures can also be a great way to maximize the flavonoids in cannabis, but that can depend on the tincture preparation.

While there is a lot that we know about the benefits of flavonoids and how to reap them, flavonoid research in cannabis is still highly understudied.

The good news is that new studies continue to uncover further information all the time, allowing us to understand better the role that cannabis flavonoids play in our experience and wellness.

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At ACS Laboratory, we can test cannabis and hemp for the six different flavonoids mentioned above and ten others. While we would love to boast about how many clients we have maximizing flavonoids in their formulations, it is wishful thinking. We believe education is critical in bringing these miraculous compounds center stage and look forward to working with our clients in their R+D process to maximize their benefits.

The Cannabinoids Guide

This complete cannabinoid guide covers major and minor cannabinoids, how they work in the body, and highlights the top compounds brands and operators must test for today.
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The Cannabinoid Guide

The definitive resource on leading major and minor cannabinoids, how they work in the body, and what to test for.
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