Explain what flavonoids are, how they work, and what role they play in our overall health.
By now, you’ve probably heard all the terms in cannabis language. You’ve heard about cannabinoids, like THC and CBD, that work with the ECS (endocannabinoid system). Then there’s the terpenes that create the smells of cannabis and other plants, like linalool, that also have their own medicinal benefits. All of those terms get discussed pretty regularly, but have you heard about flavonoids?
A phytonutrient, present in most fruits and vegetables, flavonoids serve an important purpose in the life cycle of plants. Flavonoids influence and regulate the color of fruits and vegetables, and now we know they affect the color of cannabis. Flavonoids in cannabis and other plants play a complicated role in attracting pollinators to flowers and natural defense mechanisms like warding off pests or diseases.
This complicated role is becoming an interesting subject for science as researchers are becoming more aware of the importance of flavonoids. Some scientists are researching the therapeutic effects of flavonoids, and how flavonoid content in cannabis may contribute to the medicinal benefits of the plant. Current research on flavonoids found in other plants, like the fruits and vegetables we eat, indicate that higher intakes of flavonoids “were significantly associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular events”. This is great news considering on an average of one person dies every 36 seconds in the United States due to cardiovascular disease, making it one of the leading causes of death in the country.
In addition to the cardiovascular benefits of flavonoids, they also found people who consume more flavonoids through fruits and vegetables have a 14% reduced risk of stroke. Another leading killer in America, strokes accounts for more than 795,000 deaths per year. Those are a lot of people who could potentially benefit from more flavonoids. Whether they come from cannabis or the fruits and veggies in your kitchen, it doesn’t really matter, as long they could potentially save so many lives.
The flavonoids in cannabis are called cannflavins. They make up an extremely small percentage of all the hundreds of different compounds that have been found in cannabis so far. Because the flavonoid content in cannabis is such a small amount, it’s somewhat difficult to judge how much medicinal benefit it is adding to each plant. Although there isn’t currently a lot of concrete evidence concluding cannflavins are influencing the effects of cannabis as medicine, many experts do suggest flavonoids are involved in what is called the entourage effect. This is where all the different cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other phytonutrients work together in unison to supposedly enhance or amplify the medicinal benefits of cannabis.
Even though there may not be a lot of scientific research to back up claims that the flavonoids in the cannabis flower you’re buying at the dispensary are adding anything other than color to your medicine, it does make sense that if they provide medicinal value to fruits and vegetables, cannabis should be no different.