Flavonoids are chemical compounds present in cannabis and other plants, best known for their role in pigmentation—they provide plants with various colors to attract pollinators and potentially protect plants from UV rays, pests, and disease. Flavonoids found in cannabis are called “cannflavins” and they contribute to the overall color of the plant. They may also influence the aroma and therapeutic profile of cannabis, although more research in this area is needed.
“I’ve heard of cannabinoids and terpenes, but what do flavonoids do?”
“Flavonoids may play a role in cannabis’ entourage effect.”
What are flavonoids?
Flavonoids are natural compounds that lend cannabis and many other types of plants their colorful appearance. For example, purple hues expressed by some cannabis strains are primarily caused by a flavonoid called anthocyanin. About 20 varieties of flavonoids have been identified in cannabis and are believed to make up about 10% of the plant’s total chemical composition.
The term “flavonoid” is rooted in the Latin word flavus, which references the color yellow, though flavonoids can provide plants with a wide range of colors. Thousands of flavonoids are found throughout nature, but a few appear to be unique to cannabis and are referred to as “cannflavins.”
What do flavonoids do?
Flavonoids appear to play a role in protecting a plant from elements such as UV rays, disease, and pests. They may also help attract pollinators to the plant.
As for the benefits of flavonoids when consumed in cannabis, research has yet to draw clear connections. A compound known as Cannflavin A appears to have anti-inflammatory properties. Flavonoids may also synergistically harmonize with other cannabis compounds, though this theory also warrants further study, as it is not yet clear how they interact with other compounds or the body’s endocannabinoid system.
Difference between flavonoids, terpenes, and cannabinoids
The cannabis plant produces an impressive diversity of chemical compounds. Cannabinoids tend to receive the most attention in the cannabis space, followed by terpenes, with flavonoids representing a lesser known group of compounds.
Cannabinoids, the most famous of which include THC and CBD, are a class of compounds that interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system via cannabinoid receptors. Terpenes are fragrant compounds produced abundantly in the plant’s resin and contribute heavily to the plant’s aroma profile. Terpenes may also influence the subjective and therapeutic effects of cannabis as well.
Unlike cannabinoids and terpenes, flavonoids are closely linked to the physical expression of color in the plant. Although they may play a role in other aspects of the plant such as aroma or therapeutic effects, research has not yet made these functions clear.