What are flavonoids and how do they work in cannabis?
A rainbow of colors on your plate, that's something to get excited about. We can create wonderful taste sensations by combining certain colors with each other. A rich and nourishing meal therefore consists of a variety of healthy and organic fruits and vegetables. What do we all owe to flavonoids? These substances are also found in cannabis and stimulate our senses.
What are flavonoids?
In the plant kingdom we find the most ingenious substances, which contribute to the survival of the plant. Plants protect themselves against attackers such as insects and animals and deter their natural enemies by protecting themselves with repellent substances. They do this for example by spreading a typical odor.
Cannabis contains a whole range of active substances. The best known types are (phyto)cannabinoids, substances that are unique to the plant. In addition, cannabis also contains terpenes, which are largely responsible for the aromas of a specific weed variety. Think of skunk, a cannabis variety that is even named after the skunk, because of its typical smell. But also the smells of pine, mint and resin, which you can discover in the aroma of a cannabis strain, is due to the terpene profile.
Less is known about flavonoids among the general public, even though 10% of the active ingredients in cannabis consist of these substances. About twenty different flavonoids have been found in the cannabis plant. These are also called cannaflavanoids because they are unique to this plant. Like terpenes, they play a role in the way we experience the aromas and flavors of cannabis.
In other words, flavonoids are important to our senses because they help us experience cannabis. To see, taste and smell, we have flavonoids that help us do this. In a cannabis variety, this will mainly be noticeable in the smell and taste, but the color of the buds is also an indicator that different flavonoids are at work.
But these substances are also found in the rest of the plant kingdom. In total, thousands of species have been discovered. There is still more research to be done on the exact working of these substances.
We know that flavonoids are responsible for the variety of colors found in certain plant foods, such as vegetables and fruit.
The word flavonoids comes from the Latin word "flavus" and means "yellow”. This name was chosen because of the variety of natural yellow colors found in nature.
Scaring off mosquitoes with citrus scents
Flavonoids provide color in the plant kingdom. Mainly in flowers, they provide a great attraction to pollinators and thus attract certain beneficial insects.
On the other hand, just like terpenes, they can also be used to scare off certain attackers.
Just think of fragrant herbs that we love to smell. For an insect, the smell of rosemary or thyme can be unpleasant and this ensures that the plant is not eaten.
In organic farming, an extract of orange is used. This strong scent is very suitable for repelling insects. And if you are bothered by mosquitoes, drop or spray some essential oil of citrus fruit in your bedroom or near your pillow. That way you can properly ward off these nocturnal visitors.
Furthermore, flavonoids protect a plant from other harmful conditions, such as harmful UV rays and diseases.
Synergistic effect with terpenes
Smelling a cannabis strain can be an intense experience, where taste and smell almost blend together. You taste the weed and you smell the different tones that make up the cannabis profile. Terpenes and flavonoids work together to express the typical character of a particular cannabis strain.
Furthermore, they also provide the color profile in cannabis. Think of beautiful dark purple buds, or the different shades of green.
Also interesting: How terpenes work (blog)
Which foods contain flavonoids?
In addition to fruits and vegetables, there are other foods rich in these interesting substances. Examples include:
Protection against cancer and cardiovascular disease
For humans, flavonoids are incredibly beneficial. They have a strong medicinal effect. They are antioxidants that are naturally present in plant foods, protecting our bodies from numerous diseases. A recent Danish study shows that flavonoids are a good protection against the development of cancer and other serious diseases such as cardiovascular disease. In this study, it was measured that people who consumed a sufficient portion of flavonoids daily had a significantly lower chance of developing these diseases.
Other medicinal properties
A common flavonoid called quercetin has antifungal activity and is an antioxidant. Other known flavonoids unique to cannabis are currently still being studied and also have anti-inflammatory properties that may be more potent than aspirin.
For example, cannabis contains cannaflavin A, a compound with strong anti-inflammatory properties.
The action of cannabis is a complex mechanism in which many different substances play a role. The entourage effect is more than the sum of the different parts that together provide this effect. The synergistic effect between these different components is still being investigated. We know that our bodies contain an endocannabinoid system and are able to absorb substances from cannabis via certain receptors that are located all over our bodies.
The cooperation between these substances creates a more powerful effect than if they were placed separately.
A well-known example of this effect is the relationship between THC and CBD. These two substances balance each other out. A cannabis strain rich in CBD therefore has an extra relaxing and calming effect. Cannabidiol also helps balance out the high, making a user less likely to become anxious or paranoid.
In the coffee shop or Seedshop, as a user you tend to focus mainly on just two cannabinoids. Next time you try a new strain, pay attention to the color profile of the weed and smell it extensively to identify the aromas. Is it more fruity and fresh, or earthy and dark?
Tip: Flavonoids also play an important role in the entourage effect. Therefore, choose a full spectrum CBD oil, where the different elements from the plant are preserved. An example of full spectrum oil is Jacob Hooy, available at Sirius.
Common flavonoids in cannabis
Science is finally able to examine under the microscope which substances in cannabis provide its therapeutic effects. Here are some common ones:
- Quercetin: a potent antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. Antioxidants are linked to slowing the aging process and protecting against numerous diseases and disorders. Regular intake of antioxidants keeps your body more resilient. It is found in various fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, blueberries and broccoli. Quercetin provides bright colors.
- Cannaflavin A and B: It was in 1986 when a researcher at the University of London named Marilyn Barrett first isolated two cannaflavonoids. Research shows that these components, unique to cannabis, are up to 30 times more protective against inflammation, than aspirin.
Several studies are currently underway that look at how cannaflavonoids can be used to best express their medicinal effects. Of course, commerce also plays a role, so they are also looking at ways to make money. In cannabis itself there are only small amounts of Cannaflavin A and B. Research is underway to see how these substances can be isolated and manufactured into a good working end product.
- Apigenin: a flavonoid found in many different fruits and vegetables. It is a substance used as a color in dyeing textiles. This substance has been looked at in several studies with animals and has anti-cancer properties. Preliminary studies with rodents show apigenin to have a suppressive effect on tumor growth. It is also a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory effects.
Smokers, drinkers and cannabis enthusiasts beware!
For people who smoke cigarettes and/or consume two alcoholic beverages a day, the importance of getting enough flavonoids is even greater. Nevertheless, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables cannot compensate for the fact that you smoke or drink daily. So the best thing you can do is to quit smoking and introduce more fresh and organic fruits and vegetables.
Cannabis enthusiasts are advised to switch from a joint to a vaporizer. With a good vaporizer you can enjoy the medicinal effects of cannabis without the risk of combustion.
This combustion eliminates a large part of the various active ingredients. This is unfortunate, because together they provide a strong synergistic effect that has a beneficial effect on your high.
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