What are flavonoids?
From the increasing popularity of cannabinoids and terpenes, to the industrial use of hemp in textiles and biofuel, the cannabis sativa plant has proven to be exceedingly complex. A large class of less-discussed natural plant compounds that are harnessed within this powerful plant are known as flavonoids.
Flavonoids are present in many fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based products like cocoa, coffee, teas, and wine. As metabolites—being formed in (or otherwise necessary to) the metabolic process—they're quite common in the vast majority of both human and animal (herbivore and omnivore) diets. In hemp, their primary roles are as antioxidants, plant protectants, and contributors to the marvelous blend of green, yellow, and red coloration in its buds. (Note: The vibrant green of the stalks and leaves of hemp/cannabis is due to sunlight-absorbing chlorophyll—not its flavonoids.)
While there are no flavonoids present in our THC free isolates, they do play a role in all of our full spectrum CBD products—like our USDA certified organic Classic High Potency CBD Oil Tincture, a customer favorite for years.
WHERE DO FLAVONOIDS COME FROM?
Flavonoids are a natural byproduct of biosynthesis—meaning they are powered by the sun.
Researchers have catalogued over 5,000 flavonoids across the plant kingdom, and an in-depth analysis has determined there are over 20 different flavonoids in cannabis sativa alone. Scientists have categorized these as either flavones or flavonols (differentiated by the chemical compound known as 3-Hydroxyflavone). Many flavonoids have been proven to hold distinct properties and health benefits, which we cover in more detail below.
There are also three flavones that are largely exclusive to hemp—Cannaflavin A, B, and C. (For reference, smaller amounts of Cannaflavin A have also been found in Bigelow's monkeyflower—or Diplacus bigelovii—which is a desert flower found in the southwestern United States.)
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF FLAVONOIDS?
While the exact effects of flavonoid intake haven't been sufficiently studied due to decades of federal restrictions on the hemp and cannabis plant varieties, food research studies reveal some of the inner workings of these plant compounds. Also, researchers have recently been able to start investigating hemp-specific flavonoids further.
Here's a breakdown of some of the most common flavonoids in hemp products.
The flavonol Quercetin (which also appears in green tea, red wine, and some berries) can act as an antioxidant, anti-viral, and anti-cancer agent.
Kaempferol has been shown to help reduce the risk of chronic diseases (especially cancer) by augmenting the body’s antioxidant defenses. It can also be found in kale, beans, tea, spinach, and broccoli.
Apigenin (found in parsley, celery, and chamomile, as well) is a flavone that holds anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory properties.
Meanwhile, Luteolin (another flavone) has been investigated by scientists for its anti-cancer properties. (Plants that are rich in luteolin have been used for many years in Chinese traditional medicine to help with treating hypertension, inflammatory disorders, and cancer.)
Concerning the previously mentioned "hemp-specific" flavonoids, Cannaflavin A also displays strong anti-inflammatory properties.
THE ENTOURAGE EFFECT
While flavonoids are non-intoxicating, they are believed to play a role in what's known as the entourage effect—widely celebrated by connoisseurs of full spectrum products. So while the more obvious effects of flavones and flavonols may be hard to determine precisely, they most likely augment (and possibly even boost) the health benefits we enjoy from certain hemp-based products.
As of today, flavonoids and the role they play in the hemp plant still have not been thoroughly studied. (Especially in comparison to compounds like terpenes and primary cannabinoids CBD, THC, CBG, and CBN.) However, we're excited for the future of flavonoid research as the barriers and restrictions around the hemp plant diminish with time.