Did you know that flavonoids compose about 2.5% of the dry weight of cannabis? Herein lies an ode to flavonoids. We love them. Let’s talk about why they’re special.
Flavonoids for health
Flavonoids can be found in all kinds of fruits, wine, vegetables and teas in addition to cannabis. They have healing properties when consumed in healthy quantities in your diet. Flavonoids have been shown to have antioxidant activity, can be anti-inflammatory, may help manage weight and cholesterol, and may even help keep the hormones balanced in your body. It is believed that flavonoids protect against oxidative stress related diseases due to their ability to scavenge reactive oxygen species in the body.
Flavonoids for pollination
Not only that, but they put on a show! Due to the electronic structure of flavonoids, they tend to absorb in the visible and UV light ranges. This causes them to display a variety of vibrant colors. From an article describing the photochemistry, or light promoted chemistry, of flavonoids: “The light absorption properties of flavonoids and anthocyanidins in the visible ultraviolet light region are responsible for the colours associated with flowers and this plays an important role in pollination by insects and thus plant reproduction.”
Flavonoids for UV protection
Due to their unique electronic structure (rich in delocalized pi-systems) they happen to absorb strongly in the visible and UV regions. Once UV light is absorbed by a flavonoid molecule, it can quickly dissipate that energy as heat. This protects other organic matter from absorbing harmful UV rays. In this way, flavonoids act as a natural sunscreen for plants.
Flavonoids in cannabis
Up to 20 flavonoids have been identified in cannabis so far. Quercetin, also found in cannabis, can be taken to promote soft tissue health during allergy season. Unique to cannabis are three flavonoids, cannflavin A, B and C. These cannflavins are particularly interesting due to their isoprene derived tail (reminiscent of terpenes), and have shown good potential as anti-inflammatory agents. It’s been shown that cannabis, when exposed to high levels of UV light, will promote the production of more flavonoids. This is thought to occur as a form of natural protection for the plant.
We would love to see some experiments done with UV light that promote the production of natural flavonoids in cannabis. Seeing as hops and cannabis are cousins, the same thing could be done with hops to promote the health benefits of beer. Perhaps these experiments already been done! A full spectrum extract on such a plant would prove to be rich in these anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory flavonoids.