What Are Flavonoids?

A crucial piece of the puzzle: flavonoids

Compounds that form a crucial piece of the CBD puzzle are flavonoids. However, it isn't just the hemp plant that has made these colourful phytonutrients popular. Over 6,000 flavonoids exist in virtually all fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Red peppers, blueberries, oranges—all of these foods owe their vibrant colouring to flavonoids.

Every colour represents a different flavonoid—nature's answer to repelling pests, protecting plants, and signalling cellular activity. However, research indicates that although not as significant as cannabinoids or terpenes, flavonoids seemingly play a crucial role in human health.

We should be clear, the term "flavonoids" is a general classification for four main groups: flavonoids, isoflavonoids, neoflavonoids and anthocyanins. However, for the sake of simplicity, flavonoid is the term most commonly used. The only significant distinction you should be aware of is that there is also a class of flavonoids exclusive to the Cannabis sativa species—cannflavins. More on those later.

Flavonoids are more common than you think

Don't worry if the thought of remembering 6,000 flavonoids, and four different categories seems daunting. Researchers have only just started looking at each of the groups in isolation themselves. For now, it is more than sufficient to highlight several prominent flavonoids, many of which you will find in household food, drink and plants.

Examples of flavinoids

• Apigenin

Over 68% of the total flavonoids in chamomile plants are apigenin. Other familiar sources include parsley, celery, and of course, chamomile tea.

• Cannflavins A, B and C

As we mentioned early, cannflavins are a particular class of flavonoids that exist solely within the Cannabis sativa species. Cannflavins A and B were only discovered in the 1980s, while cannflavin C wasn't isolated until more recently in 2008.

• Kaempferol

You may not recognize the name of this flavonoid, but it's guaranteed that you consume it regularly. Kaempferol is prevalent in apples, grapes, green tea, Brussels sprout, and the aloe vera plant.

• Quercetin

Although commonly found in vegetables, grains, and red onions, the bitter flavour of quercetin has made it a popular addition to dietary supplements and drinks.

What's so crucial about flavonoids?

Let's be honest; a world without colour would be a very bland place. But, plants and foods without flavonoids could be even more disastrous. As the focus has slowly shifted away from the more abundant molecules inside plants, scientists have uncovered that we could owe a lot of health benefits to flavonoids.

In 2016, the Journal of Nutritional Science undertook a comprehensive review of flavonoids. The report stated that "flavonoids are now considered as an indispensable component in a variety of pharmaceutical, medicinal and cosmetic applications". It appears that after isolating flavonoids, scientists believe they have "antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic properties".

The challenge in understanding precisely how flavonoids interact with the human body is that there are so many of them. With over 6,000, it's impossible to be able to say for definite which flavonoids are most effective at providing the benefits listed above. There is also the entourage effect to consider, a powerful phenomenon not exclusive to hemp and cannabis plants.

Understanding more about flavonoids

We alluded to this earlier, but flavonoids form a crucial piece of the CBD puzzle, working alongside cannabinoids and terpenes. Work still needs to be done to identify how different combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes could boost flavonoid effectiveness, and vice versa.

Thankfully, studies are underway to identify the attributes of specific flavonoids. We already know how several of the flavonoids listed above could influence the human body, but given the sheer breadth of flavonoids that exist, there is still plenty to discover. With that in mind, we hope this snapshot of flavonoids is useful, and highlights the importance of a diet (and CBD oil) rich in these organic compounds.

Keep an eye on future articles, where we will dig deeper into the mechanisms of specific flavonoids, including those unique to the Cannabis sativa species—cannflavins A, B and C.

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