Flavonoids vs Terpenes- Their role within cannabisNick Montes
Flavonoids vs Terpenes
The world of cannabis is complex. It’s no wonder that findings are popping up everyday about the 1000’s of compounds in the Devil’s Lettuce. These natural chemicals are divided into groups called cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids. While all these magical little compounds each play a specific role in the efficacy or potency of a particular strain, it is the synergistic relationship between all 3 that make the wide wide world of cannabis so intriguing. We’ll explore that threesome down the road but for now lets unpack 2 of the lesser known, flavonoids vs terpenes and figure out what they’re really all about.
What are flavonoids?
Flavonoids are not exactly as their name suggests. They are a diverse family of phytonutrients that are responsible for the bright colors of flowers, fruits and vegetables, including cannabis. It’s these bright colors that determine how plants are perceived by our senses. There are roughly 20 different flavonoids in cannabis. Flavonoids exclusive to cannabis are called cannaflavins. While flavonoids themselves don’t actually give you a buzz, they play an important role in the overall effect of cannabis.
What are terpenes?
Terpenes are a combination of hydrogen and carbon atoms that occur naturally in many different plants, not just in cannabis. There are more than 50,000 identifiable terpene profiles, of which cannabis has about 140. These individual terpenes that play a unique function to the effects and fragrance properties of each strain. These aromatic compounds are essential to the survival of plants by attracting pollinators and repelling predators.
What do flavonoids do?
There are over 6,000 varieties of flavonoids so their functions span a diverse spectrum. Their primary role is to provide color pigmentation to plants for the purpose of attracting pollinators. For cannabis, flavonoids have the important role of helping to provide the distinguishing qualities we use to differentiate between strains. That’s not their only function, though. In fact, flavonoids have a direct effect on the properties of cannabis by either enhancing its properties or tempering its efficacy. For example, flavonoids reduce the psychoactive properties of THC by modulating it’s effects at the blood-brain barrier. Flavonoids improve the bioavailability of other active compounds in cannabis, like CBD. Not to mention that flavonoids such as Orientin, Quercetin, Silymarin, and Kaempferol, are all considered to have anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, antioxidant, and anti-cancer potential.
What do terpenes do?
Just as flavonoids interact with the ECS, so do terpenes. Cannabinoids act on this system as well but the difference is in the way the body absorbs and uses these different compounds. Terpenes do, however, play a vital role mood elevation. Terpenes are responsible for aroma and are the foundation of many alternative treatments such as aromatherapy. While you may not necessarily notice a terpene high, inhaling some scents can affect your mood and stress levels. In addition to mood elevation, Limonene, Pinene, Linalool and Mycrene are all considered to have anti-inflammatory properties.
What does it all mean?
The long and short of it is that more research definitely needs to be done before we can fully explain the synergy that lies within the holy trinity of cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids. What remains, at least anecdotally true, is that these compounds work better in combination that in isolation. That suggests that if you are looking for a cannabis with anti-inflammatory properties, color, taste and smell are all worth factoring in when choosing the right strain for your needs. When it comes to flavonoids vs terpenes, there really is no versus because these little guys work better as a team.