Flavonoids Defined

Updated: 4 days ago

Flavonoids are the third major family of wellness molecules produced by the cannabis/hemp plant species. The lack of attention to flavonoids by industry professionals and the scientific community has inspired some thought leaders to label them "the red headed stepchildren of phytomolecules."

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Flavonoids are a diverse group of plant chemicals found in a large number of flowers, fruits, and vegetables. These special compounds are responsible for the sometimes vivid colors of the plants that produce them. Perhaps of greater value to humans, they also have demonstrated significant medicinal efficacy—most notably anticancer and anti-inflammatory benefits.


Flavonoid pigments produce a wide range of diverse colors, including yellows, blues, and reds and the wide range of those found between these colors.


Flavonoid experiments were first documented in 1664 by Robert Boyle in his book Experiments and Considerations Touching Colours. The first flavonoid was identified by Albert Szent-Györgyi, a Hungarian biochemist, in 1930.


Flavonoid experiments were first documented in 1664 by Robert Boyle in his book Experiments and Considerations Touching Colours. The first flavonoid was identified by Albert Szent-Györgyi, a Hungarian biochemist, in 1930.

Like terpenes, flavonoids are produced by thousands of plant types in nature beyond cannabis. In fact, tens of thousands of plant species collectively make more than 6,000 types of flavonoids. Of these, about 20 appear in the hemp genome (DNA).


There are a dozen basic cannabis flavonoids found to some degree in the majority of cannabis cultivars. Cannabis has also been found to have its own flavonoids exclusive to cannabis species (cannflavins A, B, and C). Cannflavins were first discovered in London in 1986 by researcher Marilyn Barrett at the University of London, who identified cannflavin A and cannflavin B.


Flavonoids = Pigmentation

The Latin root of "flavonoid" is flavus. Literally interpreted, flavus means "yellow" (it is sometimes translated as organic/natural yellow). Despite the understandably common misinterpretation of the root term's meaning as "flavor" in modern English, flavonoids serve the pigment-driven evolutionary function of attracting pollinators and dissuading pests for the plants that produce them (flavor, for the most part, is provided by terpenes).

In this respect, flavonoids are the visual equivalent of the aroma produced by terpenes. Both serve as sensory siren songs for pollinating insects (of critical value to the propagation of the species) while simultaneously warning predators to stay away and seek their meal elsewhere.


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