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What Are Cannabis Flavonoids And Why Are Researchers So Interested In Them?

Posted by Calum Napier on
What Are Cannabis Flavonoids And Why Are Researchers So Interested In Them?

Cannabis flavonoid, also called cannflavin, is the next area of study for marijuana researchers. 

That’s because understanding how cannaflavin works may unlock the secrets to using cannabis as an effective treatment for pain management.

The research is still preliminary. But researchers in Canada believe they have developed a process that replicate cannflavin A and cannflavin B, types of flavonoids that may have more strength than aspirin when it comes to fighting pain and inflammation.

What are exactly are cannflavins?

Before understanding cannflavins, it’s important to know about flavonoids in general.

Flavonoids are widely distributed throughout the plant kingdom. They provide pigment for fruits and vegetables. They also provide many of the healthy benefits, including acting as an antioxidant. When nutritionists advise you to eat by color, it is the variety of flavonoids that they want you to get. 

In addition to antioxidants, flavonoids also may provide health benefits in other ways.

Decades ago researchers discovered that cannabis contains two flavonoids with health benefit potential - cannflavin A and cannflavin B.

The potential of cannflavin A and B

In 1985, University of London researcher Marilyn Barrett discovered both cannflavin A and cannflavin B and determined that both held great promise as an anti-inflammatory that is 30 times more powerful than aspirin.

However, as noted by the Toronto Star, you would need “Cheech and/or Chong levels” of consumption to get the benefits of the cannflavins because they make up such a small amount of the plant.

However, that might be about to change.

Researchers at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, believe they have found a way to use genome mining to extract the genes in cannabis that create cannflavins and then engineer cannflavin A and B without having to grow the plant.

The patented process may change how people manage pain in the future, according to a statement from the University of Guelph.

“There’s clearly a need to develop alternatives for relief of acute and chronic pain that go beyond opioids,” Prof. Tariq Akhtar of the university’s Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology said in the statement. “These molecules are non-psychoactive and they target the inflammation at the source, making them ideal painkillers.”

Legalization made this possible.

Canada legalised marijuana nationwide last year. The university said that decision led to the breakthrough in cannabis research because intensive research into what Marilyn Barrett had discovered in 1985 was “stalled for decades” because the illegal status of weed led to highly regulated research.

Another major factor is how far genomics research has advanced. Akhtar said it is relatively simple to now determine how molecules are made. He and fellow professor and researcher Steven Rothstein were able to identify the molecules. A medical marijuana company is now looking into the potential for creating health products based on their breakthrough research.

“Being able to offer a new pain relief option is exciting,” Rothstein said in the statement, “and we are proud that our work has the potential to become a new tool in the pain relief arsenal.”

The pair worked in a different political climate than the one in the United States, where marijuana remains illegal at the federal level and research is difficult to do. Akhtar told the Star: “We wouldn’t have been able to do this if it wasn’t for the climate right now in this country really pushing people like us to do this research.”


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