Like terpenes, flavonoids are natural products of all plants and have several healing qualities. Early research suggests that some flavonoids in cannabis are 30 times more effective than aspirin in reducing inflammation.
Are They Better Together?
Research such as this reveals that cannabis has a complex nature and that each piece of the substance may play a part in its potential. The molecules identified in the study – cannflavin A, and cannflavin B – are incredibly potent, but are naturally produced in too low of quantities to be medically viable.
Researchers are teaming up with Anahit International Corp., a cannabis company, in the hopes of engineering and harvesting large amounts of cannflavin A and cannflavin B. Doing so would then allow researchers to experiment with putting these molecules in sports drinks, pills, creams, and other products. While this would be an exciting development by itself, it could also be a reliable alternative to popular pain relievers, such as pills derived from opiates.
The research on these molecules is promising, as, for the first time, scientists have been able to trace how these molecules are formed. This means that the primary steps to figuring out how to synthesize these products have been taken, which is incredibly hopeful for the development of medicines containing these cannflavins.
However, until these molecules can be made in large quantities, they will not be viable on their own. Instead, they seem to work best in the context that they exist in naturally: as part of the cannabis plant.
Flavonoids in cannabis are not limited to these two compounds, however. Along with terpenes, flavonoids work to give cannabis strains their flavor and taste. Flavonoids, like terpenes, are found in all plants, ranging from citrus to pepper.
Finding the Right Entourage
The idea that natural cannabis flower, or ‘full spectrum’ products which contain the complete profile of extracted cannabis, are ideal for medication is an old concept. However, this idea has developed over time. First coined in 1998 by a group of scientists, ‘the entourage effect’ is a still popular concept today, which suggests that the sum of the parts together is greater than the individual substances alone.
However, opinions about the entourage effect vary as some scientists feel full-spectrum products are harder to predict and may cause adverse side effects. Although there is a wealth of natural synergy within every strain of cannabis, there are also components which may cause even contradictory results.
Instead, research suggests that particular mixes of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids would be the best therapeutic strategy. In some cases, a single cannabinoid will not express the same effect as cannabis, while a full spectrum product could be overwhelming for consumers. Ideally, broad-spectrum formulations could offer the most benefits with the least amount of side effects.
Finding technology which can separately study and inform about these different compounds in cannabis, in addition to harvesting or synthesizing them, could radically transform the medical market. Doing this without any understanding of the other components of marijuana will make for products that are stunted by their simplicity. Even CBD and THC pair with a significant synergistic effect, as they can work to unlock a balance between them to increase their potential.
The Mechanics Behinds the Right Entourage Ratio
Cannabis itself is a giving substance. It is not terpenes, cannabinoids, or flavonoids that it has to offer, but all of these things, and the complex interactions between them. Science is beginning to understand the synergistic relationship between cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.
By using high-performance liquid chromatography, researchers and manufacturers individually separate and measure levels of terpenes, cannabinoids, and flavonoids within cannabis. Research that uses these results could be perfect for discovering the ideal formulas of different cannabis components for medical use.
Technology that can observe these qualities of the plant exist, but properly manipulating these qualities of cannabis into making the most effective medicine would be groundbreaking. It would turn the entourage effect from what makes cannabis pleasant into the reason why it’s a directly applicable and powerful medicine.