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Introductory 101: Terpenes & Flavonoids

Jan 18, 2021 | Hemp + Heart Journal

If you are new to the CBD world, the terminology alone can be quite overwhelming. When we hear people talk about CBD, they commonly use words like cannabis, cannabinoids, along with many others. If you’ve ever heard someone say terpenes or flavonoids while talking about CBD, you’re probably scratching your head and wondering, what do they mean? We are here to bring you some clarity, while also explaining the roles these phycompounds play in providing the whole ‘entourage effect.’


What are Terpenes?

Terpenes are the ‘essentials oils’ of the hemp plant that provide the aromas and flavors of cannabis. I’m sure you already know that there are thousands of cannabis strains, and each one contains different scents and aromas. Terpenes are molecules that are responsible for the odor, and sometimes even the effect on the human body. It’s important to note that terpenes themselves do not contain CBD. Terpenes and terpenoids are not unique to cannabis as many other flower-producing plants also produce them. However, terpenes interact with other properties within the hemp plant and activate synergistic benefits, commonly known as the ‘entourage effect.’

Hemp plants contain a large number of terpenes, and these compounds adjust the strength of individual cannabinoids. Over 20,000 different terpenes have been identified to date, and at least 100 can be found within the hemp plant. They alter the way cannabinoids, like CBD, interact with the series of receptors found throughout the brain and body known as the endogenous cannabinoid system. Because of this, terpenes are thought to play a role in augmenting cannabinoid effects.

Why do they matter?

Research shows that flavonoids are pharmacologically active, and provide medicinal benefits due to their anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and antioxidant properties. Other studies indicate that flavonoids can benefit headaches, migraine, and pain when used synergistically with other properties in the hemp plant.


What are Flavonoids?

Flavonoids and terpenes are typically mentioned together because one provides the aroma, and the other provides the color and flavor. Similar to terpenes, flavonoids share a role in how we perceive cannabis through our senses. They do share some similarities, but are entirely different components. Flavonoids are a group of phytonutrients that account for 10% of all the compounds that make up the hemp plant. These compounds, known as cannaflavins, are found nowhere else in nature. They are responsible for giving the hemp plants its pigmentation, and protect it from harmful UV rays. If you’ve ever seen a pretty, deep purple cannabis strain, their coloration is due to the flavonoids known as anthoxanthins or anthocyanins.

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